Wednesday, February 27, 2008


A new image I created yesterday, composed of a few original photos I've taken and two old family photos from back in the 50's and 60's. That's my grandfather and me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The 1600 words I wrote Yesterday

But first a message: I experienced a catastrophic failure in my email account. It has been reset but now I need to rebuild my Address Book. If you’ve corresponded with me regarding any of my books, including Daddy’s Little Girl, or any of my photography projects, please send an email to me at Doing so will enable me to maintain contact with you, including sending updates about future book publications and upcoming writing and photography projects.

This message will remain at the top of future posts during the next few weeks to maximize getting this message to my readers. You need only send an email to me once in response to this request. Thanks for your help!

and now...

The Meaning Of Love (Beginning of Chapter 13 in Trees)

Kyle awoke that morning to the sound of a juicer. Still on the couch, his neck hurting from sleeping with his head tilted up on the armrest and his shirt twisted around his belly so tight he felt like he was swaddled in a papoose, he looked over at the television that had been on all night and watched two too cheerful women stuffing carrots, apples, ginger root and fennel, filiform leaves, peeling, seeds and all, down the chute of the juicer. A slurry that looked like something someone would puke after a lunch of split pea soup and orange soda foamed in the handy-dandy dishwasher safe pouring pitcher that came in three sizes. “Yumm-o,” one demonstrator kept saying while the other repeatedly warned “Watch your fingers,” as if the former actually could accidentally slip her hand down the chute and into the twin stainless steel gear press below. Some endorsement but a great lawsuit. A pinch of salt and cumin to taste and there you have it, a heart healthy high fiber non-dairy breakfast shake. The audience applauds loudly and someone whistles for a cab. Paid help, he was sure. No one would act that way just for a free three ounce sample.

He clicked off the tube and slid down in the couch to hang his feet off the other end so he could lie flat and straighten his neck. The blades of the ceiling fan overhead needed dusting. A lawnmower started outside and the late morning sunshine leaked through the spaces between the almost closed blinds on the windows on the east side of the house, painting bright stripes of light that widened at the ends farthest away from the windows across the hardwood floor, catching his loafers. Shoe warmers, now there’s a product.

A thump outside. The Saturday paper arriving late, thrown onto the porch? A car door? Someone is using a hammer next door. No, that is knocking; someone is wearing out that damn Blair House door knocker on his front door. He swung his feet onto the floor, ran his fingers through his hair and stood up. His shirt is terribly wrinkled and he tried to iron it out with his hands before he reached the door. He doesn’t bother to look through the peephole and threw it open wide.

A Jaguar sat at the end of his driveway and a mid-fifty-something woman dressed in a tennis outfit too short to hide varicose veins and cellulite dimples wearing make-up she has no intention of ruining with sweat and her hair pulled back so tight in a ponytail you couldn’t tell if it was that or a surgeon in a hurry that caused the pointy outside corners of her eyes to reach for her ears looked up at him. Her expression changed from worry to annoyance. “You look like hell,” she said.

“Good morning, Mother.”
“Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“It didn’t ring.”
“I’ve been calling you all morning.”
“I guess I slept through it, didn’t hear it.”
“I thought you were in a coma.”
“Yet you took the time to get ready for tennis?”
“Don’t be smart, I had to get dressed in something.”
“Come in, I’ll make some coffee, if you have time.” Please say you don’t.
“I hope you’re drinking decaf, like the doctor said.”
“Why’d you call?” he asked, turning to go into the kitchen.

“Evelyn called yesterday; she said you didn’t look well.” She followed him, half expecting the offer of coffee to be revoked. “I wanted to check on you.”

“I told Dad I’m fine. Didn’t he tell you?” He pulled a bag of coffee from a cupboard and poured some beans in a grinder. “How many cups?” Before she could answer he put away the bag of dark roasted leaded seeds from Guatemala.

“Just one, I don’t want to be late.”
Thank God. “Just as well, I need to get to the office.”

“I hope you fix your hair first.” Virginia Adair Griffin had a way of putting things in as few words as possible. Somehow the sweet southern belle gene had skipped over her. It happens sometimes. She reached into the sink and lifted out the wine goblet Kyle has used the night before. “Please tell me you’re not having more than two of these per day.” Grabbing a paper towel she quickly wiped it sparkling clean.

“Please don’t badger me, Mother. I don’t need a nurse.”
“You know I’m an advocate for healthy living.”
“Dad still smoking?”

“Where does this go?” she asked, holding the goblet by its stem in the sunlight in search of lurking fingerprints.

“Over there, last door on the upper right.” He dumped the ground beans into the cone filter and began to fill the reservoir with water. He looked over his shoulder to ask her to pull down two coffee mugs, but stopped. She was reading his calendar. “Aren’t you nosey?’

“Is this why Nicole isn’t here? She’s out of town?”
“She’s in Brysonville visiting her Grandmother.”
“It looks like she had plans for you to go with her.”
“I’m going, just not as soon as she would have liked.”
“I thought you had that trial, something about some trees.”

“Mother, you know more than you want me to think you do. Spare me, just cut to the chase.” He flipped on the switch to start brewing the coffee, thinking for a moment he would almost rather be standing barefoot in a puddle of water than continue this conversation. He turned to face her, leaned against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “Why are you really here?”

“Come play tennis with me.”
“I’ve got work to do. Maybe next weekend.”

“I think you would really enjoy yourself, a little exercise might relieve you of some stress. We could go to Neiman’s for lunch afterward.”

“I hate tennis.”

“Evelyn will be there. I’ve invited her to come; we can play doubles, you and her against Caroline and me.”

“I think you mean you, Evelyn and Caroline against me, plus whoever else you can goad into agreeing with your point of view.”

“Must you be so difficult?” She had started to rearrange the glasses in the cupboard. Sorting by color, tall ones in the back, the expensive ones within easy reach and the cheap ones set aside on the counter to throw away later.

“Must you be so intrusive?”

“I’m not intrusive, just interested. I only want what every mother wants, for her child to be happy.”

“You might think I’d be the authority on what makes me happy.” The coffee pot beeped and he reached for the steaming carafe. Two-hundred-five degrees, hot enough to burn the mouth, or the flesh, but not leave a scar. “Give me two mugs, will ya?”

“You were so happy with Evelyn, Caroline agrees.” She extended two mugs, handles toward him, and when he looped his fingers in to take them she wouldn’t let go. “She’d love for you two to get back together just as much as I would.”

“Get back together - she almost killed me!” He pulled the mugs free, just short of yanking them from her grasp.

“You know it was an accident, she would never have done that on purpose.”
“Mother, I’m not talking about the rake.”
“What are you talking about then?”
“How long have you and Caroline been planning this?”
“You make it sound like we are co-conspirators.”
“Aren’t you?”

“Caroline wants for her daughter no less than what I want for my son. We both have your best interests at heart. Our families go way back, you’d make such beautiful babies.”

“What’s the dowry, Mother? Beachfront property, a herd of cattle?” He angrily poured coffee in a mug for her, sloshing some over the rim and it spattered onto the kitchen floor. He handed the mug to her and stooped down to wipe up the spill.

“Don’t insult me, Kyle.”

He looked up at her. From this vantage he saw her nostrils flare with each breath, the ligaments in her neck go taut and that little clinching thing she does when she grinds her molars together on the left side of her mouth.

“I don’t mean to insult you, Mother.”

“Then try harder not to,” she said, moving to the sink and pouring out the coffee. “I’ll tell the girls you were too busy for us.” She marched toward the front door, the hem of her skirt bouncing on the back of her legs.

He stood and followed. When he reached the door she had already crossed the brick walk that ran parallel to the flower bed where he and Nicole had worked so hard putting down roots and was headed down the driveway. “Don’t leave in such a huff, Mom, please come back inside,” he called out.

She was at her car when she turned on her heels and gutted him. “At the very least you could try to understand the merits of legitimacy,” she nearly shouted, but in a dignified way, of course.

And so we get to Hecuba. Momma don’t want no bastard woman begettin’ her precious grandbabies.

“Do you know why they say “Love” in tennis, Mother?”
She paused before getting in the car and glared at him, waiting.

“Because the French believe that to do something for love is to do something for nothing.” He held his thumb and forefinger in the air, touched their tips together and made a zero. “And that explains why I hate tennis.” He stepped back inside and shut the door.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Important Message

I experienced a catastrophic failure in my email account. It has been reset but now I need to rebuild my Address Book. If you’ve corresponded with me regarding any of my books, including Daddy’s Little Girl, or any of my photography projects, please send an email to me at Doing so will enable me to maintain contact with you, including sending updates about future book publications and upcoming writing and photography projects.

This message will remain at the top of future posts during the next few weeks to maximize getting this message to my readers. You need only send an email to me once in response to this request. Thanks for your help!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Snickerdoodles and hands

I’m so in the zone working on TREES I can’t make myself write anything else so please let me get away with a few rambling thoughts for this week. They say reading helps your writing. Good advice, it really does work.

If you’ve sent me an email in the days since Friday and I haven’t responded, I apologize. I’m having email issues and am trying to troubleshoot with Earthlink. Please resend to

A sweet review of Why I Love You just found on the Barnes and Noble website: “This was the best gift I have ever given to my husband. It gave me ideas to say what I needed to say, so on each page I added a sentence or two in my own words to let him know what he really means to me. He had tears streaming down his face when I read the book to him - both times!!!”

Thank gosh the cheerleading competitions are over! Jill and Linley are not nearly as happy as I am, but then again, it’s a girl thing from beginning to end.

If you haven’t already, go to see the movie Atonement. Great story, great cinematography, great example of a non-linear plot. Besides, I’m a sucker for love stories.

HarperCollins has added Daddy’s Little Girl to their website. It even includes a countdown clock to the release date (May 6th). Here’s the link (click the book title to see the clock):

Speaking of countdowns, Meagan will be eighteen, an adult, emancipated, set free (or is that me) in 56 days. I think I’m getting an ulcer, or is that what it feels like to be heartsick when your baby is no longer your kid? I jest, really; I know she is ready to leave the nest, and I’m slowly-slowly getting there.

While grocery shopping over the weekend I saw a young girl harassing her dad in the candy and cookie aisle. She wanted something, he didn’t. Tears were moments from falling when I interjected and asked him, “Is she a daddy’s girl?” She answered before he could. “Yes!” she shouted through frown turned to a smile. And she got the snickerdoodles.

This morning I studied my hands as my fingertips moved slowly across the keyboard, waiting to warm up and become limber again. Dry, wrinkled and cracked, a ragged cuticle and the knuckles red and rough. Years digging in the dirt, bending gold and silver, sculpting clay, wrapped around a wrench or hammer, wiping baby bottoms, shelling peas, scrubbing potatoes and peeling rutabagas, clipping on necklaces, pulling out splinters and putting on Band-Aids, rubbing tired eyes, clasped in prayer at night, touching my wife’s beautiful face. I should take better care of them.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One More Day 'til V-Day!

Here's a column I wrote for the AJC last year:

I labored for months developing my first screenplay before finally sending it to top-notch producers in L.A. I waited patiently for the multi-million dollar offer I was certain would arrive in the mail.

When I received a letter from Steven Spielberg, I ripped into it, telling myself “Yes, I will move to California and join DreamWorks.”

“You have relied too heavily on tired clichés,” the letter read. I had been rejected.

I was seeing red. This guy wouldn’t know a great screenplay if it hit him in the head. I remembered Rome wasn’t built in a day, I would try and try again until I succeeded; my time will come, I reassured myself.

It never did. That’s why I now avoid clichés like the plague.

That’s why when I recently stood in a checkout line and overheard the cashier admonish the bagboy for planning to give his girlfriend roses for Valentine’s Day, I felt qualified to step into the debate.

“Roses are so cliché,” I said. “Be original. Show her you put some thought into it. Tradition is so yesterday.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” the cashier exclaimed, reaching out to give me a high-five and accidentally knocking a bloom off the bundle of roses I was about to purchase for Jill (They’re okay when not expected).

Let’s cut to the chase guys, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Do you want to show that you put some time into selecting the perfect token of love and affection for your sweetie, or leave her wondering if you pulled over at a corner store for a cola and saw a bundle of roses in a mop bucket next to the cash register?

Avoid cliché, get original. Give her red tulips or gladiolus, write a letter rather than buy a card, cook dinner for her instead of going out, massage her feet to candlelight and Barry White, or read to her from a book about love until she falls asleep. I host a chocolate party for Jill; she and our friends look forward to it all year long. And I get my just desserts, too.

Ladies, let me know next week if he got the picture. I'd like to hear how your man expressed himself on the day that celebrates you. And for those who already know how to avoid the cliché on Valentine's Day, please share your original ideas with us.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Too busy to sit at the desk today so just posting the most recent addition to my art collection. The girls painted this for me for my B-Day over the weekend. The little baby girl style cracked me up, the title made me cry and the way each child is standing next to her step-parent sent my heart through the roof. I'm a year older, too fat and ugly, but blessed beyond measure.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A new Image and reader mail

A portrait of my neighbor's daughter, Caroline. I like it quite a bit and think I'm going to offer this sort of artistic rendering of a portrait as a new photographic service. Hey, we all have bills to pay.

And this from a reader of last Friday's post:

"Your utterly offensive humor attempt will see you remanded to reeducation camp shortly after January, 2009 when the new president is coronated. Such attempts at widespread political incorrectness will no longer be tolerated for the common good of the people. Reliquishing freedoms is sometimes neccessary for the security of the Republic and the welfare of all its citizens to avoid the trampling of the minorities and the disadvantaged by the aggressive capitalists currently making policy. Further correspondence will follow if you do not aggressively display your sorrow and make reparations for the harm done to those offended in your posting.

See ya you warmongering, knuckle dragging, global warming denying, male dominating neanderthal."

It's from my cousin; he can't help it, he lives in West Virginia. Love ya Eric!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A book review:

100 little reasons can make a world of difference

Weddings And Special Occasions By Jim Vanore
Cape May County Herald - NJ, United States

When our first grandchild marries this fall, no doubt her grandmother and I will be seated prominently in the first or second row of church, probably beaming a kilowatt or two above even the parents of the bride.

I’ve already asked my wife what we would do for the wedding—what we’ll provide, what we’ll give to the couple, to what extent we’ll be involved…

“It’s not our place,” was the terse, yet surprising answer.I could only imagine the restraint my wife was exercising at that moment.

She’ll handle all the details of our “involvement,” no matter what they will—or will not—be. She’ll decide the gift also. Except, that is, for one small indulgence I’ll allow myself.I’ll also be giving the bride and groom a copy of Gregory E. Lang’s book, Why I Still Love You (Cumberland House $14.95 ISBN 978-1-58182-598-5).

Now why would I place that much importance on a little book with a total word-count under 5,000?

Lang, trained as a family therapist, has a Ph. D. in child and family development, and has written 18 books in the last 10 years. Now a full time writer, his 19th—Daddy’s Little Girl—will be out in February.

Why I Still Love You was inspired by Lang’s aunt and uncle, whose 50-year marriage made a deep impression on the author.“I was always aware they were different,” Lang said in a recent phone interview. “I never saw them argue. They were always a happy and romantic couple. Always getting along.”

The book, which is founded on input from couples who have had perfect or near-perfect marriages, tries to answer the question of just why (and how) the relationships endured the challenges they faced.

Somehow, Lang writes, they figured out what to do to overcome differences and stay focused on the love shared, rather than the frustration or hurt that might have occurred over the years.“The little sayings in the book are all original,” he stated. “All things I’ve witnessed, and conversations I’ve heard, put into my own words.”

I told Lang that my own personal favorite was one that stopped my cold a mere 12 pages into the book: I still love you because when I reach for you, you still move closer.

“That’s very personal for me too!” he said with enthusiasm. “It gives a profound sense of security, and signals that my wife actually enjoys my company.

“Passion waxes and wanes,” he continued, “but it should always grow back. That’s an indication of how successful the marriage is.”

His first book, Why I Love You, sold over 100,000 copies, and Lang admitted that he wrote that one essentially for his wife. All his books are about family matters, and after Daddy’s Little Girl—Stories About the Special Bond Between Fathers and Daughters, he will be concentrating on his next book: Sisters, which is due out in May.

You can look over all of his self-help books on his Web site:

In his personal life, Lang thinks it’s important for him and his wife to secure private time each day, “Away from TV, so we can talk.”

It’s difficult to argue with any philosophy that moves you away from the television.

“I hope people enjoy the book,” he said. “I wrote it for couples married 50 years, but you don’t have to wait that long. You should always be assessing your relationship. You should verbalize your feelings.

“Some guys have the attitude, ‘I told you I loved you when we got married; if that changes, I’ll let you know!’ If I love my wife but don’t ever tell her, well, that wouldn’t be very good at all.”

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Here is the industry ad for my newest book, "Sisters," co-authored by the co-author of "Why a Daughter Needs a Dad," Janet Lankford-Moran. In the past she has actually been the photographer, taking pictures for four of the books but not having a writing role. In this book we more or less switched places - she is the author of the introduction. The book then uses the reasons from a previous release, "Brothers and Sisters," as well as a selection of new photographs of sisters engaged in various activities. I hope you will agree with me, Janet did a great job writing about the sweet story that opens this book. Tomorrow - the ad for "Daddy's Little Girl."