Why Didn’t I Think of That?

pexels-photo-355952So I went to a writer’s workshop last night to hear Ruth Spiro’s journey–and oh my goodness, what an interesting story AND what fascinating board books she’s written for babies!–and she mentioned the Maker Movement.

Yeah, there’s a movement afoot for people who make things. They have Maker Faires and everything. And it’s not just for inventors. Nope, these faires are for artisans and tinkerers, designers and engineers. Pretty much if you make something, you’re a maker.

Call me crazy, but haven’t we always had makers? You know, people who come up with ideas and then make those ideas happen? We used to call them entrepreneurs or inventors. How is this a new trend? With their own magazine (cleverly titled, MAKE)?

Not a day goes by that I don’t make something, even if it’s just a sandwich. I mean, making is part of the human condition. We make our beds, we make plans, we make cookies, we make babies. And I’ve been pretty darn innovative in all of those activities at one time or another. I call it “making do” but if I’d thought to call it a movement, I might be rich by now.

And then I read in my morning paper about a new book on de-cluttering. It’s called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, and it’s by Margareta Magnusson. It’s about the kind of cleaning one does late in life (or after a family member dies).

Basically, it’s the kind of cleaning I’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Except I just call it “cleaning up Mom and Dad’s stuff now that they’re gone.” I guess the bottom line here is that one should clean up one’s stuff before dying and save our kids the trouble later.

The problem with that is we’re still using our stuff. Or we do downsize and we try to get our kids to take the stuff we’re not using, like the silver or the china, but they either a. don’t have room for it because they prefer to live in super-expensive, urban, tiny spaces or b. they just don’t want it.

Anyway, that’s not really the point here. The point is, this slim book is apparently so popular it’s about to be published in America. And it’s a book about taking the time to basically throw away most of one’s stuff before one dies so one’s kids don’t have to do it.

Excuse me, but that’s been a time-honored and expected child’s and/or spouse’s job since…well, I guarantee that Cain and Abel argued about what to do with all their daddy’s loincloths. How is that a book now?

First the Maker Movement and now a book about the common sense practice of throwing away stuff. I don’t know whether I’m more annoyed about the craziness of it all–or that I didn’t think of it first.



Grabbing Opportunities

pexels-photo-306076.jpegI am always surprised when people don’t take advantage of great opportunities, especially when they’ve paid good money to get those opportunities. Take writers. We do it all the time!

We join professional writer organizations and then don’t bother to attend the free or very inexpensive workshops they provide.

We pay big bucks for a conference and have the opportunity to submit to closed publishing houses, or the chance to meet an agent or two. But we don’t submit. We don’t speak to the agents. (True story: after years of attending my SCBWI conferences, I finally submitted a manuscript to an editor. He wasn’t interested. You thought I was going to say he bought the manuscript, right? But that’s not the point. The point is, it took me years to take advantage of that opportunity. Why? I have no idea. On the other hand, I did chat up my agent at a conference, sent her my manuscript, and signed with her. So there can be happy endings, if you give yourself a shot.)

We win a free critique and never send anything in. Or buy a terrific book on writing and never read it. Yep, the list goes on and on.

Until we either quit (and wonder why we never quite succeeded)–or start maximizing our connections and opportunities. So maybe you’re ready to maximize; I shared some ideas about that over at the Muffin today in “Maximizing Writer Connections”  and I hope you’ll take a look.

I mean, honestly, I’m just like you, squandering opportunities. But sometimes, I put myself out there. And sometimes, it pays off. How about you? What’s an opportunity you took advantage of and were glad you did? Tell me all about it (please!).

And P.S. Photo by Lukas from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/antique-architecture-art-background-306076/

(Check Pexels out, y’all–I love ’em!)

OooooOOOoooooo!Spooky Storytellin’ Time!

MP900449083The other night, I went on a Ghost Walk Tour with the Junior Hall Boys and it was wicked good fun. I love a good scary story, and I especially love to have two big, strapping boys with me when goosebumps skitter up my spine and I’m positive something–or someone–is right behind me!

That’s the thing about October. It’s just the perfect time for a good ghost story. And so I thought it’d be fun to share two frightfully good places to find something wicked this October way coming.

First up, there’s Bookish, where you can see a list of 13 Authors on the Scariest Books They’ve Ever Read. (Bookish is a great site for book lovers and writers so I hope you’ll read more than the spooky recommendations!) I’ve read more than half of these books, and honestly, I was a little surprised about one or two of the books included. I was also surprised about a couple of books left off the list. But that’s the thing about lists. No one list is definitive. So if you have any thoughts about the books on the list–or what would be on your list of scariest books ever read, I’d love to hear. (The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty scared the bejeebers out of me. I’ll never know what my mother was thinking, letting a 13-year-old girl read a book like that! Just thinking about that book makes me shudder.)

Next is 19 Seriously Scary Ghost Stories That Will Haunt You For Life.

So here’s the thing about true life ghost stories: they scare me more than made-up stories. Even if they’re full of grammatical errors or the plot wanders like a drunken sailor or the characters/people make absolutely no sense at all. Because they’re real stories, y’all; that stuff happened! And that stuff stays with you, stuck in your head. I’m not even sure I’ll read these stories.

Well, unless I can get the Junior Hall Boys to come over. And maybe move in with me for the rest of my life.



An Oldie But a Goody (In My Humble Opinion)

So if you’re reading this because you received notice about a new post here at Cathy C. Hall, then this random essay might not make much sense. But if you’ve come here from my Muffin post, then yes, this is the 2007 opinion I mentioned and thus makes perfect sense.

(And if you’re totally confused, don’t worry about it. Just enjoy my essay that originally was published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2007. It’s probably in the archives but who can figure those out?)



 Photo Fallout

pexels-photo-242433This past Thanksgiving I was visiting with my parents when I found a box jam-packed with grainy, fading photographs. My dad sat down with me and we had the best time looking through the pictures, figuring out which woman was my grandmother, which gentleman was my grandfather, and especially, which little boy was my dad.


My dad is eighty-four years old. I’m no math wizard, but some quick subtraction told me these photos were taken in 1933. Or ’35. Or ’38. The point is, way, way back in the day, photos were taken pretty regularly. Imagine that.

Because a search through my mom’s scrapbook will produce an extremely meager stash of her young family’s pictures. Especially when it comes to me, otherwise known as the third-born.

My two older brothers, at two and three-years-old, show up in some dandy pics, wearing cowboy suits and boots, pedaling a tricycle. Or in the park, dressed in little jackets with those ear-flap hats on their buzz-cut heads. Then I was delivered and wham! Welcome to the photographic black hole.

“But what about holiday photos?” you ask. Surely, there’s a precious picture of that only daughter, dressed in red velvet and lace or even footy pajamas. What mother doesn’t have a bounty of black-and-white memories of her little ones, opening presents on Christmas morn, or sitting on Santy’s lap, their tiny eyes all aglow?

Well, okay. There is a holiday photo. I suppose the only reason we have that picture is because my mother didn’t have to take it. There we stand, my two older brothers and I, sort of close, but not really, to the fat, jolly man. We look distinctly uncomfortable. Probably because we had no idea what was going on, being as unfamiliar as we were to the whole picture-taking process.

It’s the only photo I’ve ever seen of me or my brothers with Santa Claus. When I asked my mom about this phenomenon, she claimed nobody took pictures back in the day. When pressed further, she’d say she was too busy raising her children to bother with pictures, especially around the holidays. Like that’s any kind of an excuse.

So I vowed to be the best darn picture taker ever after my first-born arrived. His baby book is crammed with page after page of snapshots, documenting his every move. And Christmas pictures? Too many to count. I’m surprised we didn’t have to take out a loan to pay for all that December adorableness.

When his sister followed a few years later, I clicked away. Her baby book is full, too. Maybe not crammed. Maybe not chronicled month-by-month. More like quarter-by-quarter. But in my defense, she leaped from one milestone to the next, unlike her brother, who crawled at a snail’s pace. Is that the photographer’s fault?

And can you really blame the photographer if at Christmas, a certain little girl had an aversion to sitting on strange men’s laps? There are a few photos of my daughter with Santa, but she’s usually standing to the side of the chair, looking distinctly uncomfortable (like mother, like daughter). So can you blame a parent if those holiday photos weren’t taken at the expensive mall Santa hot spot? I mean, we still had to pay something for the pictures, even if it was a donated can of peas or box of tuna helper.

The third child joined us in 1991, I think it was. And I truly believe that 2008 will be the year I finish his baby book.

But, and this is the most important thing to remember during this holiday season, I do have a picture of my youngest with Santa Claus. There’s a darling Polaroid of him with a teenage Santa taken during a Secret Shopping Day extravaganza. Sure, the photo was free. And maybe I wasn’t exactly there to take the picture. And it’s possible that my child is leaning against the chair because he’s way too big to sit in the scrawny Santa’s lap. But there’s a definite look of wonder on my son’s face.

Maybe the poor kid’s wondering what he’s doing with this fake fourteen-year-old Santa? And I think I know the answer to that. But first, I’ve got to call my mother.

She’s getting an apology for Christmas.






Look! It’s a Friday’s Fun Find (And it’s an Infographic!)

There’s nothing like a fun infographic in the old inbox to remind one of good excellent times…

So anyway, I often hear from interesting folks who want me to feature something right properly here at Cathy C. Hall. But even the most cursory of glances will tell you that this is a blog about…well, me. But also, it’s a blog about writing.

And yet, writing is rarely the topic that these interesting folks want me to share. Perhaps they want me to write about outdoor furniture, or barbecue sauce, or fancy shoes. Not that there’s anything wrong at all with any of those things goods. They just don’t have anything to do with me. Or writing. So when I received a lovely email from someone who a. clearly had read my blog and knew what was what around here and b. asked if I’d like to see his infographic about boring words, I said sure. I mean, it seemed showed signs of being a perfect fit.

And P.S. I just simply think you’ll like adore it, too.

Boring words

To see more of what Jack Milgram blogs about, go here.