Mother’s Day Masterpiece

I’m speaking at a church this morning; about mothers, creativity, and faith, as I culminate months of writing about the same topics. The message I hope to convey is that God has given each of us gifts, and it is up to us to use them.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
My mother knew this. She lived it every day as she raised ten children, practiced her faith, and injected creativity into all aspects of her life.

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While she produced many pieces of beautiful art, in the end, her life of faith had been her greatest masterpiece, the legacy she left behind for her children and grandchildren.

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While I still have work to do to meet the end of May deadline, in honor of my mother on Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a small piece that comes at the end of my book, a brief, illustrative moment with my mother at the end of her life.

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It was an unseasonably warm October day. Mom and I had conversed comfortably in the car on the way to and from her radiation appointment; about my recent blog posts that mentioned her, the LIVE sign I’d purchased, and her concern over her cat being attacked by some feral felines. I’d assumed if she’d wanted to discuss more serious topics, she’d have brought them up.
Back at her house, I helped her out of the car. She swayed a little as she stood, and I grabbed her arm to steady her. She clung to me as we made our way to her back door. Mom expressed the desire to stay outside, so I settled her in a chair before getting her coffee and cigarettes. Setting them on the small white table in front of her, I asked if she’d be alright if I headed home to make supper for David and the children. She assured me she would. I can remember leaning down to kiss her cheek, and while I’m certain I would have told her I loved her, I can’t recall actually saying the words.
Once inside the car, I started the engine before glancing back at Mom. She was looking straight at me, a smile on her face. She raised her hand slightly, giving a little wave. It was that one small gesture that undid me. My throat filled with tears and I could barely breathe. I looked away so she wouldn’t see me cry. My mother is dying, I thought as I headed down the driveway. My mother is dying. I sobbed all the way home.
There is so much we didn’t talk about that day. In fact, we hadn’t mentioned death or dying in any of our conversations since her diagnosis. I’d been with her when the doctor informed her she had lung cancer, had heard her whispered “I wondered what it would be.” We never talked about fear, or even faith, which surprised me, considering how important her religion was to her.
More than six years after her death, in early 2017, when I re-read letters Mom had written, her Memory Book, and the odd notebooks and partial journals I’d inherited, I realized she’d already said it all, had managed to impart her faith and knowledge in the life she’d lived. There was nothing more to say. Her last lesson was in facing death with dignity, grace, and the firm belief she would soon be joining both our father and Our Father.
She surprised me, this mother of mine, appearing in this manuscript in ways I had not imagined, her words neatly written in her perfect penmanship. It was a delight when my father unexpectedly made an appearance in the ninth chapter, and healing when a poem about my grandson erupted from the ashes of grief.
As I culminate months of writing, in my mind’s eye, I see my mother sitting outside at that little table, a cigarette in her hand, a cup of coffee in front of her. Her face is lit by a beatific smile, her eyes filled with love. She lifts her hand, giving a little wave.
“I love you, Mom,” I say this time, waving back.

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Hope Springs Eternal…Still Writing

Both the Marys will be presenting at the Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s workshop in June; I’ll speak on Leaving a Legacy of Creativity and will also conduct a workshop on Writing Non-fiction Book Proposals. Mary Jedlicka Humston’s breakout session is titled “When Life’s Challenges Challenge Your Writing.”

I believe part of the reason I have been persistently and consistently writing for the last thirty years is due to the example of mentors who never stop writing, no matter what is going on in their life. That, and I’m pretty sure I would go stark raving mad if I did not take the time for writing.

One of those mentors is C. Hope Clark. I’ve considered C. Hope Clark a mentor ever since I read The Shy Writer. (since updated as The Shy Writer Reborn) As a fellow introvert, I wasn’t sure how I would face book-signings or public speaking, but thanks to her book and a great deal of hands-on experience, I’m now comfortable with both. Not only have I discovered a few markets for my writing from her FundsforWriters newsletter, Hope’s column and the short articles in it taught me a lot about the writing world. You can find some of them reprinted in the Best of FundsforWriters Vol. I. The fact that she actually took the time to reply to my e-mail with good advice when I asked about promotion and marketing shortly before my Coupon Crazy was released in 2013 facilitated that mentorship. Now, I follow her closely on Facebook, and respect her opinion on issues related to writing and publishing.  This photo popped up on Hope’s Facebook page recently, followed by her comment Still writing. 

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When friends and well-wishers urged her to take it easy, to watch videos, and rest up, Hope added “Husband is down with a bad disc, and I’m guardian for both Alzheimer’s parents. Though in a nursing home, I have to get them to doctors and such, manage their finances, etc. Am trying to close a deal on their house next week. Several book appearances. The garden is planted and now needs weeding and the chickens have to be tended daily. So….I’m sort of worn out. But there really isn’t an alternative to just keep on doing.”

Talk about challenges! But Hope continues to write. In fact, she is working on a sequel to her newly released Newberry Sin, Book 4 in the Carolina Slade mystery series, which I recently interviewed her about.

Tell us about your fiction books and your newest release.
The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries, “Newberry Sin” is set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. Slade holds an investigative position with Agriculture similar to what I had. She works alongside Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, a badge and gun-totin’ real agent with a specialty in agriculture. She loves her rural South Carolina almost as much as her family, and both are displayed front and center in both books. She might not understand how a real agent would investigate, but she usually gets her guy, with Wayne often grumbling about her methods along the way. Her family’s been sucked into her cases a time or two, raising the tension, and if they aren’t involved, they have catastrophes of their own. She’s spunky with dialogue that tends to kick up dust along the way. I have to say I love this woman. And she has a pretty strong fan club.

The Edisto Island Mysteries are entertaining in their own way. Set on a real island in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Callie Jean Morgan, born and raised in the Carolinas, leaves a dysfunctional family and moves north, marrying a Bostonian, both working in law enforcement. He dies as a result of one of her caseiddled with guilt and faced with a teenage son to raise, she returns to South Carolina. Her mayor dad gives her the deed to the family vacation home on Edisto Beach, and from there she builds her life back.
The characters in this book are to die for. They are colorful, humorous, and unique, much like you’d find amongst natives of a beach community. Tourism comes into play, and the series is as much about Callie’s growth as an individual as the crimes solved.


There are four Edisto mysteries with a fifth under contract. And by the way, this fifth will also find Slade from the first series, visiting Edisto and crossing Callie’s path. A fun experience for fans of both books.

To learn more about C. Hope Clark, or her books, click HERE.

Hope
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