Tag Archives: Appalachian Mountains

Random Bits in the Life of TL

Random Bits in the Life of TL

Good grief, nearly two months have passed since my last post here. *headdesk* Guess I’ll brush off the tumbleweeds yet again and put up a post, this one comprised of random bits. Pun on “bytes” most certainly intended.

1. I decided to create a dedicated Dharma blog especially for my Zen-related posts. If you’d like to check it out, I’d be most pleased. The name of the blog is Green Mountains Walking, a phrase from Zen Master Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra. I copied the older Dharma posts from here, re-homed them on Green Mountains Walking, then put up a brand new post on the brand new blog about — guess what — Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra.

2. My muse has been in high gear with music and writing. While music has been getting the lion’s share of the creative energy, I have a novel in progress and recently cracked 56,000 words. But the novel will be plenty longer than that. I’m taking my sweet time with the novel, allowing the story to unfold. I also have another novel in mind. Not sure whether to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. I’m really not ready to start the next novel, as it involves quite a bit of research. We’ll see. I probably won’t know whether I’ll undertake NaNoWriMo until October 31 at 11:59:59 p.m.

3. I’ll still compose and share piano sketches, though intermittently for now and probably on the Dharma blog. I’m spending plenty of time with my piano, but my current focus is on working up vocals for Reflected Moon, my second music album which is in progress. I’ve already recorded the piano tracks for the album, and my current task is to record the vocal tracks and grow more and more conversant with my audio software. It’s a learning curve, a delightful one. It’s a bit bizarre, too. Usually, I play and sing my songs at the same time. Who doesn’t? Recording, on the other hand, is rather like karaoke! :)

4. I’m still getting up on the Magic Mountain for hikes from time to time. The fall foliage is nearing its peak in East Tennessee. Fall is a marvelous time of year — my very favorite season, though followed closely by Spring.

random bits, fall foliage, east tennessee, appalachian mountains

Interviewed on BlogTalkRadio!

Interviewed on BlogTalkRadio!

Well, today has been a lot of fun: just had my first interview on BlogTalkRadio. I was interviewed by Coral Russell from Alchemy of Scrawl, and we had a great talk about books, publishing, and even music. If you’d like to give it a listen, just click play.

Listen to internet radio with alchemyofscrawl on Blog Talk Radio

Alternate Realities

Alternate Realities

Let’s ponder the notion of alternate realities. It’s a heady idea. Alternate realities are speculated upon by physicists, and they make marvelous fodder for stories, whether books, television, or film. I’d venture to guess that a significant percentage of the popular old Twilight Zone episodes related to alternate realities.

Who hasn’t wondered, in looking back on the twists and turns making up her life path so far, what things might have been like if she had taken, at a crossroads long ago, the right path instead of the left? The middle path instead of the right? The path whose sides were sprinkled with wildflowers instead of the path whose sides were piled up with rocks?

thomma lyn grindstaff, heart's chalice, alternate realities, magical realism, women's fiction

When you combine the lure of alternate realities with the regret of love lost, it’s strong stuff indeed. Many people experience that poignant tug from the past: the One Who Got Away. Maybe the tug comes up in dreams, or even in waking thoughts.

If you feel the tug, it doesn’t mean that the paths you’ve chosen are wrong. Perhaps your path suits you fine, and you feel you’re exactly where you need to be. Truly, it’s my belief that wherever you are is where you need to be. If it’s a difficult place, then it’s possible to learn from the hardships and move farther down to a point on that path where there are as many wildflowers as rocks.

No matter how your life has turned out and continues to turn out, though, there’s a powerful urge to wonder, “What if?” and to contemplate how different life might be if you had said yes to that man you loved years in the distant past, and perhaps to contemplate how much of your life might even be pretty much the same. It’s human nature, I suppose, to speculate whether or not the grass in the field of another choice would have been greener.

A wonderful outlet for those speculations is fiction. In fiction, anything can happen, and it often does. In fiction, a woman can be shaken to the core of her heart and soul by the possibilities of a crossroads which she has regretted for many years opening up to her in the now and presenting her, again, with a choice. And the question would be, as it would be for any of us if such a thing happened in our real lives, what would we do? Would be choose to leave the “nows” that we know in favor of new “nows” that reflect the different direction we might have taken?

If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s this: things change, and the ripples from our choices perpetrate themselves in unexpected ways. What we think was the right choice often doesn’t turn out so well, and what we think was the wrong choice might actually be one of the best things we could have done in order to learn and grow and get better at loving and caring for ourselves and other people.

So… right path, wrong path. Wildflowers or rocks. It’s a good thing to know when to stop and admire beauty, but climbing over obstacles can be a handy skill, too. The world needs it all, so perhaps the ultimate answer is, “Who knows?”

New Year’s Resolutions 2012

New Year’s Resolutions 2012

I can’t figure out which is more unbelievable: (1) that I’ve let nearly two months go by without posting here, or (2) that it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions again. Every year on the blog, I take the New Year’s Resolutions I made last year and evaluate how I did with keeping them. Then I make new resolutions for the year to come. I’ve been doing this for, what, going on six years now? Hey, it’s a tradition! And it’s always instructive about how my goals — and even my attitudes — can change.

thomma lyn grindstaff, southern fiction, appalachian fiction, heart's chalice, magical realism

Here are my old resolutions for 2011, in bold type:

1. Get Heart’s Chalice submission-ready. I WILL do this. No kerTHUNKs. No excuses.

*applause* — I accomplished this goal. I got Heart’s Chalice whipped into fine shape, thanks to my faithful Beta readers and to the expertise of my wonderful editor, Susan Helene Gottfried, whom I have titled Editor Laureate of the Universe (fellow indies, if you’re looking for someone who can help you polish your manuscript to a high shine, look no farther than Susan: she’s both a top-notch writer and a top-notch editor).

2. Get an agent for Heart’s Chalice (and future novels).

Here’s an example of how goals can radically change. I decided to go indie instead, and I’m self-publishing my fiction as ebooks (so far, I’ve released two novels including Heart’s Chalice, a novella, a collection of flash fiction, and two individual short stories). Going indie isn’t right for everyone — heck, there’s no one path that’s right for everyone — but it’s right for me, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. If you’re interested in Heart’s Chalice (it’s a page-turner, even if I do say so myself), it’s for sale at Amazon’s Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Smashwords. And you might like to check out a stellar review. To browse the rest of my offerings, check out the sidebar of this blog, my website, or my Amazon Author Page.

3. Keep my freelance writing going — very important, high priority, and freelancing is wonderful, as well, for honing my writer’s tool kit.

*applause* — I accomplished this goal, too, and I am proud and happy to be working as Content Specialist for Blue Volcano Media, an outstanding web marketing and creative content company that’s growing, growing, growing. Exciting times lie ahead! *~*~*happy dance!*~*~* Working for Blue Volcano Media is an important part of my writing career, and I’m delighted to be a part of such a fabulous team.

4. Perhaps write completely different sorts of novels under a pseudonym. I’m going to be very mysterious about this. *singing* — “Oh no, I’ve said too much… I haven’t said enough.” LOL (apologies to R.E.M.)

kerTHUNK. And no, I’m not going to explain the mystery, either. Just forget I ever said it. T’was a bad idea. For me, anyway. (What was I thinking?!)

5. Get my original music out there. I have many songs and instrumental pieces, and they’re tired of being cooped up.

kerTHUNK. For numerous reasons, it just didn’t happen. But 2012 will be a different story (read on).

6. Draft Deirdre of the Sorrows.

kerTHUNK. Didn’t happen. Deirdre is still on my mind’s shelf, though, and it will be written soon.

And here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.

1. Currently, I’m planning a novel-to-be, working title of Maestro. The brainstorming is going fabulously, and my muse is kicking up her heels. Maestro is already hitting my sweet spot, and I haven’t even started writing it yet. In 2012, I want to get Maestro finished, edited, and available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

2. I’d also like to get Deirdre of the Sorrows finished, edited, and available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

3. Continue to do my very best work as Content Specialist for Blue Volcano Media — what a wonderful job!

4. Get my original music (songs and instrumental pieces, composed on the piano and played and sung by yours truly) out there.

5. In addition to Maestro and Deirdre of the Sorrows, I’d like to write and make available for purchase other pieces of fiction, including short stories and possibly a novella or two. When you’re an indie author, it’s an excellent thing to have numerous fictional pieces available for readers who discover you and love your work.

6. BLOG MORE. And yes, I mean that. Both here and on Grace Notes, my creative writing blog, where I’d like to post flash fiction related to my works-in-progress.

7. This one isn’t a goal. It’s a “maybe.” But possibly — just possibly — I’ll release one or more of my titles in print.

Happy New Year, everybody! :D

Regret: The Road Not Taken

Regret: The Road Not Taken

Who hasn’t wondered about “The Road Not Taken,” as Robert Frost put it so beautifully in his poem of the same name? With every choice we make in life, we choose one path over another we might otherwise have walked. Sometimes, we make our choices with great reflection and consideration. Other times, we make them spontaneously. Still other times, we make choices that, we can see in hindsight, were hampered by immaturity, self-delusion, and even willful ignorance.

regret, the road not taken, nostalgia, what if, thomma lyn grindstaff, magical realism, heart's chalice

We label our choices. Good choice. Bad choice. So-so choice. But the older I get, the less fond I become of labels. Sure, some choices lend themselves to being labeled “good” or “bad.” But when we step back and examine whether or not we have learned from a “bad” choice, we sometimes find that, throughout the years, the results of our learning and growth have produced good things, for us and for the people we love. But what about the bad things, the hurtful things? The things we reflect on with a twist in our stomach, that awaken us from restless sleep?

Enter regret. I’d venture to guess that pretty much everyone on the planet has experienced it. In particular, we feel regret when we’ve made choices that hurt other people, especially if those choices involved our own immaturity, self-delusion, or willful ignorance.

So, what can we do about it?

If we’re like Laurel, the main character in my new novel Heart’s Chalice, we run up on a portal that allows us to explore the world that would have greeted us alongside “the road not taken.” Heart’s Chalice is, partly at least, the story of how Laurel learns to deal with regret for the choices she made as a young woman. It’s human nature to wonder, “What if I’d made a different choice, way back when?” The characters who populate novels can explore these questions in a way that makes us reflect on what we would do in their position. Would we walk through those portals?

Would we like what we see enough to entice us to stay?

For those of us who don’t live and act on the pages of novels, regret quickly outlives its usefulness. When we hold onto regret, we actually hamper ourselves from growing, learning, and moving toward the future. When we cling to regret, we mire ourselves in the past instead of placing ourselves in a future might-have-been. Regret can be a great teacher in our lives. There are things I’ve done in my life that I deeply regret. But instead of living like a ghost from the past who haunts each of my present moments, I prefer to learn as much as I possibly can from the mistakes I’ve made and use that knowledge to go forward with increased awareness and compassion towards myself and others.

Therein lie the lessons of regret. Do we allow regret to become a weapon in our hands that we clumsily and blindly wield, hurting ourselves and others? Or do we alchemize regret into a powerful sword that we use to slice away the delusion in our own minds so that we can go forward with increased wisdom for our future choices?

The emotion of regret can become a portal of sorts, created by our own minds. When we step back and examine our regret with objectivity, we see our actions with greater clarity. With clarity, we can then acknowledge the mistakes that we never want to repeat again while opening our hearts to compassion for the growing, learning creature which we were back then, still are today, and will always be. We are all works in progress.

Catching Up… and Going Indie!

Catching Up… and Going Indie!

Oh my goodness, will you look at the tumbleweeds on this blog! I’ve neglected this poor little blog since July, but it seems like I’ve only turned around twice while three months somehow zipped by. My summer was a blur. I stayed extremely busy with my freelance writing endeavors — good busy, but busy nonetheless.

Our garden did fabulously. It was the best yet. You wouldn’t believe all the green beans, and we had huge, red tomatoes. We grew cabbage, green and banana peppers, onions, potatoes, and squash out the yin yang. We love squash, and this year, we planted the yellow variety as well as zucchini and butternut squash (YUMMY). We ate stir fry until we almost popped.

I’ve been hiking as time permits, but that has slowed way down. Still, I take opportunities as I can to get up on what I think of as the Magic Mountain. It’s a wonderful place to get perspective, and I don’t mean just visually. Fall is in full swing on the mountain, and the autumn colors are gorgeous. Here are pictures from a (fairly) recent hike.

fall leaves, autumn, east tennessee, southern appalachia

Autumn Leaves and Blue Sky

mountain trail, east tennessee, appalachian mountains
Sunlit Mountain Trail

autumn leaves, east tennessee, appalachian mountains

Fall Comes to the Forest

=-=

Last but not least, I’ve decided to get my fiction out there as an independent author. Soon, I’ll publish four books to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon Kindle (all digital formats, but at some point, I might decide to make print editions available). By soon, I mean very soon. I’m in the process of finalizing the formatting on my mss, revising my website, and soon, I’ll add links on this blog and upload my revised website.

Without further ado, here are the books I’ll be offering:

Heart’s Chalice (novel, dark edgy women’s fiction)
Destiny rarely gives a woman a second chance at love, especially not with a man who died twenty years ago.

As a young woman, Laurel misinterpreted a psychic vision, causing the death of her first and only love. She has lived with the guilt ever since. Two decades later, struggling to free herself from a toxic marriage, she’s pulled to an alternate reality where her beloved still lives. There, she’s the dead one, and he and their children are grieving for her. When she tries to contact them, they think she’s a ghost or a product of their wishful thinking.

She desperately wants to remain in her family’s reality and connect with them. By enjoying a long, happy life with the man she loves, she can rectify her mistake and free herself from her guilt. But she’s running out of time. Every shift between realities damages her body further. And her soon-to-be-ex will stop at nothing to shackle her to a life she despises.

~*~

ripples, ripples short stories, thomma lyn grindstaff, stories by thomma lyn grindstaffRipples (short stories, magical realism)
If Heart’s Chalice, the novel, is a waterfall, then these short stories are its ripples.

 The short stories in Ripples can serve either as the reader’s introduction to the characters who populate my novel Heart’s Chalice, or as a supplement for readers who have already read the novel.

Most of the stories in Ripples take place before the main action of Heart’s Chalice, when Laurel and Nate are teenagers, growing up in their famlies of origin. Some of the stories, however, are woven into the novel’s in-between spaces.

 ~*~

patchwork stained glass, thomma lyn grindstaff, novels by thomma lyn grindstaff, novel by thomma lyn grindstaff
Patchwork Stained Glass (Novel — Book Club Fiction)
An atheist falls for a country preacher. Can love triumph over two conflicting ideologies?

Romilly Shepard spent her childhood with abusive parents, and as a college student, she finds comfort in the hard facts of science. She lives with her friend Martha, also an atheist, and they see each other as like-minded rationalists who stand elbow-to-elbow against a hopelessly irrational world. Intent on debunking, Romilly and Martha sign up for a comparative religion class, but the instructor, a graduate student and preacher named Ernest, challenges Romilly’s assumptions. His open-mindedness and tolerance broaden Romilly’s mind and win her heart.

Martha feels betrayed by Romilly’s love for a preacher, and Ernest’s congregation thinks Romilly is a heathen in need of salvation. Friction mounts between Romilly and Ernest, and she fears she’s nothing more than his Convert-an-Atheist Project. But when a chronic disease threatens Ernest’s life, labels given by other people no longer seem so important. Romilly takes a crash course in faith and hope — faith in Ernest’s love, hope for his healing. In doing so, she learns to embrace their differences and not fear them, but has her awakening come too late?

~*~

thy eternal summer, novella by thomma lyn grindstaff, thomma lyn grindstaffThy Eternal Summer (novella, contemporary romance)
Can an older couple overcome the memories of their deceased spouses and enjoy a spicy Golden Years romance?
(This novel was previously published in 2006 by Chippewa Publishing, which went out of business in 2007. The rights reverted back to me, so now, I’m re-releasing it.)

Sarah Harrison is a housewife and the mother of two grown children, but her marriage is tainted by alcoholism and emotional abuse. When her husband Ed drowns in a river at an RV park in Tennessee, she’s on her own for the first time in her life. She can’t drive the Winnebago to return to their home in North Carolina.

Max McCloud, newly retired from NASA, is parked next to Ed and Sarah’s Winnebago. He designs aircraft components online with his friends and misses his late wife, Adela, who died the previous year. He befriends the newly widowed Sarah and offers to drive her home in her Winnebago.

Can their new friendship and potential romantic attachment overcome the memories of their deceased spouses and provide them with the kind of Golden Years they both desire?

=-=

Why am I going indie, you might ask. My answer: Why not? These days, opportunities made possible by the internet have created many intriguing paths an author can take, and one size never fits all. Of course, writers — especially new writers — need to do their research so they’ll know what they’re getting into. But I’ve been doing this fiction-writing thing for quite a while now. I’ve learned a lot, and I feel good about the path I’m preparing to walk.

Trade publishing — whether with big New York houses or smaller houses — is great for some, but for others, especially us do-it-yourself types, self-publishing holds considerable promise. I’m excited about this new venture, and I hope you will be, too.

So watch this space (and this blog)!  More information is on its way, as well as more frequent blog posts. :)

A Fresh New Look For My Blog

A Fresh New Look For My Blog

After two years, I’ve decided this blog needs a fresh new look. And for those of you who have regularly read this blog (before the invasion of the tumbleweeds over the past year, during which I’ve done little to no blogging here), you’ll notice that I’m no longer calling it “Tennessee Text Wrestling.” I’ve used that name since 2006 (for this blog and its previous incarnation), but I’ve received so many hits from people looking for wrestling-related sites that I figured it’s high time I stopped confusing them.

What a year it’s been! I’ve learned a lot about life, loss and change. I’ve also learned a great deal about what I can do when I set my mind to it.

I’m still writing, cat wrangling, hiking and gardening, and though I keep busy as a freelance writer, I have plans for future novels. When do I not have plans and plots (pun on plotting novels definitely intended)? The harvest is rolling in, so between my writing duties and my vegetable-related duties, I’m pretty busy. Stay tuned for updates, though, and in the meantime, I’ll share with you pictures from recent hikes.

ghost flowers, indian pipesspied: the first ghost flowers of the season

laurel, appalachian mountains, rhododendron, flowersthe magic mountain festooned with blooming laurel — more this summer than I’ve ever seen

tadpoles, polliwogs, mountain stream, creekthis year’s crop of tadpoles are thriving in their mountain pond — more of them than ever!

Where’d She Go?

Where’d She Go?

Good grief. THREE months since my last blog post. Yes, the tumbleweeds are growing bigger and bigger around here!

But that’s all right. This blog will remain a going concern, even if I don’t update it as frequently as I used to. Fiction is still an important part of my life, and I’m hoping to get Heart’s Chalice out there (and I’ll be writing more novels), but I’m also very busy with my freelance writing.

Super-cool development — I’m working as Content Specialist for Blue Volcano Media, an outstanding creative content company. I love my work and thoroughly enjoy stretching my writing muscles in all kinds of different directions.

Spring is here, and soon it’ll be gardening time. I’ll post gardening pictures. And hiking pictures.

spring, blue sky, Appalachian Mountains, East Tennessee

Speaking of hiking, guess what else. There are more tadpoles in the frog pond on the mountain. More than ever before. (You know I’d have to mention tadpoles; I have, after all, been dubbed “The Tadpole Queen”). Here’s the proof.

tadpoles, frogs, frog pond, pollywogs

Got to scoot, but please don’t hesitate to find me and friend me on Facebook. I’m pretty active there, as I have time, and I post pictures, too. Of tadpoles, the magic mountain, and last but never least, my Ballicai (also known as cats). You can also follow me on Twitter.

And I’ll post here again, too. Hopefully sooner than three months this time! ;)