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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Flying a Kite

I was a child when Mary Poppins was first released, and it remains one of my favorite Disney movies. We saw it first at a drive in theater, which was the theater option of choice for the first ten or so years of my life, and the dress code, of course, was jammies. Dad got the big bucket of popcorn from the concession stand while Mom helped us kids to set up a nest of pillows and blankies in the back of the family station wagon from which to view the screen.

I've always loved the last scene and song, "Let's Go Fly A Kite" (lyrics by the Sherman Brothers):

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite

In the scene, Mary Poppins' machinations have brought Mr. Banks to the realization that spending quality time with his children and family is at least as important as his job. For me, as for perhaps Jane and Michael Banks, the song personifies the spirit of hope.

It was with that song on my mind that Chris and I took part in a family kite fly on Cooper's Beach yesterday: the 2014 KITES for a CURE fundraiser sponsored by Uniting Against Lung Cancer, whose mission is to raise awareness and monies for lung cancer research. Participants received a T-shirt and a white kite which we could decorate if we chose. I should have come early or brought my own Sharpies, because I could happily have painted that kite for hours. As it was, I stuck with a simple design around an Eskimo proverb I particularly love:
Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven
where the love of our lost ones pours through
and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.
While much of the day had been sunny, by late afternoon high tide and clouds had rolled in over the beach. I haven't flown a kite in over twenty years, and so was pleased that there was enough breeze on the beach to get mine airborne. Chris snapped the pictures here where I am holding both his kite and mine (obviously lacking proper kite-flying style!). Regardless of technique, like that scene from Mary Poppins, the sight of a hundred kites bobbing in the air above was a joyous, uplifting sight.

The cause behind the kite fly is particularly relevant for me. Today is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the day my mother died of lung cancer twenty-nine years ago. So as well as honoring all our fallen heroes on Memorial Day, I add a special prayer for my mom who, while not magical like Mary Poppins, still created a fair amount of magic in our lives. I will always miss her.

I don't know a single soul whose life has not been touched by cancer. This is a scourge we need to beat. I wish it could be done in my lifetime.

At the bottom of my kite I wrote:

I pray for the end of cancer.

I still feel hope.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A birth announcement's done. My third novel, CHOICE, has just been published on Kindle.

The feeling is somewhere between giving birth and sending your child off to school for the first time. The book and I have lived together so long in solitary confinement, that it is with mixed feelings I launch it into the greater world. Yes, that was why I wrote it...that it might see the light of day in someone's hands other than mine. But still.

Given these feelings, as well as the subject matter, there's a certain synchronicity that CHOICE comes out today, Mother's Day, as it is the story of  a woman whose former lover’s death forces a re-examination of her life, including the question of whether to tell her daughter the truth about her parentage.

About CHOICE: 

What happens when the fallout of a long-past relationship threatens to destroy everything in your current one?                                                                                                                                                             
Jody Carpenter Maclain’s daughter has never known she was the product of one humiliating sexual experience that drove her father, Keith Ackerson, out of the closet and Jody into a lifetime of self-recrimination. While Jody later meets and marries Alex Maclain, when Keith learns he has fathered a child he insists upon being involved in their daughter Kendall’s life. Jody, Keith and Alex come to an agreement: When Kendall turns twenty-one, the three of them will tell her the truth of her parentage.

No one could guess that Keith would die a year shy of that milestone birthday.

Keith’s death throws Jody into a tailspin of long-buried emotions. In the wake of her choices past and present, she wavers over the biggest question: Need she tell Kendall the truth now?  The consequences of her hesitation are swift and agonizing, and Jody faces an ultimatum: Unless she can extract herself from Keith’s shadow and expunge her culpability, the price of her self-doubt may be the loss of all she loves best.                                                   

Though I am not a biological mother, CHOICE is in many ways an immensely personal book for me. Partly because I wrote it in first person, so in the writing, I either became Jody or she became me.(I truly think that some characters come to life in the writing and merely use we scribes as their channel.) And partly because of the settings and circumstances, many of which echo or approximate my own. In the writing of the book, I, as Jody, fell in love with Keith, Alex, Kendall and Blake in turn. Though Jody's story is not mine, it consumed me in the writing. I can only hope that a reader will become equally involved.

The feeling of sending the manuscript off is bittersweet. My labor is done, and I'm mentally and physically exhausted...but also intensely relieved. It's time for this little baby to walk without me.

So I'm celebrating!!!!  Bring on the champagne!!!

Order CHOICE from by clicking here. I welcome your comments!

And Happy Mother's Day!