A Meet and Greet Treat in Southport

What warms the cockles of your heart more than a hot toddy? (Does anybody even know what a cockle is any more? Answer: A small scallop-type shellfish.)Related image

A “First Friday” event. Have you ever been to one? They’re everywhere. I’ve been to a First Friday event in Calumet, Michigan and several in California. There are first Friday art walks, first Friday wine walks, first Friday holiday, and first Friday book walks.

This first Friday of November 2015 will find me in Southport, North Carolina, a place near and dear to my heart (thus warming the cockles, etc…) participating in their monthly Gallery Walk that encourages local artists, supports local businesses, involves the community, and welcomes visitors.  It’s fun and a great time to meet your neighbor.

It is, as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing.

So, if this first Friday finds you in a local gallery, bookstore, wine shop, or just cruising the local downtown, check out your own cockles and see if they aren’t pretty warm. Here’s wishing you a happy November!



Get a Clue!

A&M Writing and Publishing is excited to announce the availability of The Clue at Price’s Creek, book two in the North Carolina Lighthouse Adventures trilogy by M.C. Tillson.

PCcovethumbThe Clue at Price’s Creek continues the middle-grade mystery started in The Mystery at Oak Island and features Sam and Becky working with friends Troy and Andrew to figure out why the ghost of a long-dead pirate needs their help.

With illustrations and cover by Lisa Tillson Bailey, this chapter book provides just the right amount of fun and enough real history to capture the interest of middle-grade readers. The Clue at Price’s Creek is a “don’t miss” for fun summer reading. (Read more about The Clue at Price’s Creek.)

Get books by M.C. Tillson from Grandpa’s Barn and other fine retailers.

[Originally posted as A&M home page on July 16, 2015]

Just One More Book? Make Mine a Map

There are stacks and stacks of books at my house. You would think that I could stop buying (or otherwise acquiring) them, but no. Like the siren song that lured Ulysses, books call me, and I respond.

Like the siren song that lured Ulysses, books call me, and I respond.

I seem to go through stages in what I’m reading. Right now, I’m fascinated by anything with a map. It started with an atlas I saw in a book store. It was huge: a big, heavy, hard-cover book whose pages had gilt edges. It as printed on thick, white, smooth paper that made the bright colors even brighter, and it contained many, many, many maps.

I didn’t buy it (I would have needed to add a library to my home), but I did spend more than my allotted time pouring over the charts and graphs and infographics that help you explore and understand the maps.

Imagine my delight (and my very slight concern) when maps started appearing in everything I read. From children’s books to non-fiction and from self-help to romance, everything seemed to be sporting a map of some kind or another. (Even the computer book I was reading had a map of workflows!) Perhaps it was just that my map sensibilities were heightened because of a book I was editing and a recent trip to Italy where maps reigned supreme.

What do I like most about maps? The instant gratification: There it is! This is the best route. Here I am! As you read more and study the map’s terrain, you can’t help but be amazed by the many multi-tasking capabilities contained in this one piece of art.

I like maps because they answer my questions, give me a lot of information in a very user-friendly format, and orient me in a very disorienting world. However, I love maps because of the stories they introduce and inspire.

If I were queen, I would designate today as national Read-a-Map day. I’ll probably read several before I sleep. How about you?


Not Without Compromise

I studied political science under some of the best minds around at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina. Later on, for my masters degree in political science (with an emphasis on American politics), I was advised by people who continue to be sought after commentators on the topic.

Throughout my studies, one thing was made clear to me over and over again: Compromise is a required part of American politics.

Compromise is a uniquely American political concept and, to my way of thinking, it’s what makes a democracy work.

Let’s be clear, though. I’m not talking about anyone abandoning their own values or settling for less in their personal goals, dreams, and aspirations.

What I am talking about is taking people from different backgrounds, with a variety of experiences, and with a range of what matters to them and putting them together in a society to govern themselves. For that to work—for it to even have a slight possibility of succeeding—everyone involved will need to compromise.

It’s not necessary (or even desirable) for individuals to give up their right to feel and believe and cherish the people, ideas, and things that are important to them. However, those same individuals are not allowed to transfer, impress, or impose their personal values on other individuals.

Societal values, on the other hand, are just that: the rules, codes, customs, behaviors—and yes, morals and beliefs—that the society has agreed to live by. If an individual doesn’t agree with the values that society has adopted, then that individual is free to try and change a societal value. They are also free to exit the society.

Compromise is a hallmark of a working society. Without compromise, the great experiment that George Washington and his friends envisioned is dysfunctional and cannot continue. Which is why, if you’re a student of American politics like me, or even if you’re just a member of American society, you know how important it is to select leaders who know how to compromise.

In spite of how it plays in the media or to the writers of ten-million-dollar checks.



Happy Birthday A&M

Twenty-five years ago, two sisters who got along reasonably well decided to give a name to their combined efforts at writing and publishing.

The sisters discussed potential names off and on for several days, but soon realized that this was 1) a tangent that was distracting them from their actual work and 2) something that could go on forever.

Very soon after that, the sisters decided to name their endeavor A&M Writing and Publishing feeling that it encapsulated both what they were doing at the time and what they wanted to do in the future.

Today, A&M continues to create both writing and publishing projects. As you might imagine, however, the types of writing and the scope of the publishing are continually changing and growing to accommodate the needs of A&M clients and the interests of the sisters.

Twenty-five years has seen many changes in the business world and in A&M. But in spite of–or perhaps because of–that change, it’s gratifying to see that A&M is thriving and finding a place as a proponent of compelling writing and quality publishing. We look forward to another 25.

[Originally posted as A&M home page on March 1, 2015]

A Change in Perspective

Throughout history, we’ve been given clues that collaboration is a good thing, and that going it alone is seldom the way to find the best answer.

Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work. No man is an island. Misery loves company–well, okay, maybe not that last one.

In many, many cases, those who have insisted on “their way or the highway” have ended up walking down that lonesome road alone. In business, this can translate into bankruptcy. In our personal lives, it translates to some rather limited living.

A friend sent the link in the picture below. It takes you to a whole bunch of satellite photographs collected by Benjamin Grant. These pictures absolutely delight me…and blow my mind. Most of all they remind me that there are always two sides to a story, and that a different perspective can lead you to new solutions and unlimited possibilities.

A perfect circle delineates the national forest that encircles the volcano and the intensively-farmed dairy pastures. Image from Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe.

When you consider a different perspective or apply that new perspective to an old opinion, it opens all sorts of new possibilities–of course, that’s just one person’s perspective.


Starting, Right?

I’m not a big believer in New Year resolutions—although for some reason, I do seem to make them every year. Exercise. Get more sleep. Spend quality time with my son. Whatever it is, I just need to start, right?

For the most part, I’ve been lucky enough in my life that those kinds of changes are all that’s needed to get me going in the new year. So really—why should I even bother with resolutions at all?

In hindsight, maybe what I’m craving is not so much a resolution as a reflection. And then some sort of adjustment. Maybe it’s an enhancement or a shift in direction, but I think the real answer is in the reflection rather in the specific action.

History repeats itself. And whether you’re talking about civilizations, the U.S. Congress, or a desire to eat better, if you don’t recognize (and reflect) on what’s gone before, then the actions you choose will most likely take you down the same road you’ve been down before. That’s fine—if that’s truly where you want to go.

So, after some reflection on where I am and where I want to be, I think my resolution for this year is to be more deliberate.

Wait…My resolution for this year is to be more deliberate. Starting right now.