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Writer Waiting

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Oh this shiny new computer…

There just isn’t nothing cuter.

It knows everything the world ever knew.

And with this great computer

I don’t need a writing tutor,

‘Cause there ain’t a single thing that it can’t do.

It can sort and it can spell,

It can punctuate as well.

It can find and file, underline and type.

It can edit and select,

It can copy and correct.

So I’ll have a whole book written by tonight

Just as soon as I can think of what to write.

Shel Silverstein

Fly Away Home

photo by Martin Brigdale

photo by Martin Brigdale

I’ve hit a milestone today and I’m celebrating with tea. This is my 100th post!

Last year at this time, I had just made the monumental decision to publish my life story. In other words, share the good and reveal the bad. All of it. To-the-entire-world!

If that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, I was also strongly advised to start a blog. Me? A blog! The thought was terrifying. I was afraid people would show up looking to read great posts, written by an experienced author and instead find me. What would I write about and what would it sound like without an editor to help polish things up?

Obviously I found stuff to write about, this is my 100th post and everyone’s been great in overlooking my bad grammar. Everyone except my daughter Michele, that is…

 Stick it out for one year, or one hundred posts, whatever came first. That was the deal I made with myself last April, when starting the blog. But what will I do now? I honestly don’t know.

My biggest dream is to have my book translated to Norwegian and yet I haven’t spent much time working on that. I have one son leaving for college and another who will be a senior in high school next year. I also have three, precious little grandchildren living right up the road and I’d love to spend more time cuddling with them. I hate that I sit at one end of the house and my husband the other, on our computers every night. If there was only more time, or I had more energy.

For now all I can do is thank everyone who’s followed along, stopped by once in a while, and pushed the like button. I’m also giving away a signed copy of my book, Fly Away Home. If you’re interested, pop over and visit Janneke, at DrieCulturen and leave a comment. She writes an interesting blog about growing up in other cultures. Check it out…

win a free copy!

win a free copy!

 

 

Preserving memories

Some of my scrapbooks

Hello, my name is Maggie and I am a scrapaholic.

Well, I used to be – lately I just can’t seem to find the time for it. I started scrapbooking about seven years ago, while living in Houston. My neighbor was a Creative Memories consultant with a great sales pitch. In no time, I was running back and forth across the street buying her products.

My scrapbook supplies

The idea of making albums and preserving memories completely resonated with me. I started out making an album of our time in Texas and that lead to making albums for each of my children. I soon moved on to the grandchildren, weddings, vacations… I couldn’t stop!

I went to all day cropping sessions and on weekend scrapbooking retreats. Women would gather to spend the day clipping, pasting, sharing supplies and ideas. Some of their books were like works of art, they were beautiful. I wasn’t quite as talented, but I had fun.

When the time came for us to leave Houston and move to the Netherlands I went out and bought a hoard of supplies to take with me ($$$$). I was making keepsakes and you certainly can’t put a price tag on that. Can you?

Scrapbooking can be a very expensive hobby. The more embellishment you use on your pages, the more its going to cost you. I’ve made some examples:

Cover the pages with paper and add pictures. Basic and easy.

Cut the paper, add pictures with minimal embellishing.

Layer paper, frame pictures and lots of embellishment.

I have a die cutting machine for making my own letters, flowers, hearts and butterflies, but I cheated and used sticker letters instead.

See the sticker letters? (not so nice)

Eventually I went from not writing anything more than a name, a date or a place in my albums to journaling whole stories. Thats when I realized I needed to take some writing classes, which led to the book, which led to the blog.

The only thing I have time to make now, are digital ones.

Really easy, surprisingly cheap and I can make them right on my Mac.

Reaching new heights

Pulpit Rock, Norway. Wikipedia credit

I was a shy girl, who grew into a guarded teenager. I never had the nerve to try out, or join anything at school. I was afraid of failure and being made fun of, that’s why my only goal was to blend in with the crowd. I probably never even raised my hand at school and I’m sure half of the people there didn’t even know my name. Don’t get me wrong – I had friends, but never wandered outside my circle. I played it safe at all times.

I grew up and although I gained some confidence in becoming a mom, I still worried about what other people thought and kept my head down. On the heels of a nasty divorce, I left America and started a new life in Norway (not because I was brave). After visiting numerous times throughout my life, I thought I knew what it would be like to live there. I was wrong.

Learning a new language and adjusting to a foreign culture is hard. I felt more like a refugee in this small local town, than an expat. My children didn’t seem to have any problem; They turned into little Norwegians overnight. Again, I kept pretty much to myself and tried not to be noticed. I knew there were people who thought I was unfriendly, when really I was just scared. Afraid of saying something wrong, afraid of being judged.

Only in a close group of friends was I able to open up and be myself, or as much of myself as I could be – talking another language…

My husband is the complete opposite. Once a local football hero (back in the day) he never cares what anyone thinks and oozes confidence. He’s dragged me kicking and screaming to events, in which I was forced to smile and meet new people. Together we have done things I never imagined myself doing…

Like cycling through France.

Sleeping in an igloo.

Dog Sledding.

Hiking 2.4 miles up to the top of Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).

And publishing a book.

The whole time I was writing Fly Away Home, I never, EVER thought anyone other than family would read it. Why would they? I wasn’t a writer, or anyone famous, just a woman trying to explain her side of things.

There’s no hiding now…

Look Here

 

I’ve been getting up early lately to read posts and drink tea and thats when I stumbled across this post by Paula Acton. It seems I’ve been tagged in a new game…

The idea of the game is to locate the word ‘look’ in whatever manuscript you have lying around, then post a few previous and following paragraphs around it. Afterwards, invite other authors to do the same.

My “look” comes from chapter 15, in my book Fly Away Home.

My heart began to pound as I looked over at the man I once loved, now sitting behind his desk staring at me with utter detest.

“Where were you this weekend Mag?” he asked vehemently.

“We took the kids to Pennsylvania for the weekend,” I answered smugly.

“Why didn’t you ask me first?” Ask him first, who did he think he was? I thought.

“Because you never ask me when you take the kids. You just do what ever you damn well please! So how does it feel when I do the same?”

“Oh, so you were trying to teach me a lesson. Well, that was a big mistake!” he yelled, and pounded his fist on the desk before continuing on. “Don’t you ever take my kids anywhere, ever again, without asking me first! You got that?”

“Only if you promise to do the same. Things are different now and the sooner you except that, the sooner we can all move on. If you don’t, then be prepared to go to court!”

With one panther-like spring he leapt towards me. Frightened, I turned to run but as I fumbled with the doorknob, I felt a quick hard punch hit me right between my shoulder blades. Unprepared for the blow my knees sagged, the door finally opened, and I escaped without looking back.

___________________

Here are the writers I’m tagging:

 

Dayla Moon Author

 

Hot Pink Underware

 

Dianne Gray author

 

Expat Alien

 

M. Latimer-Ridley

 

Scotland

I was in Scotland this past week to meet with a group of women writers. All of us have written or are in the process of writing books about women and the perils they sometimes face. We were there to listen and support one another through the tough process of writing, publishing and promoting our stories. I feel honored to have been included in this newly formed alliance and look forward in seeing where it takes us…

Ingrid Schippers the Dutch co-author of Bloodlines Touch Not the Cat, and I, stayed at the Bargany B&B in Troon. I had a beautiful view of the Firth of Clyde from my room and woke up every morning to the delightful smell of a full Scottish breakfast waiting. Ingrid is also in the process of writing a life-make-over book for women.

Full Scottish breakfast

On our first evening before meeting up with the others, we had dinner at a local pub and were joined by her co-author of Bloodlines, Tom McKerley. Tom lives in Troon and their book is a Scottish Genealogy Mystery Novel, which is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. No surprise Ingrid and I ordered fish & chips for dinner, while Tom ordered Haggis (I did try it and here is the picture to prove it) It tasted okay, I guess, but I don’t think I’ll be eating it again.

When in Scotland, do as the Scottish…

The following day, Ingrid and I set out for the town center and what do you think was the first thing we came across? A used bookstore – which is every writers dream! I was thrilled to find a book of Scottish Love Poems. A great souvenir.

We also stumbled across a great little coffee shop that sold original Scottish arts, craftwork and jewelry called, The Little Shop With No Name. Where we procrastinated intensely over a selection of homemade cakes offered and ultimately ended up with an assortment of them all. They were delicious and easily washed down with two cups of piping hot, green tea.

Lemon Drizzle Cake, Scottish Dumpling, Rich Macadamia Fruit Cake and Cinnamon Apple Scones – yummy!

We worked off our sugar rush with a long walk, on the soft sandy beaches of Troon…

Later that evening we joined the others in a literary powwow, which lead the way to plenty of laughter, a few tears, some spicy Indian food and Champaign. I’m glad I went.

Troon Center

The promenade along the beach

Thanks for a great day Ingrid!

Confessions of a (writer?)

I have six children!

Four of them live here in Norway (two still at home) and two are living in the States. My travel goal each year is to at some point visit these two missing children of mine, whether they come here or I go there. This past May my son and his lovely wife came to Norway and my daughter came to the Netherlands for my book launch. My daughter is also coming to Norway in September and as a bonus, she is bringing her son. The only bad thing is her daughter can’t come because of school (that stinks). It’s not easy when an ocean separates you from your family, but this is my life.

Life has been both good and bad, in fact it has thrown me twenty-three chapters worth of curveballs to write about and thats what I’m getting to with this post…

I never thought sitting down to write my story three years ago that it would be published but for once, I was in the right place at the right time. I got lucky. Not that it isn’t a good story, because it is! I defy anyone to read it and not find something they can identify with.

The reason I feel so honored to be published is this… I’m not really a writer. I lived and yes, wrote, but if it weren’t for the talent of a skilled editor, I’m afraid my book would be nothing more than endless rambling.

The reason for my confession is this, I follow dozens of blogs, half of them are written by people who are (whether published or not) writers in every sense of the word. I can see how good they are and yet they struggle for recognition (this in my opinion is a true writer). They are gifted, dedicated and deserve to be rewarded. I on the other hand work for hours and then break out into a cold sweat every time I press the publish button on my blog. More than once I’ve found mistakes that have left me spinning in my bed at night.

I don’t want it to be like that. I want it to be fun. Thats why I’m declaring this blog to be the endless ramblings of your average everyday person (who just so happens to have an edited book out there).

Phew… That felt good!

My daughter and her family in Norway:

My son and his wife in Norway:

 

Cozying up next to Bill Clinton

 

 

The two women you see in the picture above, are me and my oldest friend Annie. We met on our way to kindergarden when we were just five years old and here we are almost fifty years later, (I said almost) and still friends. Whats most surprising about the longevity of our friendship is the miles between us. Annie lives in America and me here in Norway. When I left America over twenty years ago, there was no facebook, twitter or even e-mail! Telephone calls were outrageously expensive and who had time to write letters?

The one condition I gave my husband when we decided to settle down and make Norway our permanent home, was one trip to America each year! Every summer we’d pack up the kiddies and head stateside. We’d stay with my parents and I’d hang out with my three childhood BFF’s Annie, Donna and Ellen. All three of them flew to the Netherlands for my book launch, and Annie flew back to Norway with me afterwards. The picture was taken from my terrace while she was here.

Before leaving to go back home Annie informed me that mine was the second signed memoir she owned. The first was My Life, Bill Clinton’s 2004 autobiography, which sold more than 2,250,000 copies. It’s believed that Clinton was paid 15 million dollars and the book has over one thousand pages! He has also stated that he wrote his whole first draft by hand, filling twenty-two thick notebooks.

The time came for my friend to leave and as I watched her make her way through airport security, I began to miss her already. Why is it always harder to watch people go than to leave yourself?

With an ocean again separating us, it was business as usual on facebook, and on the other side of the world there are now two memoirs standing next to each other on a bookshelf. One written by a former president and the other by an American expatriate.

Here’s hoping some of the luck rubs off.

 

Lucky me!

I’ve been nominated for my third blog award in three weeks! (now I know how Meryl Streep must feel)

This time I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award and the nomination comes from the talented and interesting expatlogue. A wonderfully written blog by an accidental expat in Canada. Thank you Aisha!

Leibster is a German word meaning dearest, and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. The rules to this award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award to your blog.

4. Hope that the people you send the award to forward it to their five favorites bloggers and keep it going.

Now for the blogs I nominate for this prestigious award:

1. Robin Coyle – If you’re interested in writing this is a blog for you!

2. Sassy Sass – A full time mom, a sweet little girl + recipes = great blog.

3. suehealy - A writer, tutor and journalist worth following.

4. Laura Stanfill – A coffee-drinking novelist, reader and knitter I like to follow.

5. beforeiforget – Another fine writer who wonderfully covers it all.

 

 

Thank you Family, Friends and Class of ’76

 

 

Who doesn’t remember Oprah’s famous statement, “Everyone has a story.”

It was about that time I discovered the world of scrapbooking and thought I could tell my story through pictures. I desperately cut and pasted album after album in hope of clarifying to future generations how we became a ‘modern family’. A family of wholes, halves and steps. A family with more than one country and a family they could be proud of.

A few years later I was lucky enough to attend a Write Your Life Stories workshop in the Hague. I never did and still don’t consider myself a writer, just a person with a story. I’m not quite sure what possessed me to do it (perhaps a midlife crises of sorts) but I soon found myself day after day, year after year, writing. Pouring my heart out, one chapter at a time.

Long story short, that endeavor became a real book. A book for both my family and the world, and I’m not sure which is scarier. Writing a memoir is tricky, because no two people remember events exactly alike. There is also the honesty issue, which can be quite hurtful to both yourself and those you hold near and dear. I live in a small town now and whenever I’m out roaming about I can’t help but wonder who’s looking at me, and if they know my secrets. Its almost as if I’m naked for anyone to look at.

For me the biggest surprise has been peoples reaction. People I thought were close, have been distant and people who were distant, have now become close.

My family has been very supportive, although not all of them have read the book (yet), including a few of my own children. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s hard. I was most on edge about my parents reaction and greatly relieved when they simply said, “That’s life”. I then began wonder how I would feel if my children were to critique my parenting, in a book! All I can say is bravo, Mom and Dad.

My closest friends, most of who appear in the book have also been encouraging and flew (along with my mother and sister) all the way to the Netherlands for my book launch. I have a great group of dear friends in both America and Norway.

I graduated from Brick Township High School in 1976. While most of my classmates were playing sports, joining clubs and going to parties, I gave all my free time to a boy. He turned out to be the wrong boy of course, and my high school years were waisted. I didn’t go to college either, instead I changed diapers and made bottles (all by choice). Twelve years after graduating high school, I took my children and moved to Norway. Besides a small circle of close friends in New Jersey, I’ve had no contact with any of my high school peers.

Marking the thirty-fifth anniversary of our graduation, a reunion was planned and a ‘Brick ‘76’ facebook page was started. I began checking in everyday to see what people were writing and what they were up to. Never truly feeling a part of this group, it took awhile before I got up the nerve to hit like or leave a comment here and there. I was unable to make it to America for the reunion, which I deeply regretted.

Some people disappeared again after the reunion, while others stayed behind and kept up on facebook. When news broke that my book was being published, I was surprised to find so many of my old classmates standing on the sidelines, cheering for me.

After thirty-five years I finally scored and the support of my classmates has been one of the best parts! Go Dragons!

Thanks everybody!

 

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