Sunday, August 24, 2014

See Jane Write

Women of a certain age have accumulated a wealth of history and stories and a propensity to share, which is lucky for us. Such is the case of five of my friends, Heidimarie Seig-Smith, Kelly Jackson, Charlena Chandler, Aralyn Hughes, and Sarah Bird, all of whom have recently published highly-regarded books. It is my joy and pleasure to have read their charming, funny, tender and insightful writing, and to now share a little about each with you.

After the Bombs – My Berlin by Heidimarie Seig-Smith

I met Heidimarie Seig-Smith in Italy, and, because I found her to be a thoughtful and interesting person, have stayed in touch. Reading her recently published book After the Bomb  – My Berlin is a soundly-penned and unique story about what it was like, as a family, to be on the other side of WWII. Sure you can read shelves full of books about the hardships, attitudes and families of the English, French and Jewish victims of WWII, and plenty has been written about the major players on the other side like Hitler and Göring, but I’ve not seen many accounts of what life was like for the average German during and after that horrific time in human history.

Heidi has done a commendable job of collecting information about her ancestry and their day-to-day lives during and after WWII, Heidi’s immigration to the US in 1963, and up through the fall of the Berlin Wall, about which she says, “I attacked the Wall with great satisfaction, equipped with a mason’s chisel and hammer.  I pounded until I got my chunk of the Wall to take home and remember.”

Read After the Bombs – My Berlin.

A Texan Goes To Nirvana by Kelly Jackson

I don’t exactly recall how and when I met Kelly (KK) Jackson (Author/Yoga Guru/Horsegal) and her sister Sally (Actress/Scouting Agent for Speilberg), but I want to be them when I grow up. Why? Because they have incredible attitudes and senses of humor, and that will get you further than anything I know.

KK the younger sister (sorry SalGal) has written her first book, A Texan Goes To Nirvana about a recently, divorced NYC woman, Wendy, who in a desperate attempt to gather her wits and make a living decides to go to an ashram in Kentucky to get certified to teach yoga. Just to give you a hint about what a fertile set up for humor that scenario is, the title of Kelly’s next book is Yoga For Smokers, Drinkers, Meat Eaters and Non-Believers.

But A Texan Goes To Nirvana isn’t just a divorce-recovery thing. We get our first clue when the receptionist at the Ashram says to Wendy, “We very much look forward to eating you.” 

This is a well-written, hilarious book with a fun storyline that you will truly enjoy! Read it.

Also, Check out KK and SalGal’s The MidLife Gals blog, and their More Magazine gig!

Kid Me Not: an anthology by child-free women of the ‘60s now in the 60s edited by Aralyn Hughes

Aralyn Hughes sold us our home in 1990, and sold it for us in 2014, and has remained a friend for more than 20 years. To you however, Aralyn is the creator of the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign, co-author of In The West, one of the longest running monologue shows in Austin, which also played the Kennedy Center and was later adapted into the movie Deep In The Heart. Aralyn performed her solo play, Aralyn’s Home Economics in NYC at the International Solo Theater Festival in 2013. This weekend Aralyn will be at the Portland Film Festival presenting her most recent film, Love In The Sixties.

When Aralyn found time to assemble and edit Kid Me Not, I’ll never know, but I suspect she doesn’t sleep. Kid Me Not is an anthology about child-free women who came of age in the 1960s and who made the decision to not have children. They were the first generation of women to truly have that choice, due to the advent of the birth control pill, which makes this book of historic significance as well as an enjoyable read. Many of you will recognize women featured in Aralyn’s book, and will relate very closely to their stories and the time and the culture in which I, and some of you, grew up.  I have many friends who chose to live life without children, possibly just because they could. 

I kid you not, you really need to read Kid Me Not.

Dead Javelinas Are Not Allowed on School Property by Charlena Chandler

When I was a young girl, Charlena Chandler and her younger sister JoBeth were two of my older brother’s many girlfriends. Occasionally my brother had to take his little sister along on dates either as a chaperon or  an enforced babysitting gig. Whatever the case, I got to go out to the Chandlers on many occasions, which was extremely cool because not only did they live way, way out in the country, but they lived on the beautiful spring-fed Pecos river under massive Pecan trees and they had a swimming pool and a golf course, which in dry West Texas is literally an oasis in the desert.

Charlena and I relate closely also because we grew up in a culture of rough country folk who worked very hard, minded their own business and kept life simple. With that came a strong sense of irony, a dry but generous sense of humor and an insight into life unencumbered by politics and baloney. And this is why I absolutely adore everything Charlena writes. In spite of the fact that Charlena is an educated world traveler, she hasn’t lost any of the valuable assets ingrained by her heritage and we are the better for it.

Dead Javelinas Are Not Allowed on School Property is a joy-filled account of what it was like being an open-minded librarian in a very conservative country school – all blended with the delicacy of a soufflĂ©!

If you want to know where I’m from, and where Charlena is from, or even if you don’t, you should read this book.

You can find all of the above books at and/or

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