Monthly Archives: September 2012

On Getting Old, Grandma-style


I have a feeling I worry more about getting old than the average woman.

Hard to know for sure, but it seems that way from  conversations with friends.

But I had a moment come over me like a voice from the universe.

On September 7.

Cliff and I were leaving the hospital in Charlottevsille, Virginia.

We’d just spent two hours with our brand new grandson, Mazen.

It’s okay, the moment said.

Mazen’s here.

You’re the grandma.

He’s the baby.

That’s how it goes.

And the going is good!

Guest Post: Our Safe Place and an Autographed Novel Giveaway!


A guest post  by writer C. Hope Clark about her new mystery, Lowcountry Bribe:

Carolina Slade was a government worker, a solid employee, an attentive mother.

To her a good life meant a comfortable setting, one in which the waves were few and routines many, giving her complete control over the highs and lows. Holidays and kids’ ballgames served as the highlights of her year, with maybe a promotion or an atta-girl or two from her employer. Diligent, she proved reliable at whatever she tackled.

Until fate ripped away her routine with a new challenge – someone offered her a bribe to abuse her position . . . threatening her children if she refused.

The novel Lowcountry Bribe addresses Slade’s personal choices as much as the mystery itself. Suddenly she faces a dilemma with two heads, neither of which is waveless, palatable, or fits into her comfortable life.

I initially designed Slade after myself. I was offered a bribe.

Priding myself on making correct choices and showing remarkable prowess at home and work, I operated by the book, thinking that such modus operandi served as the simple key to a happy environment.

But a sleazy, conniving client disrupted that elementary mindset. Suddenly there were no rules. People wondered if there was a bribe when the client twisted and turned and avoided capture. My boss questioned my loyalty. Some family turned their backs. The only person on my side was the federal agent, and ultimately, few believed him before it was said and done. The simple matter of doing the right thing by calling in the feds to corner a bad guy proved not so simple.

My scenario wasn’t as desperate as Slade’s, but our emotional upheaval ran parallel.

One of the most exasperating and upsetting times in my life, the bribe proved to be the most educational, and I painted those emotions in the story. The main character in any tale is supposed to exhibit growth by the end, endowed with lessons learned. Oh my goodness did she . . . we . . . grow.

Slade learns how the right decisions don’t always end triumphantly. Not everyone sees our decisions as the proper ones.

Not everyone can be trusted in time of need, but yet, we can see remarkable friends rise up amidst the fire.

In chaos, we come to know our inner core of resilience and unearth instinct and talent that can hone us into exceptional human beings. And it’s in these moments that we not only redefine ourselves but also redefine all who know us, and as painful as the journey may be, the end result makes us strong, capable, and oh so wise.

Such journeys are a combination of stimuli thrown in our path, and our decisions in dealing with them. For the most part, wives and mothers, ever in their protective mode, fight to avoid stimuli, at least the harmful ones, in hopes of weaving a pleasant world for themselves and the people they are responsible for.

That mindset sometimes even leads us to watch others from a distance with skepticism as they fight personal entanglements, as we wonder what they did wrong to bring such calamity upon themselves.

We have this misconception that good results are the product of our smart choices.

Until we get thrown into an unexpected battle, we do not understand.

But sometimes life hands you crap. Or we blindly step left when we should have stepped right. Then our substance is based upon choosing the lesser of evils while shouldering the judgment of others who aren’t involved and don’t understand.

We live in a world of blame. We blame others, God, fate, and most importantly, ourselves for all the ills in the world.

There’s something about not having a place to lay blame that drives us mad.

Some of our most defining moments appear, however, when we learn to drop the blame game, dig deep, and deal with the obstacle before us.

Our scars make us proud, but they also open our eyes and create a more 3-D world for us and our own. We fear childbirth before it happens, having heard all about the pain and suffering from others who’ve gone before us. Afterwards, we speak of it through the voice of experience, the pain not so much the focus as the result. We’d repeat the moment all over again. We’re more than willing to help those having their first.

What started as a way to turn my story into a fun mystery, morphed into an exorcism for me and a subtle lesson for other women.

We are better for having lived through turmoil. Even the right choices can land us in trouble, but how we fight our way out empowers us. We may never be the same, but then, we probably wouldn’t want to be.

Brain power is strong. Things get better if we will them to, but most importantly, it’s the proactive manner in which we choose to make them better that turns us into extraordinary women.

And this is how I designed Carolina Slade.

GIVEAWAY!!Leave a comment saying you would like to win by October 5 at noon E.S.T, and TWO winners will be chosen at random for a free autographed copy of Lowcountry Bribe.

C. Hope Clark and her federal agent husband have been married for 20 years and live on the banks of Lake Murray in beautiful South Carolina. From their back porch Hope spins stories from their real investigations, overlooking the water.

Lowcountry Bribe is the first in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, released in February 2012, and the second, Tidewater Murder, is expected in early 2013 from Bell Bridge Books.  To visit Hope’s website, click on

Hope is also editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 12 years. Her newsletters reaches 35,000 readers each week. Learn more here:

Hope’s  excellent newsletter, FundforWriters,  encouraged me to start blogging about menopause. She ran a notice that Woman’s Day was looking for a menopause blogger. I bopped out some posts, emailed them to Woman’s Day, and never heard a word. But the experience told me I love the topic, and Friend for the Ride was born. Thanks, Hope!

Cake in Fridge!


At Piedmont Community College, where I work as a writing tutor, we get a lot of emails. Most of them have to do with grading rosters that need to be turned in or  an upcoming college event.  I scan the email headings to see which emails I need to read.

My eyes almost popped out of my English tutor head when I read this one:



I love cake. I love it for the flavor, but I love cake too for the the celebrations it represents: birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, promotions, book signings, holidays, store openings, and lots of other happy times.

Today, Friend for the Ride is one year old.

And so, to each of you, for reading my blog, I’m sending:

A cake in the fridge 

Albeit it’s an imaginary one, but it comes with my love and thanks!

Photo is courtesy Laura Younger. I’m not sure if this was her birthday cake or Matt’s, but I could take a big old dollop of that butter cream right now.

White Dresses, One, Two, Three


We’re thinking white dresses at our house!

This was the first white dress daughter Laura wore.  A christening gown, first donned by either my grandmother or her twin sister.

The white bunny suit for Halloween doesn’t count as a dress, so next was the Junior Marshall dress.  As a prize for good grades, Mom didn’t grump over the price of this Ann Taylor number.

But now Laura is on a quest for the WHITE DRESS OF WHITE DRESSES:  her wedding dress.

A clothes person since she could crawl, she has the ring on her finger and the date has been set. Time to do some real shopping!

I began thinking:  Which of the three white dresses is my motherly favorite?

The christening gown represents tradition and faith and family.

The white marshall dress represents scholarship and hard work and mall shopping trips with mom.

The wedding dress represents love and future and more family. Laura first swooned over Matt when he was a soccer player at Davidson College.  Seven years later, the wedding wagon is rolling along.

I can’t decide which of Laura’s white dresses is my favorite, but there’s just something about a white dress…

What about you?  What are the favorite white dresses in your life?