Tag Archive for: magic

Goddess in the Garden – T.K. Thorne

The last few weeks (during the heat spell, of course), I’ve spent on my knees with copious streams of perspiration running down my face (or as the Southern phrase goes, “sweating like a stuck pig”).

A few years ago, I was working full time and squeezing every minute of free time available into writing. The   yard rarely got attention. Over the years, I planted a few things next to the house and basically let ground covers fill in.

Then I retired. My goal and dream was to write. But Covid hit. I was afraid of the groceries. I didn’t know who of my loved ones would die, how many would fall, or if I would die.  I couldn’t write.

At some point, I looked out the back window and realized that the small piece of wisteria root I had thrown into the woods thirty years prior had not only taken over the woods but had taken down large trees and eaten half of the backyard! Apparently, I had not ventured there for thirty years.

Unable to write, I learned what a mattock was and used hard labor to feel like I had a purpose. I dug up (some of) the long, stubborn roots spread all over the yard. It was the beginning of the Wisteria Wars . . .  which is still ongoing, but now skirmishes fought with spray. Like Kali, the Hindu goddess of Destruction, I hacked and chopped, in order to sleep at night.

Kali, Hindu goddess of Death

 

One day, I noticed the green moss on the brick walkway in the front yard was full of little weeds and grass. Something else I never had time to notice. Moss is magic. When he was little, I took my stepson into the woods and explained that elves lived in the rotting hollow tree trunks and that the emerald splotches of moss in the woods were actually “elf carpet,” touching off his vivid imagination, which he still expresses in his art. When he eventually had children, he passed on the wonder of elf carpet.

Forgoing the fearsome Kali for Venus, (who was a goddess of the garden and cultivated fields before the Romans assignation as the Queen of Love), I spent several hours absorbed in the work/craft of pulling up tiny weeds from carpet without tearing it. A different kind of gardening than hacking wisteria roots, it offered a calmer sense of purpose and absorption.

Venus

A huge weeping yaupon arches over that walkway. (Although mine is higher than the house roof and trimmed to have a “tree” bark, a yaupon is technically a bush with small leaves containing caffeine that the Creek Indians used to make “Black Drink,” for social bonding rituals. Translate:  having coffee with friends.) I love the “tree” (as do the birds—especially the waxwings—that descend on it on their way to wherever they are going and devour the berries it produces). But the shadow area it creates over the front yard has always been a scraggly place of weeds and dirt where grass refuses to grow.

I had the area scooped out in a waxing moon shape and re-dirted. (Writers can make up words, y’all; it’s in the writing rule book. You can look it up….) Then spent three days picking out embedded rocks. I considered many kinds of shade-loving plants, but discovered I really wanted a place for the elves. So, I went moss-fern-rock hunting in the nearby woods and raided the ditch next to our driveway that becomes a stream when it rains, careful to only take a part of the mound to allow it to grow back (a nod to First People wisdom).

My sister sent me a photo of a meditating frog statuette she found. She knew frogs make me smile), and I had to have it. The elves would love it!  The meditating frog has a home now, as does a huge bell and a dragon my husband gave me and other cherished things, including a piece of driftwood from the Gulf beach and three black stones from my husband’s beloved Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Tennessee.

 

It’s just a beginning. It will take time and patience and lots of sweat, I know, but my garden gifts me with daily joy, and a big smile every time I pass my frog, even though he doesn’t smile back, being absorbed in seeking enlightenment.

The garden reminds that creation requires a balance of destruction and growth.

Destruction is only a changing of forms. The unwanted plants transform into soil, feeding a new generation of life.

The garden is a place of humility. When new life stirs the soil, it also stirs the realization that you are only the tender, that creation comes from the Universe itself and even as you affect it, it affects you.

The act and process of gardening is a metaphor for many things, as is writing. Words blossom. Some need pruning and some need to be pulled out altogether to make room for others that work better. But even that act of creation comes from somewhere that is more than the sum of parts, as any writer will acknowledge.

And often, if you put sweat (metaphorically or real) into it, both words and weeds can create something unique, something beautiful, and maybe even inspiring.

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

Cathy’s Corner

Y’all!

I’m putting this out here so y’all can call me out in case I don’t follow through. Ha. How’s that for being an obliger? Yes, that’s me.

Here’s the opening of my “will be published by January 2021” novel. I’m hoping I beat this deadline but it is 2020.

The title is Cathy’s Corner. The hero has moved to this small southern town to open a restaurant named after his recently deceased wife. The heroine thinks this is a really awful idea, the name, not the restaurant, … actually, she has issues with the menu too.

And, here’s a cover that I created for fun. Not the final. Bear with me. I’ve hired an editor and cover designer.

Cathy’s Corner, chapter one 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sue Fisk stretched her fingers to reach the remote without disturbing Charley, her terrier-mix rescue, who stretched boneless and warm across her unclad feet. She flipped her television to the proper channel and snuggled down into her thrifted blue velvet sofa, a nod to her late parents’ love of all things Elvis. 

She’d accepted the charity of a hand-me-down Blackberry™ phone from her uncle/boss when she’d dropped her flip phone in Lake Moultrie the other week. The Blackberry which now vibrated sharply, startling Charley who looked behind her like she’d farted and wanted to blame someone else. Sue laughed, squinted at the text, and muttered, “I make it pretty clear not to disturb me on Monday nights when I’m watching my show.”

Hey. What channel is Longmire on?

She stared at the screen trying to figure out the sender.

It’s time 4 Longmire, yes?

A&E

Thx

Her phone buzzed again seconds after the final scene. The number from earlier appeared on the screen. It didn’t look familiar, but since the lake incident, she’d been piecemealing her contact list back together. She’d learned her lesson about backing up her phone, maybe. And while her meticulous mother’s address book would have come in handy, she’d tossed every cigarette smoke-infused item in the house into the garbage the day after her parents died of lung and throat cancers within hours of each other. She bent her head to read the recent text.

I loved the familiar faces in this show. This is the pilot, right?

Yes. The new season begins at the end of May. They’re re-showing last season.

The answering text dinged almost immediately.

Thanks for the tip. Sleep tight. Don’t dream about murder and mayhem …

😛

What’s :P?

Furrowing her brow, she studied her phone. Her small circle of friends teased her about her favorite emoticon, who was this?

I’m sticking my tongue out at you.

I’m going 2 need to learn more about texting 2 keep up. Enjoyed the show. 

The next morning, Fisk Design & Print Shop’s squat square cement-block building glimmered in the morning light as she pulled into the rear parking lot. Joyce, the co-graphic designer, sat in her car and gestured toward her radio when Sue tapped on her window. Sue opened the passenger door and joined her for the last few minutes of the reading of the Tuesday morning Piggly Wiggly weekly specials on the local radio station. Curtrice Collins, Sue’s best friend, and next-door neighbor read the items with enthusiastic glee. At promptly 7:58 a.m., Joyce’s phone alarm beeped alerting them to get to the office door. 

Robin Hillyer Miles is published in an anthology. Look for her short story, West End Club, in Love in the Lowcountry, by Lowcountry Romance Writers of America, on Amazon.

You can find her author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

My Teenage Reading by Robin Hillyer-Miles

This is a stage of considerable anxiety in our world. I know you follow all the safeguards to protect you and your people. Please check in with those dear to you. 
In this time of turmoil, to take our minds off what’s next, I thought we could go on a trip down memory lane and talk about our favorite books from our teenage years.

One of my all-time favorites is “The Queen of Spells” by Dahlov Ipcar. I need to apologize to my hometown library as it seems I checked it out at the month I turned fifteen on Tues., Nov. 29, 1978, and never returned it. Oopsie. I remember checking it out a few times. I hope I bought this off the sale shelves when they had new inventory coming in and needed the room. 
Ipcar’s book, published in 1973, is not considered the best retelling, but it holds a dear place in my heart. The author had a lifelong career as an artist, we can see her work in major museums. She wrote and illustrated thirty children’s books, this book does not appear by name in her Wikipedia page. 
“The Queen of Spells” is a retelling of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Tam Lin is a story of a prince, captured by the fairy queen, freedom can be obtained only with the love of Janet. In fact, I am writing a retelling of this same ballad. Many authors have done the same. I hope my story has more twists and interesting storylines that will set it off from the rest, and be judged more kindly by reviewers than this one. 
The next book on my teen keeper shelf is “Seal-Woman by Ronald Lockley, published in 1975. This too is a retelling of a myth. In the Faroe Islands there’s the tale of a seal woman who once married a human and had children. Seals were former humans who became seals on purpose. Once a year they return to land as humans. In Lockley’s story, a young man meets Shian and a relationship develops. I’d say more, but I’d rather not give the story away! The cover is rather racy for twelve-year-old me to read. I read way above my age, but still, I must have hidden this book from my mother.
“Portrait of Jennie” by Robert Nathan may be familiar to you as the 1948 film, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton. In the book, published in 1940, a young starving artist meets a strange little girl dressed in old-fashioned clothing who tells him, on their first meeting, that she wishes he’d wait for her to grow up but believes he won’t. He paints landscapes but captures Jennie, the girl, in a sketch and sells it.  
Jennie appears repeatedly, maturing more than the years garner. She’s mysterious and vague, saying things like, “This was tomorrow, once.” And “We can’t both of us be lost.” She sings a song with these lines, “Where I come from nobody knows, and where I am going everything goes.’
The story is ethereal, sublime, and haunting. If you’ve neither seen the movie nor read the book, I recommend them. I read this when I was an early teen and loved it ever since. You know that Facebook quiz about what movie makes you stop and watch it when you happen upon it on television? This is one of those movies you can’t take your eyes from.
“The Lady or the Tiger and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories by Frank Stockton. These eight stories all end in a twist. My mother bought our copy at a second-hand bookshop in 1978 for ten cents. The title story was published in a magazine in November 1882. This now well-worn book in my collection has been read numerous times. I can say my mother has been cleaning out her shelves for years and gifted me her copy.
Most people have heard “The Lady of the Tiger?” where the young man must choose from a door that hides a fierce tiger or a young lady suitable to his age and stance in society (and the same young lady he’d been seen speaking with in the past). However, the twist is, the princess with whom he has been having love encounters gives him a hint by motioning to the door on the right. Would she rather him live with another woman for his lifetime or to die at once and wait for his princess in the next realm?
Shivers! All these books hold a hint of magic, time travel, and mystery. It’s no wonder I love to write along the same lines. 
I hope these books helped you remember cherished stories from your past. Please share them in the comment section.

Stay safe and well! 
See these links for 
Ballad of Tam Lin – http://www.tam-lin.org
Here’s a review of the movie – Portrait of Jennie – https://lwlies.com/articles/portrait-of-jennie-william-dieterle-hollywood-melodrama/
And here’s how to get your copy of Frank Stockon’s story collection – https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781466804111

Robin Hillyer-Miles is a native South Carolinian residing in the Lowcountry with her husband, child, and three dogs. She works part-time for YWCA Greater Charleston, is a certified city of Charleston tour guide, and a 300+ hour yoga instructor. She writes cozy mysteries, contemporary romances, and magical realism. She’s published in the Lowcountry Romance Writers of America’s anthology “Love in the Lowcountry.” She’s durrently working on a novella entitled, “Cathy’s Corner.”

Visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga/

Go here to see the anthology on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Love-Lowcountry-Winter-Holiday-Collection-ebook/dp/B07XJZSRBT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=217AR996F5G99&keywords=love+in+the+lowcountry+anthology&qid=1575124675&sprefix=love+in+the+loco%2Caps%2C151&sr=8-1

When Crime Meets Magic–by T.K. Thorne


   Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

The first thing most people say to me when they learn I was a career cop is, “Oh. You don’t look like a policeman.”
This is a good thing because I’m a woman.
Perhaps at 5’3”, I don’t fit the stereotype in their minds. That’s not worrisome to my self-image because during my 20+ years in the Birmingham Police Department, it never occurred to me that I was too small . . . other than the annoying fact that my hands couldn’t fit properly around a gun. Not only did I have to figure out an alternate way to shoot, there were other challenges. In those early Academy days, we had to carry the fifty bullets needed for the firearms qualification tests in our pants pocket and dig them out to reload with one hand (the other held the gun). Tight time constraints for firing and reloading were in place to try to replicate some of the stress of being under fire.
If I pulled more than six bullets at a time out of my pocket, it overwhelmed my small hand’s capacity to manipulate them into position to reload. Bullets tumbled to the ground, making it impossible to reload in time. With practice, I developed the ability to blindly grab exactly six bullets at a time. I’m still proud of that skill, though I’ve yet to find a good use for it.
Since Joseph Wambaugh’s controversial Choir Boys appeared in 1975, the number of law enforcement authors has grown, but they’re still an anomaly, and so I get to surprise with the double whammy of being a retired cop and a writer. I’ve learned to deal with the “You don’t look like a policeman,” reaction with a smile and a simple, “Thank you.” And when I explain my latest novel is about a young police woman in Birmingham, Alabama who discovers she’s a witch, I get an even more fun reaction—“Is it autobiographical?”
Seriously, yes, I get this.  At first, I was too stunned by the question to respond, but now, I immediately shoot back with a straight face, “Totally.”
Even though I don’t claim to be a witch, I did pull on my police background to give authenticity to the story. Challenges lurked, even so. It has been a while since I wore blue, so I had to update department polices and equipment to those of current day, such as putting a body camera on my patrol officers and computers in the cars, but these were minor items. The most critical element was attitude, knowing how people in law enforcement who risk their lives on a daily basis think and react. That said, I certainly don’t espouse writing only “what you know” in that sense. If I did, I’d have a problem dabbling a little magic in with murder and mayhem!
My character, Rose Brighton, is a police officer in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. She’s taller than I am and has no problem holding a gun properly, but Rose has other challenges. Her first clue that her life is about to get complicated comes when she’s chasing a suspect down an alley and he appears to divide into two men, the real suspect, frozen in time, and a shadow version with a gun. From here things go south. She shoots a man in the back, the nightmare of every cop, and can’t explain what really happened. Unraveling that and the mystery of who she really is becomes a high-stakes struggle for survival.

Weaving magic “realistically” into a crime story was a bit like learning to pull exactly six from a pocket full of bullets.  It seemed improbable at first, but maybe learning that skill was not such worthless endeavor after all. Maybe it was a reminder that anything is possible. 

Even a police-witch.

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. 

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. 

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. 

 More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.

Red Shoes and Magic

Serendipitous—something occurring by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

But what does serendipity have to do with this month’s blog “theme” of red shoes?

For me … a lot since I’ve never owned a pair of red shoes. The closest I’ve come is shocking pink athletic kicks. I’ve worn these neon babies on airplanes, cruise ships, buses, trains, and aerobic dance floors. An amazing number of people have stopped and commented on the color. One woman wanted to know where I bought them.
But. Pink is not red. Ergo, what to write this month?
Well, imagine my jig for joy when serendipity bit me hard. Why?
Because, on August 31, I published BIg MAGiC, a paranormal romance that reveals a new twist on the magical red shoes, love, and a sexy warlock.
A miniature pair of red shoes appears on the cover. The same shoes appear on my website and Facebook pages. In addition, red shoes play a big role in the book. Huge. They belong to Thea Gale, great-great-granddaughter of Dorothy (she of The Wizard of Oz).
In BIg MAGiC, Thea’s shoes are four-inch stilettos—not unlike our former logo. The heels bring her height to just below the chin of the smokin’ hot warlock. He covets those shoes, and she obsesses over him.
Who wouldn’t covet red shoes? Maybe not the stilettos if, like me, your back aches thinking about even slipping them on. But I am now on a search for a pair I can wear whenever I want to feel powerful, in charge, and mesmerizing.
****

Barbara Plum, aka AB Plum, writes light and dark novels about families that can bring us together or tear us apart. BIg MAGiC is Book 1 in The WEIRd MAGiC Trilogy.