Let me tell you a story!

Hitching my Get-along July 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 3:32 am


I set out on an adventure today that I’ve been anxiously awaiting for over a year; the Writers’ Retreat at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.  I’m not used to traveling solo, especially not to uncharted territory, but the lure of a week of seclusion, learning, and writing was just too strong for this introvert to stay tucked away in her usual shell.  So, I hitched up my horsey and drove way out west!  And I’m talking way out WEST!  Not just westward; I’m talking desert, hills, mountains, cacti, heat, and miles of nothingness…that kind of WEST!

I’m listening to the blare of a train’s horn as it passes through town.  I’m sure the residents don’t mind a bit; it’s the only way items are going to get here because I certainly didn’t see any eighteen wheelers on the road, though I’m sure there must be those as well.   What supplies do they need in Alpine?  Well, not many.  They only have two fast food places and no big chain stores.  They do have two grocery stores; the same chain, the same name of “Porter’s Thriftway” but positioned about two blocks apart.  I’m sure there’s a lot of good home cooking going on here and I was tempted to knock on a random door and beg for my supper!  The rest of the week I’ll be able to eat in the dorm.

That lonely stretch of road really was a breath of fresh air.  How often can you fly down a deserted highway where the speed limit is 80, with a beautiful view of mountains ahead?  No stop-and-go traffic, just flying and rocking to ‘Poke Salad Annie’ over the stereo. This is God’s country, big sky country, and yet I got a little nervous when I noticed a swarm of dirt devils off to my right.  At one point I counted eight of them!  They were dancing and carving their curses into the barren patches of soil between the desert scrubs. They stayed in place while I drove for miles, and I suspect they were just practicing and waiting for the sun to go  down before they moved on to make crop circles somewhere.  I’m telling you, these were dirt DEVILS!

I have found a gem here in Alpine, and I’m sitting in it right now.  It’s The Maverick Inn, and it is kitschy to end all kitsch.  It’s an old motor court, refurbished nicely to embrace the cowboy theme.  I used to not care much for anything that was themed to resemble Gunsmoke.  But that was before the summer I played Red Dead Redemption and fell in love with the old west. I had no idea I’d be entering its setting when I first registered for this writing class.  I wish I could have entered town on a horse with my rifle firing at everything in sight! Lesson learned: video games do damage; they even turned this peace lover into a shoot ‘em up cowgirl.

There’s a little card on the desk in my motel room that says: “We think our train is quaint, but if ears it pains, plug ‘em and it cain’t.”  It adds a note to use earplugs to block the train noise…for people who cannot decipher that little poem.  I happen to love the sound of trains passing through town at night.  It reminds me of visits to my granddaddy’s house in Ruston, Louisiana and my Granny’s house in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  I think the noise is quaint, just like the people who run this Maverick Inn.  I think my kitschy cowgirl soul has found a place to rest easy for a while!


Blinding Storm Trailer June 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 1:56 pm

Blinding Storm Trailer.


Book Trailer for Blinding Storm

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 4:36 am

When I decided to pursue my love of writing, I realized that I would not be satisfied unless someone enjoyed reading my work.  I wish I was the type of person who could do something purely for the sake of doing it, but I do crave acceptance and notice from the outside world.  I quickly realized that getting anyone to read my novels was going to require that I step outside my safety zone, and because I’m an introvert, my zone is very small.  Yet I stepped out and joined a writers’ group, one of the best moves I’ve ever made, and that has led to all sorts of venturing out.  The latest step has been to embrace the concept of book trailers, which I find utterly addictive!  I may even race through a new manuscript just so that I can make a trailer for it!  I hope I’ll get some views on the trailer for my first novel, Blinding Storm.  If not, I’ll have to try and slink back into the safety zone and that would be a tragedy…for me, at least.





Trailer for Places Like the Sun and Moon May 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 10:42 pm

I am so thankful for supportive friends and family, particularly my sister, Ginny Reeves, who put together this trailer.  It really does help to keep the dream alive, and that’s 90% of life isn’t it?  Just keeping our dreams alive while we fellowship with others doing the exact same thing?  My greatest sorrow comes when I see someone whose dreams appear to have died. I always stop and pray that they find a flicker of hope again, and I applaud the courageous people who take great steps to ignite the flame again; I’ve witnessed it and it is powerful, and my dreams are small in comparison. Still, I do hope to entertain with my words someday.

Places Like the Sun and Moon trailer


“Table for one, Madame?” November 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 3:51 am

Sometimes when I write, I wonder if I am wasting my time.  When I see bestselling books advertised on the side of my facebook page, I think, “Who am I trying to kid?”  But I continue to write.  I tell myself that there are lots of different tastes and maybe someone will like my work.  Not all painters create a masterpiece.  Not all teachers inspire a U.S. president.  Not all cake decorators have a Food Network show.  So why do I feel like my writing is useless if no one except a few close friends and family members ever end up reading it?  I think I know the answer, but I’m afraid to admit it.

Why are so many writers plagued by self doubt?  Why does it try to lead us astray and tempt us to abandon our heart’s desire?  We constantly have to fight a battle within ourselves; we struggle to dig down deep where that elusive inner strength resides.

The creative writing process is a very long one, especially when you’re talking about writing full length novels.  Because it takes so long to get the product to completion, it is sometimes hard to see that the unfinished project has value and that it will come to fruition if nurtured to the bitter end.  It’s easy to get discouraged when looking at an unfinished story that your brain is still wrestling to conclude.

Tonight I was putting together some cornbread dressing to cook the day after Thanksgiving.  We’ll be going to a large gathering at a Catholic Church in Vattman, Texas, for our meal on Thursday, but I decided I’d like to have some dressing to snack on over the following days when we’re relaxing around the house.  The dressing is my favorite part of the meal!   My son, who has enjoyed eating my dressing for almost 24 years, walked in and looked at the bowl of broken cornbread, sautéed vegetables, toast, and sausage and said, “What’s that?”  I told him I was making dressing and he said, “That doesn’t look anything like it.”  A while later, my younger son walked in and said pretty much the same thing.  They were not impressed with what was in that bowl, but I know that it will be my delicious “famous” dressing when it comes out of the oven.

That got me thinking that I do the same thing with my unfinished writing.  I look at it and say, “That’s not a book!  That doesn’t look anything like a bestseller!”  I forget that I have to keep plodding along and plotting my story until it all gels.  And if no one comes to the table after it has been served, then I guess I will just have to try and enjoy the feast of finished pages all by myself.

One thing I’ve learned while participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge is that I can really brew up a batch of chapters quickly.  No longer will I be content to simmer on low, producing only one chapter a month.  I’ve realize that my brain can think on a high setting and that I really enjoy devoting my time and thought to the process.

This Thanksgiving I will be spending time with family dining amongst over a thousand people who will pay good money for turkey and dressing.  We will give thanks to God, celebrate our country, rest, and then the following day we’ll eat my famous dressing that started out as a bowl of broken ingredients.  I will write, and I will dig deep past my own doubts and finish the last part of my novel.  Eighty thousand words, dropped one at a time onto a page, simmered, stirred, and after a long edit, ready to serve.  I hope I won’t have to dine alone!


Sunflowers and My Dad October 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 7:20 pm

I only plan to blog rarely, when I feel inspired to do so.  Last night, however, I was having dinner with some friends who’d seen my latest entry and one of them reminded me about a little devotional I’d written after my father, Mayther Ager Rogers, died about two years ago.  In honor of him, I am adding the piece here below, so that I can preserve it on this site.

The assigned scripture that I was supposed to pair my devotional with was Isaiah 9:2, The people walking in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

The summer of 2009 was a walk in darkness for me.  Newspapers reported that the drought was the worst one this area had experienced in 100  years.  One apparent sign of the absence of rain was the barren land I passed by on my frequent trips to my hometown of Bishop, Texas, to visit my mom and my 90 year old ailing dad. I’d never seen the fields so bare during harvest season and it was a depressing sight.

Soon after my father passed away, I caught view of something wonderful…two fields of 6′ tall bright yellow sunflowers…a sight for my sore eyes! I enjoyed noticing how they faced the sun each morning and evening as I made my way back and forth on that road during the difficult days of new grief, and I remembered how we, too, look toward light for our nourishment…the light of our Lord.

Sadly, however, I eventually noticed that the strong upright stems began to droop under the weight of the heavy flowers, and it reminded me
of the way my father’s posture withered as he lost his health.  The faces of the flowers bowed toward the ground, all pointed where they’d last been able to face the sun.  The sight made me sad, and so I looked forward to the day when they would be harvested.  Still later, I passed by again and they had blackened and withered further, no trace of beauty visible to a passer-by.  This reminded me that we, too, will return to the earth in death, our beauty and vibrancy gone, yet this is when our Father will harvest all that is good within us, and we will find new life with Him.

I hope the farmer who planted those sunflower blessings will harvest the seeds soon.  Should he fail to do so, however, perhaps they will return to the earth and bless me yet again, about a year from now, when I will surely be remembering my dad and pondering the cycle of life.

I still travel that road weekly, keeping an eye on my mother, and we are still experiencing extreme drought conditions .  I haven’t seen any more sunflowers, but that makes the memory of them all the more special, because they were there when I was able to appreciate them the most.  And now that more time has passed, my grief has diminished and I no longer think of  my dad as being stooped and withered like the dying sunflowers, but as the intelligent, strong, and witty man who always strived to do good for others. He kept his face toward the light…always!


A Feast of Friendship October 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 5:10 am

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can choose your friends
but you can’t choose your family?”  I
love that quote, not because I don’t love my family but because it says so much
about the importance and the privilege of friendship.  I come from a wonderful family, not a super
close one, but one that gets along all of the time and takes care of the
business of life. I could probably fill a novel with the ways in which my
family falls into the “oddball” category, but we are an awesome bunch of

When I say that I have enjoyed some amazing friendships over
the years, I say that with an overwhelming sense of joy.  I could die tomorrow a happy person just because
my heart is beating a happy rhythm.  My family
puts the blood in my heart but the fun of friendship keeps it pumping!

Do you remember the last time you made a new friend; a
neighbor, someone from church, a coworker? Hopefully it wasn’t very long
ago.  I’ve made some new friends lately,
but I feasted in friendship the other night with three truly unique people who
were strangers to me until a few months ago.
They know what it’s like to sit alone for hours spilling your brain onto
paper.  They understand the frustration
when self-doubt ruptures dreams to form barricades.  These friends know how to turn critique into
creative energy, and they know how to think, truly ponder the imagination, and
then laugh and marvel at what fruit the mind produces.

Less than eight weeks ago these people sat quietly around a
coffee table and offered up their creative works for criticism. Openness allows
for respect, and respect welcomes friendship. The past two weeks we have
feasted around a dining room table filled with good food for our  bodies, while filling our minds, spirits and
souls with the one thing that has the possibility to comfort, heal, grow,
charm, and inspire …and that thing is creativity.  We may not ever achieve greatness by our works,
but we will aspire to put on paper that which our minds create…and there is greatness
in that!

If you haven’t made a new friend lately, I encourage you to
open up.  You can pick some friends that
have different quirks than your family! Dine on the diversity and enjoy the
fullness of life! Thrive on a feast of ideas…a feast of fellowship!


Coffee Waves of Emotion? September 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 5:08 am

Sitting on a comfy black leather sofa in the little cove of
a trendy coffee house, I studied the faces of my new acquaintances.  They were nice people, very vocal and self-assured,
eager to share their writing talent with the group, keen on publishing their creative
words for the entire world to feast upon.

I sat with my trusty laptop providing a barrier between me
and the unknown.  My trusty Dell placed  a familiar friendly warmth between my own
insecurity and their cool confidence. I listened. They laughed.  I laughed on the inside.

They talked about their lives…an ex-marriage that had been
the catalyst for fifteen ‘happily single’ years; one marriage that had started
out with a wild, adventurous honeymoon and settled into a harmonious sharing of
life’s enormous responsibilities; and another marriage that had produced a
whole lot of children, with a caring spouse at home tending them all, perhaps with
the hope of a take-home coffee cup arriving later to smooth the edges of
another long day.  I failed to mention my
own happy path down the road of matrimony, 30 years and going strong. Nor did I
mention my own two college sons still living at home. No, I listened.  And I began to laugh on the outside.  My laptop slid off to the empty cushion next
to me, and there was less of a barrier between me and these new faces.

Still, I cringed when it was time for my critique to
begin.  I’m sure the drawing in of my jaw
and the tightening of my facial muscles was visible, though I tried to hide it with
a smile.  What started out as fairly
painful, ended up being a joyous exercise in self-examination.  Having your creativity inspected under a
microscope is akin to stepping on a scale and having your weight announced to
an entire mall full of people. Extremely skinny people might not understand
that.  Extroverts may not understand it
either.  But a person’s creativity comes from
the soul; it is a delicate, precious thing that should be nurtured and
protected.  Inspiration should not be
contained, hidden, or stunted, and yet in releasing it, that is  precisely when it becomes
vulnerable.  Creativity, in all forms,
should compel the creator to laugh wholeheartedly for all to witness, because it
is a joyful thing!  And once that joy
exists, the vulnerability dissipates. I wish the process was simple and
uncomplicated, but for me it is a tedious route.

I recently opened a fortune cookie to find this message: Talents that are not shared are not talents.  I keep that little slip of paper tucked in
the pocket of my Nook.  It is there to
remind me that I must allow myself to be vulnerable and open.  It is there to remind me that great joy

I look forward to honing my critiquing skills, so that I may
offer more input…and laughter…at the next gathering. Live, Laugh, Write… Drink Chi!


Hold your applause! May 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 2:28 am

I’m going to a ballet recital this weekend and I’m looking forward to it because this will be my first stress-free recital!  Ever!

As a young piano player, I practiced for months to prepare for recitals and worried about making a mistake. I didn’t totally stress out, but performing in front of strangers was not something I truly enjoyed. I’m more of a closet pianist.

When my older son, Martin, took piano lessons he participated in recitals for a few years and I could not enjoy the events until after he finished playing.  He always performed perfectly…no mistakes, and no nervousness, but until it was all a done deal I was on pins and needles. Once my suit-clad tickler of the ivories stood up to take his bow, I was able to breathe and clap in true exultation!

The same was true when I sat in the bleachers for four years of high school football with my younger son, Miles.  My husband was on cloud nine the entire time, with the exception of a few outrages over calls from officials.  He was the bell of the ball, literally flitting around like a social butterfly, making friends and talking sports with the other parents.  I enjoyed the games and  cheering for the team, but it was like one long recital and I couldn’t relax until four years later!

I’m learning to breathe a little easier these days.   I’m working on my second novel despite the ill-favored odds of ever being published. I’ll be my own one-woman act if I have to and then I’ll applaud for myself.  A good friend has recently offered to give me accordion lessons, and I hope someday to be brave enough to perform with her, if you can consider a patio concert for friends who’ve had a few cocktails a performance! It takes more than punch and cookies these days to gather a crowd for Polka, and fortunately, my friend’s talent extends beyond that genre.

Until then, I will enjoy watching other people’s children perform. I’ll be wondering if the parents in the audience are able to enjoy the show as much as I am, and I’ll be wishing I could turn back the hands of time and erase all of the anxiety that went along with the performances in my life. I will watch one beautiful three-year-old ballerina in particular and I know I will be inspired to keep following my dreams.

I may not be ready to take a bow, but at least I’m not quite ready to bow out!


A Google Down Memory Lane May 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sisterhurl @ 2:05 am

I spent a nice day with my mother and sister last Sunday.  We did the usual things like eating lunch, chatting, and watching “I Love Lucy” reruns. Sometimes we do errands, little household chores or yard work, but today the weather was hot and extremely windy so we sort of lazed around the house.  We also did a little cyber sleuthing of sorts, and it was quite the highlight of the day!  My mother is not into computers.  That’s an understatement.  She practically loathes them and thinks that my sisters and I are addicted to them.  I’m sure she’s right about that to some degree, but I always counter with the fact that I spend less time on the computer than she spends watching television.  I don’t actually say that to her, of course, but I do tell my sisters my thoughts on the matter.

As for the cyber sleuthing, I started off showing her that we could Google Earth her house.  She was amazed that her house was visible online! Next, we moved on to several of my old places of residence, and those of my sister, Janet.  Then, we took the ultimate Google trip and ended up on the street where my mother grew up: Downing Street, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida! My mother wasn’t creeped out by it at all!  In fact she loved seeing how the neighborhood had improved a little in the 30 years since my grandmother died.  We spun a 360 and looked at all of the nearby houses, then took a few turns and ended up on Canal Street where the grocery store still stood.  It is no longer Sorrell’s, and no longer a grocery store, but the building is there, complete with its’ upper level apartment.  We could see some of the pretty palm trees that line that downtown street, as well as some railroad tracks. I won’t go into all of the nitty gritty details, but each of those landmarks holds strong memories and meanings for us. For my 87-year-old mother it was a delightful virtual reality trip that seemed to make the internet an okay place for a while.

On the drive home I thought about how much fun we’d had peeking at New Smyrna, and reminiscing about the days when my grandmother and all of her friends lived there.  It makes you think about silly things like sidewalks, shrubs, houses that needed painting, porches that got screened in.  It almost made me wonder if the old neighborhood misses my family. I’m sure that some essence of our being still resides there with the brick and mortar.  Fashions change, people die, and buildings crumble or get swept away in storms, but that intangible essence of life must hang in the air on some level.  If not, then it’s just too sad to think about. I know that the joy on my mother’s face was tangible that afternoon.  And to think, it was all possible by way of the cyber highway! Viva la Google!