Six Word Story No. 102

Amaryllis Belladonna* meant crush was certain.

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*also known as Naked Ladies, a lovely tete a tete with Belladonna.

Brought to you by Journaling as Sacred Practice. Support the arts. Buy the book.

 

Six Word Story No. 59

Books suggested something more than commerce.

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Win a signed copy of Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery! To enter, comment with your own six word story and share this post. Surprise Dad with your creative genius and gift him with an autographed copy. Or you could, you know, buy the book. Contest ends June 14.

who’s your daddy?

Share the love vibe with your coolest Daddy-O this June 19. Give Dad Journaling as Sacred Practice so he can start writing that memoir you’ve been pestering him about.  It’s better than a tie, and he’ll thank you for it. Fill the world with words: start with LOVE.

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it’s short story month!

Celebrate the  writer in your life with the gift of one of the best tools available to set her/his literary hair on fire. Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery is a ridiculously simply, terrifyingly toilsome, full-frontal approach to developing the writer’s voice. Journaling. It ain’t for sissies. Order your copy today.

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retro reading

 

 

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We’ve been neglecting our reviews. Oh, we’ve written them, just haven’t shared, and that is just sad. So, the girls are returning to reviews with a retro read of Margaret Atwood. Here’s the tease:

To read The Edible Woman is to be transported back in time. Fourty-plus years ago “girls” had entered the workforce to stay. They wore binding girdles, deferred to the men in the company, and were expected to resign when they became engaged and left maindenhood behind. Still, they were there, earning their way.

read more here

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Mother’s Day gifts are tricky business, and we can help. Here’s the perfect gift for the writing mother in your life.

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birth of a book

We are super pleased to report that Green Tara Press has just released Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery, by award-winning author, Cynthia Gregory. Om, Ah, and well done!

Support the Arts::Buy the book

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everything’s new again

End of Vandilism

Tom Dury’s debut novel, The End of Vandalism, is a quiet book about ordinary people living in rural Minnesota. Not much happens in Grouse County, and that’s kind of reassuring in a time of climate change, uncertainty, and uncivil presidential elections.

Originally published in 1994, The End of Vandalism was compared to the works of William Faulkner and Sherwood Anderson. At the heart of this fine novel is love, a love triangle actually, between Grouse County sheriff Dan Norman, his sweet and somewhat remote wife Louise, and her former husband, Tiny Darling. Beautifully written and artfully crafted, Dury’s novel lures the reader in for a glimpse the human condition up close.

Dan Norman is a good man, an upright citizen. He manages the criminal element of Grouse County, which isn’t much. He mainly performs worthy acts, and discourages the criminal element from disturbing the pervading goodness of his town.

“One fall they held the blood drive in the fire barn at Grafton. Sheriff Dan Norman was there mainly as a gesture of good will, but one of the nurses didn’t make it , so Dan agreed to place the gauze in the crook of everyone’s arm. “And I thank you,” he would say.”

Louise is an enigma. She runs Keeborg’s Photo Studio, but doesn’t seem driven by her work. She enjoys photographing the local kids’ graduation photos and certain elected officials, but she seems to sleepwalk through it all.

These are people that you feel you somehow know, or are maybe related to. Mary, is Louise’s mother, is everyone’s mother. On the day she marries Dan, Louise is at Mary’s house, preparing for the ceremony. She negotiates with Mary’s neighbor, Heinz Miller, about whether he will attend her wedding. It’s a toss-up. Heinz is hiding out from his wife at Mary’s house, watching the Twins playing the Tigers. Heinz’s wife has discovered a bad bet he made and he isn’t anxious to be outed at Louise and Dan’s nuptials.

The lyric quality of Dury’s prose is at once calm, and compelling as he spills the secrets and trials of the citizens of Grouse County. All of the large and small moments are given equal weight, so that that the daily motions of life in rural Minnesota all become monumental, as when Louise dresses for her wedding:

“She brushed out her hair and put on her dress. It was yellow with white flowers and a low back. She tied a rose-colored ribbon in her hair, spread her arms, and turned toward the mirror. Her hair was long and brown, and the ribbon made it look coppery.

After she and Dan marry, Louise moves a small trailer onto the farm property where they live. She fixes up the trailer as a place for Dan to retreat to when he wants privacy, but instead, she occupies it. She sleeps in the trailer at night and during the day they live as any married couple, sharing meals, making love, discussing current events.

When Louise suffers an unsuccessful pregnancy, she becomes untethered. She travels with Mary to visit her aunt and uncle, Carol and Kenneth Kennedy, who run a campground on Seldom Lake, in Minnesota. They intend to stay just two weeks, but they extend their stay to four. At the end of a month, Mary returns to Grafton, and Louise stays at the lake. Eventually Louise’s heart heals for the loss of her stillborn daughter, and she returns to her husband.

“Dan like the colors of her hair and skin, the long smooth arc of her back, the sound of her breath. He thought that he would never know anyone like her.  . .wrapped in each other’s arms and seeming to summon everything that had happened to them, good and bad. Their lives rushed in at them, and this is what they were holding on against.”

In the end, The End of Vandalism isn’t about vandalism at all. It’s about the gift we give to the people we love, every day. Whether we realize it at the time or not.

C. Gregory

a book is a dream

Journaling as Sacred Practice is on the way!  

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Last weekend, I co-faciliated a labyrinth, meditation, and journaling retreat with my partner in Yoga Retreats Napa Valley. We spent the day with 15 women–and it was fabulous! During one of our writing sessions, I urged my tribe to journal about “my dream.” It was so powerful. This is what I wrote:

My dream is the success of my book on journaling, Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery.

I see myself being interviewed by Terry Gross. “What a great book,” she says. I laugh. “I had a bad break-up,” I tell her. “Instead of getting sad or getting mad, I started to write. I wrote 48 chapters in 48 days. And then I put the book in a drawer. I moved to Portland, Oregon. I moved to Napa Valley, California. When it was ready, it hatched.

Oprah calls. I don’t do the interview.

Louise Hay calls. She says, “Come to I Can Do It!”

Elizabeth Gilbert calls. She says “You go, girl!” We become besties.

Dreams, dreams, dreams. A book is a dream put down on paper. A song is a dream you can listen to. Did Mozart dream in color and did his dreams come with a soundtrack? My dream is for 2016  to be like one long, rolling, lazy summer day; an impressionist painting of picnics and watercolors clouds; of bread and wine and honeybees. I dream of the sound of water, the touch of a lover. The year 2016 should be a dress floating on a breeze, the sound of a train in the distance, a piano recital, the smell of apple pie through a window.

In my dream I rise up. I lift my heart and swallow the turquoise sky, the emerald river, the comb’s teeth of a vineyard row. I will calibrate my breath on the hush of waves. Let me rest there. 

My wish for my WordPress friends is that 2016 is BIG and BOLD! Decide who you are and do it on purpose.

Girls and Other Mysteries

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::REVIEW::

That you can never truly know another person is the central truth of Rufi Thorpe’s debut novel, The Girls of Corona Del Mar, but the book is so much more than that. It is also a coming of age saga, one where the narrative begins with two golden-skinned teens in sun-drenched Corona Del Mar, and it ends years later and universes away.

 At the onset, best friends Mia and Lorrie Ann share lives as intertwined as any pair of young girls. So close are they, that they can’t see the stark difference between them as anything but symbiotic. Mia’s divorcee mom scrapes by in a second-rate apartment to make ends meet. Even after she remarries and Mia’s brothers come along, they remain planted in the same spot, as if by gravity. Lorrie Ann’s parents conversely, a divinely bohemian couple, sink roots steadfastly in love and music. To Mia, Lorrie Ann’s family represents the happy ideal of an intact family.

It turns out that Mia gets pregnant in high school, and naturally, it is to Lorrie Ann that she makes her confession. Seemingly chaste Lorrie Ann, the saint to Mia’s sinner, helps her through the subsequent abortion. At the end of high school, Mia is the one who goes to Yale to pursue a degree in the classics, while Lorrie Ann becomes pregnant herself, and chooses to give up on dreams of college to have the baby.

But Lorrie Ann’s baby is born horribly deformed and from then on, she can’t seem to catch a break. She marries her baby daddy, who when his restaurant job can’t cover the requirements of his special needs family, enlists in the army. Then he is deployed to Iraq and is killed. Poor and struggling, Lorrie Ann eventually loses custody of her son.

Alternately, Mia becomes a scholar. Fifteen years later, their two lives intersect in Istanbul, where Mia and her fiancé, Franklin, are transcribing ancient narratives about the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Lorrie Ann calls Mia out of the blue and Mia goes to the marketplace to meet her, only to find her old friend traveling with a clutch of jet-setters, and addicted to heroin.

The reunion is predictably strained. Mia is just beginning to realize that she may be pregnant. She confesses as much to Lorrie Ann, who promises to keep the secret until Mia comes to terms with which path she will ultimately choose. Mia is afraid to tell Franklin, who is the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She is afraid that he won’t be ready to be, much less want to be, a father. But Lorrie Ann betrays her confidence and reveals all. One could say that as her friend, Lorrie Ann does what she feels is in Mia’s best interest. She can clearly see how much Franklin loves Mia. One could also say that as friends go, it isn’t Lorrie Ann’s secret to reveal to the fiancé of a friend she hadn’t seen in a dozen years.

Friendship. Betrayal. The nature of love, and the powerful lure of ancient mythology. Thorpe’s novel is a deep and layered journey, and for anyone who has ever deeply loved a bestie, it is well worth the exploration.

–Cynthia Gregory

Watch for my upcoming book: An Inspired Journal; the Art and Soul of Creative Nonfiction. Available soon on Green Tara Press at Amazon.com