T is For Tablier

Tablier – Apron; part of dress resembling an apron.

It’s French. Of course.

I wrote about apron-wearing rickshaw “boys” in my memoir, Loveyoubye, but I think the word tablier is more apt, except how many people will know what I’m talking about?

Wearing layers of intricately beaded and tasseled aprons, tabliers, quills and feather boas, along with animal hair leggings, the men tow customers in garish large-wheeled rickshaw carts up and down Marine Parade. Their outrageous headdresses are vast beaded displays worthy of Rio carnival.”
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A is For Abibliophobia

I’m nuts, must be, because I’m actually heading into the A to Z April Blogging Challenge, you know where I have to blog from A to Z for the whole month. Yikes! Right in the midst of getting my memoir, Loveyoubye ready for publication with She Writes Press! (I blogged about it here.) Believe it. Well, I’m going to try. And just so’s you know, this is the first thought I’ve given to it–well other than signing up a few weeks ago (must’ve had a few cocktails). I’m tapping Dr. Robert Beard, AKA Dr. Goodword’s, book, The 100 Funniest Words in English. I’ll see how long that lasts and then, hey, maybe I’ll switch to something else. Just know that it’s good for me to do this, like a tablespoon of castor oil-good, because otherwise I’ll obsess over the publication of Loveyoubye.

Misc 026Abibliophobia – The fear of running out of reading material.

I have this phobia. To prove it, check out the stack above; it’s beside my bed and sways every time there’s an earthquake. The top two books are Sight Hound, by Pam Houston, and The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, which I’m reading at the same time as Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn which is on my Kindle. I have a love hate thing going on with the Kindle. It’s “unfriendly,” if you know what I mean, but it’s an abibliophobia’s dream is it not?

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Damn The Torpedoes!

Okay, so I’ve been quite remiss in posting to my blog for the past . . . Wow! has it been three weeks already? Quelle horreur! (Haven’t a clue how I knew that meant “that’s terrible/how awful!” Mr. Oppenheimer, Kitwe High’s French teacher’s doing?)

The truth is I’m not always thrilled about blogging, well, once I get in there and do it and hit my stride, I soar and it feels so good, but getting there can be agonizing. However, this time I’ve got a good excuse for being otherwise occupied. I’ve been consumed with getting my memoir, Loveyoubye ready for publication with She Writes Press. It was such a relief to finally make that decision. And so far I’m finding they’re a class act. Plus I like the idea of having their “stable” of writers, with whom I can compare notes. (I haven’t done that yet, but it’s available.)

I had to get an author photo taken–painful–write a bio, a book description, and come up with ideas for the book cover. The latter, my friends has been interesting. Once I primed the pump, all these ideas for images came up. The book cover is a major deal.

But here’s an even bigger issue, committing to this final stage of getting my story out there brought back all those worries I had in the beginning and along the way. Will my story, the writing of which was a life raft at the time, hurt anyone, and do I honestly want the world to see me naked and vulnerable? It’s an uncomfortable place to be. But I find myself pressing forward. Is it my Taurean nature at work here, to persist because that’s what’s next? Or is there something else? Do I need to lay it on the line because someone else, maybe just one person can relate, can see herself, even himself in my experience, and feel a kinship and find comfort and hope? Lofty ideals, I know, but I believe that if you’re turning yourself inside out to find your own truth, you will touch someone else.

So. Damn the torpedoes. Off I go.


Today is the first anniversary of my blog! Ta da! From my first posting, The Beach, on January 26, 2011, when I chronicled three-month-old Fergie’s first visit to the—

Wait a minute, that was TWO years ago! I missed my first anniversary!! Actually, now that I think about it, I must’ve I ignored my first anniversary because I was embarrassed by my puny output.  I didn’t exactly take to blogging. In fact I found it daunting. I had just completed a memoir about the breakup of my marriage, which of course is all about what makes me tick. But it hasn’t been published. Yet. And when it is, well, that will be another thing. A whole other thing for which I brace myself. But here I was faced with writing about myself again, this time writing on the fly, on a daily or at least a monthly basis.  What to write about? What more did I have to say? Who would care?

Gritting my teeth, I launched forth. It wasn’t too much fun. I persisted. It took over a year to realize that I was learning new writing skills, that I was becoming more facile with this shorter form, which were essentially essays, what Phillip Lopate calls “a movement toward honesty.” And isn’t that what it’s all about on every level in one’s life, aren’t we all trying to move toward honesty? It never stops. In the process, I realized I did have something to say, hopefully something that is universally appealing.

And then there were all the new friends I made and the old ones with whom I reconnected for which I am eternally grateful.

The Next Big Thing

Remember that trip I took to Santa Barbara to meet up with my tribe (five women writer friends I’d met on-line but never in real life?) Well, as a result of that hook-up, I got tagged by the fabulous Deborah Batterman, whose Leonard Cohen quote on her blog—“there’s a crack in everything . . . that’s how the light gets in”—first drew me in to read her posts.

What she did by tagging me is to give me an opportunity to strut my stuff, to showcase my memoir, Loveyoubye. Is my “stuff” good enough to be the Next Big Thing? You be the judge. In turn I’m tagging three other authors to take part. By the way, I welcome questions or comments on my answers that will help me hone this kind of presentation in other venues when the time comes.

My answers to the questions:

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I needed to make sense of the break-up of my marriage

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My girlfriend/best reader thinks Meryl Streep should play me because the woman can transform herself into anyone (she’s also thinking Oscar, more attention on my book: bless her); other suggestions: Jennifer Grey, Nicole Kidman and Helen Mirren (my son’s suggestion). For my ex, Sam Elliott would be perfect, same looks, same easy drawl and charm. My brother would have to be played by someone who could do Forrest Gump justice a second time around

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A journey home to South Africa gives a woman the key to her past and her future allowing her to move forward from a disastrous marriage

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m seriously thinking of going with SheWrites Press, an independent publishing company is how they list themselves. I want to get the book out there. Going the agent/publisher route would take at least two years 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I can’t answer that because I rewrite as I go. Actually, one of my goals in life has been to write an entire first draft all the way through, without looking. Loveyoubye has taken me five years (during which time I was still going through the break up)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Breakup by Catherine Texier with a beloved dog as go-between, meets Nature Lessons

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

 It was a matter of survival. I had planned to write a memoir of my childhood, but got high-jacked by what was happening between me and my husband. And so I wrote through my feelings of anger, disappointment and rejection, and tried to make sense of how something like this could’ve happened to me at this point in my life

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 The settings and the funny, poignant interactions with a dog of great character. Thirty percent of the book takes place in South Africa, ten percent features said dog (an essential part of the story), and the rest takes place in a quintessential beach town on the coast of Southern California

 Now it’s my turn to tag people:

Please visit their blogs. They will be publishing their answers to the questions in week 12 (between the 10th September and 17th September)

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:

Rules of The Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

I’m Drowning Not Waving

Truly.  I’ve been drowning in a sea of other people’s blogs, envying everyone’s facility with words, unable to write one word of my own.  It wasn’t that difficult when I started the blog, I was still in the process of editing my memoir, in the groove.  That was four months ago.  And then the words started to trickle away.  So what is it?  Blog block?  Writer’s block?  I don’t think they’re the same.  After all, I’m able to write in my meditation journal after contemplating the world at large, the greater purpose in all things, and my frustrations with an ease I didn’t feel before; the words just flow.  This is what I wrote yesterday: “I do believe this (my inability to blog) is a necessary phase, a deepening, gestating phase and my fear and doubt that I have nothing more to say as well as my pattern of balls-out pushing all the time is making it more difficult.  All in good time.  I just have to let go.”

I can’t.

The Things You Remember

My dad also wrote a book.  What I remember is a chaotic heap of papers, pockmarked with cigarette burns that seemed to grow every time we moved.  I never caught him at it.

The first time I saw this pile was when we moved to Rustenburg, frontier post of the Kalahari Desert and unpacked this one big old trunk that belonged to my dad’s parents. I was seven.  My dad was back doing shift work on the mines, platinum this time.  We’d just spent two years in Zimbabwe where he managed a sisal plantation (a species of aloe used to make rope and mats).  We might’ve stayed longer if there hadn’t been an African uprising over wages when I almost died from eating bread the rebels had laced with strychnine.  By then my dad’s stack of paper was as high as a small end table, ratty as hell and tied with string.

The thing is my dad had a lot to write about.  He would’ve made a good David Livingstone, that intrepid Scotsman who became the first European to explore the central and southern parts of Africa, famous for discovering the Victoria Falls.  By the time my dad married my mother, who at first refused his offer of marriage—he’d already been engaged three times—he’d traveled the length and breadth of South Africa at a time when it was mostly dirt roads and wild animals were still plentiful.  He even tried to make it up to the Congo by himself in a banged up 1930’s Model A Ford.  He didn’t make it.  No roads to speak of.

I bring this up now because I’m doing a final on my memoir, Loveyoubye, and it just hit me that he’d written a book.  How could I have forgotten that?  I can’t ask him or my mother what it was about.  They both on passed years ago.  I’ll never know.  It’s been quite the wild ride writing this memoir.