Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Will Go and Live Abroad!

Enjoy meeting Anouk Beale

I was ten years old when I told my parents:

'When I am big, I will go and live abroad!' I already knew that back then! For a while as a child I also wanted my own bookshop. I loved reading. As a teenager I worked in a restaurant.. I thoroughly enjoyed waitressing. I noticed that I earned as much in tips as what I got in wages. I worked for a year abroad in a hotel & restaurant, afterwards I dreamt of opening my own luxury hotel. My landslide started when I was 22, I was diagnosed with MS. At first I only heard all the things I could no longer do. After six months I decide not to let the illness, MS, lead my live. I still dreamt of the hotel but now with extra services like yoga, meditation areas and energy providing meals. I moved abroad to Ireland what I had always wanted to do.

The following seven years I lived as if there was no MS. Every two years I had a relapse I lost my vision and the power in my legs. After getting medication everything came back like before. I would happily get on with life like I had had nothing more than flu. The land slided completely when I was 29... It felt like my energy was stored in a colander. A couple of months of sleep helped, but I still didn’t have a lot of energy. I was extremely bored because there was nothing wrong with my brain. I missed work and earning money. I wanted to keep dreaming about a future that was worthwhile. Gradually my interest for books came back.

  At night time I dreamt a lot and intensely. During the day I thought about work I could do from home. For weeks I had the same dream. I decided to write down my dream in the hope that I would sleep better. That night I slept like a baby. The next day I continued writing the dream and extend the story. I got energy from the writing and coming up with the rest of the story. I slept fantastically at night time. I would wake up with lots of energy which got doubled by the writing. My hotel dream got replaced by my dream of publishing my book. It is not an easy road; Plenty of challenges. But during these searches, dreams and - it might sound strange- my Illness I learned a lot about myself. Amazing all the things a human can do!

Now I write when my 22 month old toddler has her nap and in the evening when my husband
is working and  she is a sleep.

I love writing all genres. Writing is just like telling your story but only you can tell more people and help more people. I have a very big imagination and found that I had a re-occurring dream that kept coming back till the day I wrote it down. Now the dream has become a story about Irish myths and legends and how we can get the most out of life. I have a 22 month old daughter who keeps me on my toes. With a nice stories I want to help the reader.
I have a children’s story called Buteo Buteo for sale on Amazon.                                                              

 Daniel and the otherworld the story that came together from my dreams will be for sale by the end of the year.                                      

Sickly Perfect my life story and how I dealt with 2 life changing illnesses will be for sale at the beginning of 2013.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"The Year of Kira"

Loving Thursdays!
Here's Kira Janene Holt!

I’ve always wanted to write novels. I wrote short stories as a teen and took a few creative writing classes in college. I started a novel in the 1990s, and after completing close to 200 pages, shared it with a friend. One negative response and the project ended.

I spent long hours at work. I’m a professional and it seems as if more is heaped upon employees who do their job. I have a large circle of friends and family so there are unlimited opportunities for celebrations and parties. I love to travel and live the stories I wanted to write. The novel was pushed further and further into the future.

I met a new man. Relationships take lots of energy. We literally built a house on some land I had owned for several years. We moved in when the walls were studs, and we had to string in a light from the pole outside. We washed our bodies and our dishes using a hose tied over a tree branch. Building a house is a never-ending endeavor.

Suddenly I was about to turn fifty. I realized the future was forever and that the one creative passion I’ve had my whole life could be put off and never realized. I had spent my adult life putting everyone else’s goals and desires ahead of mine, and it had to stop. I meant it too.

I declared my forty-ninth birthday “The Year of Kira.” To hell with housekeeping. Cut out the obligations. I can’t go to yet another party. Work will not steal all my energy and time so that someone younger can push me out when I’m exhausted. My husband can fix his own damn meals. He understood since he’s also an artist. He’d been encouraging me to write.

I started waking up at 4:00 a.m. to write while I was fresh. I cut out checking my emails every twenty minutes to see if there was an emergency. I took the hotel time from my travel job to write instead of reading reports. I even wrote at work. Within a year, I had a first draft. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!

That was four years ago and my novel comes out May 2012. It’s titled Rapid Descent – Nightmare in the Grand Canyon. Turn hedonistic travelers out into an isolated environment and emotions run rougher than rapids.

I’ve never stopped writing since. Fantasty Rocked Reality, the sequel to Nightmare will publish in 2013. I’ve written the first draft of a third novel. I entered a MFA in Creative Writing program although I’ve about decided it’s not for me. I have a non-fiction piece titled Cookbook for Getting Your Kid to College that is next in line for publishing.

I don’t believe I can tell anyone exactly HOW to balance life against writing. My advice is that each writer needs to look at what’s of value in his/her life. What can be cut? Where does a writer want to spend his/her time? Life is a series of choices so choose what matters most.

Kira Janene Holt lives and writes on a hill outside of Austin, Texas. Her Upcoming novel, Rapid Descent – Nightmare in the Grand Canyon, was short listed in the 2010 Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest. During the day she works on college readiness issues. Cookbook for Getting Your Kid to College will publish in late 2012 as a guide to help parents guide their kids through the college search, application, and admission process. She also blogs at

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Airport: A Reflection on Single Parenting

Today's post is a poignant piece

you just have to read!

Introducing  Olya Thompson

It’s getting late, about 11 p.m. on a Sunday night, a few days before Halloween. After several flight delays, I’m still at the American Airlines terminal at Chicago's O’Hare Airport, waiting to board the plane to Dallas, where I have a meeting in the early morning on the next day.

I pace around restlessly. Then I set down my fold-over carry-on bag, the strap of which is digging into my shoulder, and I wearily drop into the nearest plastic-form chair.
Sitting opposite me is a young girl, about 13, and her older brother, about 17, I would say. They’re wearing jeans and sneakers and look a bit tired and rumpled. They trade banter and tease each other affectionately. The girl is holding a plastic trick-or-treat bag that she keeps rummaging in, perhaps a gift from a grandmother. She takes out a homemade cupcake with orange icing and a chocolate jack-o-lantern face. Then a younger sibling, a sister with long brown hair, perhaps seven or eight, arrives, with their mother in tow. The girl is carrying an identical trick or treat bag. The mother is a cheerful and sophisticated-looking woman, dressed in business attire. She’s wearing a wedding ring.
For me, the frequent flyer, airports are all alike, and so are the people I see there. Yet for some reason, I find myself staring.
They don’t stare back but smile good-naturedly at me.
This scene of relaxed family togetherness seems so ordinary, yet to me so poignant. Families, it always seemed to me, are the possessors of happiness. But I wonder if they are aware of their special lot, enveloped in their cocoonlike interiors of closed doors, warm glowing lights. Their secure worlds seem all so different from those of parents like me, raising a child alone. “Families, I hate you,” Andre Gide, the French essayist and novelist, once said. But I don’t feel anger or envy as I gaze at that closely knit group, only fascination and some sadness.
Maybe I’m just tired and moody, or maybe it’s just the season, the darkening days of late October with the promise of the holidays soon to come, or maybe it’s the cupcakes, a reminder of life’s simpler pleasures. Most likely, though, it’s simply the nature of my work, of newspaper work in general. For the past five years I’ve moved six times without the prospect of ever settling down. Too often I’ve had an assignment in one place, had to leave my child in another. This time, though, I am finally in a position to choose, am in a position where my daughter and I will finally be together. Nevertheless, tonight, I find myself particularly pensive and alone.
It’s time to board. Passengers begin to line up single file at the gate. I just sit there, not wanting to wait in that long queue with that bulky canvas bag. The family across from me begins to collect their coats and carry-on luggage.
“Wait!” the 13-year-old suddenly cries out. She cannot find her pass. The teen rummages in her purse, in her pockets. Suddenly, her older brother reaches into her Halloween bag and pulls out the pass triumphantly. They all laugh.
As they begin to make their way across the terminal, the little one pipes up – her pass is also missing. “You too!” says her mother good-naturedly. There’s another bout of rummaging and together they manage to find it.
I cannot take my eyes off them, those children so rambunctious and carefree, that mother so indulgent and so patient. Perhaps I idealize, a mere observer, looking on from the other side of the fence. Yet on days when I am rushed and tired and far from any place I can call home, it seems to me that I see families everywhere, reminders of a lifestyle I have not been able to provide.
“Mom,” you mustn’t be so impatient with me,” my teen-age daughter had said to me this morning.
It saddens me to realize that the patience and joy on the face of this Dallas-bound mother is not an expression with which I have often been able to turn to my child. More often than not, mine was one of impatience and worry. If she would have misplaced her pass, I know I would have said, not without exasperation, “Find that boarding pass quickly! We'll miss the flight! Why don’t you know where you put it?”
She grew up a hurried child, without that cushion provided by a family of two parents, grandparents and siblings. She grew up in a world where I had to make our way, a world filled with appointments and sitters and deadlines and schedules, a world that did not wait.
“Let’s go,” I’d say to her when she was a toddler, “or I’ll be late.” I had to get her up early so I could get to school and work. Drowsy with sleep, she’d dawdle. “Hurry,” I would tell her. “Go eat your cereal.” “Make sure you have your scarf and mittens. Where are your mittens?”
She was often out of step in a world that moved more quickly than she did. “Late again,” the elementary school teacher would say when she arrived, more often than not still munching on a slice of peanut butter toast. “You’re always late….” The teacher would tell her. “Your homework is late.” My heart would sink those many days as I sat helplessly tied to my desk at work thinking about those carefully lettered assignments still on the kitchen table, about her trying to negotiate her way alone to school or back home, about her taking the bus to her dance lessons.
“Be careful.” "Be prepared." “Be on time.” “The world is a serious place,” I would tell her.
“But Mom….,” she would inevitably say, explaining about the magical new snowfall that she had to explore, about the stray cat that she had found on her way to school and had to bring back home, about the library book she had forgotten and had to return for. Despite all my worry and endless direction, she simply continued to wander on blithely through life, carefree as any child, and simply assumed that the world would love her.
And it did.
Yes, she often filled her mother with much consternation, yet she also won much approval and applause. She fascinated her teachers with her tales of her misadventures, her soaring flights of imagination, and her infectious laugh. She had walked into her school for an  interview and on the spot was given a scholarship to attend. She waltzed into a professional dance audition and was the one invited to stay. She was a spinner of cartwheels, a master of mime, a fount of insatiable curiosity, always posing her inevitable " but why?" Where, her teachers have often asked me, does all her confidence and spontaneity and joy come from? Where, I have often asked myself, does it all come from?
Yes, I would have thought that this young girl would have turned out to be cautious and careworn like her mother. ‘How,” I had often asked myself, “can I continue to provide her with all she that she needs to grow and to flourish.”
Yes, there were many times in my daughter’s life when I could not be there, and there were times when I had to keep her waiting when I was late. When parents talk to me about letting down their kids, they tell of tantrums and tears and slamming doors and recriminations. Yet she never railed or complained or made demands. When an exam made me late for her school pageant she waved to me in her cat costume from the stage. When a flight delay made me late for her graduation, she stepped out of the ordered procession of mortarboards to greet me. As I look as this Dallas-bound mother, I wonder at the constancy I demanded of my child as I tried to make our way, juggling schools and jobs and schedules
Just this morning while packing, I had spoken sharply to her. “You’re so thin,” I had said, my offhand comment couching my concern only as a criticism. “Giving me more to worry about,” I said to her.
As I sit and wait here in this airport, that gentle plaint echoes.
When I begin to think about the life that she and I had, I cannot begin to tally the toll. My school. Work. The jobs. The travel. The dislocations. The years she spent in boarding school. The demands of her growing educational opportunities. I could not begin to fathom how to balance it all. There was just too much in her life that I myself could not control. No, the circumstances for her growth have not been ideal.

She is a caring child who deserved to be doted on, who should have had a rowdy bunch of brothers and sisters, a loving father, a few aunts and uncles, perhaps, even two pairs of fond grandparents. But there was nothing I could do about that. Instead I got her a shiny red bicycle that she drove around the campus where I worked, went sledding with her at Riverside Park, signed her up for those dance lessons she so wanted to attend, promised on this trip to bring her back a pair of cowboy boots….
It’s almost midnight when I hear the final call for boarding. I see the family with their trick-or-treat bags go through the boarding gate, those denizens of an insulated world where planes can wait and children are cherished. I gather up my raincoat and luggage.
“Cupcakes,” I say to myself when I walk onto the plane. “That’s what I’ll do. When I get home. we’ll make Halloween cupcakes.”
But as our life would have it, as soon as I return, she gets another scholarship, an opportunity of a lifetime.
“But the scholarship doesn’t matter,” she said heatedly to me.
“Oh yes, it does,” I said back to her.
In a way, our life has always been like that O. Henry Christmas story, each one of us willing to sacrifice the things that mean a lot for the other, but neither one of us willing to accept that sacrifice from the other. Yes, O. Henry, the master of the unexpected ending. As I help her pack,  it occurs to me that perhaps in the end, it was simply enough to do all that one could.  Yes, as I look back on it all, I begin to realize that she has somehow always found her way; and yes, it seems to me, that despite it all, she will continue to find her way.

Yet, weeks later, that airport scene still lingers in my mind. I  mention it to a colleague, a married mother of three.

“Lord knows!” she exclaims. “That woman must have been on valium! And those kids,: she adds, "they must have been on their best behavior. At home, I’ll bet you that they’re constantly at each other’s throats.” “Besides," she continues, “Maybe they weren’t even her kids. For all you know, they might have been her stepkids whom she sees once a year. Or maybe they were kids from her first marriage, living with her ex.

I consider all the possibilities. I want to believe her. But somehow I cannot.
 Olya Thompson is a writer of commentary and literary essays. She was born in New York City of Ukrainian parents. She has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Indiana University, taught writing on the college level, and worked as a newspaper columnist. You can sign in and follow her work at

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First, the Path. Then the Companion

Today's featured author is 
Monty Joynes.

After you have made the life-altering decision to travel in the direction of the literary arts, the next crucial decision is who will go with you as spouse or companion.  Do not put the second before the first, or you will create constant conflict instead of literature.

My second wife understood my passion to write, and she thus became the great facilitator for a very productive writing period that did not depend on commercial success.  As my partner, copy editor, researcher, and manuscript preparer, we were able to produce novels, non-fiction books including a long two-subject biography, and libretti for an oratorio and two grand operas over a period now spanning 29 years.

Meanwhile, we operated a seasonal manufacturing and retail business to support ourselves and our three, now college graduated, daughters. 

During those years, I wrote full-time six months and then worked seven days a week for six months in the business.  With the girls married, we sold the business in 1992 and have devoted ourselves full-time to the literature ever since.

We count our satisfaction with lives lived in the dedicated pursuit of art not on published success, but rather by the manner in which we have remained faithful to whatever literary work was inspired for us to do.  We honored whatever talent we had in the completion of more than 50 major literary works. We fulfilled and continue to fulfill the will-to-art that provides meaning and purpose to our life together.

As a genetically mandated writer, first commit to that path, and then find the very special someone who agrees to go that way with you.

Monty Joynes is one of George Garrett's "boys" from U.Va.  His publications include six novels and ten non-fiction books.  In recent years he has written libretti for an oratorio and two operas.  Monty and his wife Pat reside in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where he continues to be a full-time writer.

Monty Joynes

GRID (Kindle 2011)

The scene is New Orleans, one of 16 Open Cities in the year 2032.  The United States, victim of economic depression, The Great California Earthquake, food riots and anarchy has a new constitution administered by 30 SIG’s (Special Interest Groups) who have divided the production centers of the country. 

A spirited street musician dares to compete on the New Orleans Grid tower in a life-and-death gamble to finance his settlement of revolutionary refugees.  The hero’s access to the high-stakes game is dependent on appealing to the tempestuous Grid promotions director, an enigmatic famous beauty that war and the corrupt Open City have jaded against trust and love.