Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Solid Advice for a Writer.....


“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” – William Saroyan
***
Greetings from the South! Fall weather is here, trying desperately to flirt with a Southern Winter every now and then; dang if the girl isn’t flirting back every couple of days.
The house is full of activity. Football games on the weekends, homework on the weeknights, movies, books, art festivals, music, laughter, writing, and living. William Saroyan was quite right in his assessment for a writer. We get bogged down sometimes in characters, plotlines, settings, grammar and word counts. We often slip into our fictional worlds and shut off the one around us.  His words remind me that we must pull from the life we are leading in order to bring our fictional worlds alive. If we forget to experience, to observe, to enjoy then we are shortchanging the characters we love. For them to breathe we must give them emotions, give them life experiences, give them knowledge or hide from them what they need not know just yet…So take his advice. Live. You just might find that whatever has you bogged down in your writing will be released and discovery is one of the best side effects life has to offer.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Saturdays Make Me Smile....

Every weekend from August to January we have plans. Actual plans. Not just "oh we may or may not be doing something." No this is Type-A - Set - In -Stone plans. They aren't even plans made by me, really. The University of Alabama owns my Saturdays during these months. What I love is not only the boys on the field, but that these plans are not only best laid they are best overall. They are set in stone in that I know for a fact that for 3.5 hours the University of Alabama owns my attention but I also know that around those 3.5 hours I find myself in a bevy of the most wonderful activities...
Every Saturday we wake up, sometimes at home if the game is in Tuscaloosa, sometimes in a hotel room as we travel to whatever town is hosting us. We have breakfast, catch College Gameday and begin the day with whichever games are the early ones. There are days where I see my kitchen and listen more than see the other games. Where scents of delicious tailgate food wafts through my home. There are days where before or after the game some shopping takes place. It may be to familiar stores or perhaps discovering a wonderful place specific to the region. We meet new people and catch up with familiar faces. We host family members and friends. We get grouchy when the game goes in a bad direction and euphoric when it goes our way. Your emotions ride a wonderful roller coaster of fandom unlike any other. ALL these factors, ALL these variables could make some people go crazy...


Yet somehow every weekend, even when the work week has been crazy, even when the weather has played ping pong with my sinuses, even when airports make you really wonder how trains might be, even when the season is not as great on the field as you hoped...it still ends up being a time where memories are created, moments are suspended in time and life reminds me how beautiful it is to love something completely out of my control ...

ROLL TIDE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Memos...By Order of this Author

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author.
-Mark Twain
***
Mark Twain has been visiting my house a great deal lately. He popped up on a summer reading list for the Resident 17 year old and again when I was at Lowe's selecting Mark Twain Brown as a color for my staircase treads (who knew). He has settled in nicely as a topic of discussion and now as a pretty good eye for color. His introductions to his work are sometimes the most intriguing look into a man that took life very seriously but was able to convey his social observances with a wit, charm and honesty that Southern hospitality loves to chastise openly and celebrate in quiet reverence when not in public.(let's just say I am sure there were tons of "Bless his heart" when he first began sharing his thoughts).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is by far one of my favorite pieces of classic literature. A story that contains more than just human characters, Twain was able to make a river a third dynamic character with its meandering currents and symbolic essence of freedom. He found a way to weave not only everything he banishes us from seeing into each setting, nuance, and dialect loaded dialogue. He truly crafted a piece of art.

Isn't that what we all hope for. That our words on the page become a living breathing piece of history. We know that not everyone will love it, that those who dislike it have their reasons and those who embrace it become our biggest marketing campaigns. Writing is definitely a risk. One that we take on every time we sit down with an MS or blog entry. We open a door from our mind/hearts directly for the public to peek into. They can dissect our ideas, discuss our feelings and dissuade/persuade others from stopping by as well. Its a risky business. But I love it. It is a business where one must develop discipline, must question ideas, look differently at character and develop the understanding that reviewing things more than once is tedious only if you forget how wonderful the outcome will be. Discovering adverbs, adjectives, conclusive outcomes, exciting cliffhangers, dangerous romances and delicious character flaws is just part of the process.

Twain said this in a letter to Orion Clemens on March 23, 1878: "You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by."

Right now, this author is working through a story that has captivated her husband, though he is quite perturbed not to be yet let in on the plot directions, and reminded her how much fun it is to discover new things within a new world. But be forewarned, continuous work will help me make sure that my "thunder and lightning" appear at the right moments, time will allow me to develop characters that I love, twizzlers will help me with all the cravings, support from my family will give me strength and Mark Twain will remind me that once it is written I need only to let it go to live a life all its own...By Order of the Author.

Around the Blogs today:

Lisa Schroeder teases us with talk of video blogs tomorrow - so tune in!

Talli Roland has the queasies over sending out Watching Willow Watts..go over and help calm her nerves, Oh and read chapter 1...

Shannon Messenger explains her own reasons why WriteOnCon craziness is something she does out of love (plus see the agenda in her post for the conference)

Natalie Bahm talks priorities, writing and family.

Have a Memorable Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Breathing life into an MS beyond the inertia...

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
-Anais Nin
***
I don't like the word inertia...well some weekends I do; but on the whole I really don't. I enjoy relaxing after a long day's work, but there must first be that long day, that work to then enjoy what relaxation is all about.
All summer long I have been in a state of inertia when it comes to writing. The storm shook me up a bit, then we held the fundraiser and now school has begun for my resident 17 year old. Life is never boring, but inertia can still exist within areas that seem to be a constant movement. That is scary part about inertia. We think that we are moving, that we are being productive but really we are just performing a rote action. We have lost the excitement, the feeling of accomplishment, the ambition, the desire to better improve; we are just going along with the motions pretending that we are moving.

I was at a service last weekend that discussed life, creating habits, and looking at something you do every day differently. The application was more geared to prayer but I would be losing a great deal of the message if I did not apply it to other areas as well. I realized that writing before the storm had become a bit rote. I wasn't excited when I opened the file and I wasn't missing it when I was away. That isn't good. I had let the entire summer pass me by and had barely done anything with the story except go through the motions.

So last night I decided to apply the message to my own story. To sit down, to open the file, to read my words and see beyond what letters on the page spelled out and to breathe life back into the story. It was fulfilling to move forward, to no longer sit on the edge of something I truly desire to witness in all its elements. I broke it apart and saw myself looking at the characters, settings, and plot more openly. It is not ready to be shelved, in fact a brand new direction came out the endeavor.

Inertia had me thinking that it was time to give up but fresh air, an open mind and the desire to better the work has me now excited to see where the next scene is going...

What do you do when the words seem to be lackluster on the page? Do you give up immediately or do you work through the issues and discover something new? How do you know when it is truly time to shelve the work or it just needs an afternoon in the sun?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Throat, Promise, Forget, Splendor, Hex and....Pee

Throat,
Promise,
Forget,
Splendor,
Hex,
Pee

6 words, 6 very different words.

But those 6 words made for one of the BEST afternoons among authors, writers, & fans.

Oh yeah, you heard me.

I wasn't sure what an afternoon at the Homewood Public Library would showcase on a Saturday. I can promise you that those 6 words were not what I would have guessed beforehand.

The lovely members of Southern Magic hosted 5 sensational authors:

R.A. Nelson (The 6'3" sweetheart who works at Nasa by the way)
Chandra Sparks Taylor( the ever so lovely mother who is ever so brave with her manuscript revisions)
Jennifer Echols (an engaging blonde with wit that will have you doubled over - sarcasm has met its match!)
Rosemary Clement-Moore (a perky author whose grin is infectious plus! OMG Scooby Doo's team WISHES they had someone like her)
Rachel Hawkins ( the honest, hilarious, friendly, married to a scientist author who enjoys torturing her husband with finger injuries)

The room was simple, almost classroom set up. Around 25 people sat and listened to these lovely authors discuss methods, talk about getting "the phone call" and just chatting about how if you are going to be an author then there are no excuses - WRITE!

Laughter flowed around the room as stories were shared, excitement permeated the air as tidbits of upcoming projects were whispered and the feeling of camaraderie was inescapable.

I found myself enjoying every single minute of the afternoon. At the end of their questions we were all invited up to purchase or bring books to sign. But this was not like an overwhelming, large signing, you weren't ushered up to the table then asked to politely scurry away. No, they were there to "MEET and greet". You could ask questions and find yourself in a lengthy discussion with an author you love, you could shyly hand over a book that you traveled all the way from Carollton, Georgia with your parents and friends to have signed by someone who creates worlds you want to live in.

As time passed and people began to slip out I found myself talking to the lovely Crystal (my cohort in ALL 4 ALABAMA) and her friend Natalie. We were the last 3 in the room - EVERYONE had cleared out. We had been talking books, donations, contributors, writing, bidders, everything when to our surprise bounced in the lovely Rosemary Clement-Moore. Yep. She was waiting on her friend who had accompanied her and saw us still standing around gabbing.

She did not run from the lingering fans - she ran to us. She thanked us for the event. For attending and enjoying it. She then told us why she was still in the building: Nature called. She had to pee and somehow this rolled into how you pee before perfoming on stage and then Natalie chimed in with a pregnancy and pee story...yeah... the things we writers discuss! It isn't a full day until bodily functions enter your discussions and by golly if you can get a celebrated author to join in - well congrats! It was a blast.

So 6 words. 6 very different words.

Combined together make 1 lovely afternoon that I would do over again and again....

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Great Loss for the Writing and Storytelling Communities...

"I think we need to be put back in touch with our childhood...to be reminded of what's important, like memories about people we loved, or things that happened to us that affected our lives, things we can laugh about and shed a few tears about... I think storytelling is a way of saying 'I love you. I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me.' "
-- Kathryn Tucker Windham

***
If you don't know who Jeffrey the ghost is, boy did you miss out on childhood ghost stories that could make you shiver and laugh in one sitting. He lived at Windham house and he created quite a stir for many years...

I spent my childhood reading of course, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. Shakespeare, Faulker, Dickinson, Alcott, Austen, Pike, Stine, Pascal, Keene and so many others...as you can see my genre choices were quite varied. In the mix were two names that are famous not only to many parts of the world but are royalty in my neck of the woods: Lee & Tucker. Harper Lee wrote the famous "To Kill A Mockingbird" - the stirring book that faces problems with race, culture and ignorance from the eyes of children - she lives only 35 minutes down the road (literally) from my childhood home.

Then there is Tucker. Kathryn Tucker Windham - she brought to our attention a little ghost by the name of Jeffrey but she also helped all of us learn the rich ghost stories and heritage of our beloved South. She did not just make up stories for us to imagine, she traveled to the areas that had for many years before her time had been passing down the legends, the horrors, the comedies and the tragedies that encompass any small town. She retold those stories, made towns no bigger than your thumb famous, helped tell visitors why they should jump off the interstate and seek the scenic rather than the quick. She was someone who believed that history could be passed down by word of mouth & written word when told in the vernacular of its beginnings. She began a festival in the historic town of Selma Alabama...a Tale Tellin' Festival that I was blessed to go to as a child. She would be at many festivals as I grew up...she would sign her books, smile at you with a broad brim hat on her head and she would open her mouth to begin telling a tale that would touch you for a lifetime. She was one of those, in my group of beloved authors, who helped me understand that I could be whoever I wanted to be. That I could stand tall on my heritage and could write, could write what I wanted and enjoy it throughout my life. She inspired me by loving what she did so much.

Before her storytelling made her famous she just so happened to become one of the first female reporters to cover a police beat in a major Southern daily in 1939. Men were going to war; she needed a job and she had talent. She already loved photography and at a young age had been a jr reporter for her hometown of Thomasville's paper...her hometown by the way...is around 28 minutes from my own. Such talent so close to home...crazy how small our world is.

Storytelling is an art. Being able to relay information that not only informs but ignites ideas, memories, sorrow, and happiness for the listener is an amazing gift. She did not always write it down like us writers do in order to imprint it on her fans' minds, she could do it with her voice, the intonation, the inflection of syllable by syllable. Her art won many types of recognition, I am sure she was quite thankful. But to be honest having seen her in the flesh, having listened to her and read her stories I know that the accolades were important because they brought attention to something she loved not just that they brought attention to her. She reminded us that our legacies, our past, our heritage is worth passing down. It is important to those yet to come that we give them this gift, this loving wonderful gift of who we are.

Kathryn Tucker Windham died yesterday. She was 93. She lived a long life full of adventures that we are so blessed to even know about. She will be sorely missed and will forever be a part of my own dreams of being a writer. But even more importantly she is truly the reason I enjoy Southern heritage so much. She made it interesting, she made it unique and she made it real.

Go to your local bookstore, see if they carry any of her books. Visit Amazon.com and order a book about a ghost named Jeffrey. He will make you smile, I promise.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GUYS!!! WE ARE AT DAY 23!!!

OMG! 23 Days.

It has been TWENTY - THREE DAYS since ALL 4 ALABAMA began & almost 6 weeks since that horrific day!

This particular journey has been like no other...

So far I have found that the people who write things I love are also people I love!

The writing community is one of the most unique, compassionate, heartwarming, crazy, hilarious, fun, exciting, demanding, stubborn, active, reliable and overall awesome!

Can you believe the list of people on our Auction "Who We Are" page?

Have you seen the critiques that have been bid on during days 1-19? Have you seen the critiques still available?

What about the signed books? The Swag? Book Trailers? Jewelry? Art?

GUYS!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!! So many things and so many times has my husband said "That is wonderful! You aren't going to bid though right? I mean you've won enough so far, right?"
*insert my sweet southern smile and puppy dog eyes*

"Why, hubby, but think of all the wonderful things left to be posted? And all those we could help?"

Yeah he just shakes his head and walks away...Bless my husband y'all! ;o)

KEEP BIDDING! KEEP WRITING! KEEP GIVING!

VISIT the site and win something amazing!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Writing, Posting, Blogging, Auctions, Rebuilding...LIVING!

Whew...it is June 2 and the temperature outside is 100 F...yep.

The air is hot, the days are long, the breeze is nonexistent, sweet tea cools you down, creeks make you smile and mosquitoes seem to find us the tastiest group of people around.

Welcome to the South!

Right now I am sitting at Capitol Park in Tuscaloosa. The air is beyond stifling and the sun's hot rays are already turning my skin a nice pink. I woke up this morning and said "Whew! Its Thursday."

Now normally Thursday just means one day before "Happy Danc'n through the Weekend" but right now in my life it means exactly: WHEW!

ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief are going strong, we are on DAY 18. There are so many awesome items and I was right there last night bidding for Tahereh Mafi's ARC of Shatter Me! Dang it if Amanda did not whoop me on that one! Sheesh! But what a mixture of "Darn I lost & Yay for the Cause!" swept over me (of course the hubby sits and lets a happy tear roll down as he realizes "Thank goodness she lost - the woman is trying to break me!")

Posting has gotten very sparse over here in the Kingdom because my posts are consumed at the Auctions - but I PROMISE you, my Royal Court, that you are all in my thoughts and I will be back soon.

The rebuilding of Tuscaloosa is an astonishing, whirlwind that just amazes me with every drive into work and every cruise through town. The damage continues to bring heart ache but the spirit of this town is like no other. Yesterday was 5 weeks...5 WEEKS since that horrific afternoon and hundreds of people came to downtown for a candlelight vigil in remembrance. We are all still reeling but thankfully we are all here to catch each other. Our death toll rose by two, we must not forget that there are those still in the hospital from injuries sustained during the storm - our prayers are with their families. Now the radio is back to music and the papers are not only pics of devastating scenes - NOW they talk of rebuilding, of redesigning, of donating, of helping...it is a beautiful thing.

While all of this is wonderful our little adopted town of Hackleburg is far from the shining clear surfaces waiting to rebuild a Krispy Kreme or Subway. They are without all the things that we gained back so quickly...please be sure to continue to pray for this town and to swing by our site if you can. Donate, contribute, bid...share a hopeful message - it all counts towards hope.

Remembering my blessings and wishing those around me to continue to be so blessed is the best part of Living. Even in loss we find strength and right now Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Massachusetts are finding that strength comes from a hard blow but that the compassion of people ease the pain.

Have a Terrific Thursday...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Memos...Updates, Auctions, Oh my!

"Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen."
-1 Corinthians 13:7-8
***
It is a hot, sunny day in Tuscaloosa this morning. A morning commute in my beloved town still creates a crestfallen reaction. People who are just getting here still breakdown into tears from the sheer magnitude of one tornado. It is hard to reinforce the fact that this is better than what it was 3 weeks ago. I survey the landscape and take in a deep breath.

We have seen such love for our town, for our people and it is here in this disastrous situation that I thought of Corinthians. The passage rolled around in my head this morning as I listened to the destruction that occurred over the weekend in Joplin, Missouri. Every storm is different, it hits different buildings, different homes, different walks of life but in its differences there is a common feeling of being stripped down and attacked. We refer to aftermath as "bombings, war zones, destructions, decimation, heart wrenching sadness." It is all those things. A battle we were unprepared to endure, an attack of mother nature, a destroyed town, decimated homes and the sadness of people lost...but endure we will. The people of Joplin are wandering around their hometown today, not recognizing their favorite spots, but if there is one thing I would love to tell them all it is that you will endure. The love you have for each other, each stranger, each friend, each place that made your town a home will make your town stand again. It has not fallen, it is not lost, it is merely in need of repair and rebuilding. We love you. We are praying for you and we know you will outlast.

***

It is Day 11 in the ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief Auctions! yep, Day E.L.E.V.E.N!!! We are still accepting donations (items & funds). We are still going strong and we are still using ALL funds for the community of Hackleburg - though if you guys help us raise enough there may be even more to spread around. Hackleburg is still reeling from all of this. Tuscaloosa is already showing great signs of a long recovery, but a productive one. However, Hackleburg is so completely decimated that its recovery process will not be as swift and will be very trying on their community. Please keep them in your thoughts, as well as Joplin, MO and the other towns hit by tornadoes.

Be sure to swing by the auction: ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief Auctions

Frankie has a teasing and tempting post this a.m.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday around the blogs so be sure to check out Shannon M

Carrie Harris is talking Storks and Booties...But Not Babies

of course the Roeckers have a great one on Parenting today!

Have a MARVELOUS MONDAY!!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moments....

There are moments in life where winning is not exactly the important aspect - it isn't that you are doing it for the team, for the ring, for the prize it is truly for something inside you. No matter what the outcome you, you will reach into the recesses of your mind and bring it forward one day. The moment is filled with so many things: colors, smells, laughter, tears, sorrow, anger, frustration, determination, desire...a piece of yourself that you might never know existed.

Within that piece there is strength, a divine power if you will, that holds onto the belief that this moment, this second is worth it all. The outcome negative or positive will forever be imprinted on your mind. It will come back to you in other moments ones where chaos may reign or peace is filtered in. You might smile and think how much things have changed or you may grimace because it is merely a reminder that you are still exactly as you were on that day. They will try you when you are down and find you when you are celebrating. They are picture books of our soul and in their pages we seek answers.

Do not fret, moments are meant for this. They are destined to be filed away, filtered through and brought forth. Without moments we cease to exist and with them we learn how to truly live...

Monday, May 16, 2011

DAY 4 AUCTIONS RESUME TODAY!!!

It is Monday...well usually Monday is a drag but not today!!

Day 4 Auctions resume today and start off with a Royal bang! All you Lindsey Leavitt fans need to be ready because in 14 minutes you will get the chance at Royal treatment! Oh yeah!

We have a stellar line up for Day 4 and are ecstatic to continue raising money for the Tornado Relief. Be sure to check them out, we put 5 per day up and the first goes up at 10 a.m. CST and the last one of the day goes up at 2 p.m.

Please remember that your donations and contributions are going to the adopted rural community of Hackleburg. The quaint Southern town of Hackleburg lost its fire station, police station, elementary school, high school - actually 31 of the town's 32 business were destroyed. The population is 1500 and over 2 dozen lives were lost. The numbers when you get down to it are staggering, yet these people do not want to pick up and just move. They love their town, they love the community and most importantly they love each other. This town will rebuild but it is going to take as much help as they can get! YOU ARE HELPING!!

So go, bid, view, donate, spread the word!!!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

30 Minutes....DAY 3 goes live for ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief

Hey Guys!

We are on Day 3 for ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief!!

in 34 minutes we will begin another day of amazing auctions!!!

Just to let everyone know - the auctions are open for 5 days! 5 DAYS GUYS - you still have plenty of time to go after the items from Day 1 and Day 2.

The response has been wonderful! We have some lovely things coming up in the next days and I truly hope you will stop by, bid, spread the word and enjoy the eccentric and exciting items we have up for grabs!


Go forth - Bid - Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 2 Auction Items

Guys!!! Have you seen what the amazing Bree Despain is offering over at ALL 4 ALABAMA Tornado Relief Auctions

OMG - a character in the final book of the Dark Divine Trilogy?

Or have you seen the Critique by PJ Hoover?

What about the Book Lover pendant

Or, oh my gosh, the BOOK WREATH????

I cannot even bare to keep my grubby fingers off these things!!!

GO, GO BID!

We have item number 5 coming up in 10 minutes!!!


ONE HOUR & 25 MINUTES until DAY 2 Auctions Go LIVE!!

Okay guys...

this is Day 2...the auctions are under way...we are giddy with anticipation of items that will be popping up over the coming days...

Remember all items are up on the site for 5 days from start date to close date...

This will help victims in the rural town of Hackleburg left after the horrific tornado...

Oh and a little hint for Day 2, Item #1...

Her knowledge of the writing world might give your tablet views of the world being the necropolis....

Happy Bidding...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WE ARE LIVE!!!

Okay guys as of 19 minutes ago the very first item is up for bid!!

It is a BEAUTIFUL handmade artisan vase from an artist in Selma, Alabama.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! Get over to ALL 4 ALABAMA

Get on over there because in 40 minutes another delightful item will be up for grabs...

hint hint: zombies + boys = AWESOMENESS!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

BIDDING & BUTTONS for ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief

Hey Guys! Tomorrow the bidding begins over at ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief!!


Be there at 10 a.m. CST.


Also, please spread the word about the auctions and if you would like to put one of the buttons on your site please don't hesitate to copy the embed link!! Check them out over on the Left of this blog.

I want to thank in advance all the wonderful writers, agents, editors, artisans and citizens who are donating items or services. Your commitment to this cause is wonderful! Living here in Alabama during all of these devastating circumstances can make some forget that four letter word....Hope...but it is through events like these and Help Write Now that remind us all that no one is ever truly alone and that the spirit of mankind exists and still reigns supreme...


Have a wonderful night! We will see you in the a.m.!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting the Word Out!!

We are getting the word out! It is such a wonderful thing to know that people care for one another.


Our radio stations rarely play music these days because they act as a call center and hotline. People STILL unable to get food and water are having anyone with a cell phone call these stations so that their community/neighborhood/town can get on the map again. So that someone will add their names and those of their loved ones to their prayer list. They don't care who you are praying to, just please pray for them.


I listened with tears streaming down my face as Erica stood on a hill so that she could get signal in order to call our local station JUST to get the people around her on a prayer list. Five months pregnant and she has been living in a tent with her husband since the storm. He gets up every day and walks down the road to help those who are sifting through what is left. She bides her time by helping some other families also living in tents around them. There are dogs who would not leave the side of their loved one even after that loved one no longer breathes the same air. One dog sat sadly on the rubble that was his home and watched as his beloved owner was taken away. These are real people, real stories - they need our help...


Just last night I met with the amazing Crystal Harris at Barnes & Noble in Hoover, Alabama. I was beyond excited and ever so touched by her enthusiasm to help in every way possible. Together with all the amazing people who contribute, donate, bid, communicate - I am confident that this will be a great success!!


We are contacting so many people but there is still a great need for items/services/critiques. SO SPREAD THE WORD about the upcoming ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief Auction!!


Oh by the way HELP WRITE NOW is also hosting an auction that is already live! Go bid - spread the love for these devastated communities!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Organized over at ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief Auction Site

Good Morning!


I have had some wonderful contacts about the upcoming auction!! So excited for all there is to come.


There are some wonderful writers/bloggers/authors contributing so far (check out the Contributions page on the ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief Auction Site ). I know that list will continue to grow.


It sounds like some awesome items will be given but also some amazing opportunities for query & manuscript critiques!!! I know!


So continue to spread the word to all who want to contribute and those that are just itching for it all to begin.


Lots of Love,


Courtney

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Life Belongs to the Whole Community...

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

~George Bernard Shaw

***

Good Morning! It has been a crazy past few days. I have found myself crying at the smallest things, at the oddest things and at the most beautiful things. They say that with faith you find strength. Many people still search every day for a God to believe in, for a reason to keep going, for meaning that they may never truly understand. Well we are human. We question, we wonder, we ask, we ignore, we believe and we begin again every morning. Life makes us remember that time is not something we can control.


In an instant a child is born, a flower blooms, a baby cries, laughter rings out, lives are changed and lives are lost. If you have seen any sort of news outlet you know about the devastating scenes that surround a town and state that I cherish. We are still combing through the rubble even as the academia class this storm a Category 1 Natural Disaster - that my friends means that we are now the history books with Hurricane Katrine and 9/11. I am beginning to accept that life here will be termed a timeline event; a Before & After. Already our local news source ,Tuscaloosa News, offers the unique tool using Geo & Google Earth to see the exact Before & After. Modern media outlets were able to utilize technology that filmed live the devastation as it literally tore a path across three states. They were there when the lights went out in each town and as my own family huddled in the basement of our home. We all have been through terrible storms, tornadoes, hurricane winds or some weather controlled scare but this day was different. We knew it even before we saw the horrible images online.


Our power was out for 3 days, for others it still is and who knows when it will return. Alabama Power has worked diligently to restore power to so many areas. But friends the "area" is so large. We have National Guard units, my brother's included, patrolling our town hoping to keep looters at bay. We are under a curfew every night. Areas are still under a boil water advisory. We lost 3 schools - LOST - as in gone. Who knows when school will return to some form of normalcy. This storm hit on exam week and commencement week for our University of Alabama and others. These are just a small collection of the impact of the storm in my area.


There are other areas: Hackleburg - the town is gone, the people remaining are trying to get help. Sawyerville is much the same, Moody, Phil Campbell - towns that will not only need aid but will have to completely rebuild EVERYTHING.


So I decided to quit the tears, to reach out and see what this writing community, this collection of amazing people can pull together and do. Some of you, my dear Royal Court, will have received emails from me. I hope that we can ban together and do something for the rural communities in this great state.


I have created the blog: ALL 4 ALABAMA. I plan to soon begin auctioning off items & services in order to raise money for those rural affected towns. If any of you would like to contribute, be it an idea, an item, a service or even a dollar please contact me. I plan to go live with the auction as soon as possible. It will just take a little bit to get all the items set up, so please keep watch on the blogs (this one and the ALL 4 ALABAMA); go over and follow it in order to keep updated on all news.


The people need help. Truly. Please do what you can. I know we can do this and by golly we will do it well! Please spread the word - tell people that you know who can help donate or supply items for auction to contact me.


contact me at all4alabamarelief(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sunday, May 1, 2011

COMING SOON: ALL 4 ALABAMA Disaster Relief Blog!!!

I am working to get a Donation/Auction site up to benefit those affected by the 4/27/11 Tornado in Alabama! I hope to offer some wonderful items soon! Please check back periodically!

I always enjoy being surprised by the outpouring love of mankind. My beautiful city that has seen such horrific destruction over the past few days has been shown kindness beyond belief. But there are other areas, rural areas begging for help and needing to be reminded of hope.

After much prayer, tons of inner turmoil on where to begin & continue I decided to contact a community full of wonderful people who have welcomed me with open arms over the last few years...the Writing community. I am so blessed to have 4 walls around me, my husband safe and sound, my dog at my side, my niece safe at home - a few streets over was not so lucky. I just had to find a way to help soooo......

If you or someone you know, publishers/editors/writers/friends/neighbors/dogs/cats can offer critiques, experiences, items...WHATEVER it is, please contact me. I created the blog ALL 4 ALABAMA so that we could help to raise money for these areas. There is already a Donate button but I plan for it to work very similar to the Do The Write Thing for Nashville campaign. We will auction items/services off via the blog. ALL proceeds are going to Disaster Relief in Alabama.

Please if you have any ideas or want to help contact me at all4alabamarelief@yahoo.com

Have a beautiful Sunday and check back for updates soon!

Friday, April 29, 2011

ALL 4 ALABAMA!!! Please pray for us...WE WILL REBUILD

Wednesday, April 27,2011 a tragic Tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama - my town.

We are safe, our home is still standing, we are beyond blessed...but for the town we cherish we will be rebuilding for quite some time...

Kicker Road






We are not the only ones....

from Mississippi to Tennessee to Georgia, but this for me is personal... These flat areas with just metal - those were homes, businesses, landmarks, historic places....









15th street
McFarland




Please pray for us...

This is my home...These are my people...

This video is a compilation copy and paste if you can.

(if you can see it wonderful, if not the above speaks just as loudly)

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=217778308234398&comments

(Tuscaloosa Tornado video footage compiled by Shari Gilbert)
These images are of those who I may know, may meet, may never know, may never see again...but they are also of people who are strong, who are hurting, who are powerful, who laugh, who cry and who I love....
We are a state, a town, a family going through a storm. April's Fury is more than a nice title for a tornado it is how we will come back from this tragedy: with a furious, strong, resolve. We will rebuild. We will rise.
Please go to Tuscaloosanews.com, RedCross.org, United Way liveunited.org - if you can help, please do, but please continue to pray.

(photos are a compilation from my own pics and various outlets)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You give me fever....

"It's Spring fever...You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"
-Mark Twain

***
Wow. This time of year brings a yearning that always catches me a little off guard. Mark Twain nailed that idea of a need/want/urgency during this time of year. My heart flutters when the sun warms me. I think of swimming holes, three digit temps, humid evenings, mosquitoes, lemonade, BBQ, fruit salad, picnics, bumblebees and sweet tea. My childhood is full of memories that include wonderful books, cold metal wheelbarrows and the cool earth as I dug for worms to fish with. Life in Spring is special.

Spring Fever has me in its clutches and its a lovely place to be!

Is there one particular memory/thought that Spring makes you think of?

***

On a different note - my heart goes out for everyone who has seen damage, survived, loss or been taken aback by these Spring storms. So much devastation and the weather season is not done yet. Please know you are in our prayers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here... and Now...

it is a good thing you aren't here right now...

you would see my messy hair from rushing this morning...
the note smeared on my left hand as a reminder to bring a book to a coworker (forgotten again by the way)...
my nails for some reason are still hosting a bright blue polish beneath the nude professional overlay...
my barely charged cellphone Barry the Blackberry (who is quite whiny of late)...
non-mascara-d eyes that scream for eye make-up love...
leggings that really are not the same black as the lovely tunic on top (darn fading cotton)...
but most of all you would see the expression of utter craziness on my face...

You see right here and now I am sinking/diving/careening/wrecking/jumping/crashing into 'StoryLand'. I did not realize that the Hook bringing me back would also come with its on crashing ball as well. Did I order the insane dreams with crazy characters as well? I really need to check my dream card statements!

I actually dreamed one of my MCs was holding the word "DIVULGE" and chasing me down the freeway...not sure I want to even try to decipher that one.

But I did notice one thing during my "Great Word Escape" last night. The MC was screaming while she ran:

Not my name.
Not HELP!
Not "I'm gonna get you my pretty!"
But the single word: NOW.

She screamed it over and over again. I actually woke up with the word on my lips. Okay that is weird. All day I have ran Divulge and Now through my head. What do I divulge? What is the urgency? Why don't I understand?

Have you ever done this? Woke up from a dream and KNOW there is a message, there on the tip of your consciousness it waits for you...

If you were here you would see me ponder a dream that beckons me to act on something...and you would laugh as I walk to the freezer grab an orange TwinPop popsicle, pull back the wrapper and with utter sincerity scream:

NOW... WHAT?

Have a Nonsensical & Terrifical Tuesday...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Memo: The HOOK brought me back around...

Hook: a device especially in music or writing that catches the attention (Webster's Dictionary)

Because the hook brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie

The hook brings you back

On that you can rely
-John Popper, Blues Traveler, HOOK
I found myself this weekend reminiscing with some tunes from my Middle School/Jr. High days, no idea why early 90's was the theme but it was... Blues Traveler popped up on my iPod and I sang "Run Around" at the top of my lungs just before it clicked over to "Hook". Immediately a sense of longing flooded through me. Longing that I had not felt during my two month hiatus from everything writing related. I did not exactly mean to take the break. It just happened. Softball has been in full swing with Duchess Kristin, traveling for the dayjob and well a weird aversion even to reading. The written word, normally so elusive yet so near, had decided to become a mere shadow. Often I opened the computer and read blog entries but the urge to write my own was so far down in my system that I could barely even recognize it this weekend. But it emerged - triumphantly as the lyrics to this song played loudly in my kitchen. It swam through my bloodstream and had tears falling down my cheeks.

John Popper was enjoying a satirical view on how no matter what words a singer sings so long as the "hook" is good people will love it & come back to it every time. He also speaks deeply while trying to tell you he isn't - about how in music a hook is what makes the money not the depth of the song. Yet even he while writing such a song could not avoid deep topics. I admit the hook in a song is great, not always the chorus mind you, but that portion that brings it to forefront of your memory. But if you love the song, the hook may not be the only thing that brings you back. The entire song is important to the listener - when you love it, you listen, and when you listen you find meaning just for you. In writing the Hook in your story is often discussed as the first few lines. Those words on page one that suck you in.

A writer cannot depend on a musical background. Sure, playlists are now very popular with books, but how often do you press play on your iPod as you begin reading? The words need to have their own flow, their own rhythm in order to bring you to that moment where you feel like the characters are sitting with you following along on their adventure.

So it was a Hook that had me waking up this morning and wanting to do a Monday Memo. I have a file open that houses my own hook. It is there minimized at the bottom of the screen waiting for me to wake up a couple characters who have been on vacation. To engage in conversation with them and to remember why they continue to bring me back in and hopefully one day soon will suck you in as well to their adventures....

***

Around BloggerVille...





Have a Marvelous Monday!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Temporary - a powerful word until it meets Hope...!

"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell."
-Lance Armstrong

***

I don't think anyone is ever ready for a disease. Any disease. We all know that life is temporary, that our time here is limited. We know that there are things we each have on a list, a list we want to check off, to say we did that we saw this. There are people we want to meet, grandchildren we want to hold and changes in the world we wish to witness. So many of us get to do just that, we live a long, yet temporary, existence and exit the world knowing we did not do it all but we did so much. We all grow up with the belief that we can change the world, own it, find a purpose, develop a path and hope to see all our items checked off.

But there are some of us, some who walk into a cold stark room clutching not only a purse or hand but also grabbing tightly the idea of temporary - the definition of the word that is unique to each and every one of us. It is in those seconds, I am told, that hope feels fleeting - that the air is heavier and that temporary becomes a word much shorter than it began. Hope lingers around the room, dancing along the walls, trying desperately to prove that though its letters are few its strength makes it the most powerful and longest word.

Hope, fighting, belief, strength, faith, love, laughter, family - words that make temporary... immortal. I know that I am blessed - those around me who have fought disease (Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Lung Cancer...) most have won the battles and made their "temporary" more ordinary than most. But there are so many who still need signs that the words of hope, fight, faith, belief and strength to remember that temporary can be longer than we think and that no matter how long it is - each one of us must find the joy in our life that reminds us of why we love our time here.

My sister, Nina, is a Jazzercise instructor. This past year her best friend of 38 was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She fights every day to make her "temporary" as long as she possibly can - her young son is grateful to those who remind us how wonderful life can be no matter how hard it seems. My coworker, Danny, has a 14 year old son named Cade (his caringbride site is here http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cadeainsworth ). This young man is battling rhabdomyosarcoma - Stage 4 cancer - he is amazing. So young, so strong and so willing to fight for temporary. So many things can change that word, can make it so powerful to each an everyone of us.

That sister of mine, Nina, she is doing a Jazzercise fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Foundations this Sunday - February 13, 2011. I know that asking for charity is often frowned upon, but in this case I am going against etiquette. She is only trying to raise $300.00 - such a small amount that can go to helping so many...if you have a moment and you want to help someone else's temporary time here please visit the below site...donate a $1, $5, whatever you can. Hey - make a note of it and next year around this time remind the IRS that you gave a little to help a lot.

Please click on the following link: Nina's Team Page! Support Susan G Komen!!
You will see a button with Support Nina! that is where you click and it will take you to the donation page! Easy Peasey... ;o)

Please give whatever you can. Every little bit brings hope and we all know how big of an impact that can make...

Have a Whimsical Thursday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Line Blogfest...


The lovely Brenda Drake is hosting this first line blogfest and I am ecstatic! There are so many entries (OVER a 100!!!) that it has taken me forever last night and still today to visit these great opening lines...

Name: Courtney Barr
Title: BOUND
Genre: YA Paranormal/Romance
First Line:

Outsiders never understand.

First Paragraph:

At first glance they see the simple houses, the bustling streets, the neighborly waves and the perfect blue sky. They never look down the alleys or beyond the clapboard homes. They see the young man raking leaves but they don’t see his face. Even if he stops to smile and share a friendly glance they don’t see the truth. The young woman in the diner brings their coffee as they rest from the drive, yet they don’t see her furtive glances and nervous fingers.

Now go, visit all the other wonderful entries at Brenda Drake They are so fun and such a mixture of genres...

Have a Terrific Tuesday!

(for those who have followed my blog prior to today - please note this first page has once before been placed in a blogfest, only now you are viewing the tweaked version - hope you still enjoy!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Wants & Wonders: SNOW

"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."
-Henry David Thoreau
***
I am not sure if Thoreau saw a winter like ours this year but if he had I know he would have seen wonder in it not aggravation. I myself have not exactly found wonder with each cold degree on the thermometer but I must say I have found some delight in the unexpected. It is rare that I get to wear sweaters for so long or boots EVERY single day, that I visit somewhere with 6 foot snow drifts, or that I yearn for humidity (yes humidity - only a true crazy southerner wishes for the humidity). Thoreau would have found beauty in the chilled air, cleansing of the snow and how nature is such a wonder. I also think that he would have seen it as a wonderful opportunity for writing. I also like to believe that he would have found humor and delight in some interesting things that we don't often run into. For that I toast him and his appreciation. I will now present this week's Wants & Wonders:

I thought it would be fun to showcase the white fluff in a different way...For those that don't have snow or haven't seen any (bless you) the first Wonder might catch your eye
The SNOW FACTOR SCIENCE LAB!


amazon.com $5.99

DESCRIPTION: This kit is suitable for ages 8+ with adult supervision, but it's also a great project for an intrigued grown-up! This kit allows you to make up your own heap of snow, whatever the weather. Just add water and follow the instructions and it'll only be a few minutes before you've got your own pot of white 'snow', but without the cold. Includes full instructions, mixing tools and non-toxic ingredients.

For those of you completely tired of the white fluff and needing a safe way to vent while also using a practical item (this also might just tickle the recipient as well...) If you are a Bill Watterson fan you will love this:

SUICIDAL SNOWMAN WRAPPING PAPER!

amazon.com $4.95

Suicidal Snowman Gift Wrap Joke Gag Funny Christmas Wrapping Paper
I love the tanning bed...

Okay for those of us who don't want to step outside but yearn for the good Summer treats...give Snoopy a call:



amazon.com $16.95-$19.99

(I had one of these as a kid rather than an Easy Bake Oven - I'm ALWAYS in the mood for a sno cone!)

Now on the fact that Thoreau would have found time to write, actually that he would have reveled in the setting to write here are some things that might make this wintry mix more pleasant on the writing front:

To keep your mind fresh and your body warm delight in my favorite tea
Nobo Whole Fruit Tea
tealeaves.com $17.95
It is a wonderful sweet berry full bodied flavor & aroma!
LaCafetiere Optima Coffee Press, Chrome
Don't forget the French Press amazon.com $17.00

If your story requires you to travel outside, please don't forget the hand warmers or foot warmers: (amazon.com)


HeatMax Hand & Body Warmer (40 Count)HeatMax Toasti Toes Foot Warmer (40 Pairs)


Last but not least, for those of us who have problems with our fingers getting cold while at the keyboard here is a little monkey business for your characters....(I want these - SUPER CUTE)

A pair of monkey-shaped USB hand warmers, for when you're typing in the cold or you're a sufferer of chilly hands! (they can get up to 46 degrees in 5 min, have a built in wrist support, and when they reach the temp you can disconnect & still have warm hands!) gadget4all.com $21.00

I hope everyone found something useful today! I know I seriously want those Monkey Hands!

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Significant Other Blogfest! Marcus

Okay guys, one of my amazing CPs, DL Hammons and the always wonderful Talli Roland are hosting a Significant Other Blogfest. Now this is no ordinary Blogfest...no ma'am! This is where our significant others (children, spouse, boyfriend, friends) are able to take over our Blogs today and share their thoughts on living with a writer! I know- what are we thinking? Well my adorable husband is going to be answering some questions and commenting today. His name is Marcus and he is very aware of the Royal Court, so no worries - he aims to please.
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Please be sure to check out the other lovely significant others by visiting Mr. Linky

Well I will let him have the floor now...

Hi, I'm Marcus. The Prince. Well I used to be just the most popular Stable Boy in the Kingdom until the Princess finally married me. Of course I had to keep her on the hook for 10 years before we could make it official - got to date a decade I say! I am very excited to be in charge at the Kingdom today. Princess Courtney is quite nervous as to what I may say here, but I aim to surprise her by being brutally honest. So bring on the questions:

1. What food or drink is guaranteed to return your loved one to a good mood, even after a bad day writing?
Drink: Cherry Coke & Root Beer (separately) Food: Sno Cone & Coconut Cake

2. What one thing would you change about your others writing habits? She likes to read me things when football is on the television - I don't know why.

3. How hard is it to sit by and watch someone you care for struggle to attain a dream...knowing there's very little you can do to help? Courtney does not have that problem. She is always creating, if a story line has her stumped she gets up and cleans, redecorates, cooks, something! Her creative juices are always flowing.

4. How do you feel about being used as a "prop" for character study? Used. Vulnerable. Violated. Dirty.*insert snicker here*

5. What is it like to live every day with someone who writes? Its very freeing for me. She really gets in a groove sometimes and it allows me to get away with a few things. I get to play PS3 for hours, watch football, relax, but also know that I am there if she needs my advice or to bounce ideas off of.

6. What is your one favorite thing about living with a writer? The input. There is something very special about having someone ask you to take part in their creation. To know that they value your opinion so much about something as personal as their story. It is pretty awesome. Besides the conversations are hilarious when dining out - "He cheated! No, don't let him cheat, he's a murderer!" You should see neighboring tables!

7. How does living with a writer affect "your"dayjob? It's great. I have a personal spell check just a phone call away!

8. When you first started realizing that writing was going to be a big part of your relationship were you open to it or did you think it just a silly hobby? I was very open to it. When are we signing the papers for movie rights? :) Truthfully, I don't doubt Courtney doing anything. She will be exactly who she wants to be and writing has been a part of her long before I came along. It is one of the reasons I love her.

Okay, thanks for letting me on here today. I enjoyed this. Now - um you all do know that there is some football this weekend so I better get off of this thing so she can get to writing. Oh and thank you all, she talks all the time about each of you and I feel like I know you. It really makes me smile to see her getting to know such great people. Our Kingdom really loves all its Court and really enjoys that you all let us share this journey with you. Have a good weekend.