About Charlie Hudson

Off with my combat boots and onto writing best describes Charlie my two careers. Born in Pine Bluff, Ark., and raised in Louisiana, I count myself as a military veteran, wife, mother, freelance writer, and author. What was intended to be a quick two years in the Army became a 22-year career instead, and somehow in the process, I discovered that I was an inadvertent pioneer by serving in several positions that had previously been held only by men. By the time I was in Desert Storm and later Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, women in leadership assignments was more widely accepted. My love of writing never left me though whether it is a short article that highlights an animal rescue group, penning the stories of a female police detective in the Florida Keys, or presenting issues about aging that Baby Boomers need to address, or working on a corporate proposal. When my husband, Hugh, also retired from the Army, we relocated to South Florida where we can both enjoy the underwater world in dive sites all around Key Largo. We do break away though to still travel, and especially visit the Washington, D.C. area where son Dustin is a professional dancer and lives with his wife, Samantha.

It’s Always Hurts…..

Serious content alert.  I’m not sure I’ve posted about the expanded writing community I’m engaging with on Twitter. I’m no more proficient on Twitter than I am on Facebook and my friend who is a marketer is the one who got me signed up. A month or perhaps a little longer ago, one of the authors reached out and started a campaign to link more independent (which mostly means self-published) writers together in a supportive way. I have, quite frankly, been startled at the number that have emerged. There’s quite a mix of new writers as well as those who seem fairly well established and I had no idea so many were in the Young Adult, fantasy, and Sci-Fi genres. I suppose with the mega-hits of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones I shouldn’t find it surprising. Anyway, the past couple of days, authors have been posting about rejection and how to handle it or the anxiety that comes from waiting to hear about a query. One of the tough things to learn about the query process is hearing anything is unlikely. Even the standard, “Thank you for your submission, but it isn’t right for us” (or whatever the canned response) is at least better than having to assume you’ve been rejected. Way back when, a small publisher took so long to respond to me with a request for the full manuscript, I had literally given up and signed with what turned out to be a terrible choice. Had I received the other letter two weeks prior I might have had a chance with them. On the other hand, it might not have made any difference. However, getting back to handling out and out rejection. It hurts. Period. There are occasionally encouraging rejections with a suggestion or two about something to consider or even a referral to another source. In general though it is simply painful. Each author has to find a way to cope. I usually allow myself a short time of self-pity, then do something nice – yes, it often involves a lovely dinner/lunch somewhere. Chocolate and favorite beverages are good.

For The Other Moms…..

Yes, there is no question the journey through pregnancy and delivery of a child is an experience like no other. (At some point I’ll post about my somewhat humorous day). And for the sake of this entry, I will simply say my heart always goes out to children who grow up in conditions of abuse and neglect which segues a bit into the purpose of the post.

Women who are mothers through marriage, adoption, or fostering (official or otherwise) come to their roles mostly through choice and in many cases, there can be transition aspects. The “evil stepmother” label can be unfairly applied as children can feel pulled by split loyalties. (And shame on any party that promotes this for their own selfish reason.) Having the patience and wisdom to work through those feelings is not an easy task.  On the subject of adoption, there may have been a time in the past when the process was easy, but if you know anyone who has adopted in the last decade or so, you know of the complexity and often emotional roller coaster they will go on before the child/children become part of their family. Foster parents are in a very special category as there will always be personal trauma involved that must be managed.

I recently wrote about the young lady who “grew up” in the foster system and the non-profit she established to continue to work with foster children. (https://www.sadiesdaughter.org) The foster mother takes in a child/children understanding their time together could be quite temporary depending on the circumstances. She may have only a short while to have a positive enough impact to literally alter that child’s life. The cases where a woman steps forward to unofficially “foster” because of a desperate need can be even more heart-warming. There are sad situations where a neighbor/relative is able to provide a haven for after school or something similar to allow for a respite from neglect or abuse. Being a “mother” for these children is as real as it gets and anyone who has done so should feel a special pride.

So here is a salute to all those women who may not be a mother through giving birth, but who have given life.

Slipped Up Again…..

Last week was especially hectic and in playing catch-up, posting to the blog didn’t quite make it. Ah well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. On Sunday, we had an extra task thrown in, although going to have a beer isn’t a bad thing. In all seriousness, it was Cinco de Mayo and we had already decided we wouldn’t attend any of the celebrations for two reasons; we tend to stay away from big crowds and Monday was a workday. However, I had a text that Exit One Taproom (I’ve posted about them in the past) was unveiling their new “Welcome to Florida City” mural as part of their Cinco de Mayo event. They were hoping I could get a photo into the paper. As it turned out, I needed Hubby to go to a place not far from there to get a photo of an old house for a piece I was submitting on Monday.

Exit One wasn’t as crowded as I expected when we arrived and it is always fun to watch a mural being painted. Not surprisingly, they weren’t quite on the schedule we’d been told, so we didn’t see the final product. (I did see it yesterday when I drove by). Interestingly, of the four artists, only one of them wanted to give me his name and we chatted for a bit. He’s been working on art projects for about two years and he was also wearing a tee shirt with a design he did for the line of clothing his girlfriend has.

We enjoyed our craft beers when we went inside although we had only one and didn’t have anything from the Tacos and Tattoos food truck the way we usually would. We left the partying crowd to have fun and actually came home for pizza. We always order pizza on Friday of course, but had been at the Seminole and then Pub 935 after.

Working on “Welcome to Florida City” mural at Exit One Taproom

Babyboomers and Our Music…..

I suppose every generation continues to love the music they grew up with and cherished “in their prime”. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before in a post, but one of the ways you can tell you’re officially “older” is when you hear a current top hit and don’t have a clue as to what the title or artist/group is. The other giveaway is the phrase, “I don’t know what kids hear in that music”. I have posted before about watching three generations of fans at Jimmy Buffet concerts and I do still appreciate Sinatra, etc.,

Last night we were at the Seminole Theatre for the Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull. Barre was the lead guitarist for Jethro Tulle from 1969 until the band stopped touring in 2013. Ian Anderson who founded the band in 1968 went his own way and Barre decided to establish his own band. Even though it was not a move he chose, it did allow him to create independent music and CDs; something he hadn’t been able to do before. The tour he’s on doesn’t include very many stops in Florida, but since we are in a direct line to Key West, the Seminole was contacted about doing a Wednesday concert. If the show wasn’t a sell-out, it was very close. To say it was loud and energetic is an understatement. For this tour, Barre has his regular band and brought back Clive Bunker the drummer and Dee Palmer, keyboardist from the Jethro Tull years. Having two drummers on stage does provide an interesting mix. The visuals on the screen took the band through the decades and images from the 60s and 70s brought back a lot of memories. It was indeed classic rock and roll – you know – the kind that caused our parents to say, “I don’t understand what kids like about that noise”.

A Touching Post….

Pensive thoughts alert. A friend who is a marketing expert set me up with a Twitter account several years ago. While I use my personal Facebook for actual relatives, friends, and acquaintances, Twitter is pretty well devoted to my author side. About a month ago, one of the writers set a campaign into motion to engage the writing community in order for independent writers to feel more connected. It took off like wildfire and even though I don’t respond to everything by any means, I have definitely stepped up my engagement. Other writers, especially new ones, ask questions about things I have already been through and perhaps my own experience can be helpful to them. In this case  though, a young woman posted her grandmother just passed away. She was with her and they spoke of fond memories until the end. She was glad to have been there. I commented back my condolences.

As I’ve previously posted, I have a great deal of respect for hospice and the philosophy it has brought more to the forefront for many of us. Indeed, another friend was by his sister’s side last week as she passed on after not quite two weeks in hospice. In our mobile and geographically dispersed society we can’t always be at a loved one’s side in the case of something unexpected. The other side of that coin is there may be times the worst is expected and there is a respite/rally instead. Go anyway because one really never does know when the last day will come. I will once again urge anyone who has aging friends/relatives to check into the Five Wishes Living Will (https://fivewishes.org/). The difference in it and other such documents is the level of detail included; you think through aspects that may not have occurred to you before. I had a wonderful email exchange with the organization’s founders when I referenced them in Your Room at the End: Thoughts About Aging We’d Rather Avoid (http://amzn.to/1aYPey5)

I realize this is not a cheery way to start a Monday, and my next post will be lighter for sure.

 

An Interesting Type of Short Story……

I don’t recall when I first heard about the variety of short story of Flash Fiction, but I was startled at the time. To limit to no more than 1,000 words doesn’t give much room for character/plot development. Most of my stories run 3,000-plus words and some are longer. (https://charliehudson.net/story.html). In pondering the concept, I thought about the number of song lyrics that in actuality do tell a story and those certainly fall within the guidelines. I decide to take one of my stories, “Walking Away”, to see if I could compress it and still maintain the essence. I did manage to get down to 999 words, although I’m not sure that quite meets the spirit even though the word count does work.

In fact, I haven’t written a short story for a while and for some reason, I am often inspired to do a new one when I am traveling. Perhaps it’s sitting around in airports observing and listening to people. It’s not eavesdropping per se, when you consider how tightly spaced most airport restaurants are and when I’m alone, I always sit at the bar if there is room. Then there are so many people these days who carry on conversations on their cell phones with seemingly little regard for whoever may be listening. As a writer, one absorbs these conversations and next thing you know there will be a scene or character created for some future use. Now, I admit, my short story, “Flight Delay”, was pretty much dedicated to a somewhat whimsical aspect of airport travel. The real truth on that one was based on an event which I did ask permission to use. I was determined to find a way to shape a story around the opening line of, “Last night I spent the evening with a lesbian Wiccan couple.” That’s not as easy to do as you might think.

The Game of Thrones Thing….

Okay, just as I was never a fan of certain hugely popular TV series, I realize there are those who don’t care about “Game of Thrones”. It is complex, does have way too much graphic violence, and a startlingly number of “good” characters meet grisly ends. There are always a few scenes where I focus on whatever book I’m reading until the bloodbath is over. On the other hand, there are way cool dragons even though they do occasionally lapse into inappropriate behavior such as killing off some poor guy’s livestock for a meal. (The “Mother of Dragons” character does reimburse them when she knows of such). In essence, the “Game of Thrones”, is set into motion in the first season as the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms (who sits on the very impressive Iron Throne) dies and everyone from the kingdoms either lay claim to the throne or chose up sides to support a claimant. In actuality, the King who died had taken power through war so the subsequent war was not entirely unexpected. There also happens to be a deadly being and huge army of his creatures who plan to wipe out everyone and take over. The continuing dramas switch back and forth between the myriad plots, a large array of characters, and the possibility of utter destruction by the external threat.

Anyway, this is the final season and there is wide-spread speculation about who will ultimately survive and prevail. Based on every season to date, a significant number of characters will probably be killed off beginning tonight as none of the primary ones were in last week’s opening episode. The series is based on books by George R.R. Martin and as violent as the shows are, the books are worse. Our neighbor who is a big fan gave us the first one to read back when the series started. It was too much for me and while Hubby didn’t mind the extreme level of blood-letting, there were even more characters to keep up with and he didn’t care for that. Martin has been key to developing the series, but of course completely closed-mouth about what is going to happen.

 

 

Sorrow for Notre Dame…

I think for most – and certainly for many – the initial news of a terrible fire at Notre Dame was viewed as possibly either in error or not the immense blaze it became. If you have been to the cathedral, you know the awe-inspiring engineering, the beauty of the architecture, the splendor of the Rose Window, the joy in strolling in the gardens. Setting religion aside, it is a  piece of incredible history on multiple levels. I can only imagine the even deeper sorrow for my friends who are Catholic.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Hubby and I have been to Paris several times and the last two trips, we stayed near Place Saint Michele. From a location perspective it’s ideal for us. It is a short walk to Notre Dame and so of course, we always spend time there. In an amusing anecdote, when son was eleven and we were in Italy, we decided to go to Paris for Thanksgiving. On that particular trip, I booked us into a little hotel on Ile St Louis – also a nice location. We were literally in the shadow of Notre Dame. We all went to dinner and as often happened, son asked if he could go back to the hotel as Hubby and I lingered over dinner. That was fine, but when we returned, he was in the small hotel lobby reading. We asked why and his explanation made sense. The hotel was quiet and with the gargoyles of the cathedral dramatically lit at night, it did create a somewhat spooky feeling to be all alone in one’s room. He was well aware it was simply an emotional response, and he was fine, but I can’t say I blame him.

And closing on the word, “blame” –  notwithstanding the number of terror and other attacks that have become a sad reality, those were not my thoughts when I saw the dismaying photos. Buildings that old have weaknesses and in many ways, it is a wonder it survived the French Revolution and WW II. I don’t know how they will proceed with repairs nor what the end result will be. We can hope for preservation of as much as possible.

Competing for Time…..

This was going to be a busy week anyway. Multiple commitments, a friend coming into town, and some critical tasks as I am involved in preparing for two different fundraisers for two of the boards I sit on. So, a carefully orchestrated event was severely impacted by Mother Nature with only hours in which to respond. Several phone calls and quite a bit of scrambling, FB messages, and emails flying about that day and the next in setting up a new date. That, of course meant me being unable to attend an already scheduled event on the new day, but we’ll split, and Hubby will go to the function before he joins me at the rescheduled one.

The out of town friend in for a visit comes with the usual tasks of cleaning in prep, etc., and a couple of bedtimes later than usual, which doesn’t actually help with my insomnia. Related to dining out, I’m trying to decide how to creatively use some of the leftovers. Not a big deal, simply something to think through.

Next we have a crisis develop in another non-profit I work with, and it’s too complicated to get into, plus at the moment, we appear to have only bad choices. This is never a situation I like to find myself in, and yet, it’s not the first time either. Experience in such matters does help. I can delay things for a short while and hope a better solution falls from the sky or whatever.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no way I need to be concerned about getting bored. And to put things into perspective, two different friends have asked for prayers as members of their respective families have been entered into hospice and another friend is giving updates on the state of her daughter (several years younger than me) who is recovering from a stroke.

Missing Writers Conference…..

One of the things I do miss about the Washington, D.C. area is the annual writers conference in May. In actuality, the organization I belonged to was forced to finally fold due to the common problem with non-profits not being able to financially sustain in a high cost of living city. I gather another group has revived the conference. The timing was such that I was able on one occasion after we moved to attend the conference and one of son’s dance performances and perhaps the same can apply next year.

There is an energy to be had among writers even though for someone like me who has not been a commercial success, I do have to thicken my skin to hear how others have “made it”. There are always plenty of writers, however, who are still fairly new and can use experiences of those of us who have been around a while to perhaps help them along their way.I usually picked up a few good tips as well. The two conferences in this area have formats I simply don’t care for. There was talk several years ago about trying to have one here. Once the individuals involved looked at the kind of resources required, they realized it wasn’t practical. The small writers’ group has persevered over the years thanks to a couple of hard-working people. The main drawback is a lack of somewhere to meet and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in the near term. No, I don’t belong to the writers’ group for reasons I don’t intend to go into.

There are conferences in GA, NC, and TN I may look into for next year because the timing this year probably won’t work with the trip I always make to Louisiana around Daddy’s birthday, plus this is the year for the big dive show in Orlando in November. (The show rotates between Las Vegas and Orlando) Ah well, I’ll keep an eye out.