A Note of Thanks

With gratitude, I am thrilled to announce the award of a developmental grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming Legislature. Such welcome support for the artistic community, especially in these dire times, cannot be overstated. It speaks to an understanding and recognition of humanity’s bedrock need to create something out of nothing, be it a novel, a song, a work of art, or any creative pursuit—which, in truth, encompasses any and all endeavors, if intention allows. The wondrous State of Wyoming has a soft spot for those of us who would tell our stories—and by extension, those of our storied landscapes—through our fancies and efforts. My thanks to all concerned.

This particular grant, like another I received, will go toward editing costs. It’s difficult, if nigh impossible, to edit oneself. This has been my experience, notwithstanding the numerous drafts, part of the creative process, and about which myriad books are written. I won’t go on about it.

As an indie author and my own publisher, I find the book business side both fascinating and tedious. The action of formatting a manuscript for paperback or e-book publication is both satisfying and nerve-wracking. I just completed preparing the third book of the Riven Country series, Earthbound, and am awaiting another scintillating cover image from friend Candace Christofferson. A late November release is The Plan. To have published three books in a year and a half may seem obsessive, but given the uncertain era we live in, I thought it best to “cast [my] bread upon the waters,” and see what returns. Which begs the question, “Why put oneself through it all?”

The simple answer: the work gives my life—for the present—meaning, purpose and perspective. Being separated from our children and grandchildren is a theme I’ve explored before, but today, with the virus constraints, the onus is on everyone to protect one another. As of this writing, on August 26, 2020, +180,000 persons have died in the United States, due to Covid-19. Despite the national crisis, Wyoming continues to attend to the Arts on behalf of her low population.

Ultimately, the Arts may serve to make sense of it all.

Signing copies for an upcoming author event at Devils Tower KOA over Labor Day Weekend, in the shadow of our nation’s first national monument. Drop by if you’re in the area. We’ll be outdoors, among the Hot Air Balloons. Can’t miss it!

Joys and Sorrows

STARWALLOW, the second book in my Riven Country series, is available on Amazon.com on June 21 in paperback and as e-book. I picked a strange time to release my first two novels. “Not getting any younger,” scrolled in the back of my mind, like a looping film clip. So! Carry on, doesn’t matter, I hear. The next installment takes up where The Riven Country of Senga Munro left off, with the folks in the Northern Wyoming Black Hills going about their lives with grit, forbearance, and, some grace. Travel is a theme. My short tag line reads: “. . . explores the distance between home and the travel necessary to come home to oneself.”

My joy—and satisfaction—at completing this writing project is tempered by a deep sorrow. A highly anticipated visit by our distant grandchildren has been cancelled, due to the virus. They live in the mid-west, and all possible routes lead through areas of virus spread, i.e., eastern South Dakota, or Nebraska or Colorado; and the stats are rising in Missouri itself. I abhor letting people down, especially our son and grandchildren, so it’s doubly difficult. The assertion that we would like to, someday, be able to attend the kids’ graduations, weddings, etc., doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid, and we’re left with a hollow feeling of perhaps being too cautious. Reason cries no! Still. . .

Between Joy and Sorrow there lies a field, to paraphrase Rumi. I’ll meet you there. . .

Navigating the times, a raging river, are we headed for a Niagara’s Falls? Both/and inclusion insist we’re aboard a hardy Lifeboat and shall weather the rapids, to finally make our tenuous way toward the far shore. I must believe this. Our country, and the world, have faced adversity before, as well as revolutions of mind and heart. This particular Lifeboat is large enough for EVERYONE. May all beings be safe. May all beings be loved. May all beings be free.

It may not be coincidence that my novels feature a Louisiana man who chooses to live in Wyoming, where his skin color is rare. Gabe Belizaire, of blue-Black heritage, quotes W.C. Fields to a belligerent hunter: “It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” When I began writing this story six years ago, notions of white supremacy and its hurtful message slithered in like the proverbial snake in the garden. For a reason, I suppose.

Beyond the idea of good and the idea of evil there lies a field. I will meet you there. ~Rumi

May you stay safe, afloat and, keep breathing.

Work in Progress, Shelter in Place

Sheltering in place is less of a hardship for some than for others. For writers, it can mean a tacit permission to do what they do, a tragic circumstance notwithstanding. Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees, forgive the cliché; and has brought some lower. As of today, March 20, 2020, the first full day of Spring in the northern hemisphere, 259,684 cases have been reported worldwide, with 10,549 deaths. These numbers are fluid and, sadly, are expected to rise exponentially in the coming weeks. In Wyoming, 19 cases are confirmed as of today.

My husband bought provisions to last a while, and I’ve had three months of medications mailed to me. A compromised immune system and heart condition precludes socializing, but I’m experiencing a renewed inclination to be in telephone or email touch with friends and family, those I would neglect while in the throes of formatting my novels for publication, or completing my WIP, or “work in progress.” A paradox, I suppose. I wouldn’t call it a silver lining.

We are being tested, and sorely so, I fear. When I watch a news segment, showing cavalier college kids gathering during Spring Break, flouting the danger that surrounds them, I want to shake my head and sigh. And then, I want to weep. When I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish, goes the saying. With half the country minimizing the outbreak and the other half entering solitary confinement of a sort, and, in some states, all being restricted to quarters, there is little room for middle ground. We downplay the virus at our peril.

All this said, my husband and I attended a gathering just seven days ago, when we were still feeling flush, and Wyoming’s lone Covid-19 case was being managed. No get-togethers since then. Given the speed of spread, we will soon know if we, and/or anyone present, already had contracted the virus and were not yet presenting symptoms. Just now, I heard there’s a five-day incubation period. Not long at all. So, we take our temperatures daily, practice social distancing and cancel trips to see our children who live out-of-state.

I like “Work in Progress” as a title—a mantra during fraught times. Progress is positive, or it can be, but disease can “progress” too. I’ve always thought the phrase, “progressively worse,” an oxymoron. There must be a more correct phrase . . .