Happy Holidays!

Christmas, in the house in which I grew up in Memphis’s Morningside Park, was a festive season. My mother, whose name was Shirley Crossan Francis, was a member of the tribe my contemporaries and I now consider the last of the true Southern belles. Were my mother alive, she’d be ninety. She didn’t believe in half-measures, and was a champion of tradition and perfect form. When I think of her now, I think of her many graceful gestures.

Lately, I’ve been going through what seems like endless mounds of scrapbooks my mother kept. They are huge volumes, all dated, and the space these forty-some-odd books take up is staggering. Organizing the scrapbooks has been one of the tasks I’ve put by the wayside “for another day,” but I’ve run out of excuses during the pandemic. Because we’re approaching Christmas Day, I’m sharing some of the photographs I’ve come across. It’s my way of saying happy holidays. May you all make the most of the holidays and create wonderful, new memories. Don’t forget to hold your memories of the past in your heart, and to build that foundation with joy!

The alcove at the end of the dining room.

Another angle of the dining room that goes into the parlor.

The Christmas Tree in the Parlor
The House in which I grew up

In speaking of my mother, above is a portrait Memphis artist, Charles Inzer, drew of her. She was never partial to this portrait, and I do have others, but I took the liberty of using it for a graphic for my novel, 12-time award winner, Mourning Dove. In seeing these photographs, it may be clear to you from where I drew inspiration for Mourning Dove, which I set “on the genteel side of 1970’s Memphis, where all that glitters isn’t gold.” When one writes a novel with a particular point in mind, one draws from what one knows!

Happy Holidays!

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

Gratitude to the WordPress Book Bloggers

I’d like to adequately express how much the WordPress book blogging community means to me, so suffer me while I warm up to it. I readily admit I’m the long-winded sort, even when I have an important point.

In this day and age of social media at the center of an author’s career, there is much to reconcile, and there are times I wrestle with keeping a proper perspective. On the one hand–and you’d think this to meet me in person–I  am ridiculously extroverted; I have what author, Pat Conroy, labeled the “Southern sickness” of assuming everyone I meet is my best friend, yet on the other, I am intensely private. I don’t like showcasing myself because it feels like grandstanding, and quite frankly I’m not impressed with myself to the point that I think I have anything of significance going over any other writer. We are all of us playing a long-game, making our own way in our chosen field. But sometimes it seems that one has to have an elevated sense of oneself in order to promote one’s work as an author. There’s a fine line these days, and it’s the one thing I didn’t realize going into “being” a writer. I’m probably like many people in their 50’s. We were the generation who woke up one day to discover the entire world was online and all over social media. When that realization dawned on me, it was a major hustle to catch up.

Then there is the concern of reconciling novel-writing as art and publishing a novel as a business. Once upon a time–as little as twenty years ago–authors wrote books and turned them over to their publishing house to promote. If they had an audience to justify a book tour, the publisher paid for an author to travel from book store to library to book club to meet readers in person. This is still done, but on a small, discerning scale primarily intended for authors who have wide name recognition. As for authors with a small or independent press, when it comes to a book tour, it’s all out of pocket because they’re essentially on their own.  Because book publishing options have opened up and there are now thousands upon thousands of authors in the race, the effort is geared toward keeping abreast of the tide and waving one’s hand above the noise. What’s more, in this day and age, the lion’s share of promotion falls to the author and is not only about promoting a book; authors have to promote themselves.

I’ve been torn over this for a while, now. I’ve limited myself in self-promotion by only going so far. I’ll take the opportunity here to add to Conroy’s definition of Southern sickness: friendly as we are, Southerners are an unflashy lot given to personal discretion. Too much going on about oneself is succinctly considered bad form.

I see it all on social media. People post all sorts of personal information from their family to their lifestyle to their political views. I’m not passing judgment, just making an observation, but I do know that too much online, personal information can put one in a vulnerable position and lead to an unintended consequence. It’s the downside of social media and it’s a struggle to strike a manageable balance.

So, how does an author effectively promote their book while striking a healthy balance? And whom should an author trust?

Which brings me to another consideration: There are the legions of online, profiteering book promotion businesses that have cropped up as a result of the book publishing boom. It’s staggering to me and hard to wade through the miasma to discern who is and is not reputable, while an author is hustling for literary recognition and book reviews. Authors need exposure for their releases, but who to choose within a reasonable budget?

Which brings me around to the WordPress book blogging community ( I told you I’d work my way to my point.)

I am humbled and proud to have aligned with the book bloggers here. I believe the book bloggers I’ve met on WordPress are as fine as they come. I stand in awe of Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord. Through Sally, I’ve met Olga Nunez, Michelle James, Robbie Cheadle, Teagan Geneviene, Rosie Amber,  DG Kaye, and Chris the Story Reading Ape to name but a few. I stand in awe of each bloggers’ deft handling of content, organizational skills, dedication, professionalism, and magnanimous spirit. I recognize you all as passionate people involved in the book world for all the right reasons. Your impact upon many authors’ careers is nothing short of significant.

At long last, here is my point:

I thank each of you who has featured my books on your blog for including me in your esteemed fold. Your support of my career is a force that sustains me, and I remain so very grateful.

https:www.clairefullerton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out Walking

It took me a while to evolve from a feeling of anxious, pandemic shell-shock to resume what has long been a habit of mine. I like to walk. I don’t need a destination. More often than not, I walk down my driveway in Malibu, California and the biggest decision is whether to turn right or left. I typically listen to Groove Music, where I’ve downloaded my favorite albums. It’s not so much about where I walk as it is the rhythm I strike while moving through space. There’s something centering about it, balancing, and it tends to clarify my perspective regardless of what’s on my mind. And these days, I have a lot on my mind, though most of it has to do with uncertainty.

What got me out of the walking habit during the first few weeks of the pandemic’s strange state of affairs was that it rained sporadically, the sky remained overcast, and it added to the unbalancing sense of gloom and doom similar to how I felt after the Malibu fires when life came down to the daily question of how to get my bearing. I’ve always known walking helps me get my bearings. It’s therapeutic to me, a dreaming meditation, part-and-parcel to my well-being, and the one thing I know about coping in crisis is it’s best to arrive at a schedule as close to business as usual. Since the sun’s been shining in Malibu these past few days, walking is at the center of what little I’ve managed to cobble of a schedule.

WP_20200417_11_28_33_Pro

We’re currently not allowed on the beaches in Malibu, California, but on a rise of the Pacific Coast Highway, I spied this path. It goes through an indigenous, breathtaking field straight to the cliffs overlooking Nicholas Beach, which flows to the left.WP_20200419_11_23_07_Pro

Looking right, Nicholas Beach flows into Leo Carrillo State Beach and makes up western Malibu’s coastline.

WP_20200417_11_48_08_Pro

The foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains are in Western Malibu, and they run into Ventura County.

There are beautiful wildflowers everywhere, now that we’re in spring: This is Pride of Medeira, and it’s plentiful everywhere.

WP_20200419_10_55_55_Pro

Along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway is wild mustard seed and bougainvillea

WP_20200419_10_57_06_Pro

This is ice plant, and currently, it’s blooming

WP_20200419_10_46_20_Pro

 

And blooming Rosemary

WP_20200419_11_26_56_Pro

It wouldn’t be a walk outside in Malibu, California, without spying something emblematic to give one a sense of place. Since we can’t go to the beaches, this brilliant man did the next best thing: parked his VW van for an ocean view and strummed on his guitar.

 

WP_20200419_11_18_14_Pro (2)

It took weeks of feeling uncomfortable during this pandemic before I realized what was really bothering me. It went beyond a feeling of lack of control and wrestling with the uncertainty of what I can and cannot count on in my future schedule. My book, Little Tea, releases on May 1st, and as things stand, I have no idea what will be called off in my mid-June book tour of the South. Reports say the US will aim for normalcy in stages; that individual states will move forward according to how its governer sees fit. Conditions differ in varying regions. I think it will be an unfolding. And be that as it may, even if the coast were totally clear, I’m shying from the thought of getting on a plane in June to travel down South. We’ve all been through so much. Even if things were to get back to normal, it’s probably going to take a while to feel normal. But back to what’s been bothering me, because this just dawned on me. I’ve been my own worst enemy through most of this because I haven’t been practicing acceptance, at least not in a way where I wasn’t still trying to fit my square plans into a round hole.

I took this photograph from my front yard a couple of weeks ago, and I believe it’s exemplary of a ray of hope in the midst of a storm.

WP_20200208_16_50_07_Pro

One day this pandemic will be behind us. For now, I’m working on acceptance.

And the best way I know to work on acceptance?

Go outside and start walking.

 

https://clairefullerton.com

 

 

 

 

 

Hope

One of the gifts of living by the ocean is the view is ever-changing. I have a particular relationship with this constant inconstancy. I am grounded in a reality that fluctuates from no will of mine and it humbles me to bear witness to a majesty I know is endless.

I can literally see the curvature of the earth from my front deck in Malibu. Some days the sea looks like mirrored glass; other days the roiling whitecaps attenuate forever. This is what I can see, yet I know life teems beneath the surface in the labyrinth of an ecosystem of which I can only speculate. And yet I know it is there. Hidden from view, from knowledge, from judgment, from the temptation of assumption. All that is given to me is the moment and my perception. If I stand still and tune into my thoughts, I am aware of my consciousness. I believe if one really wants to know themselves, all they have to do is listen to the song within.

I’m saying all this because first thing this morning, I walked out and was caught unaware by the photograph you see above. It startled me in an awestruck, sobering way, yet the voice I consider the intimate “me” resounded unbiddenly in two words: “Of course.” In that moment, I was reminded of my fundamental beliefs, and they have everything to do with my relationship with the unknown. What I believe is things are rarely as they seem. In the midst of ambiguity, there is always hope.

You don’t need me to remind you these are strange times, unbalancing times, unsettling times, but what I’m thinking of is my understanding of the bigger picture. Because you have to pay attention to your perception of this world. If you do, it dictates experience both immediate and long-range. I’m neither prophet nor seer, but I trust my intuition. When I walked out this morning and saw this neon rainbow placed on the sky seemingly by the hand of God, what I knew at that moment is, always, there is great hope.

 

 

 

 

Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally Cronin

Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally Cronin

We come to know a person’s mind through the words they speak; their personality through what they create, and their heart through what they write. Put this all together and you’ve been gifted a glimpse into an artist’s soul. This is how Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven in Words impressed me. Author Sally Cronin’s precious gem of a book is nothing short of fluid insight into all that it means to be human in a round-robin way as to address the entire sphere in bits and pieces that leave a lasting impression. These are musings delivered artfully, the perfect melding of heart, mind, and soul. In sharing her personal views, the author invites us to examine our own impressions of the day-today by shining light on life’s rich nuance. There is something profound in these meditative pages, something joyous and real that takes nothing for granted by sheer virtue of the fact that Sally Cronin has called them by name. In addressing the natural world, celebrating pets, seasons of the year, and random thoughts, Cronin speaks to the reader conversationally in such a manner that told me I’d revisit the pages. Her flash fiction, speculative fiction, and short stories are vignettes to savor—all told, this book is a work of art at its finest. All praise to author Sally Cronin, who has earned a constant and significant place in the blogging world by selflessly serving as the fulcrum of focus for so very many. That she has stepped forth by assembling and publishing this collection of letters has gifted us all with the awe-striking opportunity to see a writer’s career shine at its brightest.

Visit Sally Cronin on Word Press, Smorgasbord!

   

In a Garden

 
It’s blowing with gusty winds that sail through the grass and sway through the trees incessantly. It’s a force to reckon with and each step outside is to secure something better removed than at the mercy of this wind. Looking at the sea, I see she dons a new personality. I thought I knew all her vagaries, yet in this wind she is moody, she is upset, she is rocking in multicolored facets under a kaleidoscope of light and I do not recognize her. She wears a white hat as she crests and flows in an intermittent roar then draws back unto herself with the rat-a-tat-tat of firecrackers. She is matching the rhythm of the wind, doing her part to join in companionably saying we are all one—I am all one with you and if this is the way of heaven and earth then I will play in the symphony.

The sea will not exhaust her histrionics. She has a point, lest anyone misunderstand. She rises and swirls to remind us that she has existed since the beginning and we are all here on borrowed time.

A garden lies hillside in the early morning springtime. She boasts rosemary, white roses, and sage. She looks at the wind, appreciative that it moves in synchronicity with the ocean. She remains still, save for the kinetic undercurrent that promises nubile growth. She is steady, confident, proud, knowing she’s a magnet of attraction. She basks in the attention of bees and white butterflies, thinking sometime, long ago, someone told her that all white butterflies are really divine angels. She knows she is equal to her task.

In a garden, worlds collide born of fellowship. One should consider history, and the camaraderie of all living things, for one cannot be one without the other.
And isn’t this just like us?