This week I’ve been thinking about the culture and traditions of my youth, in the “South”. Back in those days families stayed close, not just in the heart, but in proximity. The only time my grandmother ever left the state of Georgia was when I took her to Florida to see the ocean one year, other than that she never did. It was a culture of, you were born here, so you live here, and stay close to your family. It was like the “place” was not just a town, city, or a state, it was part of who you were. There were rich traditions of cooking, hunting, and manners that were carried out and respected. Everyone knew what to expect from everyone else, what was accepted and what wasn’t. I have one brother who still lives in my old hometown, the rest of us have ventured out to other places, I’m the only one who’s moved to another state. We still keep in touch, but probably not as much as we should. Our grandparents would be appalled at our distance. Things have changed…
Out here in “cowboy land” where I live now things have changed too. There are still wide open incredibly amazing scenes of prairies, mesas, and the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see, but… there are towns and cities, along with all sorts of development that has changed the way things are. The lonesome cowboy days, where you could ride a horse for days and not see anyone are just about gone. That culture is still celebrated, there are activities and celebrations of what things were like… but it’s not like that anymore.
It’s good to remember the good about the past, there are very rich cultures out here and back home… I love to remember mine and learn about these. It helps me infuse that rich culture into my stories and characters. It also helps me stay true to who I am, and where I’m from.
I’ve been pondering Spring time this week. Spring in the South and Spring in the Western desert have their differences and similarities. Spring time in the south always seemed to be very sudden, things could change literally overnight from cold and blustery to warm and green. I’ve known years when Spring got skipped altogether, the seasons would just go from winter to hot sticky summer in just a few days.
Out here in the desert Spring happens slowly, you get little subtle signs that things are changing. I think the doves are one of the first signs I’ve noticed out here, of spring. They get an early start on their work. Each year I’ve lived here, there have been a pair of doves that try to build their nest between a drainpipe and the house. Each year they fail, there’s nothing there to actually hold the sticks they bring to build with, so they leave a pile of sticks on the deck to be swept off for a few weeks, till they finally, once again, figure out that it won’t work.
It’s funny to me that they try so hard, for so long to accomplish something that just isn’t possible. And, that they repeat the same error in judgement in the same place every year. I suppose it’s the proving of the old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
I do laugh at their futile efforts, but I also ponder the meanings for us “other birds” who have learned or are learning the next part of the lesson. The doves eventually go off and build a nest somewhere else and raise their family. Us “other birds” need to remember to try something different when what we’ve been doing isn’t working.
That’s what the characters in my books do… they try something very different when what they’d been doing didn’t work…
One thing I’ve found to be a certainty, is that things always change. The honeysuckle of my youth has become the sagebrush of my now… but in my mind, they both have a special place. I look at them a bit metaphorically, the sweet smell of the honeysuckle has become the useful wisdom of the sagebrush.
In quiet moments of pondering and staring off into the distance, memories of growing up in the “South” invade my mind. I remember my grandmother teaching me how to make biscuits, and teaching me to never devalue myself. She would tell me, “You’re just as good as anyone else, not better than them, but just as good.” We’ve all had someone in our lives who’s built us up and encouraged us. You know that voice that stays with us, the voice we hear repeating what was said, long after it’s said…
I’m drawn to that sage wisdom that sticks with you, and have found it in different places and people throughout my life. This is something I try to infuse into my characters as I write. Everything from “Don’t sit on your spurs,” to, “Don’t let a bad situation define who you are,” are included. With loads of humor of course!
We all have a journey to take, mine has been full of challenges that have helped me to become the person I am now. There have always been ways for me to find happiness on this journey, even if it was to stop and smell the honeysuckle or ponder the uses of sagebrush.
Growing up in Georgia was full of lush green trees, honeysuckle and kudzu everywhere, and full of warm humid days and nights. Living in Arizona has some stark contrasts to my place of origin. Not many trees, there is a bit of honeysuckle growing in the back garden, (it has to be watered a lot), there is heat out here too, but, it’s not the humid sticky heat I grew up with. I’ve often pondered the commonalities and the differences between here and there when I’m writing my books. There are quite a few of both.
The south I grew up in was full of life, manners, and vivid culture. I try to infuse that into my southern ladies as they come to life in my stories. The ladies are spunky, feisty, and usually well mannered, most of the time. They do show the southern temper flare on occasion, but always seem to rein it in before things get too far out of control… well, except for Hannah, sometimes she seriously wants to punch someone.
When a southern lady meets a cowboy gentleman many odd things can happen…. And in my stories the odd things do happen. If that were the only differences between the girls and the boys it would still present loads of fun and lots of stories… but, that’s not the only difference. The girls grew up on a totally monogamous lifestyle and move to Arizona to meet the cowboy gentlemen and live in a polygamous lifestyle. This provides so much more opportunity for humor, culture shock, and exploration.
As I have asked before… have you ever wondered what polygamy would be like without the villains or media hype? In my books I explore what it’s like when normal people are simply living their lives in a normal way, polygamously.
I’ve finished my newest book! The name of my latest adventure is “New Parish”!
Now I’m waiting on a smart, energetic, and resourceful agent to take on the challenge and walk through the rest of this adventure with me. So while I’m waiting, I’m of course, writing…
The “New Parish” story goes like this: Sarah, (main character) has had one too many bad dates, she has dreams of being a mom but she’s had all she can take with dating losers and jerks.
Sarah meets a new friend, Mary, at a children’s center where she volunteers, this new friend comes from a community where they use a very unique dating and marriage system. Sarah’s intrigued with Mary’s lifestyle and begins an extensive investigation trying to decide if this is a viable option for her.
Sarah gets the low down on how they live when she visits New Parish and asks some of the women there to tell her about the process “warts and all”.
Sarah meets two men in New Parish, one is very handsome, well mannered, well dressed and almost perfect. The other is a rough edged cowboy who completely blows her away at first sight, she never seems to be able to stay up right when he’s around. Sarah had never been a clumsy person until she met him, this annoys her to the enth degree!
This is not a mushy romance… it’s a romantic comedy adventure and I can’t wait till everyone gets to read it!