The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Journey Continues

 It's hard to believe, but unless the country runs out of ink and paper in 2021, this spring I will be buying cases of books. Copies of my book.

It's been a journey with lots of twists, turns and obstacles. It began with a first draft that stunk to high heaven. Because of my wonderful editor (and now publisher) and her feedback, I scrapped it and began again from scratch. I queried more than 120 agents and publishers, and got lots of rejections and even more "no responses" before I finally found a publisher who said yes.

                                                                     image by Pixabay

Now the journey is peppered with a variety of decisions. I've chosen to take all the piles of money dollars my book makes and use it for a good cause. Since my novel is about the Tulsa Race Massacre, it will go toward a project in Tulsa or scholarship for a Black Tulsan. I've considered a college scholarship or grant money to fund school field trips to the Greenwood Cultural Center. Currently, I'm mulling over an internship for a writer/performer to create a multimedia piece to show in the cultural center. Helping to showcase a rapper/poet/artist would be wonderful.

If you'd like to check out a post I recently wrote for The Muffin about some of the decisions I've grappled with, head here.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Feeling Over-the-Moon... But There's Obstacles

In case I haven't mentioned it 13 zillion times in the last month (on The Muffin), my manuscript is getting published. The stack of papers I labored over for years is going to become a book. A publisher said yes, they liked it, they really really liked it. (Sorry, Sally Field--I couldn't help myself.)

However, there was a moment recently where I was stopped dead in my tracks.

You see, I'm white and old. I'm also a woman. 

My main character is black and young. And he's male.

This is a problem these days, and I understand--or I think I partially understand. I obviously cannot fully or completely understand what it's like to be marginalized and ignored and silenced, since I am white. And elderly. And I have no idea what it's like to be a male and black, in a day and age where being black and male all-too-often means there is a target on their back. Literally and figuratively.

I wrote a post about what stopped me in my tracks. (Please stop by and leave a comment if you haven't already. I need some honest reactions.) 

                                                                        image by Pixabay

My book is still going to be published, but I plan on not making a single penny from it. Oh, I will peddle it from the trunk of my car and I'll set up book events and I'll go to Tulsa this May to be a part of the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, but my part of the sales will go somewhere else... it won't be going into my pocket.

And I'm not sure why I've been absent from this blog for months, but I hope my next post appears relatively soon...


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sioux? Heading to Japan?

 Well, yes... if my son and daughter-in-law and grandson(s) relocate there next summer. (It's their first choice as far as new Air Force home. We'll see if they get their first pick.) If they move there, I will be going for at least one visit while they're living there.

                                                                       image by Pixabay

However, I did travel to Japan recently while doing some research. Not literally, but it was a pleasant detour nonetheless.

If you check out my WOW post, you'll see I began by writing about the importance of underdogs in stories... and then I ended up in Japan, in love with a real-life racehorse.

Have you been beaten down by rejection? Do you wonder if you'll ever succeed? Have you considered giving up?

If the answer is yes to any of those questions, go to my WOW post and watch the 18-minute movie. I (can almost) guarantee you'll be moved by it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A Writer's Faith

Too bad that George Michael is no longer alive. Perhaps if he was, he'd had written another song to help me along as a writer.

These days, I'm shuffling along. I sometimes say stumbling but really, most of the time it's shuffling. Stumbling implies a faster, forward way of progressing. Shuffling is less assertive, less confident.

However, shuffling is a slow but steady movement forward. That's not quite right either. So perhaps I should say, "I'm shuffling around, my writing progress stuck in the-middle-of-the-might mode, where I'm flailing my hand around in the dark, trying to find the light switch."

The light switch is what will illuminate my way on the path to hopefully eventually getting my manuscript published.

What George Michael song am I tuning into right now? (I'll bet you can guess.) What else did I write about my stumbling? Head to The Muffin and find out...

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Dog Days of Summer

Recently I wrote about my dog Radar going back to school. As is usually the case, it is the owner that is getting more "education" than the dog. Most of the time, dogs will do what they're supposed to do... if they're told to do it. If they're consistently expected to do it.

This is often how we find Radar during the summer.
A cool wooden floor + a hot dog = a great combination.

It's midway through the summer--for me as a teacher, it's more than midway. Beginning in August, something will happen. Either we will be planning on meeting in person in our classrooms, or we're going to start planning online classes, or we're going to create some hybrid approach--perhaps some in-person and smaller classes combined with online ones.

As a freelance writer, I need to follow the same guidelines the dog whisperers shared with me, as I allowed my 84-pound handsome guy drag me up and down the driveway as I  ran the gauntlet showed off my lack of dog handling skills.

If you'd like to read what I learned about myself as a writer (there's an even better photo of Radar as a bonus), check out my post And please leave a comment about any "old dog" habits you're dealing with, along with what new skills you're trying to work on.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Twists and Turns in Writing (and Life)

I’m twisted. I guess it would be more apt to say I love twisted writing.

I adore books and stories where the reader has to turn corners, clueless about what’s on the other side. Chuck Palahniuk’s writing is twisted in the best sense of the word. Joe Hill (he’s Stephen King’s son) keeps me on the edge of my seat. Sandra Dallas’s novels almost always have a major twist at the end.

These days are twisted… in the worst sense of the word.

To make sense of the world, what does a writer do? They write.

Recently I helped rescue a hawk. It was only a month old, and when a tree was cut down, the nest fell, and the baby bird was pacing in yards, desperate for food and water. My friend and I ended up taking it to the local wild bird sanctuary.

Slogging through an essay’s draft that’s simmering right now, a draft that begins with that baby hawk, I’m reminded of one of my favorite essays. It’s "Time and Distance Overcome" by Eula Bliss, and it's brilliant. It begins with a lot of information on telephone poles… and then it turns a major corner. A major corner.

Every summer I co-teach a graduate class. It’s full of teacher-writers. Usually it’s face to face but this year, it’s being conducted via Zoom meetings. Every summer I’m bowled over by the writing. This June is no different.

One of the teachers shared a short story she’d written. It was a moving tale of a mother who’s dealing with a miscarriage, a busy toddler daughter and a husband who doesn’t completely understand the grief she’s dealing with… and then I was punched in the stomach by the realization that what I thought was happening was not what was really happening. It was a whallop in the same vein as the one I got watching The Sixth Sense.

If you’d like to read an incredible essay—another one of my favorites—head to a post I've written for The Muffin. I’ve included a link to Brian Doyle’s powerful essay, “Joyas Voladoras.” It turns corners in a smooth and polished way.

And as far as my personal life, I turned a corner on Friday. I chose to not sign a contract at my old school, so I was (desperately) looking for a job for the last month or so. On Friday, I got a job offer (and accepted it). I’m thrilled. It's with a principal I love... which makes all the difference.

How about you? Do you incorporate twists and turns in your writing? How are you making sense of what is going on in our country?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Tale of Two Cities

This time reminds me of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Specifically, the beginning. In America, too often, it's the haves and the have-nots.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

The best of it? People are peacefully protesting the horror of what happened to George Floyd. Mayors and police chiefs are uniting and marching with their community members. The worst of it? George Floyd is one name in a string of names. Some people are choosing to loot and destroy. An age of wisdom? Newark and Flint--poorer communities--have had no looting. The police officers did not come out in riot gear and shields. They left their batons in their building. An age of foolishness? Our president has said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He’s got a horribly heavy hand. I could go on. And on...

image by Pixabay

We need to do some serious evaluation of what goes on in America. We need to do some amputation, some surgery. We need to undergo some honest rehabilitation… because America is not well. What is going on is sick. It’s horrible.

Before George Floyd was murdered, I wrote a post about the health of a writer for WOW. I’ve been reflecting on the mental and physical health of people who write.

Now, I’m worried more about the health of our country.

I saw Keegan-Michael Key, usually a hilarious guy, speak about this time. He explained, in a very simple way, why I (a white person) should never counter “Black lives matter,” with “All lives matter.” He likened it to thinking the fire department should spray down all the houses in the neighborhood, even if only one house is on fire. Yes, it’s important if your house is on fire. But right now, your house is not on fire.

Right now, it’s not a white person who just got kneeled on by a police officer (an officer who was so casual, he had his hands in his pockets) until he was choked to death.

Think about what we can do--what you can do--to make our country better… for all people.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Good-Byes... and Future Hellos

Yesterday I was part of a 12-person, 8-car caravan. We were on the road from 1-7, delivering yard signs and t-shirts for the 8th graders at my soon-to-be-former school. Like everyone else, these teens have had to settle for less as they settle into a different life. No graduation party for them. No mystery trip. No flurry of picture-taking and last-chance jokes before they head off to different high schools.

All the teachers signed each of the 26 signs with personal messages about how fun high school was going to be, what a pleasure they were to get to know--things like that. And a surprise: they had gotten a sign made for me and had covered the back with sweet notes written in Sharpies. When we stuck the signs in the yards, had the students put on the t-shirt and took pictures, we honked our horns and said silly things in a bull horn.

As I’m looking for a new school--a new professional home--I’m already missing my old work “home.” This is a supportive, funny, strong, bawdy and honest group of educators. There were times during this school year (more times that I’d like to admit) where I cried. Sometimes during school hours, and I’d have to open my eyes extra wide to keep the tears from brimming over as I turned with my back to the class. Sometimes after dismissal, where I’d hide in my room as the hot flood flowed down my cheeks… and each time, one (or more) of those teachers would hunt me down and give me a hug as they talked some reason into my head. Or they’d give me a card the next day with a lottery ticket or a candy bar attached. They were there for me during a rough patch… and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Radar looks way better naked than I do in sweat pants...

As I’ve learned (so many times) how hard it is to say good-bye, I’m learning things about myself and writing during this quarantine. Wouldn’t you like to know what Sioux is wearing these days? (Possibly not.) Would you like to know how she’s occupying her time? (Definitely not.) However, if you’re brave enough, check out her post yesterday on The Muffin.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

These Crazy Days

These days, I’ m worried about what everybody’s worried about. No, not a lack of toilet paper (we have enough of that). But, along with the more serious concerns, there are some minor ones.

Like my hair. In the last 6 months, I found a shorter hairstyle that I like. Every month, I was getting it trimmed.

No more. I can trim my bangs, and probably do a passable job, but the back? The sides? I’m afraid I’m going to be rocking a mullet soon, and nobody wants to see Sioux in a mullet.

The corona 15. People (me included) are eating more than usual. We’re stuck with books, our television and our refrigerator. There are jokes that we’ll all gain 15 pounds before this is over. Stress eating or boredom eating? You be the judge.

My yarn supply. One of the things I’ve been occupying myself with (along with avoiding writing and the distance teaching I’m doing) is knitting. I’ve knit a baby blanket for my soon-to-be-born grandson (due in June). I’ve knit a baby/family blanket for a French great-niece or nephew (due in September). I’ve knit one scarf for our dog rescue’s silent auction. Now I’m knitting a scarf for myself with some left-over yarn, and I’m afraid I won’t have enough.

These days, we’re losing loved ones. My son, a doctor, is still okay. Everyone I know and love is uninfected and healthy--except for a couple of friends who are battling cancer. This week, the coronavirus claimed two legendary singers--Bill Withers and John Prine. Everybody’s familiar with Bill Withers, but John Prine flew under the radar when it came to some. Musicians from all different backgrounds loved him, and commonfolk like me adored his humor, his poignancy and his humbleness.

If you'd like to read what scares me when it comes to writing, read my post on The Muffin. And, if you'd like to hear John Prine (in his earlier years), listen to "Angel From Montgomery."

If you'd like to see how subtle (and how funny) John Prine could be, listen to "The Other Side of Town" which is about a husband's selective hearing...

... because these days, we need reasons to laugh and to embrace the joy when we find it.

Monday, March 16, 2020

What is a "Shay"?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of indifference, it was a time of toilet paper hoarding...

I'm on spring break this week. Then, for the next two weeks (a minimum of two weeks), I'll be teaching via the internet.

The times, they are a' changin'. (Dickens and Dylan in the same post?)

I'm looking forward to getting some things done around the house, getting caught up on my "five a day" queries, and maybe even getting some gen-u-ine writing done. I submitted a Chicken Soup for the Soul story yesterday and earlier in the week I submitted a narrative poem to them (probably pointless).

image by Pixabay

At the end of the month I'll be facilitating a writing retreat. Facilitating is a loose term. I arranged for our accomodations. I sent a variety of irritating and mailbox-clogging emails. I'll arrange the group into small response groups. This time I will use bleach wipes several times a day to clean the door knobs and the light switches, and I'll wipe down the tables before we begin on Saturday morning. I'll close down our meeting hall on Sunday evening... and that's it.

On my most recent post at The Muffin, I mentioned some writing colleagues--writing folks who had helped me out. If you're curious about what (or who) a "Shay" is, or you're interested in who has helped me in my writing so you can slash their tires and make them promise to never ever help Sioux again, check out my post on the power of a word.

Stay safe and healthy. But don't be goin' crazy...

Monday, March 2, 2020

A Three-Legged Sioux

Yes, you got that right. Along with things gone droopy and things getting wrinkly and things rapidly going gray, I've grown a third leg... or so it seems.

It appears I'm waiting for one particular thing to happen to one shoe.

photo by Pixabay

Oh, don't let this photo fool you. I haven't cast away my ugly-but-comfortable shoes and developed a love of high heels. In fact, I was at an out-of-town teacher conference this weekend and after packing what I thought were all my things, I noticed my navy blue Crocs partially hidden under the bed.

A catastrophe narrowly missed! Those trusty shoes have been hosed off so many times and yet still they're reliable. Attractive, no. Comfy, yes.

(My daughter and her family would have been over-the-moon if those BUS (butt-ugly shoes) had been left behind. Too bad for them, great for me.)

What is your favorite pair of shoes, and why?

And Sioux with three legs? You can read my post on The Muffin if you'd like to know why I apparently grew a third leg.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Handling Tension

Okay, to be completely honest, I used to deal with pressure with the "Seefood" diet. You know, see food (brownies, rolls, mashed potatoes), and eat them. These days, I'm trying to mend my ways.

But writers have to deal with tension. If there's no tension, there's nothing interesting happening. If there's no tension, there's nothing to compel the reader to keep reading. So, even though tension is not good for my waistline nonexistent waistline, it is necessary for stories.

In my most recent post at The Muffin, I share one of my favorite David Bowie songs. No, it's not Young American, but that one is a contender.

If you'd like to see David Bowie with huge shoulder pads as he wails out Young American, check this video out.

And if you'd like to find out the book I just finished and am recommending to every person I meet on the street--strangers as well as friends--read my Muffin post.

(It's a whole class on how to handle tension in a novel.)

Monday, January 27, 2020

To All the Mops I've Loved Before

To be completely honest, my husband and I have battled over mops throughout the years. He doesn't mop, but he thinks he know which mops are the best. He'll see one, buy it, and then mumble when I complain about it and refuse to use it.

Do I love to mop? Certainly not. However, I don't love having a mop and wringer-bucket contraption that's large enough and sturdy enough to store in a school's custodian's closet either. And we had one of those for a while. It was heavy and yellow and lots of fun to haul up the basement steps.

There is a mop I love. It's kind of fun to wring out, and it's lightweight. Joni Mitchell wrote, "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone" but I didn't miss Big Yellow when I got rid of him. CS & N sang, "Love the one you're with," and as much as you can love a mop, I love the one we have.

Are you curious? Do you wonder what cleaning instrument pleases me? Maybe not. But maybe you're curious about how I reflected on writing, when thinking of housecleaning.

If you are, check out my post at The Muffin.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Why I Hated Tanya Tucker

When I was young (10) I had a crazy crush on Glen Campbell. Our family had a record or two of his in our cabinet, and when the movie True Grit came out, my mom and I went to see it in the theater. We both were excited. Mom was a John Wayne fan, and I got to see Glen on the big screen.

When his character died, I cried.

Way after my little-girl gush over Glen ended, he had a lengthy affair with Tanya Tucker. Deep in my heart, I knew Glen deserved more than that bleached-blonde hussy. But did I get rabid about it? No. By then, Campbell had been replaced by Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Viggo Mortensen.

Recently I saw a piece on Tanya Tucker. She's still singing, still honest with her craft, and still single. I saw her as an incredibly independent woman who's obviously talented. (She had her first hit single--"Delta Dawn" when she was 13. Thirteen!)

Something Tanya said struck a chord in me. What did that now pink-haired singer say that stuck with me?

Read my post on The Muffin, where I write about one thing that might be needed in order to be successful. (You be the judge.)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

What's Bugging Sioux?

Hi. I'm Sioux and I'm a Seinfeld-aholic. I was at a park yesterday, thought I was in a bathroom stall without toilet paper, and asked the person in the stall next to me if they had a square to spare.

If you're not into the show Seinfeld, sorry--that reference won't make you smile.

I recently survived Christmas (it's been a tough year) and fantasized about celebrating Festivus--a made-up Seinfeld holiday. It involves an aluminum pole (that is not decorated), the airing of grievances and finally, the feats of strength.

Since the year 2019 is now officially over, I figured I would air my grievances. (I have lots of griping to do.)

One of my grievances involves Viggo Mortensen. One involves Nutella. Another one involves my writing accountability group.

If you'd like to experience the airing of my grievances, head to my WOW post.

And happy Festivus--for the rest of us!