A New Venture

Woman Listening

“I’m a freelance person, and I’ve always been able to support myself.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I know, I know, how many new things can I put on my plate? Right now I’m teaching a class at the college, working on the audiobook for The Space Between Time, working on Time’s Echo, writing these blog posts, helping a friend with her audiobook, and, of course, trying to keep up with domestic chores. But, everyone is busy, right? I’m ready for a change I just didn’t know how to make what I wanted to do happen.

For quite some time I have been looking for a way to increase my income by selling more books and perhaps using other of my talents so I can quit teaching. Last week, in my journal, I asked for help in achieving my goals. Though I didn’t expect it, my answer came that very day. I had signed up for an information workshop for a coaching program to help people become freelancers. I’ve wanted to do this for quite sometime, but had no idea where to begin.

As I listened to the presentation, I got very excited. 12 weeks of coaching on how to identify the skills I want to offer, how to find clients, and much more. I’ve only just signed up with The No Pant’s Project. (No pants as in wearing shorts to work instead of business clothes.) I will be sure to keep you informed about how it’s going. The goal is to help freelancers work smarter, not harder, and to help us have time freedom and income to do the things we love doing.

Part of becoming a freelancer is to find your “Super Power”, or the thing you are most passionate about, then offer that skill to people and businesses that need it.

As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, I love discussing all the layers of meaning in movies and novels. The reason I chose theatre as one of my majors was so I could examine the characters in the plays we studied. What motivated them do the things they did in the story?

It’s my belief that most of the time our actions are a result of things we were taught and believed, or experiences in our past. So, if we can identify with and understand characters in a book or movie, we might have a chance at understanding ourselves just a little bit better, and begin to make new choices.

Some months, or maybe a year ago, I read an article that illustrates what I mean. I think it was in the magazine, Psychology Today. The article described a new technique in couples counseling, where the couple would watch a romantic movie, and then share with each other the characters they identified with and why. Watching the movie also gave them an opportunity to examine how well the movie couple communicated with each other and relate those situations with their own relationships. Whoever came up with the idea to help couples by having them watch and discuss movies was a genius. This technique gives couples a chance to distance themselves from their own troubles, yet, it helps them make a correlation between the couple on the screen and themselves.

If I can use my knowledge to help people learn more empathy, and self-understanding, I’ll be a happy woman.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Publishing Anniversary

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“Don’t worry about writing a book or getting famous or making money. Just lead an interesting life.” ~ Michael Morpurgo

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Wow! The Space Between Time print-on-demand version was published a year ago this month. When I realized that, I started thinking of things I’ve learned over this past year and things I want to improve in both writing my next books, and in marketing.

The first thing that came to my mind was that I have to stop saying I’m bad at marketing. It’s not that I’m bad at it, it’s more a matter of not knowing much about it. So I’m now on a mission to find the right marketing techniques that fit my talents. I will probably be reading books and even taking some classes or getting some coaching to help me improve my skills.

Next, I have to do a better job of compartmentalizing my list of tasks for the day. Here’s an example: When I began working on the audiobook version of The Space Between Time, working on my new novel everyday went out the window. I haven’t even looked at it in three months. Now that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about it, I have. But I need to sit down and work on it at least half an hour every day if I want to make progress on finishing the first draft. My problem is, I’m single minded, therefore, the more immediate tasks, like writing this blog, or things related to teaching, and my audiobook project take presidents. That’s not getting my novel written, which is a concern since an element of the book involves the current #metoo movement.

I don’t know, maybe I’m stuck a bit on my second novel because I’m secretly worried it won’t be good. The subject matter is so complicated. I don’t even know how I feel about what’s happening with women’s rights sometimes. That’s all the more reason to keep writing, because as some author said, “I write to figure out what I’m thinking and feeling.” Mostly, however, the thing that is keeping me from the new novel is that I still have things I need to do related to the TSBT, and that’s frustrating.

The other day I was watching the first episode of the PBS series, The Great American Read, first broadcast in the spring. The program encouraged Americans to go vote for their favorites among a list of 100 books so that this coming week they can reveal the number one favorite book in the country. One of the categories they discussed were books that did not become popular until late in the author’s life, or after they had died. That gave me hope for my book, though it would be nice if more people wanted to read it now.

I picked up another little tidbit in an interview Emma Watson did with Canadian poet, Rupi Kaur. Her book Milk and Honey, could be classified as a book of poems for women. But she said that she has been approached by men who have thanked her for writing the book. And that got me thinking that one of the promotion points I’ve used for my book is that it’s a woman’s book.

It is difficult to put The Space Between Time into a category. It’s part historical novel, part a contemporary story of young woman’s journey of discovery, it’s part magical realism with the characters having paranormal experiences. Now I’m thinking that also classifying it as a woman’s book may keep some readers away who might otherwise enjoy the book. After all, we pick up books to read that sound intriguing. I’ve read lots of books by male authors with male protagonists, and loved them. Why should I think that men couldn’t enjoy my book as well?

The best stories are about human beings dealing with challenges that we can relate to. In The Space Between Time, Jenna the protagonist in the present has experienced life shattering events. She was dumped by her fiancé, been fired from her job, and lost her mother in a terrible car accident. Most of us can related to one or all of those events. Now, getting help from her three-times great-grandmother by joining consciousness with her through her journals might be a bit odd to some people, but don’t we love reading about other people’s lives precisely because we learn something from what they went through?

Well, I’m rambling here, but I realize that embarking on this writing career has been, and will continue to be, a very important endeavor. I’m not giving it up and I’m looking forward to learning more things about myself and learning new skills along the way.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fun and creative weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

TV Lessons

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“This instrument can teach. it can illuminate, and yes, it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it toward those ends.” ~ Edward R. Morrow speaking about television

I’m a big TV and movie nerd. It’s not that I know everything about the latest shows and movies, but when I like a show or movie, I watch it many times and love discussing all the layers of meaning in the story. I feel the way Edward R. Morrow expressed in the quote above. One of the ways I use entertainment is to learn something new, or to get a new perspective.

I learned this from my parents. Mom and I would read the same books and discuss them. My dad would stay up late on Friday or Saturday nights and watch old movies with me and we’d discuss the story for days afterwards. From my parents I learned that every story, even personal ones, has many layers of meaning and to truly learn something, I needed to dig deep into the character’s motivations. Doing that was one way I could not only understand other people, but myself as well.

Over the weekend my husband and I finished binge watching Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon. I had seen the other various Jack Ryan movies, and even read The Hunt for Red October, after seeing the movie. I liked them all because in each story we get to see into most of the character’s motivations. In Red October, for example, Captain Ramius, a legend in the Soviet Union, decides to defect and hand over the Red October, a state of the art submarine with a drive that makes it virtually invisible, sonically, in the water. We see that his reasons for betraying his country have more to do with the fact that his wife died while he was at sea, than anything else. He’s tired of war. If he hands over the sub, he might be able to prevent the human race from killing itself off.

Even though Tom Clancy does a good job of showing us his character’s reasons for their attitudes and actions, this new series takes that to a whole new level. It takes place in the present time where possible terrorist attacks are a constant worry for all government intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other Western nations. As in the books, Jack works for the CIA as an analyst. He’s a “think outside the box” kind of guy, which means he gets drawn into a mission out in the field because of his unusual abilities. However, this series is different than the previous Clancy stories. We see step by step how Suleiman, the villain of this season, became radicalized and even if we can’t condone what he does, we can understand his reasons for his actions.

In the first scene of the first episode, it is 1983 during the Lebanese Civil War. Suleiman and his brother are playing on the roof of their home, when fighter planes fly overhead and drop bombs nearby. Suleiman and his brother, we find out later, are the only ones in their family to survive the attack. As the episodes progress, more of Suleiman’s story unfolds so that by the end of the series, we can understand why he believes creating a new Islamic state is necessary.

Another thing I love about this series is that we get a view into the lives of Middle Eastern people from different countries. An important character is, Hanin, Suleiman’s wife. She does not like how her husband has changed. She decides to escape with her children, but unfortunately her son refuses to go. Getting her son back so that he does not become a terrorist as well, is central to her motivation for helping Jack and Greer, but it is central to the message of the entire series as well.

In my favorite segment, a drone pilot who killed a man thought to be a terrorist, but later discovers the intel was wrong, travels to the man’s home. We’ve seen the pilot going deeper into depression as his kill count goes up. When he gets the news that this particular man he killed was not a terrorist, he breaks down emotionally and is given ten days leave. Instead of going on binges, he goes to see the man’s father and son to confess that he was the one who killed their loved one. I weep even now as I remember the dead man’s father welcoming the pilot into his home. They don’t speak the same language. They communicate with gestures and facial expressions, which makes the moments between them so much more potent. The man serves the pilot tea. They sip as they look at each other, the pilot close to tears and full of remorse, the father with eyes filled with compassion and forgiveness. This encounter changes both men.

To me the deeper meaning of that scene is that we hurt each other and ourselves when we lump certain groups together and demonize them. I’m an imperfect student of A Course In Miracles. The scene with the pilot and the father of the man he killed, shows the main teaching of the course. We are all connected and if we look for the pure essence of God that resides in each of us, we find not only our own humanity but the humanity of our brother. This series emphasizes that message in other subtle ways as well.

At one point Jack and Greer are in France trying to track down Suleiman’s brother. The French agent Jack is teamed up with says to Jack something like, “In America you have African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and so on. We don’t hyphenate in France. You are either French, or you are an outsider.” And it’s around that point in the story, we find out that Suleiman and his brother were sent to France as refugees after they were orphaned. Each of them attended college and got advanced degrees, but they were unable to get jobs in their fields because they were not considered “French”. Their skin color and country of origin was held against them. To survive they had to get jobs in restaurants, and live in neighborhoods filled with people without much hope just like them. Suleiman would have become a completely different person had he been given a chance to use his talents and education.

The world is such a complicated place. Every person and nation on earth has made mistakes. This series shows different facets of the conflicts we face today. Yes, Jack and Greer are the heroes of the story, but we find out they too have made mistakes that cost people their lives. They too suffer from old wounds. None of the characters in the story are completely unscarred. But in the end, when Hanin’s son is returned to her, we see that there might be a way to come together, forgive each other, and start over. Jim says to Jack, “You were right to try to get the boy back,” and Jack replies, “We’ll see.” When Jack says that, I think the writers are saying that we never know what is in another person’s heart. And even when we try to do the right thing, sometimes it goes horribly wrong.

And yet, the series does end on a hopeful note. In an interesting twist, Greer is a covert to Islam. He converted when he fell in love and married a Muslim woman, who is now divorcing him. We see him struggling with his faith at different points in the series. In the last episode, when Greer is packing to go to his new assignment in Russia, he says to Jack, “You know I went to pray the other day for the first time in a long time. It was good. In fact, it was really good and I was struck by the words of the prophet, ‘No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Felt like it was a very important lesson.”

If we can learn that lesson from an action TV show, maybe there’s hope for the human race after all.

Thanks for following, liking, and commenting. I hope you consider checking out, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Louis L’Amour and Omega Men

“I think of myself … as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

“If you write a book about a bygone period that lies east of the Mississippi River, then it’s a historical novel. If it’s west of the Mississippi, it’s a western, a different category. There’s no sense to it.” ~ Louis L’Amour

The first quote above sums up most of Louis L’Amour’s characters, which is one of the things I like about his books. They are what psychologists would call omega males. An omega male is most often an introvert. He’s confident in his skills, but doesn’t need to boast about them. He only fights when pushed into it, but not to prove himself. He doesn’t countenance ineptitude, or dishonesty. He’s loyal, honest, and honorable. And he protects people who need it. His emotions run deep, but he shows them only when he thinks it’s appropriate. As I was thinking about what it is I love about L’Amour’s characters, I couldn’t help thinking about my dad. He would have made a great character in one of L’Amour’s books.

What started this train of thought was an episode of my favorite podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” with Anne Bogel. A couple of weeks ago Anne’s guest, Chatti Phal-Brown said that she would like to try reading some westerns. As Anne does when a guest says that, she suggested Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s great that Anne loves that book. It’s on my TBR list because I loved the mini-series. However, when Anne suggested it, I wanted to get in on the conversation and suggest that Chatti try reading some Louis L’Amour too.

My dad loved the western movie genre. I can’t say whether he read any of the novels the movies were based upon, but dad and I would watch the movies together and then discuss them. Our favorites were the ones with characters and stories much like those Louis L’Amour wrote, where the main male character isn’t a carousing gunfighter, but a humble, hard working cowboy or lawman. I think we loved them because our ancestors traveled west and had to carve out a living much as the characters in the movies did.

The first story I read by Louis L’Amour was “The Gift of Cochise” which he later turned into the novel, Hondo which at the same time became the movie of the same name with John Wayne in the lead. I was teaching alternative school and that was one of the stories my students were required to read. I was captivated by the story partly because it takes place in the region of Arizona where I live. I could see the countryside, L’Amour described. But mostly I was impressed with the characters and the mostly gentle way the story unfolds. I liked the story so much that I sought out other of L’Amour’s books. In every one I’ve read, the women are strong and capable, the men are the “strong, silent,” omega male types.

One of my favorite Louis L’Amour book/movie connections, and there have been a lot of them, is Conagher. It’s a story about a family who have moved west to become ranchers. When the husband dies on his way to buy the herd, the widow, Evie, and her children must try to make their own way. They have an extremely difficult time of it. Along comes Conagher, a local cowboy who, until he meets this family, has drifted from job to job. He’s a bit of a legend since he’s loyal to the brand he rides for, and doesn’t make any bones about disliking men who are out for what they can get. This makes him a bit of a target for the insecure cowboys he meets.

Of course Conagher, like all Louis L’Amour’s books, is a romantic story too, in more than one way. The countryside is gorgeous, there are cattle rustlers, and, fist fights. And, of course, Conagher falls in love with Evie and her children and they with him. It’s a story that makes you feel good about human nature. That’s probably the thing I like best about Louis L’Amour’s books, they make you feel good.

So, if you’re into trying something new, you might want to check out Louis L’Amour’s books and the movies based on them.

Have a fabulous weekend. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

A Simpler Time – Historical Novels

Cadfael’s herb garden

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always trumps over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ~ Robert Fulghum

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” ~ Emilia Fox

I’ve always been a fan of historical novels, movies and TV shows. My particular favorite time period for some unknown reason, is the Middle Ages. In fact, I’ve recently read six or seven series that take place from the late 800s to the 12th century. The Cadfael Chronicle series is my latest binge reading pleasure.

I’ve been pondering my fascination with what most of us would consider simpler times. There are so many stresses in our modern culture and as an introvert and empath, sometimes being out and about can be torture. So, losing myself in a story is very soothing. It’s my attempt to escape being bombarded with people’s stressed emotions, all the noise of technology, and fast pace of modern life.

And yet, if you’re a student of history or read historical novels, you know the times may have been slower, but they were anything but simple. There was just as much conflict between people and countries, travel was always perilous, and health care was much more primitive. There was just as much political infighting and intrigue as there is now. But what makes us think those times were simpler is the fact that there were fewer distractions. Nevertheless, suffering was the same, as was love, and all the other things that make us human. And maybe all of the above is what attracts me to historical novels. The characters have time to listen to and observe each other. They have time to develop relationships over long periods of time. I’m envious of that slower pace of life. As I read or watch, I get to see how the characters deal with their challenges and that helps me deal with my own.

Since we’re going through a particularly stressful time at present, I was happy when I got an offer for several Cadfael ebooks at a fantastic price. One thing I loved about the Cadfael series when I was introduced to it on Masterpiece Mystery twenty-five plus years ago, is the title character. Plus, I’m a pushover the a story told in an unusual way. The series is a wonderful mashup of the 12th century and someone we wouldn’t normally think of as a crime fighter, a monk!

Cadfael is a Welshman who is a Benedictine monk at the monastery in Shrewsbury, England. He came to that calling late in life. Before becoming a monk, Cadfael was a soldier in The Crusades, and later a sailor. In the series, he’s the monastery herbalist making healing tinctures, salves, syrups, and ointments for his fellow brothers and the wider community. Because of his past experiences, he’s learned a great deal about wounds, and to be highly observant of human behavior, which makes him good at solving murders.

Another thing I love about Cadfael is that he is no starry-eyed religious zealot. He’s seen life, and though he believes in God, he has a much more open minded view of theology than many of his brothers. His more humanistic take on God appeals to me because of my religious studies degree. Cadfael has no illusions that the church is completely holy. It is after all run by men, who he well knows, are fallible. And yet, he longs for a quieter life where he can do some good, and that’s what he has found by becoming a monk.

One thing I love about not only the Cadfael series, but all of the book series that are historical, the authors have done meticulous research about trade, travel, politics, war and battle techniques, medical practices, the different professions, and just day-to-day life. The influence of the Catholic Church was very strong during most of Europe from the early middle ages, though remnants of the pagan religions remained. Because of my background, I find that fascinating.

I’ve learned so much about historical events and figures, and of the various time periods from reading these books. They were definitely more fun to read than a dry history book describing events, dates, and names of historical figures. And yet, I often do a little extra research to find out more about these historical figures and the times in which they lived.

Perhaps, the thing I love most is how these novels have helped me get a glimpse into the lives of normal, everyday people who lived centuries ago. And in a strange way, it’s comforting to know that the experiences of those people were not so very different than my own.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in The Cadfael Chronicles series.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Here’s to a fantastic weekend for you all.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Quick Update

“The more failures, the more successes. Period.” ~ Tom Peters, Author of In Search of Excellence

“It took 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because, by then, I was too famous.” ~ Robert Benchley, American Humorist

I’m back, temporarily, to give you an update on my latest creative activities.

It’s monsoon here, which means almost everyday there is a thunderstorm, which in turn means, I have to turn off the computers and internet. That has slowed down the progress of doing the audiobook version of The Space Between Time. I could complain about that, but it’s actually been a good thing. Let me explain.

Some years back I found this wonderful fantasy series by Alexes Razevich, The Ahsenthe Cycle. The first of the series is Khë. It’s one of the most imaginative fantasy series I’ve read in a very long time. I loved these books so much, I joined Alexes’ mailing list.

About a month and a half ago, Alexes sent out a call for reviewers for the third book in her Oona Goodlight series. I jumped at the chance to read this new set of books and promised to review all three for her. While The Ahsenthe Cycle is pure fantasy, The Oona Goodlight books are basically paranormal mysteries. They are fun.

In the process of reading the books I had cause to email Alexes about errors in the manuscript for one of her books and during that exchange she agreed to review my novel. As our messages went back and forth about our writing and my audiobook project, she told me of her experience recording the audiobook for another of her books. She found mistakes, and portions of the book that she thought needed revisions. She decided to take the time to improve her manuscript, and upload the corrected version.

In the meantime, I had discovered a few mistakes in the first couple of chapters I’d recorded, and there were sentences in others that felt clunky when I read them. Alexes suggested that I would not be sorry if I took the time to improve the manuscript. I knew she was right, but it’s a long book and I’m both narrator and audio engineer. I was hoping to get the audiobook published next month. And yet, it’s never a bad idea to take the time to do my very best work. I decided to think about what to do while I took a little break preparing my fall semester classes.

And, the verdict is: I will go back, find those rough patches and little mistakes and improve my book. It costs nothing to upload a new version at Smashwords, and only a small fee to order a new proof at Amazon. Even though the friends and family who have read my book have told me they love it, I’m enough of a perfectionist to want to do the very best I can on this final version before going back to finish book two. I don’t know who said it, but it’s true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. And since I haven’t sold even hundreds of books yet, I might as well make sure subsequent readers get the best book I can produce.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I’ll check in again in the not too distant future.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

How We Treat Children

Unbridled Joy

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ~ Fred Rogers

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

There is a saying that you can tell a lot about a society by the way they treat animals. I contend that you can also tell a lot about a society by the way they treat children. I’ve been thinking a great deal about children lately and the way we’ve been treating them.

Last weekend my husband and I went to see the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Fred Rogers and his PBS children’s show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers’ approach to dealing with children was so loving and kind. It’s the way we should be treating all the children we come into contact with, even if their parents came into this country illegally.

Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister who used television to help children feel like they were heard, seen, and appreciated. He also used the show to help young children deal with things that most adults have trouble dealing with as well. Things like death, divorce, tragic events, being bullied, and even social issues that might impact them. No topic was off limits for Mr. Rogers. During the Civil Rights movement when people were having black children removed from public swimming pools for no other reason than they had a different skin color, Mr. Rogers invited the neighborhood police officer, who happened to be black, to join him in cooling off his feet with him in a little wading pool. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then Robert Kennedy were assassinated, he did a show about what the word assassination meant. He did shows about divorce, disabilities, and so much more. He always ended his show by telling the children that he liked them just the way they were. He meant it and they knew it.

Even though many parents and children loved him because of who he was and how he treated them, he had his detractors too. Some journalists, or psychologists, or politicians said that because of Mr. Rogers’ show, a whole generation of children were growing up entitled and narcissistic because he told them they were special. Not everyone is special, they reasoned, and we shouldn’t tell them they are.

I don’t understand the human predilection for blaming the wrong people when bad things happen.

The argument that Mr. Rogers was to blame for the failure of parents to love their children, reminds me of the parents who would say to me, “I want you to fix my child.” I had a whole raft of thoughts going on in my head that I was too nice, or unable to say because of school policy; things like, “I teach five classes a day with 25 to 30 students in each class, and you want me to fix your child? And I see your teenager five hours a week. How many hours do you see your child in a week? If you want them ‘fixed’, you’ll have to change your own behavior. I’ll try to help them deal with the bleep you put them through, but you need to take a good look at how you’re interacting with them if you want them ‘fixed’.” I tried to help teens deal with the things they were concerned about, but I wasn’t always successful. I made mistakes, and I couldn’t reach every student.

In the same vein, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was on for one hour every weekday, that’s five hours a week. Yet people were blaming him if their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they should? Who’s the narcissist blaming others for their own mistakes?

And then, this week, I discovered that my favorite version of Jane Eyre is on Amazon Prime Video. As I watched the first segment, I remember how I felt when I read the book in high school. I was so angry with Jane’s aunt. She treated Jane horribly and encouraged her children to do the same thing. Here was Jane, an orphan being blamed for all sorts of wickedness that, of course, she was not responsible for. Her aunt hated her so much that she sent her to a horrible school for girls, which was more like a prison. The girls were not fed properly, didn’t have proper heat, or warm clothes, and they got punished often for tiny little infractions that really didn’t matter at all. I just didn’t get that? And we’re still doing similar things to children today.

Most people claim they want children, then some treat them abominably when they begin to walk, talk, and think for themselves. You hear parents in the grocery stores, or at the soccer field, or in restaurants yelling at their children for all kinds of trivial things. Heaven forbid a child should have their own feelings. This kind of abuse leads some, when they get to be adults, to have a difficult time relating out in the world and we wonder why.

While I wrote all of that, I was thinking of all the years I worked with young children. I started before I was out of high school, teaching Bible School classes and graduated to being an aide in Montessori Schools, child development and day care centers. In the mid to late 1980s, I was a teacher in one of the four year old classrooms at the child development center sponsored by my congregation. For the most part it was fun creating the projects and choosing the books to read to the children. But sometimes I encountered a child with severe problems. I had one little boy who would get extremely angry, throw chairs and other things around the room, and hurt the other children. The director and I didn’t really know what was going on. We informed the parents of the boy’s behavior and asked the other staff to keep watch. One day one of the teachers found the boy in the bathroom with another boy doing things that little four year old boys should not know anything about. That’s when we got a clue that this little boy had been sexually abused. We called in the parents and told them our suspicions. They had emigrated from one of the war torn African countries to avoid such things and were appalled. They began an investigation and discovered that the abuser was their baby sitter, a woman who had been recommended by their pastor. If I remember correctly, it was discovered this was not the first time the woman had done this. She was arrested and I think convicted of child abuse. And the parents had to send their beautiful little boy for counseling. He got better, but oh my, what a heartbreaking situation that family had already suffered just to get here and then to have that happen. I sometimes think of that little boy, who is now a man, and wonder if he healed from that traumatic time in his life. I hope he did.

That little boy makes me wonder what will happen to the children who were recently ripped from their parents arms and locked away. Will they be able to heal after they are reunited with their parents? I hope so, but I feel terrible what happened to them in my country.

In my opinion, children are our most precious gifts. Fred Rogers knew that and tried to make the lives of children easier. He tried to help them process their feelings and understand the world a little better. We need more people like Mr. Rogers in the world.

I encourage you to go see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Mr. Rogers was the perfect example of the meek, gentle person, who is dismissed and sometimes ridiculed by more outgoing types, but nevertheless changes the world. If you’re sensitive like me, you might want to take plenty of tissues when you go see the movie.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Book Recommendations

“I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork … for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding.” ~ Albert Einstein

“One of the best ways to minimize your interaction with energy vampires is to become ‘empowered in the negative.’ In other words, learn how to turn people down, even if you have to hurt them a bit in the process. This is essential. Be like those old drug commercials: Just Say No.” ~ Dr. Christiane Northrop, Dodging Energy Vampires

I’ve been doing lots of reading this summer and I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the books that have made me think. Two of them are non-fiction, but first I’d like to write about the novel my family book club chose for our summer read.

The Circle of Ceridwen by Octavia Randolph, is the first in a series of historical novels that begins in 871 in Angle-Land. It had been split into seven kingdoms ruled by the Anglo-Saxons. However at the beginning of the book, the Danes (Vikings) control five of the seven kingdoms, all in the north. The central kingdom Mercia, is the home of Ceridwen where her father and then uncle were lesser lords. This kingdom is on the border of Dane-land. Wessex in Southern Angle-land, is first ruled by Ælfred’s older brother, but when he dies, Ælfred becomes king. Mercia and Wessex must defend their homeland. Ceridwen, having been raised by her uncle and then the Prior of the local monastery, is an unusually educated and independent young woman. When she turns fifteen, she decides to leave the monastery escaping marriage or the veil, to find a position serving a noble family. On a bitterly cold day, when she’s in danger of dying, she meets Ælfwyn a Saxon maid. She is on her way to marry a Dane as part of a bargain her father made to save his lands. They become instant friends and once at Four Stones, they transform the place in a very short amount of time.

Until I read these books, I thought I knew what the middle ages were like. But this series of books gives texture to my flat understanding of the people, industries, medical practices, trade, and politics of the times. Reading them was better than studying a dry historical textbook. I highly recommend this series to any lovers of history or historical fiction. It is based on historical events and people.

During the late spring I heard Dr. Christiane Northrop speak about how to dodge energy vampires. She referred back to her latest book Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath’s Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You and Restoring Your Health and Power. Even though the full title is a mouthful, I immediately bought the book and devoured it in three days. I’m highly empathic and a sensitive introvert. For years I hid that fact and slowly learned to dodge energy vampires. One of the most difficult lessons was to stand up for myself, and saying goodbye to the vampires in my life.

Even though I’ve learned a great deal, for the most part I continued to hide. This book gave me hope that I could come out of the shadows and embrace who I truly am. As I read, I began to see that the qualities I possess are highly valuable and I need not be ashamed of them. More than that actually, in Dr. Northrop’s estimation, empaths are here to help transmute negative energy into positive. At the end of her book she states that often empaths do that just by being present with people who need healing, or a change of attitude. I loved that! She said that empaths/introverts need to embrace their particular gifts and not let energy vampires drain them or push them around. Which led me to the book I’m reading now.

The book is Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. She did a fantastic TED talk a year or so ago about introverts and how important they are to creating the progress we need to make. Her talk has been viewed maybe a million times. That’s how I was introduced to her work.

In Quiet, she documents how the American and European cultures became worshippers of the go-getters, dismissing one-third to half the population who hide in the shadows. She also outlines the strengths of introverts and, as I heard her say in an interview, how introverts and extroverts can team up to create something fabulous. In fact, they already have. Apple would not be what it is today without both Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs working together creating fantastic personal computers and marketing them to the world. There are many introverts who have contributed to the world in amazing ways. On her list are Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Albert Einstein and many more. In my reading so far, she has examined leadership strengths introverts have in certain situations, that are superior to extroverts. But don’t get her wrong, she knows we need both personality types to progress.

I’m hoping by the end of the book, she will predict where the new studies of personality types that are taking place now, will lead us. Maybe introverts will soon be able to state proudly who they are and society will embrace them as valuable just as we do extraverts today.

Thanks for reading, commenting and liking. Have a fantastic weekend whether it is partying with friends or staying home and reading a great book.

By the way, both my books are half off at Smashwords the entire month of July. Click the Smashwords link below to get yours.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Writing Lessons So Far

Thunderstorm over Corfu

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” ~ Gustave Faubert

This morning as I awoke, for some reason I was thinking about what I’d share with eager attendees of a writing workshop should I ever conduct one. Sometimes I wake up with these kinds of flights of fancy rolling around in my head. I don’t know why. Maybe they are part of a dream I was having so it’s fresh in my mind.

In any case, since I’m not finished reading the next book I want to write about, I thought I’d write down some ideas so I can get them clear in my mind just in case one day I end up writing a memoir, or conducting a workshop about my writing process.

In my mind, memoirs by creative people are much more valuable to the new artist than a how to book about writing. I know, how to books are very popular. And common wisdom tells writers to get a MFA in creative writing, or take writer’s workshops. But I’m a contrarian. I take the view that the only person who can teach me (or you) how to write is me. I’m not saying don’t take that writing class, I’m saying that if you are going to be creative in any way, the muses are going to speak to you differently than they are to me. And what you have to share with the world is unique to you alone. No one else can share what you’ve experienced.

Last year I read Ann Patchett’s wonderful memoir, The Getaway Car. It’s about her writing life. It’s called The Getaway Car because in the beginning Ann tells about being a waitress and writing her first novel was her getaway car out of a job she hated. I loved that image, because I had a similar feeling about my writing.

But the point I wanted to make about her memoir is this, she writes about a fellow writer who had to move her writing desk away from the window so she couldn’t look out. She did this because her writing instructor told her having her desk by the window would be distracting. I was appalled! I would never presume to tell someone how to organize their writing space, nor what rituals to adopt, or what time is the best for writing. I wouldn’t do that because what’s great for me, might be disastrous for you.

My writing desk is right next to a window. I love seeing the wildlife that traipse under it. It gives my mind a little break every once in a while so that some new idea can sneak in. I prefer to wake up, get my husband off to work, then meditate, read something inspirational, write in my journal all before entering my office to write. That’s my routine. You may write better at night, or very early in the morning. You may need to play music. I can’t do that, it’s too distracting. See what I mean. Every one of us is unique. And if you’re going to be creative, you’ve got to plug into that core desire that is beating in your chest, train yourself to listen to what it’s telling you, and dive into a life apart from most of the people you know.

Here’s the thing about embracing the wild and crazy life of an artist. It isn’t easy, nor even fun sometimes. It can be scary and frustrating. Sometimes what you want to express plays tricks on you and hides. And the only way to come to terms with your fear and illusive ideas is to take a break for awhile. Sit by that window and watch the birds, or the storm gathering. Let your mind wander. Sometimes I go do housework, or read a book. But no matter what, you can’t let anything stand in your way of finishing that project. You have to go back to that chair, or into the studio and practice, practice, practice.

Barry and I had a voice teacher before we got married who used to say, “Perfect practice, makes perfect.” And I have a writer friend, Debrah Strait, you should check out her books by the way, who says, “The rough draft is always crap. Don’t worry about that just keep writing.” Those two statements may seem antithetical, but I disagree. As you practice, you do the very best you can at the moment you’re creating. When you go back to look at it later, you may well say, “This is crap.” But you practiced as perfectly as you could at the time. Then you throw away the bad parts and take the good parts and mold them into something new. Or you start over again with a new idea. We learn more from our failures than we do our successes. At least, I do. So, as Elizabeth Gilbert suggests, tell that critical voice in your head, “Thanks for sharing, but I’m going to get back to work now.”

I’ve been writing full-time for ten years now. I have two books published, and five years of blog posts trailing behind me, but I still feel like I’m an amateur. Taking creative writing classes may have helped me move along faster, but, again I’m a contrarian. I don’t want an instructor giving me writing prompts and then criticizing a story I didn’t want to write in the first place. I’ve learned that I’m a slow writer. I don’t do well if I have a deadline and that’s why I self publish. I have to let my story roll around in my head picking up little tidbits to add from lots of different sources. I never know how long it’s going to take me to finish my book and that’s okay with me.

So, if you feel the urge to create something, don’t let anything stop you. Jump right in. You will learn as you go.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Unrelated Lessons This Week

Northern Cardinal

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James

“We can’t understand when we’re pregnant, or when our siblings are expecting, how profound it is to have a shared history with a younger generation: blood, genes, humor. It means we were actually here, on Earth, for a time – like the Egyptians with their pyramids, only with children.” ~ Anne Lamott

I have no book movie connections to write about this week. I am reading, just not books that I’ve stacked up to include in this blog. So, today I’d like to write about some random things that happened that I’ve been thinking about.

Story One
Yesterday I met with my independent study student. It’s the dramatic structure class that is normally taught during fall or spring semester. She’s taking it now because she’s going off to a four year institution in the fall and the theatre program at her new college doesn’t offer a class like this. This young woman is remarkable. She just graduated from high school and already has a number of college classes completed toward her theatre degree. Though she’s a fantastic actor, she was in my spring production of Measure for Measure, her first love is theatre tech.

I could talk about movies all day. She and I have fun talking about the movies we’ve watched, but yesterday I had reason to be further impressed with her. We were discussing Cloud Atlas, a movie/book connection I’ve written about before in this blog. The movie can be very confusing because it switches back and forth among six timelines. Because of this, I created a movie guide to help the students notice important aspects of the movie. My student impressed me when she said that because of my guide, she got what was going on during the first viewing. It helps that she’s also taking a film class at the same time.

As we got to talking about the many themes of the movie, she connected them to things she has learned in her life. And I have to say, I was so happy to hear that she has already learned things it took me well into my fifties to understand. I find this to be true of many of my students. They are so self-aware. It gives me hope that what I believe really is true: When I do my personal work and gain insights, they are passed on to future generations. We talked about that too, because it’s one of the major themes of Cloud Altas. Even if no one remembers our names, our experiences help those who come after us.

I told my student I was happy that she was so much farther along in her development than I was. Don’t be fooled that the younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket. It’s just not true.

Story Two
A week or so ago, I wrote about the book and TV show Dietland. I don’t think I mentioned that I also watch the show, Unapologetic with Aiysha Tyler which airs right after. It’s a talk show linked to, but not exclusively about Dietland. In fact the main part of the show is discussing women’s issues. I hope it stays around. Aiysha has three guests on each week, they discuss current events as part of the format. About a week ago, Aiysha had a woman, who had been part of Obama’s administration, on her panel. Sorry, I don’t remember her name. The woman said that signing petitions and making phone calls to our elected officials really does make a difference and to keep doing it. I loved that, because in recent weeks I have been tempted to give into battle fatigue. But no more. I’m going to speak up as often as possible.

Story Three
Barry and I have a friend who is a lesbian. She and her wife just celebrated fourteen years of being together. Today, on her Facebook feed, she wrote a moving story about a conversation she had with a gentleman while they were getting their cars inspected. He talked of his wife and family and what they were going to do this summer. When he turned the conversation to find out what her summer plans were, she felt a bit panicked to come out to him. At first she made her plans with her family generic, but finally she just came out with the facts. When he realized that she had used the word, “wife”, his face changed for a moment, but then they continued their conversation as if what she had said was perfectly normal. Wow! I want to become that vulnerable. As an introvert, I don’t like revealing too much about my personal feelings and beliefs. But our friend, Joy, who has much more at stake than I do, taught me a valuable lesson. Being vulnerable, open, and honest can help us change the world.

One final little tidbit. Last Sunday David Edelstein, the film critic for CBS Sunday Morning, urged the viewers to go see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? a new documentary about Fred Rogers and his groundbreaking children’s show on PBS. But he said something that I completely disagree with, that seeing the movie will make you feel good until you go back out into the real world. He implied that treating everyone with respect and love is abnormal. I disagree with him. I believe that, for the most part, we come into this world with open hearts and a desire to love everyone, but those natural impulses are altered by the time we reach adolescence. I will go see the movie and aspire to be loving and respectful at all times just like Mr. Rogers.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Have a fantastic weekend. And by the way, The Space Between Time is half off this entire month at Smashwords. Click the link below to get your copy.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.