All posts by Trudy

Once Upon a Time In Montecito by Trudy Hale

Photo looking through open french doors
 

This is a true story. After my husband Billy died in June of 2020, his ‘step daughter’ Zoe, a beautiful and vivacious woman of fifty offered her home in Santa Barbara to hold his memorial. We waited until the 2021 vaccines and chose the month of August. Zoe’s mother had been Billy’s girlfriend in the Seventies, and she and Zoe lived with Billy in Hollywood. Zoe’s mother and Billy never married. Zoe would laugh and refer to herself as the ‘step-daughter’ and make quotation marks in the air. While our daughter Tempe and son Charlie … Continue reading Once Upon a Time In Montecito by Trudy Hale

Fix Your Scene Shapes by Lisa Ellison

Pears in front of sky
 

In your final manuscript, every scene should contain a conflict that’s essential to your narrative arc, something that simultaneously captivates the reader and catapults your story forward. Like stories, scenes also have a shape. Some work well, while others fall flat. When you spend a lot of time on something in your story, you’re saying, “Hey reader, this is super important, so pay close attention to these details.” In other words, you’re giving this part of your story some weight or importance. In an effective scene, your main character has a conflict that peaks in … Continue reading Fix Your Scene Shapes by Lisa Ellison

Return to Sender by Trudy Hale

Photo of dove sculpture
 

I live in a writers’ sanctuary, a nineteenth century three-story house overlooking the James and Tye Rivers. The back stairway off my kitchen leads to my office and bedrooms; a long narrow hall on the second floor separates my quarters from the writers’ section of the house. When the house is empty of visiting writers I like to wander through the rooms and reacquaint myself with the many books. Most of the books are my deceased husband’s or mine collected over the years. Over time, more books appear, publications of past resident writers and donated … Continue reading Return to Sender by Trudy Hale

The Eternal Clamor of the Unquiet Mind by E.H. Jacobs

Pink spring in blue tunnel
 

My evolution from wanting to write, to loving writing, to having to write did not proceed quietly. The more I lost myself in the craft, the more I anguished over what it meant to be “good enough” and, once good enough, then “really good.” If some of my pieces were receiving so much praise, why were they being rejected? If the editors liked them as much as they claimed to, why didn’t they publish them? I would submit a piece and then incessantly check my email for a response. My response to success wasn’t a … Continue reading The Eternal Clamor of the Unquiet Mind by E.H. Jacobs

When the Student Is Ready, the Lizard Appears by Susan Lubeck Moriarty

Photo of green lizard in brown leaves
 

I was on the patio in my lounge chair journaling. The year was 2017 and I had been living in Los Angeles for the past twenty-three years, having moved from Chicago. I loved my husband Dave, family and friends but I hated my life. I no longer had a passion for anything. In the past I did have passion working as a dancer, actor and singer for thirty-four years, but I did not feel I was successful because I only had a very small savings, enough to last me for two months. I went from … Continue reading When the Student Is Ready, the Lizard Appears by Susan Lubeck Moriarty

Review of Anne Whitehouse’s Outside From the Inside by Nancy Ludmerer

Cover of Outisde from the Inside
 

Anne Whitehouse’s moving new poetry collection, Outside from the Inside (Dos Madres Press, 2020), takes us on four journeys, each with its pains and losses, its accretions of insight and moments of joy. In the first section, we travel inside the body (Tides of the Body); in the second, we traverse geographical space and time (It Wasn’t an Hallucination); in the third, we look back in history (The Ancient World), and finally, we turn our gaze to the bracing beauty of the natural world (A Dog’s Life). Whitehouse begins with the body and with the … Continue reading Review of Anne Whitehouse’s Outside From the Inside by Nancy Ludmerer

A Capital Morning on Virginia’s Eastern Shore by Alex Joyner

Photo of old house with light shining over it
 

You tiptoe back towards religion, in my experience, cautiously and nervously and more than a little suspicious, quietly hoping that it wasn’t all smoke and nonsense, that there is some deep wriggle of genius and poetry and power and wild miracle in it, that it is a language you can use to speak about that for which we have no words. —Brian Doyle, A Prayer for You & Yours   Those trees just there were purple a half-hour ago. The kind of mango purple that only appears on winter mornings when the sun’s light has … Continue reading A Capital Morning on Virginia’s Eastern Shore by Alex Joyner

The Enormous Gift by Laura Marello

Rocks in water
 

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. Simone Weil Love is not merely an emotion. It is a meltdown that reestablishes a more unified space of brilliance, goodness, and sadness. This is the real function of love in spiritual tradition. Lama Lodro Dorje   Last week, the week before my last semester of university teaching (online, in an unprecedented pandemic), I had the most extraordinary experience with a stranger that I have ever had in my long life. I was nervous as always about the semester starting, but extra nervous because of what that last full-time teaching … Continue reading The Enormous Gift by Laura Marello

Altered State by Trudy Hale

Photo of wheat fields
 

It all started when a friend in California sent me three used paperbacks that someone donated to her sidewalk library. My friend and I hoped that my nephew who is stranded here during the pandemic without school or camp might pick up a book and read. One of the books was The Prairie, by James Fenimore Cooper. I admit I had never been able to read past the first chapter in the author’s The Last of the Mohicans. It was a sweltering July day and I sat at my kitchen table, possibly waiting for a phone call. … Continue reading Altered State by Trudy Hale

A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale

Profile view of woman wearing plague mask
 

I run a writers’ retreat in a nineteenth-century farmhouse on the James River in Norwood, Virgina.  My quarters are at  the rear of the three-story house and consist of a large country kitchen with a woodstove, a mudroom, and a staircase leading up to my bedroom and small office. On the morning of February 7th I pick up my sixteen-year-old nephew at the Charlottesville airport. I spot him waiting at the baggage. He has grown taller since I saw him last. A lean boyish body and freckled nose, his light brown hair in a Westside … Continue reading A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale