Friday, December 29, 2006

The Man Who Believed

Last night I enjoyed a hot chai and a special treat at Kaminsky's, a local favorite for sweets. For the first time since our initial e-mail nearly two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting my literary agent, Mark Gilroy, face to face. And not only that, but his lovely wife and two of his daughters. It truly was a special evening for me.

You see, my first novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, will be released very soon in February. Mark Gilroy is the man who helped make this happen by loving my book, believing in it, and believing in me as a writer. He sold The Spirit of Sweetgrass in a two-book deal last February to Integrity Publishers, now a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. And he'd never even met me.

Introducing me to his family, Mark told them of our initial contact in March 2005, when I wrote him, told him I was a new writer and that I had a book I'd like him to review. He asked me to send it to him by e-mail and to my surprise and joy, within hours, Mark wrote me back to say he loved it and would like to represent me.

It's a funny thing, this technological age, this e-mail and telephone communication. We converse with one another regularly without ever making eye contact, without ever seeing facial expressions. And without ever having seen my face, Mark Gilroy believed in me, just as he believed in the words I put on paper in The Spirit of Sweetgrass.

This next year, 2007, my first novel will come out and my literary career "officially" will begin. I am excited, humbled and grateful to many people who have made my words into a real-life book. And Mark Gilroy is one person who will forever have my gratitude. As I reflect on the past couple years and gear up for the exciting new one ahead, finally being able to thank Mark in person and meet his beautiful family was icing on the cake.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gullah/Geechee Celebration

I was honored to speak at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition yesterday in Charleston. Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, led the participants in prayer and the day began with a viewing of a powerful and informative documentary, Will to Survive - The Story of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, part of Wal-Mart's Voices of Color series. I hope many people get a chance to watch this educational film!

I read excerpts from my upcoming novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, and shared the origins of my book--a spiritual journey that still fills me with awe and wonder. Next, a lovely woman and author of "I'm Black and I'm Proud," Wished the White Girl, Lynn Bryant-Markovich, told of her experiences growing up on St. Helena Island in a mixed family and embedded in and embraced by the Gullah community. Fascinating.
So much progress in the form of protections of Gullah/Geechee land, rights and culture has been made since the inception of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition ten years ago. It will be exciting to watch the future of this group and of the Gullah/Geechee people as a whole.
My protagonist, Essie Mae, would be mighty proud.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Christmas Miracle

It's been a while since I've written, but things have been busy, kids have been sick. But tonight I have the pleasure of speaking to the Seacoast Christian Writers' Group at Barnes and Noble. It's the same group that I joined soon after beginning writing The Spirit of Sweetgrass, when I finally took the next step of faith to share my work with other human beings. Little did I know the power of a group of like-minded people who share my faith and a passion for expression through the written word. This lovely group of folks not only became my sounding board for new chapters every month, but they became my friends. They encouraged me, believed in me, prayed for me and cheered with me when my book sold. And now I get to share my experiences of this last year's publishing journey with them in hopes that my words may provide direction and encouragement when they need it most. It's quite an honor.

I believe it is partly through prayer--mine, my family's and my writers' group's--that The Spirit of Sweetgrass will be released in February. My debut novel is about the sheer Power of prayer. And my faith in the power of prayer was strengthened just this morning, which is why I decided to write again.

You see, I spoke with my mother-in-law last night, a very tearful (and this is highly unusual for her) mother-in-law who told me about her cat, Socks, getting out of the house. They'd just moved to a new place a few weeks ago and have been vigilant not to let the cats out for fear of them getting lost in new surroundings. As of 9:00 last night, Socks the Cat had been missing for nearly 36 hours. Judy had made phone calls, driven around calling his name, made fliers, the works, to no avail. I told her I'd be praying for Socks to come home, and I knew she was praying as well. I said, "I just bet he'll come home soon and be our Christmas Miracle." I said it, hoping it was true.

So this morning, my mother-in-law called me and I screamed in her ear when she told me the story of Socks' wonderful homecoming. Apparently a little more than an hour after we hung up the phone last night, Socks' brother, Shadow, was staring intently out the window, then jumped down and ran to the door that leads to the garage and meowed. Judy followed his lead, opened the garage door, and in walked Socks! He was fine, just a little hungry and tired, and is sleeping at this very moment in between kisses from Judy and Shadow. It's a happy ending that just reinforces my belief in the power of prayer. And my prayer is that Socks the Cat's story might remind readers to continue to pray in faith this Christmas season and throughout the year. It really works.

God bless.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Aahhh Moment--Galleys Have Arrived!

Well, it finally arrived--that package I've dreamed about for months, maybe years--the one with my advance reader copies of The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Galleys, they're called.

About 4:30 yesterday afternoon, I'm working in my home office when I hear the dog barking downstairs. My kids and I go down to investigate and find a nice box on the front porch. The wonderful, blessed delivery person had been here! It felt a little like Christmas morning, I'll admit.

Shouldn't I have some champagne for this? Aw shucks, no champagne in the fridge. So now, here I am with the most longed-for, waited-for-package-ever in hand and two (albeit sweet) children, hungry and winding up their "whiners." Hmmm, children begging for food, package from my publisher...What to do...what to do.

Finally, I spy my husband pull into the driveway just in time. Yes, you're supposed to celebrate with someone, right? God bless him, he's home a little early, and his timing couldn't be better.

"Here," I tell him. "Grab a child, any child." So he picks up my son while my daughter continues to whine that she can't see, so I move the box to the table, my nerves fraying, my heart racing, but then I open it and--

Ooooh. Aahhhhhhh, we say.

I pull out the red shiny covers and all of a sudden my hours and years of hard work has come to this. I am holding the fruits of my labor in my hands. Well, actually, my husband is since he's still holding Cole, but here it is anyway. My book. It's a book. I wrote a book.

"Isn't it heavy?" I ask my husband, like a goofball. We each pick one up and weigh it in our hands, up and down, up and down. "Hmmm," he says. "I wonder what weight paper this is?" Brian used to be in paper sales, so he puts a page in between his fingertips and rubs. "This is 24 pound paper," he concludes. Hmmm. Heavy.

But truly, the weight of it all does begin to settle in with me after a little while, and I am so grateful. So grateful to the publisher, to my agent, to my mother who is my reader, to my husband who supports my creative endeavors. To God, who gave my this passion for writing and a voice. I am grateful.

Except when I do my impromptu happy dance where my arms flail and my head bobs, my husband says,"You might need to work on your happy dance. You could hurt yourself like that."
Good times. Good times.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Passing of a Journalistic Giant - Ed Bradley

I held my breath when I saw the news flash across my computer screen: Ed Bradley had passed away. Millions of Americans knew Ed Bradley as an award-winning journalist and 60 Minutes host. I will remember him as one of the best journalists there ever was. I remember watching 60 Minutes as an adolescent, fascinated with the way the news was told. Enthralled by Ed Bradley's voice, his tone, his honesty, his approachability. I remember thinking, if I ever get on 60 Minutes, I want Ed Bradley to interview me. And dreams of my future were embossed by Bradley. I went to college for Broadcast Journalism with the hopes of one day working side by side with a man like him on a show like that. Doing that important work.

I'm not a broadcast journalist today, nor am I ever going to host 60 Minutes, but the effect of his work still lingers with me today. My journalistic skills have led me to my life-long passion of writing. I will continue to give voice to the invisible and tell the stories that only I can tell.

But my heart stopped when I read of Ed Bradley's passing. It is an ending of an era when journalism integrity was of the highest caliber. When no stone was left unturned and all sides of a story were confirmed before running. I will miss watching Ed Bradley. I'll miss his voice and his kind, fair eyes that shone though the television screen. But it's journalists like him who have left an indelible mark on writers like me. And for that, I will always be grateful.

May his legacy of powerful journalism live on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Interesting Literary Week

It's been an interesting week in my literary world. First, some clients and dear people, authors Tom and Georgia Lucas of Charleston, have released their first children's book, Fali. It's a beautifully illustrated story about a young boy in Africa who learns to care for his donkey and in the process, becomes a man. Tom and Georgia spent several years in Africa while Tom was working for the American Embassy, and they witnessed malnourished and overburdened horses and donkeys and were touched enough to write about it. Just beautiful.

Next, my husband and I attended the pre-publication party for author Max Boot's new book, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History 1500 to Today. The party was spectacular on the lawn of a beauful downtown Charleston home with delicious food, interesting guests and a remarkable guest of honor. Max Boot studies history with an eye for current affairs. He has much to say about the future of our nation, especially how the security of the US depends in part on our remaining technologically competitive with the rest of the world. Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The In-Between

I recently finished my next novel. That was a triumphant feeling--it always is--to finish a task you've set out to do months, maybe even years ago. And I love the writing of the book too, although some days it feels like teeth could be pulled easier than words will come out. But I have to tell you about the in-between stage that I find myself in now. I think this may be the most fun of all.

This is the stage where nothing is written in stone, where ideas float wildly and effortlessly through the air around me. I wait and watch until puzzle pieces solidify and drop into my upturned hands. Then it's my turn to put all the pieces together. It's magical, this in-between, where anything seems possible and nothing is too outrageous or difficult--yet. This is the space right before the disciplined work begins. This is the place where my imagination becomes like a child and the whole world feels ripe for the picking.

For you writers out there, I'm interested to hear--what's your favorite stage of the writing process?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wisdom for Writers in My Losing Season

There are many reasons why people write. It's cathartic, for one. You can get off your chest whatever's been eating at you. You can be the hand of justice and dish out rewards and penalties like the gods of ancient Greece. Some people write simply to tell a good story. They have imaginations that cannot stop. There are stories in their heads, relentless, begging to get out. And then others write because they have learned something, and they have something to say. They have wisdom that can only truly be learned the hard way, through painful experience.

Pat Conroy is someone who writes for all of these reasons. He exorcises his demons of a painful childhood through words. He examines himself, his heart, his motives, his view on reality, through words. It is through words that he discovers who he is and what his place is in this world. In his non-fiction book, My Losing Season, he carries the reader back to his Citadel days when he was point guard for the Bulldogs basketball team. His team members suffered under a man they called "coach." His team lost that season, badly. For many, their lives were changed because of it.

Mr. Conroy appears to have written My Losing Season for himself, for his teammates, but also for us, the readers. He wrote the book for us, so that we may learn the hard lessons he learned that season, about losing, about rising up again, about holding on to that which cannot be touched--what is inside us. I have a confession to make: I do not know sports, not a lick. But this book about basketball touched my spirit, the writer in me. Mr. Conroy compares his season as a point guard to his position in this world as a novelist. The book is a valuable tool for anyone, especially writers, who need to prepare themselves for winning--and losing--seasons. Because we all must get up and get back on the court. It is our fate. Thank you, Mr. Conroy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

I just had to share this--especially for writers everwhere who dream of the seeing their debut book cover for the first time. Well, it happened for me today.

There I was, minding my own business and perusing my publisher's website to see what was new, when I stumbled across The Spirit of Sweetgrass in the Fiction section! I can't describe what it felt like. It's not something I was expecting for another six months, seeing as the book isn't out until February. But it's something I've always dreamed about--seeing the word "author" next to my name. I'm also thrilled and humbled that Integrity Publishers chose to use one of my paintings on the cover.

I have to say, I am truly enjoying this journey to being published. Each step is often harder than the one before, but it's definitely worth it. Now I know for sure: God is "able to do far more than we ever ask or imagine."

Keep writing!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gullah/Geechee Nation International African Music & Movement Festival

I attended the Gullah/Geechee Nation International African Music & Movement Festival this past weekend where warm wind was blowing off of the river at the Maritime Center and booths were set up by Gullah/Geechee and African-American vendors selling books, dolls, jewelry, sweetgrass baskets and African masks. I was greeted by a group of women dancing, stomping and chanting in a circle. I later watched these same women, the Wisdom Circle Council of Elders, stomp in procession to drum beats. "Free-dom, Gullah/Geechee. Free-dom, Gullah/Geechee." The women were beautiful, dressed in colorful Sunday best with smiles to make your heart melt.

The young boys drumming on stage were part of the Jolee Dance troupe and had just come back from Ghana after spending two weeks there helping with AIDS awareness. Their female counterparts, middle- and high-schoolers in black leotards and colorful sarongs, danced their hearts out to African rhythms and brought tears to my eyes. At one point, the girls brought up audience members to learn a few African dance steps, including yours truly. Thank goodness my husband had borrowed the camera that day. No one wants to relive my dance-moves.

When Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, came on stage, not another sound was heard. She carried a sweetgrass basket on her head filled with cotton and Carolina Gold rice and sang spirituals. She spoke in Gullah, but with her recognizable inflection and perhaps the fact that I've been studying the language for the past year, I could follow along with her story of her ancestors and what life used to be like here for them in the South. She used parables to convey the message that people don't sit on the porch and visit like they used to. Many forget where they come from and often try to cover it up, ashamed. Queen Quet's pride of her heritage shines through her performance and has you laughing and thinking the whole time, yearning to revisit the family values of yesteryear.

For a unique, eye-opening experience, be sure to visit the next Annual Gullah/Geechee festival here in Charleston. You don't need to be of Gullah/Geechee lineage to learn about the culture and to see how we each play a role in it's survival.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Drawing Lines

I read this morning that the reality t.v. show Survivor is going to split up its contestants next season into four tribes according to race; Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Whites, and Hispanics. The concept stopped me in my tracks.

At first, the idea in and of itself--that race was to be delineated--shocked me. But there is nothing wrong with declaring unique ethnicities. It's a wonderful privilege, especially in this country, to be able to celebrate one's unique lineage and heritage. But for some reason, delineation of races struck me as "incorrect" in our current atmosphere of political correctness. In fact, many Caucasians go out of their way NOT to distinguish someone's race for fear of crossing that line into politically incorrectness. I do not have a problem with Survivor bringing attention to someone's particular ethnicity. That's not what bothers me.

What I do have a problem with is the show pitting one race or ethnicity against each other like some high school football game. "We've got spirit, yes we do. We've got spirit, how 'bout you!" I find the show's new concept of teams of race revolutionary in the sense that yes, it's okay to celebrate one's unique ethnicity and it's time we talked out it, but I also find it in bad taste as the show will most likely have contestants and audience members rooting for their own in a contest to see which race will win. Delineation between races should not be a contest. And in a the upcoming season of Survivor, I don't see how there can be any true winners.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Charles Towne Landing, Born Again

Last night was amazing. I was blessed to have gone to a preview of the reopening of Charles Towne Landing, the birthplace of South Carolina. From a new beautiful entryway, I drove through majestic oak trees and wound up at a brand new visitors center. Wow! This place is unbelievable with a wall of windows and bridges over water, and when I meandered through the new interactive exhibits, I learned so many things I never knew. At one point (and I'm not kidding), I teared up. I know we live in a place full of history, and it's one thing to teach your children abut it. It's a completely different thing having them learn it--experience it--for themselves. I'm so excited to bring my children here. They'll love it!

Gee, and that was just the new visitors center.

I can't wait to come back with Brian and the kids and follow the trail through the animal forest, along the palisade wall, by the archeological digs and over to the ship, Carolina. I'm so proud of The Friends of Charles Towne Landing and everyone who worked so hard to bring this important historical place back to life.

If you get a chance to visit Charleston and you're at all interested in history, visit Charles Towne Landing. And if you haven't been there in a while, come back. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E King

I'm not that great at Scrabble. It surprises me, really. I love words, love to write them, spell them, read them--but my husband usually beats me at Scrabble. Him, with his engineering mind. He loves numbers, not words. Yet he beats me. I thought about it, and I think I know why:

I love words. That's my downfall. I love to see what beautiful words I can create from my letters, "rogue," or "kumquat" or something equally exotic. I bask in the light of my letters as they shine back at me, my lovely creations. Look at that. There's my word. Oh, what a great word! Then my husband comes along, adds an "s" to the end of my word, and gets a double or triple score. OFF OF MY WORD! That's you're word? How common of you. That took no creativity at all, I tell him. Yet he went for the points. And he wins. Usually.

Well, I have to say tonight, ahem, I beat him. Yep. By five points. Beat my in-laws too, but I don't want to gloat about that. They don't have this competition going like Brian and I do. I must say, he's good. In fact, he's better than me at Scrabble. Yes, there, I said it. I may have won tonight, but next time, I'll be fighting for my life. Brian is the Scrabble King, and I find it very attractive in a geeky sort of way.

But hey, I'm a geek. We both are. That's one of the reasons we love each other. Anyway, there's always Monopoly. Even though he's better with numbers and money, I'm better at taking risks. I buy up everything and break all of his fiscally-responsible rules. Yep. I am the Monopoly Queen, and Brian knows it. Drives. Him. CRAZY!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Writing Magic and Madness

Not long ago, I was fortunate enough to actually speak with Pat Conroy, the king of Southern literature. It was definitely a "pinch-me" moment, and it still seems like a dream, but I remember asking him one very important question: "What's it like to be Pat Conroy? What's it like to be an author?"

I think I was expecting him to tell me about adoring fan letters, or how he's changed people's lives through words, or how his life has been altered so much for the better since he found his muse. That's not at all what he told me.

"If you gotta do it, you gotta do it," he said. Huh? I wrote the words down to make sure I had it right.

Since then, I've edited my first novel, and I'm now mid-way through writing my next. I'm beginning to understand what he meant. First, YES, I do "gotta do it." It wasn't that way a few years ago, but since I've been bitten with this passion for writing...this...this THING, I have to do it now for my soul.

Writing is one of the biggest blessings of my life after my husband and children. And it calls to me just as often as they do. It tugs on my skirt, begging me. I write in my head when I'm showering or making dinner. I think of scenarios, word phrases, authentic feelings and behaviors my characters should have--at inappropriate or inopportune moments. For days, I've been stewing on an idea...pressing for it...pulling for it...searching. It's been on the tip of my brain, obsessing me. MADDENING! However, last night, the concept came to me in full glory. I took it, ran with it, and oh my goodness, I think it works. It's like experiencing pure MAGIC. And it's the magic after all that keeps me going--these tiny aha! moments when all the madness swirls away and I get to see perfectly for one...clear...flash.

"If you gotta do it, you gotta do it." These are words of wisdom. Pat Conroy speaks the truth.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sometimes You Gotta Paint Right Over It

I experienced something profound recently--at least profound in my own life as a writer and artist. I have to confess, I'm a bit of a packrat. I prefer not to throw things away. I like to pile things up knowing if I ever need something, I can find it--somewhere. Like my books. I save a different Word document for each day of writing. Is that neurotic? I know it may seem strange. But I have, on occasion, realized that something I wrote a while ago and disposed of, was good. I just search through my files until I find it, and voila, it's back into place.

Well, my artwork has always been a little different. I'm one of those folks who feel that whatever comes out on the canvas is what should be there. My best work is instinctive, not over-fudging. Last week I painted a piece and worked on it every night for days. This is not how I like to work, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I added this and added that over and over until my three-year-old daughter came in on the last day--when it was done, mind you--and said, "I don't like that!" Normally, she loves my work. So I said, "You know, honey? You're absolutely right. I don't like it either."

What happened next was liberating. I did something I've never done--I found the only thing that was working on the canvas, a woman, and kept her. Then I completely painted over everything else. Every decision I made about color or stroke was straight from the gut with no overthinking. And do you know what? I dropped it off at the gallery on Saturday and with it still propped up against the wall and not even hung up yet, "Peace" sold within three days. That validation--that I should listen to my gut and not let my mind over-edit--is a valuable lesson for me and something I intend to take with me into my writing life. Sometimes, if you're inner-child is screaming, "Yuk!" it's best to just paint over that over-worked canvas and create something totally fresh.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Molasses Creek, Good Men and Fresh-Caught Shrimp

My husband and I navigated Molasses Creek this morning, courtesy of my parents who loaned us their kayaks and watched the kids. We haven't been since our honeymoon, and that was in the ocean in the Caribbean somewhere. I remember I got nowhere fast in the ocean, paddling as hard as I could. But this morning was amazing. At times I would stop paddling and just coast in complete silence, one with the water as if I wasn't there at all--only armies of fiddler crabs moving to their holes in the pluff mud, the marsh grass taking a breather in the low tide, and egrets lingering, waiting for lunch. Brian and I raced each other on the way back, leaning forward, faces grimacing, arms pumping. Of course, I let him win. But he didn't gloat, he's a good man.

I have several good men in my husband, my father, my father-in-law. Like a couple nights ago, my father-in-law brought by some shrimp caught fresh that day from one of his clients. I took about a third, heads on and all. You know, I do prefer my food not look up at me before I eat it. It's just a preference. A quirk of mine. Natalie Dupree and Pat Conroy would cluck their tongues at that, I suppose. But the shrimp were delicious, and I remain very conscious of the fact that we are so blessed here in the Lowcountry with tidal creeks and kayaks and parents who watch children and bring fresh shrimp...

Have I mentioned I love this place?

Writing in My Sleep

It's 4 a.m. I should not be up this early (or late, depending how you look at it), but I found myself trying to rewrite in my sleep the opening to an article I have due for South Carolina Magazine next week. Has this ever happened to you? Trust me, it can be very annoying to do your actual writing in your dreams, so I thought I'd get out of bed. Not that I can work on my article right now. I can't.

Instead, I found myself reading Joshilyn Jackson's gods in Alabama. I'm almost through and I must say it's a gripper--endeering yet disturbing at the same time. She's created a truly unique balance there. And she's prolific with her blog, which got me thinking about mine.

So now I'm writing in my blog instead of on my next novel. Yikes, that deadline's coming too and it needs to be a good bit longer than my article. Hmmm. I'm rambling now. I should probably try and salvage whatever sleep I can before the little ones wake up. I'm sure they'll allow me some quiet time to be creative and focused tomorrow. Right?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sweetgrass Festival

My daughter and I went to the Sweetgrass Festival in Mount Pleasant yesterday. Wow, is it getting big! We saw basket makers selling their beautiful baskets, plus gospel singers and comedic routines.

It's amazing how much good can come from an event like this--one that works to promote sweetgrass baskets makers and all that they mean to the Lowcountry. Nowhere else on earth can you find the quaint roadside stands we see on Highway 17. But these basket makers are being squeezed out by developments. It's happening everyday, more and more.

There is much left to do to protect sweetgrass basket making, a precious coastal treasure, but there are some progresses being made. The Mount Pleasant Sweetgrass Festival, I'm very happy to say, is one very important step in the overall scheme of things.

Can't wait to go again next year!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

SCAD Alumni Gallery

I'm thrilled to have one of my paintings included in this month's Alumni Gallery at Savannah College of Art & Design. It is such a phenomenal school. You can see the online gallery here. Wade in the Water was also featured in the 2006 summer issue of SCAD's alumni publication, Alumni Connections.

Everyday Heroes

I had the following letter to the editor published in The Moultrie News on May 31, 2006. Here's to good veterinarians and my sweet little buddy.

I recently awoke to find that what I had feared and dreaded for so long had come true. My beloved cat, Espresso, who had suffered valiantly through hyperthyroidism and diabetes, had finally passed away at thirteen-years-old. Or so I thought. Much to my horror, he was still breathing but in a terrible state. I prayed to God to take him immediately, but when that didn’t happen, I knew what I had to do.

For the past few years, Espresso had been under the loving and expert care of the husband and wife team, Dr. and Dr. Burton, at Long Point Animal Hospital. They had seen him recently and told me to prepare for this day, but nothing could have. I got in the car and thought of taking him there, but it seemed too far away—Espresso was suffering terribly. So I drove somewhere I’d never been, Animal Medical Center of Mt. Pleasant on Houston Northcutt, in the hopes that it would be open at such an early hour. Thank God, it was.

I’m writing to give my sincere thanks to Dr. Senf and his staff for the gracious and comforting way they treated Espresso and me when there was nothing left to do except ease his misery. Dr. Senf was so warm and empathetic; it was as if angels were indeed there to help Espresso to Heaven and help me, left here on Earth.

I am forever grateful to Dr. Senf at Animal Medical Center and Dr. and Dr. Burton at Long Point Animal Hospital for taking wonderful care of a dear member of our family. Veterinarians like these have such an important job in our community, and to me, they are truly everyday heroes.

Nicole Seitz
Mount Pleasant

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blessings of the South

I must tell you, there's something special about where I live--Mount Pleasant, SC. It's just over the bridge from Charleston, that mecca of history and architectural beauty like no other city I've ever seen. There's a creative pulse here with the Spoleto and Sweetgrass festivals just around the corner, basket ladies weaving, artists painting wildly to get ready, writers meeting at the local bookstore, sharing their innermost thoughts.

Here in South Carolina, we are fortunate to have a Poet Laureate like Marjory Wentworth who is writing a column in the Post & Courier, keeping poetry in front of us--giving it the importance it should have in our lives. There are authors all around us like Pat Conroy, Mary Alice Monroe, Anne Rivers Siddons, Richard Cote, Dorothea Benton Frank, Beth Webb Hart--just to name a few! I can walk into my local bookstore and meet people who work there and love books with a passion and want to help me find exactly the right one. I am surrounded by people who have found that thing--that one thing that they love, that they were put here on the earth to do. And they're doing it here in my town.

There is a love for everything creative here. There's a well of inspiration overflowing from our ocean and marsh grass and colorful, Southern people. As a writer, I am blessed to be in the company of the bowing oak trees and patrons of the arts who feed an ever-expanding culture of learning--and enjoying life to it's fullest. This place fills me and fuels me--because God, the true Creator, is here in my town. I can see Him and feel Him everywhere.

(photo by Michael Conner)