Archive for November, 2013

Christmas List?

Posted: November 25, 2013 in World On The Edge

DSC_9744 This is my debut novel–my ‘new baby’ for 2013. And I’d like to suggest it to you as a Christmas gift for someone you love.

If you’d like it, it’s in quite a few bookstores now. If it’s not in your favorite bookstore, then click on A HUNGER IN THE HEART at the top left of this page, and then click on either Amazon or Barnes and Noble at the bottom of that page.

A HUNGER IN THE HEART has been presented for several awards for First Novel: The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction; American Book Award Before Columbus Foundation; The Ernest Hemingway/Pen Award; 2014 Pen/Faulkner Award; and CALA (Catholic Arts and Letters Award)

Below are some reviews (the best ones, of course) And on the back cover of the book, you’ll find endorsements by Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, and Mark Childress, author Crazy in Alabama.

Five stars:  “A tremendously good read!, I adored this story for its compassion, its gentle humor and the intensely human, believable and nuanced characters and circumstances. Fig, for me, embodied home-grown (authentic) holiness in his goodness, self-sacrifice and ability to see “beyond” and love the other: the Christ figure of the story. You have real-life people coping with their personal frailties, the consequences of decisions made, bad and good. A satisfying conclusion, avoiding a neatly wrapped up but unrealistic, pat ending. It is a story that one can relate to across cultures and still enjoy the unique flavors of the American South. A definite pleasure to read and re-read!” Sr. Teresa Cardinez

Five Stars: “I read this book because of the blurbs by two of my favorite Southern writers, Winston Groom and Mark Childress. When I finished it, I could see why they endorsed “A Hunger in the Heart.” It’s great Southern fiction and more, with its sense of place, strong narrative voices, kinship, sense of impending doom, and a kind of humor indigenous to the South. The story of the Bridgeman family is a poignant one, even heart-breaking at times, and yet edifying because these characters seem like people I know or have known who inevitably ‘get through’ difficult situations. On a deeper level, “A Hunger in the Heart” is the hunger for love. The book left me with some understanding of how members of any family either contribute to, or relieve, spiritual isolation in another member.” Patrick Canning

Four Stars: “A Hunger in the Heart takes the reader on a rough ride through the emotional mines of a disfunctional Southern family. The author is quite talented in descriptive detail. She really draws a the reader into the story and there are some excellent reflections which make a person want to reread the sentence or the paragraph so as to remember that particular part.” Ann Frailey

Five stars: “What a wonderful read. Such a wide range of emotions covered – reminiscent of my own childhood (which wasn’t Southern.) Characters jump out at me like people I have known. To me a book that makes you want to know how the “rest” of a character’s life turns out is a good book. This is a good book.” Kathryn L. Bailey

Five stars: “A Hunger in the Heart so beautifully illustrates the yearnings of the soul across all the stages of life. The well-developed and almost familiar characters along with the author’s lush and vibrant descriptions make this an incredibly satisfying read. The author really nails the setting and feel of life in the late 1950’s in the deep South. This is an example of meaningful writing sprung from experiences of the heart. Tender and compelling, I enjoyed every word.” Stephanie Thomas

Five stars: “This is a Southern literary novel, set in 1955 in fictional Gator Town, FL. Coleman Puttman Bridgeman, III is a boy coming to terms with the consequences World War II has had on his family. His shell-shocked father, Putt, a decorated hero, stages continual games of war with his son against an enemy that only the father can see. Sarah Neal, Coleman’s religious, but alcoholic, mother blames Putt’s misfortune, and her own, on the black soldier whose life her husband heroically saved. When Putt is accused of a scandalous crime, the boy’s manipulative grandfather, C.P. Bridgeman, holds Sarah Neal responsible, bringing about a bitter estrangement between mother and son, until the boy must fight his own war against a very real enemy. But there is a lot of compassion in this book, too. The family’s wise gardener, Fig, is beacon for Coleman, almost like the boy’s conscience. And Anna, a neighbor girl with problems of her own, understands Coleman’s heart, and points him toward forgiveness and redemptive love. In fact, the spiritual thread of God’s love runs throughout the story, somewhat like an ever-present shadow always at the heels of the characters, if only they turn to notice it. In addition, the book has some very humorous moments, as well as a few surprises for the reader. It’s an entertaining read that stays long in the mind.” Anne Duncan

Four stars: “A Hunger in the Heart” by Kaye Park Hinckley grips the reader’s heart from the very beginning. It is a poignant narrative of perseverance; the finely drawn characters endure serious difficulties. The individuals cope in their own distinct ways, supporting each other as best they can, even if at times the best is toleration. But they never give up. Coleman watches his father, a decorated war hero, struggle with insanity as his mother succumbs to alcohol. Coleman’s grandfather, who isn’t in good health himself, does everything he can to hold the family together. The faithful Fig, who has served his grandfather and family since the boy can remember, is always there to help, all the while dishing out words of encouragement and faith. Catholic values and devotions are gently injected throughout the story. At first I resented repeated references to a crucifix hanging around a drunkard’s neck until I realized that it’s a perfect reminder of Christ’s mission. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). I am not very familiar with this genre, but I do know fantastic characterization and a strong story when I see them. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have spent a little more time with some of the characters, a few of whom could inspire separate stories of their own. “A Hunger in the Heart” is a powerful, emotional read. Highly recommended.” A. Abboud

Five stars: “Easy read! Read in almost one sitting. The author painted a picture with words of both the characters and the town, that made me feel like I was in Gator Town, Florida. I grew up following World War II, and only realized as an older adult just how much many folks and families were affected by this.” Jackie

Five stars: Beautifully written in the tradition of southern literary fiction. The novel works in so many ways, but finds its genius in the crafting of memorable characters, each deeply flawed but searching. Aren’t we all? The novel is not overly sentimental, but is still infused with the reality that hope finds its realization in love. A book that will inspire you, and then you’ll re-read to savor the prose.” Ron OGorman

Five stars: “This is a character-based novel set in a small Southern town in the mid-fifties. From the patriarch of the Bridgeman family to Fig, the black, true-blood-son who limps around with a wooden foot, the people shine through as real as your next door neighbors. Or members of your own family. Even through their flaws, you root for them to overcome their various obstacles. Young Coleman yearns for the mental wounds his dad suffered in WWII to heal so his mother will stop drowning her sorrows for their empty life in a bottle. That his mother is comforted by a counselor who obviously adores her threatens the peace between his parents that Coleman so desires. Meanwhile, the patriarch, C.P., frets about his son, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law. His only relaxation comes when he takes Coleman fishing. Things take a turn for the worse when his son is accused of raping a neighbor. How that scenario is handled and what happens when the man responsible for changing the course of all their lives shows up . . . well, that’s another story. The time and place, the imagery, the language, and the people reminded this reader of her days in a small Southern town in North Carolina. Exceptionally well done, Kaye Park Hinkley.” Mary Kay Remick

Five Stars: “With her very detailed and beautiful descriptions, the author has a great way of making all of the characters very real in the readers mind. Each character is extremely well-developed which makes it easy for you to relate to them as if they’re people you already know. I could see this being a great movie! Very illustrative and a heartwarming book that I would recommend to anyone.” P.D.

Four stars: “This brief novel tells the story of a dysfunctional Southern family, set in Florida after World War II. The family struggles to love one another while facing illness, addiction, blackmail, fear, and division. The pacing of the novel is brisk, the action is mostly domestic and quotidian (for a dysfunctional family), yet there are passages of great description and insight. I have seen the author compared to Flannery O’Connor, but I think the author is writing with her own voice and limning a story of love and hope. An excellent debut novel.” Stephanie Mann

Five stars: “I was gripped from the beginning, wanting to see what would happen next. Hinckley’s ear for the Southern is very accurate, but her understanding of human nature surpasses a region. More from this author, please.” Alabama Girl from Atlanta

Five stars: “I enjoyed Kaye’s book immensely! Having lived in the south my entire life, her book was so comfortable. From the gruffness and pride of Coleman’s grandfather to the “monkey in the mirror” wisdom of Fig, each character could be found in a small southern town. Their human flaws, struggles, ability to love and to forgive are what life is all about. More, please!” Eva

Five Stars: “This compelling story of a small town Southerners will hit home on more than one level. The characters bring this multi-level story to life and I want to know what happens next in this town and the lives of these characters. So much more for Ms. Hinckley to tell us.”

Five stars: “If you grew up in the South you will love this book. The characters are so real and the story is so touching. You will learn a lot about southern living. I found it hard to put down once I started reading.” Peggy W. Merrill

Fightin’ Love

Posted: November 22, 2013 in World On The Edge

file000342793028We fight for what we love.

And we love what we fight for.

Sound the same? They’re not.

We’ll fight for the things we love right now–members of our family, our home, our allegiances. We’d fight for these anytime or any day.

But then there are spur of the moment situations we may be forced into, where we must fight, and only afterwards discover that we’ve come to  love the thing we’re fighting for. It may be a principle, it may be a person, it may be something we never imagined.

I did not know I loved the Catholic Church until I became a young teen and had to defend her.

I did not know I loved life, and babies in the womb, until I nearly lost one of my own.

I did not know I could love an enemy, until an enemy became a friend.

I did not know I would come to love simple things, until simple things were all I had.

I did not know I was able to forgive, until the lack of forgiveness nearly got the best of me.

And  on, and on, and on.

We love what we have to fight for because these things make a great impression upon us. In fact, they cut into our hearts and change us inside. They change the perceptions we have of ourselves and of others.

Where does the strength of  this Fighting Love come from?  I believe it comes from God’s grace, sent to us when we need it. In the Catholic Church, we call this sort of grace, Actual Grace, which refers to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.  Actual Grace is prolific–it has to be for imperfect Human Beings who are famous for ‘starting over’ again and again.  If we ask, and allow Him to do so, God will intervene in our lives each time we need Him to.

This is Fightin’ Love. The kind of grace we need to get through this life, and into the next one.

Past Hurts and Imagination

Posted: November 21, 2013 in World On The Edge

file9471266159150“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein

Well, that would have to be the imagination of our Creator. With a magnitude that is inconceivable to us, only God knows all and understands all.

The root word in “imagination” is image. God used his imagination to create us. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are made with memory, imagination, and will.

Free will.

For Human Beings, it is our memory that leads to imagination. And imagination causes us to freely act.

We use our memory to recall events of our life, and those events can stoke our imagination positively, such as the memory of our best Christmas or Thanksgiving so far, and that leads to next year, and then the action of how we’ll create an even better Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Memory can also stoke a negative imagination. Someone did me wrong last week, and then the action of how will I get back at him?

Our memories are entirely our own. If we choose to re-hash and re-hash past hurts, it is no one’s fault but ours that we are miserable. It’s no wonder that our lives seem dark and confusing.

We have an imagination that can alleviate that.

Our imagination can bring light back to our lives when we look at the bad situation with  a different perspective.  Then with our free will, we can choose to ‘act out’ in a positive way.

All this,  through our imagination.  But too often, we don’t, or won’t, use it.

It’s our imagination that allows us to move on and keep going,  because it allows us to forgive. Our Creator never remembers our sins once we’ve repented them. If we are made in His image and likeness, and by His imagination, then shouldn’t we try to do the same?

Addicted to Love

Posted: November 20, 2013 in World On The Edge

file9511239215189Unless you’ve been living under a rock,  no one can disagree that today’s world is obsessed with things sexual. Sex not only drives us as individuals, but also our society as a whole. We’ve come to a saturation point of sex in advertising, movies, music, books, and even changes in our language; all to accommodate this beautiful God-given drive within us that is now, so  misguided.

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God,” said G. K. Chesterton.

All of us are looking for intimacy. All of us are looking for love. And what is the true definition of God? God IS love.  So it is God we are looking for–even when we sin, or maybe  especially when we sin.

This is how Evil uses us. This is how Evil  changes the  image we see of ourselves in  the mirror of our hearts, replacing it with a false image, and false desire.

Addictive sex is one of many counterfeits we accept in place of a fulfilling relationship with God.  There is a very good article about this: The page is sponsored by Focus on the Family and surely worth a read.

Personally, I don’t know how much more we, as a people, can take of  this saturation of sex  and still remain ‘higher than the animals.’  Because the sex drive in a human being, meant to be loving and pro-creative,  is being debased to the level of a garbage dump.

In the media, it’s all a matter of giving people what they want. And if this is what we want, we are surely getting it, to the great detriment of  the goodness God put within us.

The Devil?

Posted: November 19, 2013 in World On The Edge

Nobody talks much about the devil anymore. In fact, nobody talks much about evil at all, as if it doesn’t exist, as if anything we do is A-Okay as long as we think it is.

So NOT true.

The devil attacks us in our complacencies, where we are, through what we love. And sometimes the devil has a very attractive face–one that’s hard to resist.  He lures us by our addictions, the things we think most about, the things we’ve tied ourselves to. He yanks on the chain of those addictions, leading us further and further away from what is good, to what is evil–until we become his devoted ‘pet.’ Then he’s got us just where he wants us.

No, we don’t want to hear this.  We say, “Look, I am who I am, and who I am is okay.”

Well, that depends. Because we weren’t given life on earth in order to fulfill ourselves. Believe it or not, each of us has a greater mission than our own existence. There is a reason for our having been born.    God knows our mission even if we haven’t yet discovered it. And it has nothing to do with evil, and everything to do with good.

To determine what is good for us requires an informed conscience—an objective conscience, based on what we know to be true. We have to be able to stand outside of ourselves and look into the mirror of what we are becoming. And then, we have to (pardon the expression but I can’t think of a better word)… ..we have to have balls enough to admit it.

The Devil is a liar,  who will use any means to get to us–flattery is one of them. That misguided axiom we hold to–“I’m okay, you’re okay no matter what I do, or what you do” is one of his tools. We see it growing day by day in our present society. I think this children’s rhyme sums it up pretty well:

“Will you step into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed.”
Said the cunning spider to the fly, “Dear friend, what shall I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome; will you please to take a slice?”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “kind sir, that cannot be;
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see.”
“Sweet creature!” said the spider, “You’re witty and you’re wise!
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning now, I’ll call another day.”
The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon be back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing:
Your robes are green and purple; there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by.
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor; but she ne’er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Will we allow the devil to lead us wherever he wants to?  Are we allowing him to lead us there right now?

Teachers, Old and Young

Posted: November 18, 2013 in World On The Edge

file000763630594As parents, we are the first teachers of our children.  They look  at us and follow what we do. Children have been called the greatest imitators because they constantly try to imitate their parents–in good things, and not so good things.

How many times have you heard your own words come from the mouth of your child, or seen him or her try to do what you do, exactly the way you do it?

Children are blank canvases. As parents, we provide the paint for the picture they will create of themselves and the world around them.  Even when they are adults, we can still see ourselves in them, maybe even more so than when they were young.  For parents, teaching children is an awesome, tiring, task that requires overloads of patience and perseverance.

But  our children are not ‘us,’  and they will never be us. We cannot live our lives through them, or expect them to live the dreams we had for ourselves. We can only love them, do our best to bring out ‘their best,’ and  help them find and begin their own dreams.

In the process of teaching our children, we are learning from them, too. There’s nothing more innocent than a child, more loving, or more forgiving. These are traits for us to imitate.

Children have an innate excitement about the world, and living in it. Everything is new to a child.  Everything is something to touch,  smell,  eat, or even color on.  We often forget our own excitement and curiosity until we have children who show it to us again.

In the classroom of the family, there is learning on both sides. There are the older teachers (US) and the younger teachers (THEM). Parents and Children who love each other–despite their struggles and misunderstandings—are key to a grounded family, and key to our society as a whole—-because the greatest lesson is this: if we could love others as much as we love our children, and  as much as they love us, our world would be close to a utopia.

Broken Relationships

Posted: November 15, 2013 in World On The Edge

Minolta DSCHow do you react when relationships are broken?

First–if it’s a relationship you’ve invested in– you probably try to fix it.

But  if that doesn’t work, do you wallow in its fall-out debris?

Do you hold grudges? Do you go for payback?

We know that one day, all things–including us– must end.  And as we grow older, we see that ‘new and shiny’ doesn’t last. We also know that people aren’t perfect, and some are bad for us. We may have to give up on some relationships.

But I think it’s important that we don’t give up on the miracle of life itself.

To let go of life is counterproductive. Because when one door closes, another will open—if  I  don’t get bogged down in my own needs, and if I allow myself to notice it is opening.

Most broken relationships are thought of as negatives. But maybe some of them aren’t. There are some relationships that honestly can’t be fixed, and really shouldn’t be pursued any longer.  In the long run, the breaking may be a positive thing for us.

Yes, we may need to grieve for awhile, but we ought to be careful that grieving isn’t what we spend the rest of our lives doing.  Taking our own eyes off ourselves and shifting them elsewhere—to the need another may have– is what helps us grow in character.

And we should never let go of what will make us a better person, in the eyes of those who love us,  and especially  in the eyes of God.


Posted: November 14, 2013 in World On The Edge

file000426117560Do you have strong opinions?

Are they so strong that no one can tell you any different?

If  anyone disagrees with you, do you fold your arms around your chest, plant your feet in the concrete of your opinions, and stand your ground?

I must admit that I’ve been like that. I went from having no voiced opinion to someone who voiced an opinion on everything— whether I knew what I was talking about or not.

When we come across to people as entirely opinionated,  not only do we close our arms to them, but they will not  open up to  us. This is an important point when raising children, especially teenagers. If we want them to let us know what’s happening in their lives, then we have to plant a fertile ground for that. And that may mean keeping some of our strong opinions to ourselves.  It doesn’t mean we let them have a free ride, but that we allow them to have an opinion as well, and that we listen to it. We greet them with open arms, and then we discuss pros and cons on both sides.

This is important in connecting with all people; family, friends, acquaintances.  When we close ourselves off with our singular opinions, we may close them out of our lives entirely.

And it’s the same with our relationship with God.  People with such strong opinions often ‘buck’ God’s laws because they ‘just don’t agree.’ How prideful is that!

How many times do we–especially as Catholics–say “Well, I believe this  teaching,  but I’ll never believe that one.”

Or,   “I’ll love this person, but not the one across the room.”

There is certainly a time for opinions. We need to have them. But we also need to be careful not to close our arms completely to those who may disagree with us.

Sometimes God Shouts

Posted: November 13, 2013 in World On The Edge

file0001311391105In yesterday’s post, we thought about how God talks to us. We considered how he often speaks silently to our hearts. He gives us gentle direction, or confidence, or leads us softly where we need to be. But there are times when God does not speak softly. He SHOUTS!

And during these times, His voice is demanding. What He desires to communicate to us may be what we NEED to hear, but what we don’t WANT to hear, because it may require us to change something we’ve grown accustomed to, something not very good for us. How many times do we close our ears to His voice pounding inside us–should I say warning us?–to do what we ought to do? God is SHOUTING then, in order to shine out some action on our part.

Actions or events we wouldn’t chose on our own–and ultimately caused by our own free behavior–may come. We may even have to suffer a loss, or humiliation before we will change. But God’s allows it. It is a loving action because God doesn’t take away our free will.  He SHOUTS a  little bit LOUDER.

There are also times when we cry out to God. He is our parent, after all; our Father. This is not quiet prayer. This is prayer of need, maybe out of sorrow, or fear, or defeat. We NEED God. We don’t want Him to leave us alone. We let Him know it. We ask. We knock. We SHOUT.

God is listening to both our prayers–the quiet ones, and the loud ones.
But are we listening to Him and His will for us? Or do we cover our ears like an impudent child?

How does God speak to you?

Posted: November 12, 2013 in World On The Edge

file00074226366God shows He loves us by speaking to us in  different ways, according to our uniqueness as  Human Beings.   For  some, He uses the voice of  silence. Yes, silence absolutely has a voice.

And today, I’m talking about that kind of voice. Tomorrow, we’ll consider  God’s louder voice.

We’ve  all heard about the  “still, small voice” of God and understood it to mean that His instruction  comes within the silence of our hearts.  For me, that silent time is early morning, when I’ve just awakened and  my mind is fresh and open.  It’s my time for listening. Because if we want to hear God speak to our hearts, we must be quiet and  listen.

Will He speak to us audibly?  Of course He could if He wanted to.  Some of the prophets heard the  audible voice of God. But for most of us, it isn’t that.

I think this is how it works: If you’re in love with someone, and he or she is in love with you–are words always necessary? I think not. We can simply sit, or walk with, or just be in the presence of someone we love and not say a word–yet we know and feel their love, just as they know and feel ours. And without any audible word from them, don’t we often know what they’d like us to do?

Another example: The parents of an infant  know what their child wants and needs without words.  They just know. And then they provide whatever it is for the child they love.

In Kings 19,  the Lord says to Elijah:

“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

So many times, silence is the language of love. And who loves us more that our God?