Baby Bailino: Long Island Author of the Year Dina Santorelli pens another thriller full of heart and soul

December 13, 2016

What others are saying about Baby Bailino, a follow-up to Baby Grand

“Dina Santorelli writes a terrific thriller. Baby Bailino will grip you to the end—and long after.”

—Andrew Gross, New York Times best-selling author of The One Man

“Dina Santorelli has done it again—delivering a taut thriller with believable, flesh and blood characters and a story that stays with you.”

—Anne Canadeo, best-selling author of the Black Sheep Mysteries

Book Summary:

It’s been two years since Jamie Carter escaped captivity and saved Charlotte Grand, the infant daughter of New York Governor Phillip Grand, becoming a national hero for foiling the kidnapping plot that incarcerated reputed mobster/entrepreneur Don Bailino—the man who abducted and raped her. As Governor Grand considers his candidacy for U.S. president, Bailino inexplicably escapes from prison, and soon Jamie’s fifteen-month-old daughter, Faith—Bailino’s biological child—disappears. Jamie sets off to find her and, in the process, finds an unlikely ally in Bailino, who is on the run not only from the FBI but from members of organized crime who have a score to settle. Can Jamie trust the man who once held her prisoner? Can she rely on her instincts? And can she again find the strength to save a child when, this time, that child is her own?

My thoughts on this well-crafted story:

Dina Santorelli’s Baby Bailino kept me in a quandary from the moment I started reading until the very end: at times I wasn’t sure who to root for. Just when I thought I had the characters figured out, along came another twist and turn in an action-packed thriller full of heart and soul. Sometimes the “bad guy” might turn out to be your favorite character. As I read the last lines in this incredible story, I smiled to myself with a deep sense of satisfaction at the way things turned out.

Q&A with the author:

Kathleen: Baby Bailino is a sequel to your debut novel, Baby Grand. Was writing the sequel easier or more difficult than the first book? How long did it take you to write both books?

DS: Although it took the same amount of time to write the first drafts of both books (about a year and a half), I found writing Baby Bailino easier in one sense and more challenging in another—easier in that I felt like I was really comfortable with the characters already and felt an immediate connection, like I was reuniting with family and friends, and more difficult in that I felt the pressures of sequelhood—not wanting to repeat too much for those who read the first book, but knowing that I needed to acclimate new readers to the story. I always was conscious of that fine line between telling too much and telling too little.

KMR: Can people read the sequel if they haven’t read Baby Grand? In other words, can Baby Bailino be read as a standalone book?

DS: Yes. I wrote the sequel so that it can stand alone. However, readers of the first book will certainly get a fuller and more satisfying read—they know the backstory of these characters and bring that knowledge to the new plot.

KMR: What advice can you give writers who are struggling to write a sequel? How do you decide how much backstory to include in the second book?

DS: Oh, that’s the million-dollar question! I wish I knew.  I just try to include enough backstory so that new readers don’t feel completely lost. I find writing to be such a go-with-your-gut kind of endeavor. Whatever feels right, I try to do and hope for the best.

KMR: Do you revise as you go or do you write the first draft straight through and then go back and revise?

DS: Oh, I revise as I go. My modus operandi is to write a chapter or so at one sitting, and then at the next sitting look over what I did the session before, edit, and then go on to new material from there.

KMR: Early in the sequel, there are some fast-paced scenes that take place inside a prison. As a reader, I was pulled along with my heart in my throat. Without giving too much away, can you describe how you created this realistic setting? Did you visit a prison or talk to former inmates before you wrote this section?

DS: Actually, I made the entire thing up! For me, that’s the best part of being a fiction writer—just using my imagination. Because I’ve been a journalist for more than 25 years, I have always been tied to facts—getting descriptions right, getting attributions right. I feel so much freer as a novelist. I can do whatever I want!  That’s not to say that I don’t like to mix a little fact into my fiction. I think when novelists incorporate factual information it makes their works more believable. For instance, when I mention that Phillip Grand (fictional character) had a photo of Barack Obama (real person) on a table, that helps tie Phillip to a certain place and time that is real. I like doing that. But to write the prison scenes, I just tried to tap into that imagination and take the reader on a really interesting ride. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

KMR: At what age did you proclaim, “I am a writer?” How did you get your foot in the door at publications like CNN and Newsday?

DS: I’ve always felt like a storyteller. Feeling like an actual writer came later. When I was in my teens, my head was full of stories, but I didn’t think my writing was good enough to make those stories come alive. It took more than twenty years as a journalist—working on my writing every day, learning how to make observations every day, meeting new and interesting people every day—to hone my craft. By telling other people’s stories, I learned how to tell my own.

Getting my foot in the door at any publication or with any new client meant getting myself to a place where I had enough experience to show I could do the job. I wrote for many publications and outlets that paid terribly and had small readerships, but I didn’t care; I wanted the experience and the clips for my portfolio. (Turns out, I learned a hell of a lot, as well, working for these publications and made contacts that impacted my career greatly.) Getting my foot in the door also meant hoping that the person/publication I wanted to work with would take a chance on working with someone new. I always say to my students (I teach Continuing Ed. at Hofstra University), “All you need is one person to take a chance on you.” I was lucky enough to have had several.

KMR: Do you attend many writers’ conferences these days? If so, which ones?

DS: The conferences I go to are more about publishing—the business of writing—such as Digital Book World, which I’ll be attending in January.

KMR: What was it like growing up in Queens? As a child, did you and your family go into New York City very often? And did living so close to the city have an influence on your writing career?

DS: I loved growing up in Queens. I was lucky to live with two parents who loved me and a strong friend network. It was really one of those “city” upbringings that you see on television where packs of kids are outside playing handball or punchball or playing tag and Red Rover well into the night. That was us. We all felt like family, and when I see old friends on Facebook, they say the same thing. We loved and protected one another—kind of like the kids on the Netflix series, Stranger Things. That was us, riding bikes and having adventures.

My family and I went to New York City on occasion, but it wasn’t really until I was driving on my own that I would go into Manhattan—“the City,” as we called it—to see plays and shows. I know it’s a cliché, but there really is such an electricity to New York City that is palpable—I still feel it to this day when I go there. It never gets old.

And, oh, yes, living there did have an influence on me! Not only did commuting to Manhattan for work foster my love of reading—I read thrillers by John Grisham, James Patterson, and Michael Crichton on the buses and subway every day—but it is just rich with people and activity. There’s a novel lurking on every corner.

KMR: You and your husband have three kids. How do you juggle family time with your professional duties as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter, nonfiction author, and Executive Editor of Family and Salute Magazines (distributed at military installations around the country). Do you designate certain days of the week for your editing job and other days for your freelance work? And how do you squeeze in ghostwriting other people’s books on top of writing fiction? I feel like a slacker next to you.

DS: I have no idea how I do it.  I do believe, though, that you can find time for anything you want to do, if you really try. I’m a firm believer in: If there’s a will, there’s a way. To write Baby Grand, the kids were younger and demanded more of my time, so I used to set my alarm for 4 a.m. to write. I’d write for an hour or two, crawl back to bed, and then get up with them for school. It’s all about time management. I’ll designate a morning to working on a nonfiction project and an afternoon to working on a freelance article and then an evening to going out to dinner with my friends. A spiral notebook on my desk is my best friend—I write down all the things I want to get done in a day and then try to do them (my kids make fun of me for not having acclimated to Google Calendar). I may not always get to everything, but I try. Of course, as my children have gotten older, juggling has gotten a whole lot easier—at least until we got our shih tzu.

KMR: Please describe the difference between writing fiction and nonfiction. In your opinion, is one more difficult to write than the other?

DS: To be honest, I’m not sure which is easier or more difficult. Both present interesting challenges. I find fiction to be an all-encompassing kind of writing. When I’m in the throes of writing a novel, I become consumed. The characters follow me around while I’m running errands, trying to sleep, taking a shower. My brain is always trying to piece together threads of plot and dialog. It can be exhausting. It’s like I am in a constant pursuit of authenticity. For nonfiction, it’s less consuming, but just as demanding. Here, too, I strive for authenticity. In a freelance article, my concern is presenting the authenticity of whomever I’m writing about. As a ghostwriter/collaborator, I strive to bring to life the authenticity of the author of the book: Am I capturing his/her voice? Am I conveying what he/she wants to say? Did I nail the lingo? Writing fiction and nonfiction, for me, is all about finding truth, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.

KMR: In a television interview you gave a few years ago, you talked about how most writers deal with self-doubt. How do you push through it and get your work done, especially if you’re working on a story without a deadline?

DS: Ah, the dreaded self-doubt! One of my professors used to call it the “shit bird” that sits on your shoulder and constantly tells you you’re no good. Not fun. How I push through really depends on the day. Some days, I’ll just step away from the computer—I’ll take a walk or take a shower or spend time with my kids. Usually, I’ll do this when I’m feeling particularly frazzled. Other days, I’ll just sit there and push. I usually strive for 1,000 words a day when I’m writing, so I’ll just write and write until I get there, even if I think what I’m writing is awful. I have this saying: Bad writing is better than no writing. Even if I’ve written 500 words of blah, I can usually find one or two gems in there that would not have gotten written if I didn’t push.

KMR: You’ve interviewed several celebrities over the years, both in person and over the telephone. Can you give us a peek into this process? For the most part, are they friendly and accommodating or have you ever dealt with any rascals (male or female)?

DS: Most people are friendly. Usually, they are promoting films or television shows, so I expect them to be, although there have been a few “rascals,” as you describe them. (Being from New York, I would have used another word.) Some of my favorite interviews have been with James Gandolfini (telephone), Paul Reiser (in person), and Norman Reedus (telephone).

KMR: After all these years, is it still thrilling to see your byline on a story for a national publication and on the cover of your books?

DS: Yes! But, to be honest, what’s even more thrilling is when people stop me to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written, especially my novels. It’s one thing to write, but it’s another to connect, and I feel honored that so many readers have taken my characters into their hearts.

KMR: What are you working on now in terms of fiction?

DS: I am currently writing the third book, titled Baby Carter, in the Baby Grand thriller trilogy. I’m planning to publish it in the summer of 2018.

KMR: In closing, is there anything else you want to share about your career?

DS: Yes, not so much about my career, but I’d like to say this to all aspiring writers: Never give up. The road can be dark (and not because you’re nutty and write in the middle of the night like I do) and sometimes you’ll wonder if it’s worth it. It is. Tell your story. Stay tough, and keep on keepin’ on. Sometimes you are the only one who can see a dream, but, really, you is all you need.

BIO:

Voted one of the best Long Island authors for two consecutive years, Dina Santorelli is the author of the award-winning debut novel, Baby Grand—a Runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition and an Honorable Mention, Genre Fiction, in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years and has written frequently about travel, entertainment, lifestyle, bridal, and pop culture. Dina currently serves as the executive editor of Salute and Family magazines for which she has interviewed many celebrities, including Norman Reedus, Vince Vaughn, James Gandolfini, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Angela Bassett, and Kevin Bacon, among others. She has collaborated on a variety of nonfiction book projects, including Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons (St. Martin’s Press, May 2016), I, Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator (St. Martin’s Press, February 2016), Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, The Brown Betty Cookbook, and Bully, and her book Daft Punk: A Trip Inside the Pyramid has been published in several languages. Dina also lectures for Hofstra University’s Continuing Education Department and is a SELF-e Ambassador for the Library Journal. For more information about Dina, visit her website at http://dinasantorelli.com

For another great interview, check out Dina’s Q&A with author and journalist Deborah Kalb.

http://deborahkalbbooks.blogspot.com/2016/09/q-with-dina-santorelli.html

Winner!

Dina Santorelli: 2nd Place, Best Long Island Author, 2013 & 2014 (Long Island Press)

Dina Santorelli: 1st Place, Best Nassau County Author, 2013 & 2014 (The Happening List)

Baby Grand: Honorable Mention, Genre Fiction, 2013 (Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards)

Baby Grand: Top-rated Mystery/Thriller (Amazon Kindle)

Baby Grand: Best-selling organized crime thriller (Amazon Kindle)

 

Baby Grand is available for purchase on Amazon: https://t.co/YCFnttLfy7

Baby Bailino is available for purchase on Amazon: https://goo.gl/JZd5qO

 

Join Dina’s mailing list! http://tinyurl.com/dinasmailinglist

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DinaSantorelli

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dinasantorelliwriter

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dinasantorelli

Blog: http://makingbabygrand.com

Why there’s no “happy” in Memorial Day

Updated May 27, 2017

Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).
Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).

The following passage is from my second novel,  Johnnie Come Lately.  (Reader discretion advised).

     Johnnie was about to rave on Granny’s baked beans

when Callie Ann piped up, “Hey, D.J., tell everybody what

happened this morning when you went to buy cigarettes.”

     D.J. looked up from his plate. He put his fork down and

cleared his throat.

     “So, I’m standing in line at the 7-Eleven. The guy in front

of me pays for his stuff and says to this young female

cashier,‘Happy Memorial Day.’ Man, I thought that chick

was going to come over the counter. She shoves the guy’s change at him and

snarls, ‘What’s so fucking happy about Memorial Day?’ ”

     Johnnie cringed.

     Before anyone could say something, D.J. picked up his

plastic fork and stabbed at a pile of baked beans. “Sorry about

the F-bomb,” he apologized. “I’m just reporting what I heard.”

     Johnnie took a deep breath and reached for Brother’s head.

As usual, he was at her side, waiting for a scrap to fall. She

needed to hold onto the one member of the family who wouldn’t judge her.

Wouldn’t judge any of them.

     Running her fingers through his soft fur, she said what

needed to be said.

     “Well, considering that my father died in war, I have to agree

with that young lady at the 7-Eleven. There’s absolutely nothing

happy about Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the

war dead.”

***

“I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.” Jennie Haskamp, United States Marine Corp Veteran, for Washington Post.

 

Gypsy Muse Studio hosts author Kathleen M. Rodgers for Main Street Days in Grapevine, TX

Posted May 16, 2015

Gypsy Muse Studio 106 E Texas St, Grapevine, Texas
Gypsy Muse Studio, 106 E Texas St, Grapevine, Texas
L-R Literary agent Jeanie Loiacono, Claudia Hackett, Rhonda Revels, and author Kathleen M. Rodgers gather on the lawn of Gypsy Muse Studio in Grapevine, TX for Main Street Days. Kathleen signed copies of her novels, Johnnie Come Lately & The Final Salute.
Jeanie Loiacono, Claudia Hackett, Rhonda Revels, and author Kathleen M. Rodgers gather on the lawn of Gypsy Muse Studio in Grapevine, TX for Main Street Days. Kathleen signed copies of her novels, Johnnie Come Lately & The Final Salute. 
Kathleen with Claudia Hackett, who drove from Memphis, TN to meet Kathleen in person. Claudia and Kathleen met on Facebook years ago.
Kathleen with Claudia Hackett,  who drove from Memphis, TN to meet Kathleen in person. Claudia and Kathleen met on Facebook years ago.

 

 

Johnnie Come Lately’s fictional setting takes place in Portion, Texas, modeled after Grapevine. Anyone familiar with the area will recognize certain locations along historic Main Street, such as the Palace Theater and the corner bank building at Worth and Main. The cemetery along Dooley Street plays prominently in the story, as does the nearby lake.

L-R Claudia Hacket, Kathleen, and Meredith, an aviation mechanic from Savannah, GA who stopped by Kathleen's booth and left with autographed copies of Johnnie Come Lately and The Final Salute.
L-R Claudia Hackett, Kathleen, and Meredith, an aviation mechanic from Savannah, GA who stopped by Kathleen’s booth and left with autographed copies of Johnnie Come Lately and The Final Salute.

 

 

 

 

Johnnie Come Lately deals with the repercussions of a heat-of-the-moment confession, a son’s enlistment during wartime, and many other issues that American families deal with day to day. At the heart of the story is a woman whose mama has been missing for several years and the family secrets surrounding her disappearance.

Kathleen with Faith, the 14 year-old granddaughter of one of the owners of Gypsy Muse.
Kathleen with Faith, 14 year-old granddaughter of one of the owners of Gypsy Muse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Writers Magazine presents “The Journey to Johnnie” by Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of Johnnie Come Lately

Posted May 4, 2015

Kathleen M Rodgers - SW May 2015 teaser
Click the photo to enlarge the image. If you aren’t a subscriber to Southern Writers Magazine and you’d like to read the entire article, please click here to order the May/June print or online edition with my story featured on page 30.    

 

01 SW Cover May 2015 (1)
Honored to see my name featured with other contributors on the cover of the May/June 2015 issue of Southern Writers Magazine.
Signing copies of my latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately, at Hastings Books in Clovis, New Mexico. To read more about my work, please visit my website @ www.kathleenMRodgers.com
Signing copies of my latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately, at Hastings Books in Clovis, New Mexico. To read more about my work, please visit my website @ www.kathleenMRodgers.com

Featured author in Southern Writers Magazine:blue

 

“When I Became My Words” by Zachariah Claypole White

March 20, 2015

"At age 9, Zachariah had just won first place in the Carolina Parent Magazine writing competition, and his prize was to read his story at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham. (He needed a stepping stool to reach the podium.) After the event, the wonderful Cathy Davidson asked how it felt to read his words. In response, Zachariah wrote his first poem. He hasn't stopped writing and performing his words since…”  Award-winning novelist Barbara Claypole White
“At age 9, Zachariah had just won first place in the Carolina Parent Magazine writing competition, and his prize was to read his story at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham. (He needed a stepping stool to reach the podium.) After the event, the wonderful Cathy Davidson asked how it felt to read his words. In response, Zachariah wrote his first poem. He hasn’t stopped writing and performing his words since…” Award-winning novelist Barbara Claypole White

When I Became My Words

by Zachariah Claypole White

I stepped up to my fate

All my work lay before me

My legs were shaking

My heart was quaking

My hands became a mouth

And I became my words

My skin became pages

My heart became a pencil

And I wrote my soul

My legs were shaking

My heart was quaking

When I became my words

©2004 Zachariah Nigel Claypole White

Barbara Claypole White with her talented son, Zachariah, this past  Christmas.
Barbara Claypole White with her talented son, Zachariah, this past Christmas.

Zachariah’s bio:

Zachariah Claypole White is a multi-published poet and an award-winning singer-songwriter.  His poems have appeared in numerous publications including Highlights Magazine, and both his poems and lyrics have received many awards including a silver medal at the national level of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. He is a former winner of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poetry Series (middle grades) and was featured in the Durham Magazine as one of the “best and brightest” high school students in The Triangle area of North Carolina. In honor of his openness about fighting obsessive-compulsive disorder, the magazine dubbed him The Warrior Poet. He is currently a student at Oberlin College, where he is majoring in creative writing. YouTube video of Zachariah performing one of his slam poems about OCD: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdCxeUFupCc

 

The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole WhiteEnglish born and educated, Barbara Claypole White lives in the North Carolina forest with her family. Inspired by her poet/musician son’s courageous battles against obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barbara writes hopeful stories about troubled families with a healthy dose of mental illness. Her debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and The In-Between Hour was chosen by SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers) as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick. The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole WhiteHer third novel, The Perfect Son, has a publication date of July 2015. For more information, or to connect with Barbara, please visit barbaraclaypolewhite.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen M. Rodgers to speak at Houston Writers Guild Pre-Conference Workshop, March 28, 2015

Posted March 9, 2015

Houston Writers Guild announcement for Kathleenmrodgers workshop March 28

Houston Writers Guild March 28 Conference with Kathleenmrodgers

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015

Time: 9:30 am – 11:30 am

Location: Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Road, Houston, TX  77055

Short presentation about Kathleen’s writer’s journey and how she acquired an agent

For more information, visit http://houstonwritersguild.org

 

The Final Salute lives on in this second edition from Deer Hawk Publications

New back and front cover for 2nd edition of The Final Salute published by Deer Hawk Publications.

For sixteen years I believed in this novel. Snarled at rejection. Revised. Raised two sons. Sold stories to national magazines. Stayed true to my dream of finding a traditional publisher. And then it happened. On my 50th birthday. Then USA Today, The Associated Press, & Military Times took notice. And now almost six years after the original publication, my little book that grew wings and learned to fly is back in paperback and e-book. 

The Final Salute, a story of honor, integrity, dedication and survival, is now available: Amazon  BAM!  Barnes & Noble Powell’s Books  Wheelers Books

ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS:

“A realistic yet heartwarming and reaffirming assessment of life and love and dedication by the very people who guard our own lives.”

—    Parris Afton Bonds, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Purple & cofounder of Romance Writers of America and Southwest Writers Workshop

***

“Gripping Insider’s Story of A Fighter Pilot’s Life Out of the Cockpit. The story pulls you in from the very beginning.”

—    Dwight J. Zimmerman, New York Times #1 Bestseller writer of Lincoln’s Last Days, President of Military Writers Society of America

***

USA Today ~ Air Force wife’s novel set at fictional England AFB.

Military Times ~ The Final Salute: Giving voice to these ghosts.

Mobile, Alabama Press-Register ~ Rodgers has created richly layered characters that compel readers to keep flipping the pages.

Midwest Book Review ~ I recommend this novel as a good description of the military life and the inner works of the way things are done, including the cover-up process.

Fort Worth, Texas Magazine ~ Until the very end, readers are intrigued by her colorful cast of characters that bring everything from love to betrayal amid the added struggle of military life.

Winner of the Silver Medal for fiction from Military Writers Society of America

Amazon’s #1 Top Rated War Fiction

Novelist: My claim to “fame” at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony at Tarrant County College/NE Campus

Updated March 18, 2015TCC:NE Distinguished Alumni 2014

Kathleen M. Rodgers on the Wall of Fame at Tarrant County College/NE Campus, 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award
Kathleen M. Rodgers on the Wall of Fame at Tarrant County College/NE Campus, 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award

I sat through the awards luncheon waiting for the real Kathleen Rodgers to show up. The one that grew up to become the person she’d always wanted to be: a successful writer.  The one that smiles big for photo ops and has tried for thirty-five plus years to “make it” as a writer. I sat through a two-hour luncheon waiting for it to feel real. I looked at the other distinguished alumni and kept asking myself “how did I get here?” I can’t even remember my multiplication tables!

Kathleen on the big screen at TCC:NE campus' Distinugued Alumni ceremonyThen my name was called. When I turned to see my photo and a sample of my professional credits on the big screen, it started to feel real. All at once I was back in my comfort zone, especially when the president of the college asked jokingly if I brought any books to sign. And then when I took my seat and finally stared at my award:

Tarrant County College Northeast Campus

Distinguished Alumni Award

Presented to

Kathleen Rodgers

Novelist

 

(L-R) With former advisor/instructor Anita Peters, best friend Rhonda Revels, and literary agent, Jeanie Loiacono.
(L-R) With former advisor/instructor Anita Peters, best friend Rhonda Revels, and  Jeanie Loiacono.

It was the word “novelist” that cemented the deal for me, and I got to share it with my dear friend, Rhonda Revels (the inspiration behind my character Whit Thomas in my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately.)

Rhonda Revels and Kathleen, best friends for 22 years.
Rhonda Revels and Kathleen, best friends for 22 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doris Jones in her office at TCC/NE Campus. Don't you love her bookshelves?
Doris Jones in her office at TCC/NE Campus. Don’t you love her bookshelves?

 

 

* A special note of thanks to my former government professor, Doris Jones, for nominating me. What I respect about Doris is how she respects her students.

 

 

 

 

 

See the press release about the Wall of Fame at TCC/NE Campus:

http://sites.tccd.edu/tccbuzz/2014/05/08/tcc-northeast-campus-dedicates-alumni-wall-of-fame-2/

Denton the Dog

Tom, Kathy and Denton at the vet in Denton, TX. Right before his ride to his new home.
Tom, Kathy and Denton at the vet in Denton, TX, right before his first ride to new home.

 

Denton the Dog

Posted 10/21/13

On October 14, 2013, five months to the day we lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Bubba, we rescued Denton from the Denton Animal Shelter, Denton, TX.  The staff at the shelter said he’d been there almost a month, played well with the other dogs and was friendly and outgoing, so they couldn’t understand why he kept getting overlooked.

Denton at his new home.
Denton at his new home.

Overlooked. That’s all I needed to hear. Plus the shelter was full, and his days were numbered. So I asked to see this dog the staff called Ranger, a stray that appears to be about three years old and we think is part Chocolate Lab, part Catahoula. Even before I saw him, I knew I would call him Denton, named after the town where he was rescued.

When I looked into his eyes, I saw a lost soul that needed a loving home. I told my husband, Tom, “He’s the one that Bubba sent me.”

 

Before leaving the house that day to visit the shelter, I stood in front of Bubba’s photo and asked him to send me another loyal friend, a dog that needed a family.

Cuddling with Bubba, the heartbeat of our home. He was 9 when he left us unexpectedly on May 14, 2013. My dad died five days later.
Cuddling with Bubba, the heartbeat of our home. He was 9 when he left us unexpectedly on May 14, 2013. My dad died five days later.

I touched Bubba’s collar and tags, ran my fingers over the cedar box that shelters his ashes, and asked for his blessing.

Denton came to us not knowing a single command, but he is a smart dog and he is learning to sit and stay. On Wednesday he gets his first bath.

Denton's new game: He takes his squeaky pumpkin to top of stairs, drops it, then chases after it as it rolls down stairs. Did this three times in a row on his sixth day in his new home.
Denton’s new game: He takes his squeaky pumpkin to top of stairs, drops it, then chases after it as it rolls down stairs. Did this three times in a row on his sixth day in his new home.

While he can never replace the huge spaces Bubba occupied in our home and hearts, Denton is already filling the void with doggie kisses, cute antics, and that rattle of tags that only comes from the sound of a happy dog.

Denton at the dining room window. He loves to watch the neighbor kids play across the street.
Denton at the dining room window. He loves to watch the neighbor kids play across the street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Update 12/3/13:

We just got Denton’s DNA test results back from Wisdom Panel Insights. He is an American Staffordshire Terrier/Rottweiler Mix with shades of Catahoula Leopard Dog! Not one trace of Chocolate Lab in him like we originally thought. Our family vet also thinks Denton is between one and two years old, a little younger than originally thought. We will never know where Denton spent his days before a citizen brought him to the shelter. But here’s what we know: He is happy to have a home, a family who loves him, and chattering squirrels to chase.

From Lithograph "Motherly Secrets" by Thomas C. Rodgers. Used with permission.
From Lithograph “Motherly Secrets” by Thomas C. Rodgers. Used by permission.

 

To read more about her work, please visit her website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com

 

Homecoming Queen and the Football Star

1953, USA --- Original caption: 1953-A homecoming queen smiles and waves from the back seat of a convertible. --- Image by © Jack Moebes/CORBIS
1953, USA — Original caption: 1953-A homecoming queen smiles and waves from the back seat of a convertible. — Image by © Jack Moebes/CORBIS

 

The homecoming queen

and the football star

out on a date

in Daddy’s car.

They’re the popular kids

in the town’s high school

that plays by

its own set of rules.

She wears a gown

and traditional crown.

He holds a pigskin

and helmet for the pose.

He’s the cream of the crop

and she – the unblemished rose.

After high school they’ll marry

and raise a mess of kids.

And some Saturday night

they’ll sit reminiscing

over the way things used to be:

before she wore aprons

and pockets of fat,

and he had hair

under his helmet

and the spare tire

rested in the trunk.

Their children vie

for the titles this year.

They keep the spirit of harvest alive

in small towns across America.

They’re the homecoming queen

and the football star…

the heart of the parade

in the convertible car.

© Kathleen M. Rodgers  ~ Alaska 1986

 

My poem inspired Denise Norris to purchase these charms for her mother, Johnnie Dale Norris, who was a homecoming queen and whose husband was a football star.
My poem inspired Denise Norris to purchase these charms for her mother, Johnnie Dale Norris, who was a homecoming queen and whose husband was a football star.

Some Act of Vision: Q & A with author Lori Ann Stephens

Author Lori Ann Stephens

Meet Lori Ann Stephens: author, college lecturer, mother

Q: What is your latest book about? Give brief description, title, target audience.

A: Thanks for asking! Some Act of Vision is about a 16-year-old girl, Jordan, whose typical life is disrupted twice: once by a deadly earthquake caused by fracking, and second by the toxic gas released by a chemical plant.

Some Act of Vision

Jordan’s family wakes up invisible, and the rest of the story is about her trying to find herself, physically and metaphysically. There is, of course, a budding romance in the book. Although the genre is Young Adult, for 13 and up, I’ve read great reviews by adult readers…there’s a large and unabashed audience of adult readers of YA.

 

 

 

 

Song of the Orange MoonsQ: Your first novel, Song of the Orange Moons, totally captivated me. Can you give us a brief summary and talk about how the book came to you? How you developed your three main characters? They felt like real people to me.

A: First, thank you. I’m always honored when someone reads my books. And then when I come across reviews from readers—well, they make my day. (Yours, especially, Kathleen.) I feel a strange sort of attachment to every single person who writes a review of my books—even the ones who admit that my literary fiction just isn’t their thing. They took the time to read, and that commitment is not lost on me. As you know, Song of the Orange Moons is essentially about three girls who go on a quest to find out how to love themselves. It was my “heart” book; I wrote it because my heart wanted me to, not because I thought any reader was waiting for the book. The characters came first—the girl hiding under the organ, the old widow who thought the moon landing was an elaborate scam, a grandpa who loved wood. The characters and events were my mother, my father, and my childhood self, molded into different bodies and times and spaces. There were other relatives, too, lingering behind the characters. So…they were real people. Even when I distorted them out of the realm of reality, they were still real to me.

 

Q: There’s a scene in Song of the Orange Moons where you write about one of your characters living at an orphanage in Texas during the depression/dust bowl days. The chapter felt so authentic. How did you go about bringing this chapter to life? How much research was involved?

Lori with her young son, Julien
Lori with her young son, Julien

A: Ah! That was my father’s story and my mother’s story, rolled into one. Daddy grew up during the Great Depression in Waco, and Mother grew up (much later) in an awful orphanage. I combined those two experiences and threw in a dust storm to make it more interesting. I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor of Half-Price Books, scouring for history books about the Depression and dust storms, but I was mainly looking for ones with photographs. (I bought those books, too, just in case you wondered. Go, bookstores!)

 

Q: Besides writing novels, you also write librettos. For those of us who are not musically inclined, can you explain this process? What are the challenges of writing a libretto over the challenges of writing the long-story form – the novel?

A: This is still a fun topic to me. I’ll be speaking about this creative adventure more in depth at the SCBWI North Texas workshop in Arlington on November 16, if anyone reading this wants to join me. The short version is that last year, on a whim, I entered an international contest hosted by the English National Opera: write a 7-minute miniopera based on Neil Gaiman’s character sketch. (If you don’t know who Neil Gaiman is, you should.) Gaiman ended up selecting my libretto as a top 4 semifinalist, and I ended up winning the contest. (“Shock and Awe” was my name for a few days.) After that, composers in London and the US contacted me and asked for libretti—stories and dialogue for their commissioned music. I’m not sure how it works with other librettists—which comes first, the music or the words—but I’ve always written the words first, just singing them in the shower, in the car, on the couch with a glass of rhyme. I mean wine. Yes, there is a lot of rhyming involved, and sometimes I’m afraid I sound like Mother Goose. But it’s mainly a cathartic experience, writing libretti.  You have to plot out the scenes, but you “pants” out the lyrics. I mean, I fly by the seat of my pants when I’m actually writing the verse. And once you hand over your lyrics, they’re reborn again with new music. It’s thrilling to hear the composer’s interpretation for the first time.

 

Q: Besides being a writer and a lecturer at SMU in Dallas, TX, you are also a wife and mother. How do you juggle all of your jobs? Is it hard to find balance?

At the symphony
At the symphony with her family

A: I think the key is to have an angel for a partner. Or just a partner/spouse who willingly and ungrudgingly takes care of your children when you write. I’m lucky. Our son happily eats breakfast and gets ready for school under the wings of Papa. That’s why I have time to answer these questions. It’s hard to find balance, no matter what job you have. The best decision we ever made was to not watch television. It gives us a few hours more each day to relax at the dinner table and read books as a family in our great big bed.

 

Q: If your son says, “Mom, I want to be a writer when I grow up,” what will you tell him?

The author's youngest son
Lori’s son, Julien

A: “Go for it. Whatever makes you happy.” My older son is a senior at university majoring in Studio Art. He’s a painter. (Your son’s an artist, too, so you understand that Art is a force one cannot resist. My son is Luke Skywalker: the Force is strong in that one.) There are risks. Poverty, comes to mind. But, as Homer says, “Better to be the poor servant of a poor master” than to endure life as a chartered accountant. Or something like that.

 

Q: Are you involved in a writing community? If so, how important is it for you to have other writers in your life?

A: I have an online writing group for my children’s (YA and middle grade) books, and I still occasionally send my literary manuscripts to my old friends from grad school who are now spread out across the US. A community of writers is important to me—they understand the joys and challenges of wrangling with words, and they are just as busy as I, so they’re not offended when we have long spells of silence in the relationship. We’re just writing and balancing life.

 

Q: Why are some novelists more generous when it comes to promoting other authors and some novelists are only out to promote themselves? By the way, you are one of the “generous” novelists.

A: Thanks, Kathleen. I don’t know the answer to that question. Every novelist I know has been astonishingly generous in supporting fellow authors. Maybe I’m just lucky to know superb people. I try to adhere to a “do unto others” philosophy, but I also genuinely want to read and celebrate the stories that local writers (and writer-friends online) have published. Because of physics (limits of time and space), I can’t read everything every time, but I try to buy and review books as a small way of supporting and celebrating other authors who haven’t made the NYT Bestseller List.

 

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who are your biggest supporters and who are your biggest disappointments?

Lori at 16 in NYC
Lori at 16 (L), the same age as her narrator in Some Act of Vision.

 

A: I was nine. I illustrated a picture book about my mixed-breed mutt named Lollipop. He was an ugly dog, but we loved him and gave him a pretty name. I still remember that sense of accomplishment, showing the book proudly to my mother. I still have a lot of emotional support—my partner is unwavering. I have a “cheerleader,” Ashley, who reads my chapters hot off the first-draft-press (a.k.a, not so good, there) and cheers for more every damn time. She deserves a special reward in heaven. She’s indispensable when I’m on a deadline. My publisher, ASD Press, has been an incredible supporter.  I have no “disappointments.” Life is too short to mull over disappointments. No one owes me anything.

Q: Are your college students impressed with your writing credentials?

A: Not really. I mean, yes, they say “Wow” if I mention my books. But everyone’s publishing books at the university. I’m a small fish in a great big aquarium. SMU is a pretty aquarium, though.

Q: At the end of your life, what do you want people to remember about you?

A: That I was kind. That I left the imprint of love on Earth.Photo on 2-21-13 at 3.08 PM #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Story I Sold To Air Force Times

The first story I sold to Air Force Times…

The first story I sold to Air Force Times, England Air Force Base, Louisiana.
I wrote this while living at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, 1989.. The base served as the setting for my first novel, The Final Salute. The fictional base is named  Beauregard AFB.

This essay first appeared in Air Force Times, 2/19/89. After the story ran, I became a frequent contributor to Military Times. This opened the door for my future work at Family Circle Magazine.

On The Home Front: It’s a sign That Daddy’s in charge

I fear some generals would scoff and full-bird colonels balk if they knew the truth – that Daddy is running their Air Force. At least that’s how it looks in the Tactical Air Command, from the perspective of two Air Force brats.

According to these experts on insignia, my 2-and 4-year-old sons, the blue, red and yellow TAC patch seen everywhere on our base belongs to a Very Important Person: D-A-D-D-Y!  They don’t mind that others are wearing it, but they know that any man or woman in uniform bears “Daddy’s patch.”

Tactical Air Command Patch
Tactical Air Command Patch

Living on base, we cannot walk to a corner without the 2-year-old freezing in his tracks, pointing up to the street sign and firing off a round of  “Daddy’s! Daddy’s!” He continues his verbal strafing until I’m forced to agree that, “Yes, honey, it’s Daddy’s patch.”

Frankly, I never noticed the TAC emblem displayed on every street sign on base until the baby started talking. Before then, I thought he was just pointing up at the birds and clouds and the usual airplanes. Daddy flies them. Every airplane within range is Daddy’s, according to the 2-year-old. The 4-year-old is smarter now. “That isn’t Daddy up there, silly goose! Daddy is fishing,” or home in bed sleeping. On rare occasions, he’s even at the office. By the way, wing headquarters belongs to Daddy, as does any building with a TAC patch displayed on the premises.

My sons playing fighter pilots, circa 1988.
My sons playing fighter pilots, circa 1989.

One day while the boys and I were driving down a street on base, both of them broke out in unison, craning their necks upward and pointing, saying, “Daddy, Daddy!” I was looking out the windows, attempting to keep the car on the road, searching the wild blue yonder for Daddy. The only planes I could see were the ones grounded on the ramp. Then I caught a glimpse of “Daddy’s patch” high up on the water tower. I started realizing then how much that emblem really meant to the boys.

Another example was recently when I rushed our youngest to the emergency room after he tried unsuccessfully to tackle a rose bush. He was distraught, but not from the injury to his eye. He hasn’t been too keen on hospitals and doctors lately because of repeated visits to the emergency room (he has one speed – Mach 1 – and he’s always banging and bumping into something).

England Air Force Base, Louisiana, early sixties
England Air Force Base, Louisiana, early sixties

I tried calming him, rocking him, only to hear him scream at the top of his lungs, “Home! Me go home, Mom.”

I decided then, out of respect for the other patients, to walk him up and down the corridor. “Home, Mom,” he was saying and pointing to the nearest exit when suddenly he changed gears and shrieked, “Daddy’s patch!” referring to a tiny TAC sticker on the hospital wall. That little sticker was my saving grace and his, because from then on, he tried to be a big boy, like brother, braving it out while a med-tech flushed the injured eye with two bags of saline solution.

My respect for the patch rose even higher after that. It makes my boys feel happy and secure – like a small shield of armor in a world built for grown-ups. If Daddy wears that patch every day, then seeing it elsewhere is a good sign that Daddy can’t be too far away.

Tom and Kathy, fighter pilot days, circa 1988, Eielson, AK, on our way to Tom's final assignment, England AFB, La.
Tom and Kathy, fighter pilot days, circa 1988, Eielson, AK, on our way to Tom’s final assignment, England AFB, La.

~  Kathleen M. Rodgers is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute , featured in USA Today and ranked # 1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction in 2012. The novel has been reissued by Deer Hawk Publications in e-book and print September 2014.  The story takes place at a fictionalized England AFB, La. The base closed in 1992 and was part of Tactical Air Command. Her new novel, Johnnie Come Lately is forthcoming from Camel Press February 1, 2015.

Please visit the author’s website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com

“I Don’t Want To Live Forever”

Lynne M. SpreenLynne Morgan Spreen 4

~ author of the award-winning novel Dakota Blues

Guest blogging today, 9/10/13

So now there’s a chance we can extend longevity to 120.

Yay, right? Not necessarily. Many midlife people, myself included, don’t want to see that happen. I think it would make an elder person go nuts. It would me, anyway.

Let’s consider the challenge of keeping up with your profession. How much information can you learn, discard, learn, discard, learn, discard in middle-age and beyond? And even if you can learn it, after fifteen or twenty new campaigns, do you even care to? You’ve seen change after change in your corporate setting, much of it brought about by new people refusing to learn from history. If your brain absorbs sixty, seventy years of information, might there be a point where, like an old draft horse, you simply refuse to haul that load one more step?

What about technology? Born in a time of party lines and carbon paper, you’ve mastered the tech revolution, with all your new passwords and tech support and wireless and ether and RAM. Do you really want to be around when they start doing microchip implants under the skin? I don’t want to be sitting out on the patio of an evening, wondering if that bug I just swatted was a mosquito or a miniaturized drone.

Now consider the emotional challenges we face during a long lifetime.

What if you started out here?
What if you started out here?

When I was researching Dakota Blues, I drove around rural North Dakota and saw many crumbling homesteads from a time when there were no roads, stores, or neighbors within miles. Dakota blues cover image with awardThe parents would produce a dozen kids, because half of them would die before adulthood. Drought killed crops. Locusts ate the paint off farm tools. Cattle starved. I imagined the woman of the house looking up from her labors and thinking of her family still in Germany, whom she would probably never see again. Then I pictured her, years later, as a very old woman standing by a grave in ND, and I wondered how she handled being the only one who remembered sailing from a dock in Hamburg. Assuming this woman was born in 1900, do you really see her thriving through 2020?

When you look at it organically, death might be as much a relief at the end of a life as sleep is at the end of a day.

My Mom sometimes laments being “so old” (she’s 88), and I try to cheer her up with some positives: after many years of seeing your kids slaving away at careers, they’re enjoying retirement – and you’re getting more visits than ever. Your grandkids are having adorable babies which you can cuddle and hug. A great-grandson just graduated from Marine Corps boot camp. Life is long. That’s a privilege.

Lynne, golfing at Bully Pulpit in ND (setting for a scene in Dakota Blues)
Lynne, golfing at Bully Pulpit in ND (setting for an evocative scene in Dakota Blues)

But there’s a price. You may be the oldest person around. Nobody remembers what it was like back then. You’ve been widowed for how many years? You miss your parents, who’ve been gone half your life.

For all the good, longevity comes with an accumulation of sorrow. You might manage it for thirty, forty years. Then what? You can rejuvenate your face and maybe even, eventually, your blood cells, but what of your heart and soul?

Lynne’s bio:

Lynne Spreen’s award-winning novel, Dakota Blues, is about a woman’s journey of self-discovery in the second half of life. Contact her on FacebookTwitter, or on her blog, AnyShinyThing.com. Watch the book trailer for Dakota Blues and read reviews at: http://anyshinything.com/dakota-blues-midlife/.

"Motherly Secrets"#2 2011 by TCR - Version 2
“Motherly Secrets,” Litho by Thomas C. Rodgers
(used by permission)

 

 

 

 

Because Pets Don’t Get Obits…

How some families remember their furry members…

 9/3/13

Kathi Marrs taking Molly on her last "walk"
Kathi Marrs taking Molly on her last “walk”

They truly leave footprints on our soul when they leave their earthly bodies…we are forever changed by them…” Diane Lippard Tullia

Molly, a beautiful Golden Retriever, was just shy of thirteen when she was diagnosed with cancer. The Marrs family made the tough decision to have her right front leg amputated in the hopes of saving her. She made it through surgery, but then her kidneys shut down and she stopped eating. Before the family said their final farewell, they gave Molly a glorious send-off. They rolled her through the neighborhood on a special cart for her last walk, even stopping by a local church to pray.

Bob and Jason Marrs with Molly. The morning this photo was taken, several neighbors, joggers, walkers, babies, and dogs stopped by to say goodbye.
Bob and Jason Marrs with Molly. The morning this photo was taken, several neighbors, joggers, walkers, babies, and dogs stopped by to say goodbye.

 

Max's Remembrance Stone
Max’s Remembrance Stone

 

One of the best ways to remember a beloved pet is to seek out a creative outlet. After losing her black cat, Max, three years ago, my friend Barbara Castiglia, who writes a pet column for Family Magazine, found that using a kit to make a garden stepping-stone helped her mourn her best friend of nearly 20 years. She appreciates having a spot she can visit or view from a window when missing him. Also helpful was planting bulbs that return each year and provide a sense of the “circle of life.” Her husband, Paul, channeled his grief by composing a loving blog post tribute. Click here to read:

http://scaredsillybypaulcastiglia.blogspot.com/search?q=max

Max - He passed away just after midnight on Barbara's birthday.
Max passed away just after midnight on Barbara’s birthday.

“I think dogs/cats/pets are all extensions of the Holy Spirit, another way to let our Higher Power love us.”  Geri Krotow, novelist and animal lover

 

Tags from all the Tullia's beloved dogs who are waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Tags from all the Tullia’s beloved dogs who are waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

 

“We carry both Wyatt and Sherwood’s collars in the RV. I keep all of the tags from all the dogs’ collars in a jar on the bookcase…this Christmas I am going to put all of the tags on one tree.  I also put up the stockings from every dog that we have had every Christmas.”

Diane Lippard Tullia

 

 

Marus, Patti's dogPatti Sweetin-Wolff remembers her special boy, Marcus. He passed away March 29, 2012.

He was eight.

“We have not painted over any of the toenail art that he had done on the wall while sleeping nor have we cleaned the artwork off of the windows either.  People may think that it looks dirty, but to us it is a loving reminder of our family’s companion that left us too soon in life.  We walk past his artwork everyday, and when we see it then we see him running throughout the house playing and enjoying his life to the fullest until he took his very last breath.  That artwork will remain in my house forever!”

 

Majestic & WildCanadian Author Murray Pura dedicated one of his latest books to his first two dogs who were brother and sister.

From “Magestic and Wild,” Baker Books 4/15/13:

“For Yukon 1986-2001 & Nahanni 1986-2002

We never grew tired of the thousands of trails

We never grew tired of each other.

We never grew tired of God and what he had made.

We were always glad of a life together

and a wilderness shared.”

 

We lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Bubba, May 14, 2013. His sudden death was a shock to all of us. He was nine years old - the heartbeat of our home. His ashes and collar sit in a place of honor in my home office where he spent many a day listening to me read my work out loud.
We lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Bubba, May 14, 2013. His sudden death was a shock to all of us. He was nine years old – the heartbeat of our home. His ashes and collar sit in a place of honor in my home office where he spent many a day listening to me read my work out loud.  Pictured to the right is our oldest son Thomas’ childhood drawing of Wolf, his Grandpa Rodgers’ German Shepherd.

“Daisy was my live-in friend through Vic’s illness and death, walking with me, staying close, easing my grief with her companionship. Until today, Daisy enjoyed her crunchies, got excited

Daisy’s gravestone and place where her ashes are buried in the woods.
Daisy’s gravestone and place where her ashes are buried in the woods

about visitors, and enjoyed sniffing around the front yard on warm days. Until yesterday, she got out the door with my help, but we’ve crossed the divide.” To read the rest of writer Elaine Mansfield’s essay about her Yellow Lab, Daisy, click here:

http://elainemansfield.com/2012/goodbye-my-miss-daisy/

…and sometimes our pets go missing and we never see them again.

Betka, missing from Denton, TX since June 24, 2013

Thomas Rodgers’ black cat, Betka, went missing weeks after our family dog passed away in May. Here’s Thomas’ plea for help on Facebook:  “Hi Animal lovers! My cat Betka has been missing for two

Betka (missing since June 24, 2013 from Denton, TX.
Betka, missing since June 24, 2013 from Denton, TX. Thomas and Brittany are still hoping she comes home.

days. She’s very friendly and will usually go up to any stranger. She has a clipped left ear, a cloudy left eye, and was wearing a red collar with a big gold bell on it. She’s microchipped and registered in Denton. Please keep an eye out for her! She’s one of our beloved kids! We will reward the person that finds her or has any information. She was last seen on Elm and Prairie.”

 

 

 

Bubba's bird guards the front garden, reminding us of the nine years Bubba blessed our lives.
Bubba’s bird guards the front garden, reminding us of the nine years Bubba blessed our lives.

To read more about her work, please visit her website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s Come Undone

"She's Come Undone" is my interpretation of this photo. What is yours? Feel free to post in the comment box below the poem.
 Maybe she is all of us who’ve ever come back from grief, hardship, disappointment or simply discovered that we’ve entered our  second childhood.   

8/27/13

 Stepping out of the pool

wearing nothing but a dare,

she looks around.

No roofers in sight,

only the neighbor’s cat

curled under the Mimosa 

and a gecko doing pushups on the fence.

She crosses her arms in front of her

covering herself like a shield.

It’s the Pilgrim in her you know.

Then slowly, she drops the facade,

lifts her arms wide

and does breaststrokes in the air.

The stars aren’t even out,

high noon howls at her back

as she glides this way and that,

barefoot in the sun,

pirouetting in grass that’s still green

until the scarecrows come out.

 A hawk flies overhead,

his high-pitched keeee calling her

to join him.

She takes off across the yard

and decades fall behind her,

shedding the years until she is five

and running through sprinklers.

 Diving into the blue,

she torpedoes through the water

propelled by an energy

she hasn’t felt in years.

 When she comes up for air,

she spots two lily pads of cloth

floating nearby…the discarded suit.

 Flipping on her back,

the buzz of a light plane catches her attention.

And she laughs at the moment

 when she defied convention.

 © Kathleen M. Rodgers