First Book to Carry Me Away

What was the first book that you transported you to another world? Was there a book you never wanted to put down?

When I was a teen-ager or maybe a little younger, I picked up a magazine, Ladies Home Journal I think, and found a story. As I began to read, my mind traveled to another time and place–eighteenth century England. I could picture the huge house, the servants, the poor young lady hired to be a governess to a wild child. I couldn’t pronounce all the names, but that didn’t stop me from reading. I was so into the story, I couldn’t believe it when I came to the end, but instead of “The End”, the words said, “To Be Continued”. I had to wait another month to read the next part of the story!

I could hardly wait for the next installment. I did find the next issue and read the ending–or it might have been spread over three issues.

Later I found the book in the library. Mistress of Mellyn, by Victoria Holt. An incredible novel for a young girl to read. Once I discovered the author’s name, I read every book she wrote, as the library purchased them. I was hooked forever on reading gothic novels and romantic suspense.

What was the first book to carry you away?

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Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak: In the Garden of Life and Death

What a treat it was to hold the slim volume entitled In the Garden of Life and Death: A Mother and Daughter Walk, Poems by Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak, published by Main Street Rag, Charlotte, NC.


I would pick up the book, read one poem, savor it, and then put the book down. I soon found the Lays potato chip commercial to be true: “No one can eat just one.”

I took the book with me wherever I went, instead of a mystery or suspense thriller, dipping into it whenever I had a moment to read. I wore sunglasses in case someone sitting in the car parked beside me should notice tears on my cheeks.

I have known Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak “Kim” for a number of years. I have always found Kim’s poetry to be wonderful, chockfull with images that are clear and yet form connections in unique and original ways. Her experiences touch the emotions in a healthy way. With a touch of humor and a lot of faith, she describes what it is like for a family to work through difficult and trying times.

For any mother, for any daughter, for anyone who has watched a loved one battle cancer, this book, In the Garden of Life and Death, is a must-read.


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Readings at Gallery 102

What a beautiful place to read poetry! Gallery 102 in Lancaster, SC, has many paintings and other types of art work by local artists on display. Carla Bryant and Kevin Lilly, owners of Gallery 102, have graciously opened their space to poets, fiction writers, and other writers to share their written words.


On January 11, 2015, a group of about fifteen people gathered for an afternoon of “Poetry and Prose”. Featured readers were Ed R. Green, author of Hope: The Sapphire Prison, Book One; and Donna Wylie, a poet with numerous published poems.


During Open Mic, the readers included Judith Barban, author of two novels and a book of poetry; Barbara Lunow, author of Are We There Yet?; Julie Cook, poet with two collections of published poetry; Rosemary Gray, poet and illustrator; Joy Colter, poet; and Martha T. Robinson, who read a non-fiction story, “Pass Christian, Mississippi Mission Trip”.

It was a wonderful afternoon filled with beautiful passages from some very talented local poets and authors!

The next reading will be on Sunday, February 8th. You won’t want to miss it! Craig Faris, author of The Spectrum Conspiracy and Barbara Lunow will be our Featured Readers.

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Marjory Wentworth – SC Poet Laureate

Originally posted on Roxie's Blog:


To say I am distracted is an understatement. I can describe what I’ve done: pour coffee in the cat’s water bowl, tuck the milk in the pantry next to the Rice Chex, and then squeeze Colgate Multi-whitening onto my hairbrush, and you have an idea of my morning.

Now the level has risen to major irritation. And I suppose that’s what the governor of the great state of South Carolina feels on her second inaugural morning. Major irritation. If you haven’t heard, the governor cut our state’s poet laureate duties – Marjory Wentworth caused an uproar with her writing – because she wrote a poem about the not-so-smiling history of this state. Read her inaugural poem without the inaugural audience at WRVO’s site…

Whew, I feel better just sharing this with more people! Exactly what I need to do. And so do you. Regardless of your political, poetic or other…

View original 63 more words

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Out with the Old–In with the New

During 2014 I found myself writing more, nearly every day. I wrote new stuff and polished old stuff. I mailed things out, submitting poems and stories to contests. I even attempted writing a novel, accepting the NaNoWriMo challenge, and completed a 50,000 word novel during November 2014. Nothing has been accepted for publication. No contests have listed my name as a winner.

Was all my hard work wasted effort? Absolutely not! The only way to improve in writing is to keep writing.

My new Year’s resolution: I resolve to write every day. During NaNoWriMo I set a specific time to write. Early morning is best for me. I found I could reach my daily goal in an hour or two. What would happen if I set a higher goal, say 2000 words per day? Or 10 pages per day? Just writing, without editing. What could I accomplish?

I was very proud that I was able to complete the NaNoWriMo novel.

Another thing I was proud of is I had to expand my poetry notebook. My poems were arranged in a 1 1/2 inch binder, but it was crammed so full, a 2 inch binder was needed. What a thrill it was to make that change. Now my poems have room to breathe. Who knows? Maybe they will beget new ones!

Happy writing to all in the New Year 2015!

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Gone too Soon–Scott Ely–Professor and Friend

Going back to school is supposed to be one of those really nice perks of retirement. In the Fall of 2012, a couple of writing friends and I decided to take a short story writing class at Winthrop University.

I had no idea what to expect. Going to college at my age? What would the “youngsters” think of this gray-haired lady? If I didn’t do well, could I claim diminished capacity?

I did have an advantage over my companions: all of my undergraduate work was completed at Winthrop–while it was still Winthrop College. But in the forty years since graduation, my hair had turned from brown to gray, my steps had slowed, and I had lived through many life events. I had high hopes that those experiences had simmered long enough on the back burner of my mind and that the stories that I wrote would be enriched by drawing from that tasty stew.

Scott Ely was the the professor of the writing class. He had taught at Winthrop for several decades and had written a number of novels as well as short stories. Class was conducted in a small room with an oblong conference table. The ten college-age students selected seats on the opposite side of the table from my two friends and me. A common desire to write united us all. And, yes, my friends and I enrolled in the class for a second time in the Fall of 2013.

Earlier Scott had informed us that he had had cancer but was in remission. But when he became so ill in the Fall of 2013 that he had to resign, we were all surprised. His death at the end of October came as a complete shock. I felt the loss of not just a professor, but a friend and mentor. He was gone too soon. He still had many more stories to write.


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A Pep Rally for Writers

“Writing and Other Disasters” was what the one-day Writers Intensive, sponsored by the Rock Hill chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, was called–but it was really a pep rally for writers.

I want to say a special thank you to the following individuals who helped with this marvelous event.

Kudos to Connie Driscoll Miller for organizing the Intensive and for emceeing the event.

Thank you Roxanne Hannah and her team of Sunscribe Publishers for the bright orange folders and the chocolate goodies.

Muchos gracias to the featured speakers: Ann Eisenstein, Craig Faris, Rosemary Gray, Ed Green, Barbara Lawing, and Ed Wilson. Each one was generous with their knowledge and their time and really went the second mile to answer all questions.

I’ve been a member of SCWW since about 2002, and I know that writing can be frustrating, challenging, and draining. I have often needed a booster shot of enthusiasm and encouragement. The one-day Intensive is just what the doctor ordered for this tired writer.

Thanks to all–old friends and new–for the inspiration!

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