Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Hair...and Best Wishes from Writers4Higher

Holiday Hair

At times, I can feel my life shifting. My feet planted in the St. George Island surf. The waves sluicing around the scalloped edges, chewing away at the sand, depositing it across the tops until only the arches show.
I thought about this as I thumbed through old photo albums, searching for bits of captured Christmases. I wanted to write a poignant piece about family and love and good food and Mom with her homemade eggnog, some with the whiskey-ed “nog,” some without. And nobody ever got poisoned from drinking raw eggs. Imagine. Different times.
Remember those thick books of photos? When we actually printed out pictures and pasted them on pages, instead of zipping them to some magical cloud where they linger like digital ghosts? When hardly any of the shots were perfect because we didn’t have redo’s if Grandma decided to blink, or if the baby was distracted by the dog chewing up tinsel.
We didn’t have planned “photo bombs” where folks inserted themselves into otherwise perfectly posed shots. All of the pictures contained random elements and the unexpected. No need to fake a bomb. Every family gathering was a ready minefield.
I thought about how life is picking up the pace, with more runway behind instead of out front. How people have blipped from this side of the veil to places I can sense, but not see or touch. How nothing remains the same.
Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes not so much.
Then I noted one element in all of the pictures. One wonderful, magical, delightful element.
 Holiday Hair.
The first picture.
Me at six. Printed flannel P.J.s and fuzzy boot slippers. I wear twin six shooters. A Roy Rogers shirt and pants lie in a ripped box at my feet. Good job, Mama and Daddy. Who can be a proper cowgirl in a fringed and very sissy Dale Evans skirt? I straddle a long box, tearing at the paper. My expression is intense. A stick pony with a white vinyl head waits inside. I will ride to The Great Plains and back on that horse.
And the hair.
Toni home perm hair.
Naturally flat for the first two inches, then frizzy as a scared cat’s tail for the next six. Someone has tied a red bow around one clump. To quote the Grinch, that frill “will be the first thing to go.”
Photo number two.
Skip ahead a few years.
Outside after the gifting frenzy, before the family dinner. I pose, legs planted again, only this time on either side of a Stingray bicycle with chopper-curved handlebars and a banana seat. The trees behind me, stripped of leaves. It’s gray and cold, judging by my puffy coat with the rabbit fur-lined hood.
Do I have that hood snugged over my head? Oh, heck no. Wouldn’t want to mash down the basketball mound of rat-teased hair. My older sister must’ve had beauty salon leanings. There’s enough Aqua Net shellacked on that ’do to stop a meteor.
I must like it. I didn’t bother covering it up.
Photo number three.
The last picture of my family of origin before some faded away. Only we didn’t know it then.
I stand, my feet planted on either side of my sweet Golden Retriever Omega. I lean toward the La-Z-Boy recliner where my father sits. My mom perches on the other side on a chair we dragged from the dining room, leaning with her arm curled around his. My older brother and sister stand behind Daddy’s chair. We manage to all smile at once, no lidded eyes, no distractions. Even the dog faces the camera and grins.
My hair looks normal. But I know it’s not. Beneath the fuzzy Santa hat, hides my version of a mullet. Didn’t recall ever having one, but the pictures from that time prove me wrong. Memory has a way of shading in the not-so-attractive times.
Daddy tells me I’m beautiful, that I look just like Farrah Fawcett. Which I do not. I am tall and a little pleasantly plump. And my straight hair will not do all that wispy, curled layering Farrah managed to carry off so well. And I’m not petite, or famous.
Thank God for Santa hats. And fathers with eyes of love.
I think this year, that I shall fashion some wacky style. Maybe add some streaks of color. The advantage of this time period: loads of hair products guaranteed to lift and separate, and my over-fifty self, devoid of shame.
I’ll put it in line with the rest of the holiday hair masterpieces.
Picture number four.
Make them wonder one day, “What was Aunt Rhett thinking?”
Whatever you celebrate--I wish you safe, wonderful holidays filled with joy and laughter, and maybe some Holiday Hair. 
Tune in next year, when I welcome more talented authors to the Writers4Higher family.

Rhett DeVane
Creator and moderator for Writers4Higher
Author of Southern fiction and Middle Grade fiction

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Writers4Higher features Nancy Hartney

Welcome to Writers4Higher

The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.

This issue, Writers4Higher features

Nancy Hartney

Hi, Nancy. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

Tell me about yourself. Your book, your life, your inspiration.

Washed in the Water: Tales from the South is my debut collection of short stories. Roughly, the collection is a collage of people and events garnered from different places over time liberally dusted with fiction. I grew up in the Deep South on a tobacco farm in north Florida. My mother was a high school history teacher and one of three liberals on the faculty. My dad was a hog farmer. I had a horse during those years and rode the dirt roads in my community with abandon until I left home for college. (People still ask if I have horses. I do.) My years growing up were years when the South was experiencing racial, social and political upheaval. These struggles colored my perceptions with a broad brush. The grinding poverty, complex civil rights issues, cultural challenges, and the people found in my work exist in the South today. They wear slightly different clothing but are nonetheless still there. The good coexist with the bad, the kind with the harsh, and the beautiful with the ugly.

I left home after college and moved, first to Georgia, then west, living for various periods in Texas and California. As I have grown older, I have come to respect and value that humid mosaic called home. In fact, the South takes on the role of a character in my tales.

Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I do not have a vision nor compass for my writing. I write because I enjoy it. I love honing words, distilling thoughts, poking around in the past, and seeing the world in word pictures. Reading and writing transport me to other realms. Publishing is a way of validating my thoughts and perceptions. I do not consider a book an end in its self. But, having said that, I hope to write another collection of tales set in the South, a collection of stories set in the racing world, and maybe more western short stories. I hope my readers walk through a new door and begin to see the South differently.

How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I belong to two critique groups that meet weekly. Through those groups I support and mentor other writers. I listen with a thankful heart when other people talk about their ambitions. I offer workshops and readings. I volunteer in the community, support local business, and make every effort to stay connected with friends.

I try to write daily – usually in the morning. I get grumpy when days go by and I don’t get to "write" despite doing "writerly things." Example, recently a community wide literary festival was offered to the general public largely hosted by my library. As part of that, I wrote speaker introductions, PR clips, info on our workshops, and assisted with the full day author presentations. Although exciting, I felt exhausted from all the new information and ideas and grew anxious to get back to my own writing. Stories come in all shades and shapes at all times of day and evening. A word, a phrase, an interaction, an overheard conversation, a reflection pops up and a story starts to spin out. I carry a notebook and jot down ideas, words, and phrases – whatever strikes me.

At one time I rode to the hounds over fences, English style. The rallying cry in the hunt field was "Kick on," meaning to ride forward no matter the trappy terrain or height of the jump. Now I shout "Write on!" Same idea. I plan to write so long as the distilling of experience gives me joy and makes my readers think.

Would you like to find Nancy?

Check out the links to this talented author:

Nancy Hartney's Website

Nancy Hartney's Blog

Order Washed in the Water: Tales from the South

Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

Deep Thoughts, Bruises and All. First of all, Happy Holidays . No matter your outlook or what you celebrate, I wish you renewed ...