Category Archives: Thoughts

An abracadabrangle for today

The origin of the word “Abracadabra” is intriguing. In the second century it was recommended that those suffering from serious diseases wear an amulet with an “abracadabrangle” or Abracadabra cone. In other words, the word “Abracadabra” written over and over with the last letter left off. This would, supposedly, make the disease go away.

Imagine living in an age before any real medicine or medical care. When disease and infection were rampant and hope was dim. Magic must have seemed like the only hope to those who suffered. Imagine writing the magic word you’d been given and wrapping it tightly in linen to tie around your neck with a rough bit of thread. Worth a try, right?

And now? What place does such snake oil have in our culture today? Think about all the ails of the world that we cannot, individually, heal. Those who suffer from hunger and fear and loss. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. Cruelty and murder in the names of religion or culture or desperation.

If there were a magical charm, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

ABRACADABRA

ABRACADABR

ABRACADAB

ABRACADA

ABRACAD

ABRACA

ABRAC

ABRA

ABR

AB

A

Movie Magic Contest!

Leave a comment on any post on this blog telling me about a time you experienced magic for a chance to win a bottle of the magic-inspired perfume I created on Waft.com and a copy of Movie Magic. Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check this blog for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts, Writing

For Tom

I wrote this on Facebook this morning in memory of Tom Petty and the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. I feel strongly enough about this thought to take a break from my promotion of Movie Magic to share it here, too.

God bless.

I keep thinking about Tom Petty this morning, not just because of his death but because his songs always had a ring of truth to them. My favorite was always “I Won’t Back Down”.

This morning my heart aches not just because the man who helped write the words “I know what’s right, I got just one life” is gone from our lives—out into the great wide open—but also because the interpretation of his words is so highly subjective.

How we choose to spend our one life is up to each individual, and that’s terrifying when you think of the Stephen Paddocks in the world.

You see, I have an idea of what Paddock’s motivations were. I believe he seethed at the news and hated the people who put us here. I believe he sometimes wanted to scream in frustration at the way our country’s liberties and laws were being twisted and skewed. I am fairly certain he felt like I have over the past eleven months. Unlike me, however, I believe he sort of liked feeling that way. Like the old Native American legend says, the wolf you feed is the one that’s strongest. Paddock fed the wolf of hate and he enjoyed seeing it tear the flesh he threw it.

And that’s what has happened to America this year. So many of us (on all sides, to quote our president) have fed the wolf of hate and now we’re spewing pus out over the world. Blame whoever you want—politicians, media, the system that has failed us—but it’s us that the blame lands on in the end.

Face it. We’re all free falling through this world together, and our choices make the world what it is, so be careful what the choices you make are. I’m choosing to love as best I can. I’m choosing to accept that I can’t change what’s happened and not even most of what will happen. But I can choose what I put into the world. I can choose to feed the wolf of love, even if it won’t always be easy. After all, we all know there ain’t no easy way out.

I guess, like Tom Petty says in another of my favorites, “I’ve started out for God knows where, I guess I’ll know when I get there.” If anyone wants to join me, my hand is held out to you.

RIP Tom Petty
Las Vegas

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts, Writing

Colorblinded in troubled times

My last post was a political one. This post is not. At least it is not intended to be, though race relations have been politicized to the point where it is difficult to separate the two. Over the past few days I have seen so many tragedies in the news, however, useless killing on the streets of my country. These killings deeply wounded the black community and the blue community. My heart goes out to both, along with my fear and worry for the future of our world and our country if we can’t find a way to mend attitudes and live together. When I tried to put my feelings into words, this is what came out. I don’t write poetry very often but this feels like poetry to me.

 

Colorblinded

By Michelle Garren Flye

I am not colorblind.

I see you. I see your differences. When I pass you on the street, I see you aren’t the same as me. Your skin, your attitude, your music, your life. You are different. I see you, and I don’t know you.

You are a mystery.

I am colorblinded.

Do you see me? Do you see the mother, the artist, the poet, the person who is me? Can you see past my skin, or does it blind you? Do you see only a white, privileged, raised-in-the-South woman who doesn’t understand?

I don’t think you see me.

I think you are colorblinded, too.

Tell me what would happen if I reached out to you. Tell me what would happen if white skin touched black…and black touched back. If hand held hand in a long, long line of red and yellow, black and white…

Could we be colorblind together?

Comments Off on Colorblinded in troubled times

Filed under Thoughts, Writing

Time is not your friend.

PSM_V05_D144_Mountain_laurel

Immortality and everlasting love are two of the meanings of mountain laurel.

This morning I taught my nine-year-old how to make waffles because it’s summer, everybody’s getting up at a different time…and, well, she’s nine. It’s time to start doing some basic stuff for yourself like making your own breakfast. But as soon as I thought that, I realized something.

 

She’s nine years old. How did that happen?

Time isn’t our friend, is it? It rushes us along, always on its schedule, never paying attention to the moments we want to stand still and enjoy like our vacations and celebrations. Time only takes a breather when we’re standing in line at the DMV or going to an unpleasant doctor’s appointment. Then Time says, “Hold up there, what’s your rush?” And the seconds slowly become minutes and seem like hours.

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of time for most of my life, I think. I remember my mother telling me once how long it would take for the Jello she’d just put into the refrigerator to jell. An hour.

How long is an hour? I said.

She probably rolled her eyes and sighed, but I remember her laughing a little. “Sixty minutes.”

Sixty minutes? How could I possibly live that long? I wanted the Jello now. And yet, when I ran along and played with my Barbie dolls, all of sudden, an hour had passed. And I was enjoying a plateful of jiggly green Jello that I could poke with my fork to see it wobble and not get fussed at for playing with my food.

My obsession with time has continued through the years. Don’t rush it, people say when you’re trying your best to get through one stage of your life—high school, college, the first years of married life, the first stage of child-rearing, the lean years during your first jobs when you’re not making much money…

And they’re right. Because all of a sudden you’re teaching your nine-year-old baby who’s sprouted ridiculously long legs to make waffles. Or reaching up to give your 12-year-old a hug. Or teaching your 16-year-old to drive. All because it’s time. And you were never allowed to stand still for those moments in time that you’ll always treasure but can never go back to.

And all of this is to say that on Wednesday, my book Out of Time, which explores some of my thoughts about time, will mark another point in my timeline. And this time, I’ll be enjoying that moment with you right here on my blog. I’ll be posting throughout the day about Out of Time and what it means in my personal quest to understand the rush of time. Please stop by with any questions about my writing, thoughts about time, comments about the weather…whatever. And at high noon, the pinnacle of the hours of the day…I’ll have a special guest here. Then at 7 p.m. (Eastern), as the hours of the day draw to a close, I’ll choose one commenter from a random drawing to receive the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!

So take a few moments from your day and stop by. Help me make the most of the day…before we’re out of time.

Comments Off on Time is not your friend.

Filed under Out of Time, Thoughts, Writing

New Year: My Love/Hate/Like/Respect Relationship with Social Media

I was first introduced to social media at my 20th high school reunion. “Are you on Facebook?” is the second most important question I remember being asked.

“Are you pregnant?” is the first most important.

I wasn’t.

In fact, my daughter who was just over a year old was with my two boys at my parents’ that night. My father called me about two hours into the event to tell me she was running a fever. Happy to get away from schoolmates I’d never really fit in with but still longed to impress, I fled the scene in the ill-fitting dress that had led to pregnancy question.

The next week I looked up Facebook, started a profile, friended every old Facebook_like_thumbschoolmate I could find and posted a flattering picture of myself, very obviously NOT pregnant. Facebook was a lot of fun!

I’ve had a hilly relationship with social media since then. When I started publishing romance novels, it was useful for getting the word out. Hey, look what I did! But I can’t honestly say it’s resulted in a spike in sales at any point beyond release days. And to be honest, constantly posting and tweeting saps any creative energy I might have, cutting dramatically into my writing time.

I’ve used social media, especially Facebook, to brag about my kids, to post funny pictures, to share articles about politics, education, writing, child-rearing, etc. I’ve been guilty about bragging about the places I travel to, special achievements, and wonderful experiences.

Last October, I read an article about the darker side of social media. People who post the good stuff and leave out the bad. A mother who posted pictures of her beautiful children, loving husband and perfect home–found dead of a drug overdose. Another mother who posted loving comments about her toddler’s accomplishments and growth–discovered disposing of the child’s body. Teens who maintain two profiles. One that shows a perfect life, the other full of angst and worry that they’ll be found out to be much more normal and less…perfect.

Is this what social media turns us into? Is it really just another way of keeping up with—or besting—your friends and neighbors? Since reading these articles, I’ve been more thoughtful about what I post to the point of almost posting nothing. What if something I post makes someone else out there feel unworthy or like a failure? That’s not what I want.

Facebook currently has a feature letting me know what my “memories” are from that date in the past. Sometimes I force myself to look. They are mostly drivel and nine-tenths of the rest are not worth sharing with the world or even good friends. The only truly worthwhile ones are pictures of my kids, and maybe I should never have posted those anyway.

Which has led me to my New Year’s resolution. I’m going to use social media and the Internet in a more thoughtful way. I’ve been going over and over what this means and I’m still not totally clear about it. I know it means to think twice before posting, to consider carefully what the effects of my posts might be. I don’t think I’ll stop using social media, because I do like and enjoy it for the most part, but I will respect it more.

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts, Writing

Emojis and the decline of the English language: A return to illiteracy?

Ha ha! How’s that for a scholarly title? I sound like a I might actually know what I’m talking about, right?

It’s possible.

Stranger things have happened.

For instance, yesterday the Oxford English Dictionary announced its Word of the Year. (Read about it here.) Past words of the year have included “selfie” (2013) and “vape” (2014), so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that this year, the word of the year isn’t a word at all. It’s an emoji. This emoji:

emoji

Face with tears of joy emoji

Okay, so what does this have to do with illiteracy? Well, think about it. The more we use non-literate symbols to express ourselves, the more likely we are to lose our writing skills. A few years ago, I as a librarian was shocked when the summer reading program at our local library offered kids rewards for reading emails, websites and texts instead of books. What? That’s not reading. Reading is picking up a book (or an e-reader) and reading a story, following a plotline, getting to know characters, or–if you prefer nonfiction–learning something from someone who knows more than you do. None of that is going to happen in emails, texts and even most websites. Sorry.

The new word of the year seems to be following that trend.

But maybe that’s the point. Society seems content to be dumbed down. Why not let it?

Once upon a time, only the top classes of society knew how to read and write. Books were too expensive for lower classes, who were lucky to be able to scrape together food. The advent of the printing press and the wider availability of books made it possible for more people to access the same types of knowledge as the upper classes. So the printed word began to close the gap between classes, leveling the playing field in an unprecedented way.

That Renaissance may be coming to a close, though. Every day I see more signs of the decline of the English language. Misspellings, incorrect grammar and other simple errors that a good copy editor should have corrected appear in ads, newspapers and books. It makes me wonder…if we don’t use the gift of literacy, maybe we will, eventually, lose it…and be left feeling our way through another dark age.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

Let’s be honest: We can’t blame E.L. James.

So, E.L. James decides to try to do what many authors do. In an attempt at promoting her new book Grey, James went live on Twitter, allowing other Tweeters to ask her questions using #AskELJames. What ensued was…troubling. Tweeters used the opportunity to criticize James’s writing and to accuse her of everything from glorifying abuse to setting back women’s rights a good fifty years.

Now, I’m not a fan of 50 Shades. I read the first one, or at least started it, after hearing a great deal of buzz about it. I ended up skipping through a good bit of it, and when I reached the end, I was actually disappointed to learn that there were two sequels. I’m no fan of E.L. James, but I don’t blame her, and I certainly would never have participated in the monstrous activity that took place on Twitter.

E.L. James is a writer. Maybe not a great one, but she did write, as of last count, four enormously popular books. Is it her fault that a publisher chose to publish her books, a gazillion people chose to buy and read them, and a movie producer chose to make a movie—which another gazillion people went to see? Not really.

So who is there left to blame if the author is out of bounds? The publisher for pulling 50 Shades out of the slush pile and giving it the type of promotion that most authors can only dream of? Maybe, but publishers are, in the end, just salesmen. They see a need in the market and they try to be the first to fill it.

The troubling thing about the whole 50 Shades phenomenon is that, at the end of the day, there was a market for the book. In spite of its disturbing thematic material. In spite of its sub-par writing. In spite of the fact that “those type” of books (which have been around for many, many years) were once hidden at the back of the bookstore, not prominently displayed at the front door to greet me and my children when we go in looking for summer reading.

So don’t blame E.L. James for writing what a large part of our society now wants to read. Writers write. Publishers publish. Readers buy the books.

Comments Off on Let’s be honest: We can’t blame E.L. James.

Filed under Thoughts, Writing