Cowtown Critiquers Christmas

I love my critique partners. They have literally rescued my characters out of plotting wells I let them fall into...or helped me shovel crap onto ones that needed it. I so admire these ladies and their intelligence and creativity. And they are so fun to be around. When I can't make it to one of our monthly plotting sessions at The Cotton Patch (we're the noisy laughing ones at the long table in the back who never leave--our poor waitress) I really miss them and can't wait for the next month when I can be with them. 

Seriously. Even when my personal life feels as bleak as wading through a quagmire with leeches in a dark jungle with vines slapping my face, a few hours laughing with the cowtown critiquers strengthens my lungs to get back at it and keep swinging that machete.  

We usually exchange small gifts at Christmas time. This year I wanted to add a personal touch and thanks to Pinterest (Best ideas ever. I want to do everything and I don't even like crafts.) I saw these personalized frames that would be perfect. So I had each of my critique partners write down what they love about writing or reading. Printed it off, and voilĂ ! 

personalized picture frames


Turned out pretty nice if I say so myself. Below are the quotes they each gave me.


"I write because it's who I am. I've been writing so long, I can't imagine not putting words to the page. It would be like a chunk of me is missing. Writing is just me. Besides, it's the only way to keep the voices in my head subdued."  C.A. Szarek


"I write because there are too many stories floating around in my head. Sending a story out into the world makes room for the next book and the next, and the next…"  Michele Welsh

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
― Mark TwainThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

"I read to escape, to ride the roller coaster, to marvel at the journey. I write to humble myself, to embrace the challenge, to throw caution to the wind and soar."                    Gina Lee Nelson 
 

"I love to read because I love to learn new things, not just facts and figures, but words and ideas. I love to feel the highest highs and the lowest lows and to be moved to tears, laughter, or breathlessness. I love to be able to experience other times or other worlds through the eyes of characters that I have come to love and who resonate with me." 
Jen FitzGerald

It Happens Sometimes

I ran into an old friend I haven't seen in at least a decade, if not more. We had kids close in age. We each had kids with health issues, but you know how it goes, you just push on, keep them healthy and happy and do whatever needs to be done. Live life the best you can.

We moved out of the area first and then they moved. So it was an unexpected surprise and pleasure to run into them.

We hug. We exchange pleasantries. So good to see you. You look great. How is everyone? Then she asks, "Is everyone healthy?"

And that tiny part of my heart that is still hiding, still whimpering, tucks farther away and I hear myself answer, "No, we lost Chase five years ago."  Even as I say it, my mind is reeling. How can it be five years? It still hurts so bad.

She nods gravely. Her expression is different than the usual wince of sympathy. It's calm. "I'm sorry. I had no idea. It's not a club we wanted to be in."

It takes a few seconds for that to sink past the focus of trying to push it all down and keep my emotions from bubbling out "What?"

"We lost Spencer two years ago. Tumor in the brain. They gave him eight months. I'm sorry, I thought you knew. His wife was pregnant. He wanted to live long enough to see the baby born."

"Did he?" I ask with a little hesitation.

"Yes." She smiles and I look past her shoulder at her family, at her daughter-in-law, sitting behind her. And I understand her expression now. The calmness, the understanding. It's the difference of having gone down to all the depths of hurt and loss that would take lifetimes to express them all unless you've been through it. Funny how all that hurt can be conveyed in one look. That club no one wants to belong to.

I remember Spencer well. He was a light. A smart funny kind kid who took every obstacle by the horns and rode it through. I'm glad he had a child, that they have a little piece of him in another person.

Our exchange was brief. I was already tearing up, even though I knew I could get it under control in a few minutes. Even though there was so much I wanted to say, most of it wouldn't have gotten past the lump in my throat anyway. But there really wasn't anymore we needed to say anyway. We get it. We're members of the same club.