Writing and Music

Originally posted on Quoth The Wordsmith:

I know a lot of people who enjoy listening to music when they write. They find the lyrics soothing and the rhythms inspiring. Many of these people are also ones who listen to music constantly, giving themselves a soundtrack while they complete their everyday tasks, whether it be work, school, a commute, or just relaxing.

I hWriting and Musicave never been one of those people. I am a lover of silence, and of the sounds that exist when everything is calm. I adore the sounds of rain, and sometimes even snow. I find it peaceful and safe and conducive to intricate thoughts and musings. I don’t listen to music at home often, unless it’s Christmas music during the season. Anything else just distracts me.

When I am at work, though, in my lonely silent office (with no windows), I need something that will distract me. I need something that reminds me…

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5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman

Tina Bausinger:

One of my most liked posts.

Originally posted on Tina Bausinger:


My Southern gentlemen: That’s Paul on the left. He’s already taken by the lovely lady (Q) on the right, so back off ladies. Hubby is the last on the left and Carl (also taken) is right across from him. The rest of the boys (Noah, Sam and Nate (aka Mancub) are Southern gentlemen in the making, folks.

I’ve lived in the South most of my life, and always consider myself a Southerner. When we moved from Arkansas to Texas, nothing shocked me as much as the name-calling that occurred on my first day on the job.
After being chided about my accent someone even called me a “Yankee.” WHAAAAAT?

Disclaimer: For any of you who align yourselves with Yankees, I want to say that I have nothing against you. There’s no reason why Southerners and Yankees can’t just get along. We’re all Americans, are we not? (Insert the Star Spangled Banner…

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3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Son

Raising responsible, kind men is a daunting task. Sometime as a mom I am tempted to “help” my son by giving him what I believe is constructive criticism, but, shocker of shockers, he may just view my sage advice as plain criticism/nagging!

We see our sons as diamonds in the rough (emphasis on rough) that we have been charged to polish to a shine. For example, I see a report card full of A’s and immediately notice the one B. Why? How short-sided of me.

Polishing is painful. There’s friction, and it’s always one-sided. It’s painful to be the one who is being polished, rubbed and broken.

I believe that as good moms we need to walk that fine line between helping and being too harsh. Avoid saying these 5 things as a start when working with your own diamond..

1. You’re lazy. Here’s the kicker: he might very well be lazy, but to say these words is a negative reinforcement and may turn into a voice in his head for the rest of his life. Instead, try to notice when he shows interest in a chore or skill praise it. For example, my son doesn’t like to do dishes, in fact he will avoid dishes at all costs. He’d rather walk though Hello Kitty World dressed as Hello Kitty. But, he loved the experience of washing jars and helping with home canning! I know! Super weird. So I jumped on that and we spent several pleasant hours together making the best salsa known to man. If you don’t think so, you can just come to Tyler and tell me to my FACE.

2. You can’t do this! It’s too much for you. Maybe your kid is taking on too much. I’m not saying to not be your son’s buffer, but he needs to learn a bit of stress.Another unpleasant aspect of diamond making is intense heat. Melt your eyebrows kind of heat. Uncomfortable, unbearable, chemical-changing heat. If he never encounters heat because we’re so protective, how will he know what to do when he’s in college and you’re not there to shield him? Let him try to find the balance between school, work, church, activities, and girls. Do give him advice and stop him if he’s going off the rails. But let him feel the heat. It’s good for him.

3. Your girlfriend is a !@#!. Ok this is a tough one. We must guide without criticism, which is so difficult. One way to help him without verbally assaulting someone’s daughter, is to do your best to model the kind of woman you would like your son to find. Ouch. And just to be clear, I don’t mean anything Norman Batesesque. Whether or not you realize it, you are the standard, for good or bad. Luckily for me, I adore Mancub’s girl, but not every mama is as lucky.

Good luck, Mama. Remember that Jesus is the master diamond maker and ultimately has the final say, so trust Him with your diamond-to-be. And oh, how lovely the Son reflects from your son’s facets. Every.Single.One.


Just one of those parenting days…

Tina Bausinger:

Preach it, sister!

Originally posted on all things messy...:

crazy housewife

Photo courtesy of reallifetravels.com

Hello friends!  So ya, it’s for sure one of those parenting days when I start to question why God even wanted us to have offspring.  And even if He wanted us to have them, why did I want them myself?  They insist on eating 3 times a day.  They never take into consideration how brilliant you are when you give them advice.  They can’t read the look on your face to know when you’ve had ENOUGH.  Think of how much easier life would be without having to tell little crazy people what to do all day long??  Seriously, I have repeated myself so much over the last 20 years that I should get some kind of “most repeated statements in a lifetime” award (synonymous with getting the “she has totally lost her marbles” award).  Insert crazy scream/cry here.

My most commonly repeated phrases are:

  • Brush your…

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War Eagle Women: It’s All About the Secrets

Name a Gothic novel without secrets. You can’t. Secrets are the core of all things Gothic.
I take that back. Secrets that refuse to be kept are the core of all things Gothic. And Southern Gothic? Of course! Even more so.
With perhaps the bloodiest non-war history of any other section of our country. I think the number one reason why the Gothic fits so well here is the history and geography both.

Think of the Old South. What do you see? Plantations in ruin, people starving, many homeless…especially those who had received their freedom from slavery–and very little else. The soil itself cries tears of blood straining to keep its past and present crimes a mystery.

But secrets are funny things. They are stubborn and unruly and don’t like to be kept. Especially in the deep mountains of Arkansas where few people have trod. Especially in the hidden caves next to the wild river. Especially, in the heart of a girl.

War a Eagle Women is now available in print.


It’s Southern Gothic–Steel Magnolias, Heaven and Fried Green Tomatoes all rolled into one. How can one secret affect four generations of women? By refusing to be kept.


What scares you about writing a book? A short survey

Originally posted on Dream, Play, Write!:

I happen to know you like taking surveys as much as I like creating them.

How do I know this? Because you told me in a survey.

So as you’re relaxing today and using the weekend to just Be, here’s a fun, but motivating, survey for you to take:


It’s geared toward folks who want to buckle down, write, and self-publish a book. But you’re welcome to take it even if you’re just in the mood for a survey!

Here it is:

And thank you! You’re helping me create a really great website here.

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What Are You Afraid Of? A Survey of Fear

These lawn statues creep me out.

These lawn statues creep me out.

It’s October–the month we celebrate Halloween. The holiday itself has a complicated history, but it all boils down to this: we try to convince ourselves we are fearless. We, the adults, have outgrown our phobias of the Monster Under the Bed. We watch movies about vampires, ghosts, and demons who would possess us with the nonchalance of a toddler picking his nose. We’re grownups, right? We’re the ones in charge. What do we have to be afraid of?

Of all the foundations of the shifting genre of Gothic, there’s one that never moves except to reflect the fears of the current generation. Tropes of the Gothic are celebrated on Halloween in full force, but if one pays attention the overall theme of this genre is fear of loss of control.  Loss of control manifests in either physical or emotional entrapment or confinement. This is why in horror movies, the pretty girl is tied up in the basement, buried alive, or chased through the darkness by someone who means her harm. She is at the mercy of someone or something else. This motif rarely changes much in horror movies; it merely mutates to a different form.

Why are zombie movies so popular? It’s the same theme, only flipped. The dead/undead. Life/not life. As an advanced society, we have such powerful medical technology we can keep one who was meant to die alive indefinitely. What is a zombie but someone who is dead but unaware? Think life support keeping stroke victims technically alive when there is no brain activity. Life/not life.

There is another side of horror which Julia Kristeva calls the Abject.

There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable…The abject has only one quality of the object–that of being opposed to I (Kristeva 1). 

Kristeva further explains one characteristic of the Abject as being something that spreads, defiles, consumes. We must stop it in its tracks, lest the innocents be corrupted and lost.

I asked a question on Facebook: What are you afraid of? What is your deepest fear?

Many people replied with known phobias such as being afraid of snakes, spiders, taxidermy, claustrophobia, etc. Some delved a bit further under the surface and admitted to more personal psychological terrors. Here are the 5 top fears I found among teenagers and adults. It’s a basic fear of loss of control.

1. The fear of failing as a parent. I don’t know a decent mom who doesn’t lose sleep regarding her parenting decisions. More than that, we moms obsess about the example we share with our kids. Nothing hurts more than to see your child making the same mistakes you’ve made, with the same repercussions. We as moms blame ourselves for every bad thing that happens to our kids, whether it’s our fault or not.

Be gentle with yourself, dear Mama. Even if we are doing our best, we can’t help being human. As such, we are hopelessly flawed, and it’s almost a cosmic joke that our kids show us in living color every bad trait we ourselves exhibit.

2. The fear of failure. This is a big one that never seems to go away; rather it transforms as we grow into adulthood. As a high school student, we might be afraid of failing school, not making the team, not getting the attention of our crush, and for type A’s, not making the grade. It doesn’t go away as we grow into adults. Now, we fear failing as a parent, failing in our marriage, letting down our boss, our spouse, our children, the list goes on and on.

3. The fear of being forgotten. I’m pretty sure this one haunts everyone. What legacy are we leaving? Are we making a difference? What will our spouses, parents, children, families, friends….the world… remember about us when we are gone? What have we done of substance that will remain after our passing? For parents, this one really resonates within our hearts, because our hope is that our children will be our legacy, but also that we have made some kind of ripple in the pond.

4. The fear of loss. This one is the director of my nightmares. I’ve lost my father and both grandmothers, but there’s a tiny, ever-present terror of being left when my husband dies. Even greater is the terror of losing a child. If anything were to happen to one of my kids, I’m not certain I would survive emotionally. For those of you who have experienced this heartbreaking experience, my heart goes out to you.

5.The fear of dying and leaving our lives unfinished. This encapsulates a combination of the other four fears, conglomerating into a monster of a fear that keeps us up at night. We don’t want to die before we’ve finished that novel, seen our kids go to college, held our first grandchild. Even more scary is the idea of dying and leaving our children left behind to be raised by someone else. This fear takes on a new dimension for single parents who fear their children being put into the hands of people we don’t trust, whether it’s a crazy mother-in-law or a lazy ex-husband. In essence, our fears can be boiled down to the loss of  two subjects: time and control.

So tell me now, what are you really afraid of?


Work Cited:

Kristeva, Julia, and Leon S. Roudiez. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Print.

On the Dangers of the Prosperity Teaching and Televangelists


When the hubs and I were first married, he joined the Navy. While he was in training, he was gone for 12-16 hours a day, and I was alone with a tiny baby most of the time. I was also super homesick (we were living in Idaho then) and suffering from postpartum depression.

I knew I needed to be reading my Bible and going to church, but it all just seemed so overwhelming to do by myself, so I settled for Christian radio and the Televangelist channel.

You know the one I mean.
I figured I was being “fed” spiritually so I was ok.
I was wrong.

Being “fed” by most televangelists (Billy Graham excluded because I believe he is the real deal) is the equivalent of eating air. Not only is there no nutrition whatsoever, you also end up with a giant stomach ache, weaker and sicker than when you began.

I remember one day watching John Hagee and hearing him say, “If you’re depressed, you need to get off the pity pot and praise the Lord.” The implication was made over and over that depression and poverty were self-inflicted. A more spiritual person would not suffer from either, because it was God’s will that everyone be well and rich.

I was neither.

It was then that I began to wake up to the dangers of this teaching. Although the sermons often began with quotes from scripture they always ended the same way, telling the viewers that God wanted me whole, God wanted me well, and God wanted me rich, and if I wasn’t, it was my fault. My walk with Jesus was in danger. I needed to pray and he would deliver me from all physical, emotional and financial stress. Mr. Hagee (and others on the same channel) promised a two-step program to finding my way back into God’s graces. Step one: pray and ask for it. Step two: send money as an “offering” to God to show I meant business. If I wasn’t willing or able to do both, then my situation would remain the same and there was nothing I could do about it. I had no one to blame except myself.

Eating air and getting a stomach ache? That’s the best case scenario. The worst thing that can happen is that a believer who longs for spiritual sustenance is instead starved to death under the teachings of these false prophets. They are our modern-day temple merchants,  prospering from the offerings of those who take their words to heart while their flocks are left worse than when they came to the table.

Don’t listen to these preachers, dear one. Find a church that sticks closely to the scripture. Surround yourself with those who love you and will pray for and with you.

I realized it had been about 10 years since I had listened to Mr. Hagee so I pulled up one of his sermons on depression on YouTube. After a cheerful greeting from Mr. and Mrs. Hagee, a quick “opportunity” for the viewer to donate appears well before the actual sermon. I’m ashured that my donation is tax-deductible, so not only am I helping God and all those sinners, I can also get a break on my taxes. Woo. Hoo.

He’s still saying the same thing. He actually said the words “pity pot” but he makes a small disclaimer: he now says, “I’m not talking about clinical depression. I’m talking about when you are feeling less than happy, or a bit blue.” That’s not depression. That’s a bad mood. I don’t need your help with that Mr. Hagee.

As Christians, we are not promised that we will not suffer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. We are not promised that we will always be healed. We are not promised that, no matter how much we pray and rage that people we love will be sick, and maybe even die. We are not promised wealth.

All we are promised is that Jesus resides within us. Can God heal us miraculously? Yes. Will he always? No.

Jesus is able to restore us, and he doesn’t need $20 to do it. But sometimes, he doesn’t restore us. Sometimes we are left broken, mourning, and poor. That’s just how it is, dear one. There are some things we will never, ever understand on this side of the veil. We must cling to the Word and remember that God tells us that all things work for good for those who love him.

Even if we can’t see it now.

The best we can hope for is that Jesus is with us in our pain. He never leaves us. He sent his Spirit for our comfort. He sent his people to minister us for us to minister to. Sometimes Jesus looks like my best friend. Sometimes, if I listen and obey, He looks like me.

Take heart. I can promise this: your pain will not always be so intense. Everything is for a season, and the seasons are always changing. Look, dear one–the leaves change and time passes. With pain is also blessing.

Top 5 Tuesday…5 Reasons You Should Start Saying Yes More Often

Tina Bausinger:


Originally posted on all things messy...:

adventureHello out there friends!  I know this post is going to aggravate some people, because in our busy world it’s becoming more and more prominent to say no.  No to everything.  No to anything that might take away from the busyness that our lives already are full of.  I get that, I TOTALLY get that!  My last 2 days have been filled with things that I said yes to, some of them I accepted even knowing how full my plate was.  But you know what, I don’t regret it.  Do you know why?  Because each thing that I said yes to was something I believed in, something I wanted to do (as opposed to the things I used to get roped into doing out of guilt).

So I was thinking today about how for the last few years, it’s been getting very popular to just automatically say “no” when we…

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On Loving the South and the Southern Gothic

WarEagleWomen2_850 (1)

O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed South! My South! — Walt Whitman

Loving the South doesn’t mean we don’t hold its injustices or secrets in a faraway place of denial.

To be Southern is to identify with its beauty–but at the same time naming our wrongs to others both past and present. Though the South may be indeed mired in the past, we enumerate our sins and attempt to learn from them. This makes us unique from the rest of the country, and indeed, the rest of the world.

It’s even more difficult to explain how it feels to be a Southern woman.

We have all experienced the “good old boys” network. We’ve all scratched and clawed our ways through antiquated ideas of male dominance, whether in the workplace, the family, or in the church. We’ve been taught that to be a lady means to not make a fuss.

Sometimes it’s necessary to make a fuss.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to scream and cry and force others to hear us. In Southern culture, to attempt to move from one’s designated place, either within society, our family and our own demons will always invite opposition.

But we, the New Southern Women, dig in our heels and cry “Bring it.” Because we, of all people, know of the danger that is found within the beauty of this land. The South is not perfect–the events that have happened here in our bloody past refuse to be forgotten or buried.

It’s these past transgressions, horrors and secrets that stamp an indelible tattoo of the gothic on our literature, our poetry, our music and even our very lives. We don’t deny our past–we could not even if we tried. But Southern solidarity and identity renders within us a beauty from the ashes.

Southern women are often the first to label the wrong we see, the ones who say “no more.”

Sister, I hear you. Your voice whispers into the chilly wind of winter, but is heard nonetheless.

For after the winter, the spring blooms anew.

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