A Writer’s Life with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Charlene Newcomb

Great interview with our Pen in Hand colleague, Charlene Newcomb!

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Traveling Times

June…July…August…

We take to the road, sky, sea, and mountains when that old yearning returns.  Every since we were babies, we’ve needed to find out exactly what is on the other side of that door or hidden atop the table.  What is so wonderful that is just out of reach?

Join two of our Pen in Hand Bloggers to see where they have been!

Charlene Newcomb, Colorado and History Novel Society Conference  (Great Swords, Great Stories, and Great View!

Catherine Hedge, St. Augustine, Florida with Epicurean-Traveler

St. Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine Lighthouse

 

 

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Rocky Mountain highs amidst the Historical Novel Society Conference

High Flying Stories and Swords!

Charlene Newcomb

What a way to begin my first HNS conference – a 3 hour broadsword workshop with writer/actor/swordsman David Blixt and his associate Brandon St. Clair Saunders.
david and brandon

These two gentlemen were superb swordsmen and were incredibly patient with some of us who were a bit uncoordinated, i.e., me!

Sword and shield

 Mary (from Iowa) and me!

Sparks flew. (Yeah, right.) We had a blast. And no humans were maimed in the process.

Even better, I met authors Sharon Kay Penman (Lionheart;and, A King’s Ransom; and many more) and Patricia Bracewell (Shadow on the Crown; and, The Price of Blood) in the workshop.

Sharon is such a lovely woman. I’d ‘met’ her through social media a couple of years back. She emailed me about 2 weeks before the conference and invited me to have lunch with her. Novelist Priscilla Royal joined us. This was the best conference moment ever! We talked of our love of…

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Sea-side

Pen In Hand

By Catherine Hedge

One of the best aspects of teaching writing is that inspiration flows as much from the students to the teacher as the other way around.  If I challenge the students to do a bit of quick writing and then share, the corollary is that I am supposed to do it, too!

I hope you like this memory they inspired me to write.

*     *     *

The sea wind rushes like a friend to embrace me. It tosses my hair wild. Salty strands catch in the corners of my mouth. Flying sand peppers my hair, my long eyelashes, and grinds between my teeth. Waves crash nearby, sending the sea spray cold against my skin. I shut my eyes tightly and shiver, but I don’t care. I am ten-years-old and perched on my favorite rock at Trinidad Beach in Humboldt County, California. From here, I feel the whole world…

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Sea-side

By Catherine Hedge

One of the best aspects of teaching writing is that inspiration flows as much from the students to the teacher as the other way around.  If I challenge the students to do a bit of quick writing and then share, the corollary is that I am supposed to do it, too!

I hope you like this memory they inspired me to write.

*     *     *

Not Trinidad...but I sat on this cliff with my family and remembered.

Not Trinidad…but I sat on this cliff with my family and remembered.

The sea wind rushes like a friend to embrace me. It tosses my hair wild. Salty strands catch in the corners of my mouth. Flying sand peppers my hair, my long eyelashes, and grinds between my teeth. Waves crash nearby, sending the sea spray cold against my skin. I shut my eyes tightly and shiver, but I don’t care. I am ten-years-old and perched on my favorite rock at Trinidad Beach in Humboldt County, California. From here, I feel the whole world is my domain.

I stare out across the ocean to the horizon where the setting sun looms like a blood orange Japanese glass float. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we find real glass floats loosed from far-away fishing nets. They’ve bobbed all the way across the sea to my beach. Someday, if I’m lucky, I will cross the Pacific to sit on the opposite side, staring out toward my rock.

For now, imagination and reality blur. Though my long legs are white and coated with wet sand to my knees, though I wear plaid cotton shorts and one of Daddy’s t-shirts, though I’m thin, stringy-haired, with too large teeth, I am surrounded by magic. I’m riding on the waves, counting the swells to the big one…One two three four five SIX!

Any moment now, I know my skinny legs will transform to a long tail. Gleaming, scaled, just like the marlin’s hanging on the bait shop wall. I will take the form of a woman with silky hair, covering just the right places.

My family will watch, amazed. I’ll hear their forlorn cries as I plunge into the sea. I will return to my rock, to my home. Eventually. But for now, the sea is mine and shall always be.

©2015 Catherine Hedge

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Hearts Aren’t Crystal

Hearts Aren’t Crystal.

via Hearts Aren’t Crystal.

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Hearts Aren’t Crystal

By Catherine Hedge

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Kansas is beautiful today.  The sun is brilliant. After a week of brutal cold and icy winds, the warmth penetrates the icicles hanging off my deck.  It seems they weep as they disappear.

Heartbreak is much like a winter freeze.  As  Valentine’s Day approaches, some of my friends are suffering the cold of heartbreak.  I hope the thaw of healing comes soon.  This repost is for you.

****

Hearts Aren’t Crystal

Posted on April 22, 2012 by Catherine Hedge

By Catherine Hedge

I once read a old fairy tale about an innocent girl who met with tragedy.  The Ice Queen broke a magic crystal.  A shard flew through the air, piercing the child’s heart.  Originally sweet and loving, she became increasingly cruel and rigid while her brother tried to save her.  I wonder if that’s what happens when our hearts are broken. Sharp fragments bury themselves into our psyches  and dare us to pry them out.

I’ve never met anyone over fifteen who hasn’t had a broken heart at least once.   Sadly, most of us experience it multiple times and know all the platitudes people use to make us feel better:

“Just keep yourself busy.  You’ll get over him/her soon enough!”

“No one ever died of a broken heart.” (Are they so sure?)

“If it were real love, none of this would have ever happened.”

“Just wait.  Someone better will come along.”

You know they mean well, but all you really need is someone to wrap both arms around you, to say, “I am so very sorry….”, and to listen. Sometimes it seems you’re asking them to listen forever.  You tell the same story so often your sister, brother, mother, friend could say the next line, but still the spinning of it is healing.

You need someone to say, “It really wasn’t your fault.” Even if it was.  You need to talk about little moments, insignificant before the break-up, that become magnified into monumental foretellings.  (Why didn’t I see it coming?  How could I have been so naive?  Why wouldn’t he/she change when he/she knew I needed him/her so much?) Characteristics that were once endearing when you loved the person become traits that drive you crazy.   Places you adored, holidays you cherished,  friends you shared, you avoid in the aching, dulling  aftermath of a soured romance. That shard of heartbreak can keep digging deeper, shredding your spirit until it seems there is nothing left.

Some creatures really are made to love only once.  My daughter told me a story of a friend who used to hunt wild geese.  He was very proud of bagging a large goose until he saw the gander circling, landing, and calling out for hours for his lost love.  The sound was so mournful, he never hunted geese again.  That goose may have returned to search for years.  They mate for life.

But humans are lucky.  We do have the capacity to love again, if given the chance.  Perhaps a dear friend, a new lover, or our child reaches inside us and finds that old injury.  Somehow, with patience and hope, they tweeze out the slivers of glass.   That makes us love them even more.

©2o12 Catherine Hedge

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A new year…

Charlene Newcomb

Chapter 1, page 1

[This page intentionally blank.
Your 2015 starts here.
You have the power to make the most of it.
Live. Find the positive. Enjoy life.]

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Kansas On My Mind

We had the pleasure this week of meeting an area poet, Steve Pfister.  He is a long time Kansan who celebrates the beauty and mystery of the land around us.  We at Pen In Hand hope you enjoy his unique vision.

 Photo by Steve Pfister

Photo by Steve Pfister

Stone and shadows

(for Marj)

Who were you and what secrets did you hide behind those walls?

Did you have time to dream or did your daily toil consume your hours?

Why is your home held tight by loving vines and leaves?

– And why inside, the musky smell of cooking smoke

  That lingers on the stone and shadows?

_

What were those tales you told beside your lantern lights?

And did you shiver in the frosty nights,

 Then rise to find the still of morning your sweet friend?

Why did your mother stroke her baby’s face

 Before she laid her in her resting place?

_

I  stand before your house to ask if I might join you

In your home held tight by vines and leaves.

 In your home of stone and shadows

  And hear stories within the glow of lantern lights.

_
Stephen K. Pfister February 2, 2014

*     *     *

Of Windmills and Yesterdays

Too sad to speak, too old to cry-

I float in oceans of my yesterdays

and wonder why I have become too old to cry

I know the night and light meet at dusk and dawn

to sit with me to laugh and talk awhile-

and as I sit among my friends

and watch the sky, I ask them why

I have become too old to cry.

_

S. Pfister 7-27-2014

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Attend a Writer’s Conference? A Risk Worth Taking! (Part 2)

To the Power of Community!!

Pen In Hand

By Catherine Hedge

What a delight!  I have just returned from a regional writer’s conference, The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators of Kansas.  I spent the day learning from wonderful, creative speakers:  Sharon M. Draper, Jennifer Mattson, Karen Grencik, Heather Alexander, Jennifer Brown, Bridget Heos, and Brett Wright.

I was surrounded by enthusiastic people who write because they have something to say and a unique way of saying it. Writing is their art.  My art.

As writers, we sit by ourselves, writing draft after draft.  The stereotype is the pale, hunched, introvert writing until dawn. He’s fueled by whiskey and stale cigarettes.  (Okay, I’m pale, love to write at night, but I need chocolate and Malbec.) But get us all together to share, breathe, and question writing, and we are as excited as middle schoolers!

It makes me realize that to be in close proximity to those…

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