Tuesday, July 12, 2011


In Memory of Dylan

My granddaughter is grieving today over her cat which was hit by a car. Tread marks cross over her delicate white lines amid masses of orange. She was a sweet thing. Her voice barely audible, always sliding up for attention or playfully scratching when she was hungry. Never demanding. Now that she is gone, I realize as we often do how much I took her for granted, expected her to climb into my bed at night usually laying across my pillow like a luxurious blanket waiting for some tiny show of attention.

This sense of loss is fodder for good story telling. The experience excavates a deep sense of incompleteness and the need for love which can never be completely fulfilled until we reach our destiny in Heaven, Nirvana or whatever you want to call it. Often however our dissatisfaction with husbands, wives and children that we too often take for granted evaporated in our agony over their departures: the child's 1st day at Kindergarten and his subsequent waving goodbye as he goes off to college bring about the reality that they are never really ours to possess but gifts to treasure and let go. Our hope is that they return again never mind the petty battles over buying new Ipads or cleaning your room or leaving the car a mess.

Somehow I write to fill this hole left by grown children, lost pets, and departed loved ones. Recently my friends have been tragically touched by death. Maybe it's the age. It doesn't matter why, it always hurts - deeply and profoundly - changing our lives forever. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I can easily answer that question for myself. My life is better for having known these courageous people and their lives are forever imbedded in my soul.

Jodi Picoult in a recent edition of "Carpe Articulum," states that : "Longing is the foundation of the human condition — don’t we all want what we can’t have? Whether it’s the greed that is the cornerstone of a villain or the unrequited love of a star-crossed couple, the hole that a reader sees gnawing away at a character echoes personally.
The great irony, of course, is that we expect that missing piece to be the thing that brings happiness — and it rarely is. For many of my characters, this learning curve comprises the character arc — and the final revelation that they were wrong all along is part of the book’s twist at the end. Like Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ, we usually have the tools we need for happiness right in our hands, but are too blind to see it."

So as Wordsworth said so eloquently "Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind. ...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Trillium, a Lesson in Courage

Take a lesson in courage from the Trillium. The trillium is the first flower of Spring here in Northern Michigan. Like the Icebreakers on Lake Michigan, she pushes up through the Spring Snow. Unafraid, countless white wings soon cover the forest floor. Take a drive down the Michigan shore in early Spring between Harbor Springs and Cross Village and you'll see her symphony of white against the dark hardwoods.

Just Do It!

As the commercial suggests, "Just do It!" is an action command we could all benefit from to overcome self-doubt, procrastination, and stagnation in our writing, art or whatever task we fail to fulfill. Today, I sent out two query letters to agents and a story to a Children's Science Magazine. Not much can be accomplished if we don't put out our best foot forward and take that baby step toward achieving our goals. Dreamer that I am, it's always more comfortable to watch the clouds roll by and the waves wash the sands, but to really define who I am, I need to put it out there into the world and let it land wherever it may. The same is true for my painting and art. So many stories, so many pictures linger in my head waiting for ACTION! So take the advice of the commercial and "Just do It!". We owe it to ourselves!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Everything is a blessing if you look for the lesson. While cleaning the yard and weeding today, a heavy wooden platform landed on my toe. The pain sent me into panic mode. It suddenly occurred to me that my procrastination about finishing my novel and painting was totally out of control. What did breaking my toe have to do with procrastination? Everything. I became aware that at any moment we are all vulnerable to accidents, disease, and toe jams that can knock us off our feet and end the incredible gift of time we squandor. Not wanting to waste another moment, I put the ice bag on my foot and drew the stunning flower I had picked 3 days ago intending to immortalize it. And that brilliant sky this morning? I knew the Master Painter could never be upstaged on that symphony of color and brilliance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Tropical Depression
                                                                        By Ann Carolan
Driving wind and rain
Across plains of shallow gulf waters
Recently bared by low tide; now swept, revealing mud inches below
Flats beside saw grass rising into low brush

Once haven for tall cedars and spreading live oak,
Ancient, hundreds of years, of slow growing creation
            Cut down.
Invasive species pushes out native plants
Like invading Europeans displacing indigenous tribes
Armed with righteousness false
In truth, not understanding earth’s hidden secrets

Rather, out of tune,

Consequences to humans, to wildlife, to ecosystems
Taming life
Yet to every life
            Now threatened
                        Living in terror
Of greenhouse effect, melting ice caps
Of bombs;
Of weaponry

Mad men seeking power
Follow instinctual trek of hunters
Now better-armed
Tribes of modern men invent more weapons,
            more killing fields
To protect the money god.
Driven by strange doctrines

Yet, gentler, gatherer tribes farm, nurture, grow.
Propagate the earth haven.
Sent from heaven, stewards of creation
Follow the WAY of peace, harmony,
            in tune with nature
A gentle people inherit the earth

In the End.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Writer's Life

Today I've been following the Catholic Writer's Conference online. A week-long event, it is a smorgasborg of information for writers, Christian or secular. For a mere donation, you can sit in your easy chair and learn about pitches, blogging, writing tips, etc and even participate in online critiques with established writers and editors. REAL pitches to REAL publishers. Such a deal. It is well managed by several writers including Karina Fabian (see: fabianspace.blogspot.com), one of the top 50 bloggers! The most recent post in the chat room really encouraged me to post daily on my blogspot. I was concerned about shifting topics, but that doesn't seem to matter. So I'll try to post under different topics each day, but I'm sure I'll diverge as I'm a born multi-tasker, multi-thinker. Perfect for a middle-school teacher, albeit retired now. I've been working on my novel, Deported! and just returned from a meeting of the newly formed Citizens for Immgration Reform (CIR). It's exciting to be a part of the formation of a group like this who are dedicated to preserving our Constitutional rights for all people. Currently Latino immigrants are the target of racism. Do we really need more people in our Jails whose worst crime is the color of their skin? My novel is about the way these people are treated and the sufferings they endure as they strive to overcome abject poverty, prejudice, fear, and racism. Here is my "pitch" for the day:  

Deported! a Young Adult Novel
16-year-old Maria must grow up fast when her parents are deported to Mexico. With one brother stealing and another joining a gang, Maria is at her wits end trying to keep her family together. When an eviction throws her into the dangerous streets of Detroit, shy Maria must find the courage and resilience to face homelessness and ridicule at school. The parish church and a charming young man from the youth group offer her family sanctuary, hope and finally redemption. With immigration making today’s headlines, this action-packed Young Adult novel is sure to hook readers looking for multi-cultural topics of current interest. Through her faith in God and the recognition of the nobility of her people throughout centuries of hardship, she is able to rise above hopelessness and despair.