POSTCARDS


POSTCARDS
by Sharon Stevens

This week I came across a postcard from Colorado that a dear friend and neighbor sent me a couple of years ago. We were watching their home for them while they were gone on vacation. They knew our neighborhood had been having a skunk problem, so the postcard they sent us had the cutest baby skunks on the front. The note they wrote on the back was personal and timely about the fun they were having and the sights they were seeing. The title on the card was, “It stinks when you’re not here…”

Our Buffalo Bookstore will be hosting a book signing for Tim Lewis and his book, “Forever Friday” at WTAMU Homecoming on Saturday October 5, 2013 from 9-12:am. Lewis’ wonderful story celebrates the life and love of a Gabe and Puck, and connects with postcards in a unique way.

You wouldn’t believe the number of tourists from around the world that come through asking for postcards with a little piece of Texas. We have teachers following with students, grandparents with “Flat Stanley’s”, business people sending cards home, and those with loved ones in the military for a reminder of all they treasure on the home front. Even though the premise of these cards has not changed in over a hundred years, the picture postcards are not dead by any means.

As writers we have to write so many things. Along with the body of our story there are also dedication pages, acknowledgments, blurbs, reviews, and also those we write for others. Tough gigs all across the board. But what if we had to write our entire life in the tiny space allowed on one side, and the address of our friend or beloved family on the other. How can we ever focus so simply? What words will fit or what will you discard? How many thoughts are empty? What will your heart share when it is full?

Today when I picked up this particular postcard from two years ago, I was instantly transported back to the skunk problem and the smell that accompanied it. I remembered a dear friend that shared this particular memory and how we laughed together when they returned home. It may only have been a cheap card, but to me it meant the world stretching across the miles.

So please take a moment and think of what you will write in a couple of sentences on your own postcard. Use it not only as a writing exercise, but as a reminder of why we love what we do.

Tim Lewis’ book signing will be a simple affair as we are a simple book store. His book is not gang buster’s and violence. You won’t find horror or blood within the pages. What you will find is a great love story, but not a sugar sweet concoction either. Gabe and Puck are real, as well as Adam Colby. They live in a reality of life with trials as well as treasures stretching across the war years to a time right here and now. I loved Tim’s story and connected to it in so many ways. There is also some nursing home shenanigans I chuckled with that I remembered when I was a young nurses aid at our local home. Watch the trailers for the book and listen to the music as this is a song that Tim wrote and performed for his wife Dinah.

We welcome everyone to stop by and visit with Tim about his book and celebrate the legacy of a postcard and a love that withstands the “long division”. The WTAMU Homecoming parade is always stupendous and we have great viewing in front of our business. We will be having cookies and lemonade, and Tim even shared “Gabe’s” favorite chocolate cake recipe. We hope that “Puck” will be proud and that it tastes as good as what they remember.

And let this be a reminder to never forget of the love you truly share with a simple memory, even on something as the words on a postcard.

And on another sweet note…Natalie Bright just returned from a book signing at the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene. Her story, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” was included in the anthology “West Texas Christmas Stories”. According to Natalie’s web site, “this is a collection of heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories all set in West Texas by West Texas writers.”

Wonderful story and what a way to share a simple gift of the holidays.

Natalie is a good friend and fellow blogger at Wordsmithsix. She is also one of our founders of the Jodi Thomas Fan Club now celebrating 10 years. Natalie took her first writing class from Jodi and has been writing ever since. Her book, “Oil People” has been published. Also “Gone Never Forgotten’ is on e-books and soon will be in print. She has several more in the works. Natalie has been a guest speaker around the country on writing and feels it is so important to donate her books in school and public libraries everywhere she speaks.

And on a final note I want to take a moment for reflection on the passing of Tom Clancy. Here at our Buffalo Bookstore Clancy is one of those authors whose books are ones traded most often. They never go out of style, and his unique genre is the most popular through the cycles of readers. He will be missed, but he will always be remembered as long as books exist on this earth. And I think that will be for eternity. New readers are being born every day.

POSTCARDS


POSTCARDS
by Sharon Stevens

This week I came across a postcard from Colorado that a dear friend and neighbor sent me a couple of years ago. We were watching their home for them while they were gone on vacation. They knew our neighborhood had been having a skunk problem, so the postcard they sent us had the cutest baby skunks on the front. The note they wrote on the back was personal and timely about the fun they were having and the sights they were seeing. The title on the card was, “It stinks when you’re not here…”

Our Buffalo Bookstore will be hosting a book signing for Tim Lewis and his book, “Forever Friday” at WTAMU Homecoming on Saturday October 5, 2013 from 9-12:am. Lewis’ wonderful story celebrates the life and love of a Gabe and Puck, and connects with postcards in a unique way.

You wouldn’t believe the number of tourists from around the world that come through asking for postcards with a little piece of Texas. We have teachers following with students, grandparents with “Flat Stanley’s”, business people sending cards home, and those with loved ones in the military for a reminder of all they treasure on the home front. Even though the premise of these cards has not changed in over a hundred years, the picture postcards are not dead by any means.

As writers we have to write so many things. Along with the body of our story there are also dedication pages, acknowledgments, blurbs, reviews, and also those we write for others. Tough gigs all across the board. But what if we had to write our entire life in the tiny space allowed on one side, and the address of our friend or beloved family on the other. How can we ever focus so simply? What words will fit or what will you discard? How many thoughts are empty? What will your heart share when it is full?

Today when I picked up this particular postcard from two years ago, I was instantly transported back to the skunk problem and the smell that accompanied it. I remembered a dear friend that shared this particular memory and how we laughed together when they returned home. It may only have been a cheap card, but to me it meant the world stretching across the miles.

So please take a moment and think of what you will write in a couple of sentences on your own postcard. Use it not only as a writing exercise, but as a reminder of why we love what we do.

Tim Lewis’ book signing will be a simple affair as we are a simple book store. His book is not gang buster’s and violence. You won’t find horror or blood within the pages. What you will find is a great love story, but not a sugar sweet concoction either. Gabe and Puck are real, as well as Adam Colby. They live in a reality of life with trials as well as treasures stretching across the war years to a time right here and now. I loved Tim’s story and connected to it in so many ways. There is also some nursing home shenanigans I chuckled with that I remembered when I was a young nurses aid at our local home. Watch the trailers for the book and listen to the music as this is a song that Tim wrote and performed for his wife Dinah.

We welcome everyone to stop by and visit with Tim about his book and celebrate the legacy of a postcard and a love that withstands the “long division”. The WTAMU Homecoming parade is always stupendous and we have great viewing in front of our business. We will be having cookies and lemonade, and Tim even shared “Gabe’s” favorite chocolate cake recipe. We hope that “Puck” will be proud and that it tastes as good as what they remember.

And let this be a reminder to never forget of the love you truly share with a simple memory, even on something as the words on a postcard.

And on another sweet note…Natalie Bright just returned from a book signing at the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene. Her story, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” was included in the anthology “West Texas Christmas Stories”. According to Natalie’s web site, “this is a collection of heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories all set in West Texas by West Texas writers.”

Wonderful story and what a way to share a simple gift of the holidays.

Natalie is a good friend and fellow blogger at Wordsmithsix. She is also one of our founders of the Jodi Thomas Fan Club now celebrating 10 years. Natalie took her first writing class from Jodi and has been writing ever since. Her book, “Oil People” has been published. Also “Gone Never Forgotten’ is on e-books and soon will be in print. She has several more in the works. Natalie has been a guest speaker around the country on writing and feels it is so important to donate her books in school and public libraries everywhere she speaks.

And on a final note I want to take a moment for reflection on the passing of Tom Clancy. Here at our Buffalo Bookstore Clancy is one of those authors whose books are ones traded most often. They never go out of style, and his unique genre is the most popular through the cycles of readers. He will be missed, but he will always be remembered as long as books exist on this earth. And I think that will be for eternity. New readers are being born every day.

GEMS


GEMS

by Sharon Stevens

Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings died forty years ago this month. She had fallen down the basement steps of her crumbling home and laid there several days in a heap on the floor, no one hearing her cries before a neighbor came to check on her. Old age and pneumonia then tore her down and she succumbed, her features clawed and withered with severe arthritis. She spent her last days in a clinical environment in a local hospital where everyone saw her as ancient.

We called her Aunt Molly and knew her as neighbor in my years growing up. How many times I wished I had visited with her. What could she have taught me with her stories and her memories. What could she have shared with her artist’s eye and her love of all that surrounded her. We will never know. She carried everything to her grave. She was old, her joints knarled and ugly, pain marring every feature. Nothing is left. She is dead and buried. All is gone.

But wait. I have her picture from a photograph that once hung on the walls of the Randall County Courthouse. There is no notation of when it was taken or where or why. It doesn’t tell the story of when she was born, or her passions, or her pain, but her beauty and the sweet face of youth is captured within.

Phebe Warner had urged her to come to the plains of Texas to apply as an art teacher at Goodnight College. Molly and Charles Goodnight welcomed her with open arms and gave her a glimpse of the empire they had established as the J.A. Ranch. Coming from Dallas and encountering dirt streets of Amarillo and the limited comforts of home must have been an eye opener. But the first meal at their home she remembered how the lemonade looked in the glass pitcher, the tour of the gardens, the bee hives, and of course the ranch itself.

She met Charles Lennox Gordon-Cummings at the Goodnights, and they married and moved to land west of Canyon on the Tierra Blanco Creek. Later they built a magnificent home and raised three daughters out here on the Texas plains. Mr. Gordon-Cummings died in the 1940’s and Molly lived out her life alone except for her brother that lived with her until his death in a train accident. You can read the story of her life in “The Randall County Story” by Grace Warwick.  We became her neighbors in 1952 when my dad bought land and moved us out to the country in the hottest year in recorded history.

I was reminded of Aunt Molly at this year’s annual “Night At The Museum” at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I volunteered at the kit house in my role player costume. Armed with my picture of Molly in her youth, a glass picture filled with colored stones, and with my storytelling patchwork hat perched on my head I shared the story of Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings and hoped I made her come alive.

I chose the bright gems in the pitcher because my mother had shared with me that Aunt Molly used to take broken pieces of glass and paint the images that flooded through from the sunlight. What rainbows she must have seen. What colors and prisms must have shown through. What beauty she must have witnessed among the shades of dirt and shadow.

And this brings me to this week’s blog on writing. On the season finale of “Castle” his daughter is agonizing over her valedictory speech after researching speeches by the famous such as Steve Jobs, and presidents, and historical figures and famous celebrities. Castle advises her (and I will never forget his words), “write whats true to you”.

In my writings I could pen about how Mary Elizabeth died a horrible death, abandoned, without neighbors to care whether she lived or died. I could write a horror story about how arthritis had turned her body into a mass of ugliness with her hands so gnarled she couldn’t even pick up a spoon to feed herself, much less a brush to paint. But I CHOOSE to write of her beauty, and imagine the sunrises and the sunsets she must have seen from the top floor of her great home. My heart CHOOSES to remember the smell of the lilacs that lined the walk, and the massive, shimmering cottonwoods that shaded her memories.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read all kinds of stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” all the way to zombies, murder and mayhem. I have troubles with “Flowers in the Attic” but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good writing. I don’t mind being led to an author I haven’t read before such as Harlan Coban and I absolutely fell in love with Stephen King’s, “Dorothy Claiborne”.  I will always treasure stories like “E.T.” and “The Goonies” (celebrating 25 years), “Toy Story” and any story that encompasses good versus evil. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is just one of my favorites with the connection to being filmed in Palo Duro Canyon on the Christian Ranch. And don’t get me started on the musical drama TEXAS. More importantly, I remember those who struggled and faced adversity, but found strength within because they were surrounded by friends. I treasure community and neighbors and family, those that touch our lives on the level of all that is good and honest. My passion is to share of heritage, legacy, the pioneer spirit, beauty, patriotism, and freedom. OH sweet freedom. I feel that there is always room for that

I will always treasure the spirit of Aunt Molly and the artistry she shared. And even though I read anything and everything in sight, I just want to write what is true to me, myself and I.  To me each word and every memory is a gem.

By the way this week celebrates the Queens Diamond Jubilee and since Charles Lennox-Gordon-Cummings was titled nobility from Scotland I am sure he would have received an invitation to the festivities. This week also marks the anniversary of D-Day during World War II and may we stop to remember not only June 6 but also each and every day past, present and future that we honor not only those in service, but those on the home front and the veterans and their families that share this common bond that ties us all to conflict and peace.

Last but not least…WTAMU is hosting the SUMMER STORYTELLING CONFERENCE on campus June 8-10, 2012 at the Sybil Harrington Fine Arts Complex. Friday and Saturday there will be concerts in the FAC Recital Hall at 7pm with a Sacred Story Concert Sunday from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Joseph Hill Chapel. Dr. Trudy Hanson has all the registration information and Eldrina Douma has been instrumental in sharing her stories. The guest speakers are from around the country and our own Jodi Thomas will be front and center speaking on creative storytelling.

And don’t forget the Frontiers in Writing Conference June 28 with the best guest speakers ever, Natalie Bright is the conference chair. And then also we celebrate the Writing Academy at WTAMU with Jodi Thomas and Tim Lewis. WHEW what a lineup!

Sharon Stevens