It’s April and I’m vaccinated, how about you?

Ah, April, when I officially age whether I want to or not. This year, we went to Buffalo for a sump pump, which is just as celebratory as it sounds. Since then, I’ve had both vaccine doses, and on 11 May, I will be free to visit people I’ve missed. Fair warning: I believe I’ve forgotten how to human, so if I hug you and I normally don’t – or vice versa – let’s hope it’s a temporary hiccup in life and not a permanent change.

My head is deep into a story I like a lot. I’d sent chapters around to my group and they liked the characters, so knock on wood, Chris, Lettie, and Jason show up on your TBR pile someday. I will admit, being immersed in a different world helps pass the time while waiting to hear back from agents on my last book. Why did I choose to write again? Oh yeah, I didn’t. I wonder if anyone is doing research into the genetic blip that causes a person to become a writer. I’d race for a cure and fund that. Just kidding. I don’t like running. I don’t even like writing about running unless there’s a good reason – like a grizzly.  

Speaking of wildlife, new cat blends well into the surroundings, doesn’t she?

I’ve been out to admire the small flowers.

And the bulbs.

The furniture has been moved as closely to “summer” position as possible. We have a fire today, which is why everything isn’t in place. The slate has to be moved under the stove and the table I want at the end of the sofa will not fit until then, but otherwise, the house feels airier. I’m writing instead of submitting or querying, so my phone doesn’t often ping with notifications and the quiet is kind of nice.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Hope to see you soon!*

Cheers!

*If you’ve had both your shots and waited two weeks for the full immunity to kick in.

An Eagle and the Moon

This March has reminded me of the charter Ebenezer Scrooge. Miserly, unkempt, and petty but redeemable after a few dreams. Not that it’s easy to sleep in now, spring is everywhere and insistent that attention be paid.

Crocuses dot the lawn

Turkeys march

The sky is blue and the subtle colors of tree buds abound.

I’m drawn outside, but so much of life happens online these days. The fabulous Kim Chinquee put together a reading for members of Hot Pants – a private room on Zoetrope’s Virtual Studio. Besides me and Kim, Avital Gad-Cykman, Pia Ehrhardt, Liesl Jobson, Joan Wilking, Eric Bosse, Gail Siegel, and Lydia Copeland all read. The link is here, if you’re interested. And if you were there, like the incredible Nina Fosati was, I thank you!

Writing has paused while a flurry of queries were released into agent’s inboxes. I’ve had a request for a partial and a full and I’m waiting to hear back from more. Since waiting is annoying, I signed up to participate in Camp NaNo – anything to keep my fingers from hitting refresh, it seems.

My first Pfizer shot is scheduled for 6 April, and Husband’s second dose is on the 9 April. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends in real life soon. Until then, there are trails to walk and the moon to chase.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

February’s Bracing Ride

For a short month, this February was packed. Two Star Review, a favorite piece of flash written during the summer of Tara and Pete was published in Emerge Literary Journal. The Rains went live in Fictive Dream as part of Flash Fiction February. If you haven’t yet, check out both of these places; they print some seriously decent stories and poems. I am grateful to have my work included in them.

Also, randomly out of Taipei, I received an invitation to talk about characterization. Todd Sullivan contacted me because he came across My Song for Majabin. During an interview, which you can catch here, I read part of the story and answer some questions.

Barrelhouse held a virtual conference and I was there for it. Great experience all around and I produced new drafts I’m letting sit for a bit. Editing is never done, but until some of it gets caught up on, I’m not working on new things…which can be problematic. Attempting to write this post yesterday, I ended up with a micro, two flashes, and the outline of an essay.

I absolutely adore the problems I have, including the creepy hand icicle…it may not be my favorite thing, but it didn’t grab me, so I’m good.

There was a lot of snow. Too much time was spent dealing with doctors, insurance companies and that ilk. Okay, I did have a few pleasant exchanges with one doctor, but that was a friendly with XO Man. Another bit of happiness was a long overdue chat with Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler. (Happy early birthday Gina!) Other awesomeness was the sanity and comradeship I so delighted in during weekly Zooms with the talented Nina Fosati. Thank you SO much for your friendship, loveliness, and being a bright light!  

So, March is howling at the door with both a reading and a check in/write in scheduled. I’m off to hone pitches for Thursday’s PitMad and then edit some more. Thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate it!

Living in a material world with this cat

This is the last day of the month and I’m just now starting this post.  It’s not been a particularly great month. There was bad news, and then some more.  Silly me for hoping 2021 would be any better than 2020.

Rolling my shoulders, taking a deep breath, I’ll state that I am grateful for Husband. New cat kept breaching the baby gate that was there to keep her out of the library where I read, write, Zoom and exercise.

Yes, I could – and did – shut the door, but in doing so, the temperature drops. The solution? French screen doors. (Proper knobs were chosen and installed yesterday but no photos were taken of those.)

 I’ve been doing a lot of rewriting of the latest novel’s opening pages in response to books I’ve been reading lately. I broke down and bought Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody, but Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland was more insightful and easier to grasp. In the mix are The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Crowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders a book I’d suggest to any storyteller and Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham, which is quite male oriented. I’m applying for fellowships and grants so Bev Browning’s Grant Writing for Dummies was dusted off, and since I’ll be querying again soon, Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages and Michael Hauge’s Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds are within easy reach. Spoiler alert: a lot of them contain the same information, but I’ve found that when and how you hear it makes a difference. Huge thanks to the esteemed Nina Fosati for her immense help and insight. Thanks also to Michael Parzymieso for his fresh eyes on the revision.

Tomorrow is the start of a new month. I’m hoping for brighter days and new growth. We were gifted an Aero Garden and pods for Christmas, so if new writing doesn’t grow, basil and chives will. Knock on wood.

As ever, thank you for stopping by and for the read. You are awesome, warmhearted, and witty!  Cheers!

A Merry Good Time to Exhale

Christmas was the day I felt some of the pressure leave my shoulders. There was nothing I could do about packages not making it on time, I’d locally delivered all the holiday treats, I even let Husband make the bed with the sheets wrong and let it go instead of redoing it. Cards were sent, food prepped, and vaccine shots were starting for emergency personnel. Letting go of this year is a physical relief.

Not having anyone over this year meant I could put off any deep cleaning that otherwise would have gotten done. Before Christmas, I pulled all of the books from the L in the library with the bigger fiction and the physical/societal/spiritual/financial books. Those shelves were cleaned and readjusted. Nothing is where I can find it and I found a different TBR pile to mirror the one I have in other stacks upstairs.

Christmas morning was scrumptious with sausages, pancakes, and mimosas. Thank you again to Gina’s husband for his syrup. We finally finished the syrup our neighbor gave us and opened yours!

I want to give a shout out to everyone who sent us cards; they do mean a lot to receive. This is the door we place them on to admire. Once we take them down, I’ll be putting a poster I got for Christmas on there. Thank you Michael!

Husband made me this:

See, when I do Zoom, I had a stack of books to set the tablet on for the correct height. Now, I have this platform with a place for the keyboard, making it such an upgrade in ease – and let, face it, beauty.

I’m not a “New Year’s resolution” type of person, never have been, but this year is hitting differently.  Had she lived, my mom would have turned 71 today. It’s weird to consider this since she passed away in 1997 at 47. I’ve outlived her by a few years. So has my sister. I didn’t get as much written, edited, or published this year and I’m kind of pissed at myself about that. I don’t need assurances, this isn’t a plea for pity, it’s a public acknowledgement of my personal feelings. Next year, I may publish less. Or more. I don’t know, but I’m cobbling together a list of goals I would like accomplish but I can’t make myself call them resolutions…not yet.

I do want to express gratitude to everyone at SMOLDR, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Blink Ink, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, HAD, and Milk Candy Review for believing in my work and publishing me this year. Thank you. You all helped me survive this insane year. So did the amazing friendships I have with Nina Fosati, Chyo, my Husband, well, I could spend all day making this list and then nothing else would get done but yes, you are on the list…you know you are.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. And on a deeply personal note, I doubt there are birthdays in the afterwards, but I hope my mom is having a happy day wherever she is. I miss her.

Cats, Dogs, and Cleaning

This month wasn’t filled with as much new writing as I’d hoped. Dread was pervasive; who knew sore winners would turn out to be lousy losers? I’m so sick of that noise. Perhaps that’s why I’ve returned to re-watching Gilmore Girls and hunkering down for another round of edits on a novel and some flashes.

The day before the election, a flock of bluebirds appeared in the south lawn. They didn’t get close enough to photograph well, but I enjoyed the rare sighting.

We also had a surprise visit from a troupe of kittens. One splatted. This one is still around, but shy. Another was injured, but I was able to catch it. Once in my arms, it turned into a love bug. I kept it alive overnight and due to “foster” being checked instead of “foster to adopt” on the SPCA form, the tech who treated it now owns that cat instead of me. Lesson learned, there…

Thanksgiving: The Meal was not photographed. This is the table, that was the wine:

I wasn’t expecting to be nominated for anything this year, and I was fine. Nina Fosati was nominated for a Pushcart and a Best of the Net and I was thrilled to be close to a nominee but then, the amazing Cathy Ulrich at Milk Candy Review put “The Thinnest of Veneers” up for Best Microfictions. I was speechless, and so darn grateful.  

Husband has continued with the basement clean up.

You see this corner? I’ve never been in this corner. He hasn’t been in this corner in decades. And now, there are shelves…

Tomorrow, the last month of this long year begins. Kobie has a surgery scheduled.

I guess I forget to tell him. Well, now I have to talk him down. I never should have told him about my blog.

Right, well, thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate you! Cheers!

A little chat about characters in August

I can’t imagine a worse job than being a neurologist stuck trying to study the brain of a writer. Even the prefrontal cortex of a reptile is complex. Writers create characters and those characters have needs, wants, and desires. Some become so real, they “come to life.”

August tends to be the month where I get a lot of writing done because I can sit alone in cabana without radio or internet and focus on a story. After one of those sessions, one of Mary Aker’s characters stopped by. Atlas was…unbalanced in the book. (No doubt you’re thinking I am as I tell you this.) He asked if I remembered a fight scene in her book. I did. He told me he had a problem with it. I nodded at him with the wary respect I lend to forest animals. He went away.

The next time I was out there and getting ready to leave, he showed up again and asked if I’d spoken to Mary. I told him I hadn’t had time and rushed away. Mary happened to text a breezy, hi-how-are-ya-I-miss-you. I told her I’d been thinking about her book.

Atlas reappeared and told me he thought a certain baby was his. I told him he was mistaken. The sperm was from – he cut me off. He claimed it was switched. Or mixed. There was a chance that it was his. I told Mary this. We had a zoom with Gina, and the subject was brought up. We all hashed out possible plot twists. What if a Gloria switched the sperm and told Atlas about it in a certain scene – trying to keep from rewriting down. It was a weird but good exchange. I was done with the matter. I went out, worked on my own story, and Atlas stayed away – satisfied, I suppose.

Gloria waited until I was cutting up fruit for dinner to make her appearance. She likes Atlas. She can’t have children, but sees nothing wrong with taking Sylvia’s baby away when it’s born. If there’s one successful pregnancy, there would be another. Sylvia could use the sperm of the specimen she really wanted. What was 9 months of delay?

I find it all rather Meta that these shifty characters Mary created had a way to pop into my head for a chat. Are all the abandoned characters out there waiting for us to notice them again? Would a neurologist be able to explain away the phenomena instead? These are the things that have been on my mind.

Otherwise, I’m rewriting a book which is frustrating because two characters that had little to do with each other in the original are about to fall into bed – or shoot each other. Either outcome challenges the rest of the plot. Sigh.

Husband had another happy 45th birthday.

The garden is producing many tomatoes.

The dog

Went to the groomer.

The rose bloomed.

Wild grapes were picked.

There was a nocturnal visitor at the hummingbird feeder.

Another section of the house is being painted.

And thus concludes this month’s blog post. You are wonderful and full of grace. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

July and Domestic Adjustments

This month, the fear of everything closing down again served as an impetus to get things done. We replaced our king-sized mattress with two extra-long twins and installed an air conditioner. Both were objectives we kept putting off and now that we’re both getting a good night’s sleep, we wonder why.

We put in another step on the walkway down to the south lawn. The Chipmunk of Doom was warned it was going to happen, but he doesn’t seem happy about it, does he?

Husband finished up the remaining drawer fronts in the kitchen.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I believe this is a picture of the last bouquet I bought. Cheap flowers from grocery stores were one of the few things that kept me sane this spring. Now, it’s blooming season and these beauties greet me every time I walk out the door.

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The lilies take turns showing off their soothing brilliance.

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And the wildflowers in the far back are a delight. I brought this one in to identify and haven’t yet – but if you know what it is, please don’t hesitate to tell me at TLSherwood01@gmail.com

As ever, the garden is what it is and currently, it’s well weeded. The peas were wonderful and now the beans and squash are here.

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Inside, I made new cases and transferred the feathers from my pillows into them. It’s so nice to have plump and cushioning ones again. I’d used Husband’s sewing machine. In a flurry of texts, that to me still feel unreal, I’m the proud new owner of a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet. Many, many thanks to the marvelous XO Man for the amazing offer and gift.

It’s setup in the bedroom and when not in use it serves as a new writing spot and I’ve even used it to set up the tablet for a Zoom session with Gina and Mary.

Speaking of Mary, she sent a ticket for virtual Crab Con and I went to check out the platform she used. I stayed for the Baby Crab Cam and some interesting discussions as well as a video. It was fantastic! She also let me do a bit of ghostwriting. Thank you!

I managed to submit seventeen pieces this month and am thrilled to say my piece “The Thinnest of Veneers” will be published in Cathy Ulrich’s amazing Milk Candy Review later this year. It started from a prompt in Kim Chiquee’s Hot Pants Office. I’ve knocked out at least five rough drafts for new flashes and an essay. A few things happened that have given me fodder I plan to explore soon. It’s been a while since I’ve felt competent in my writing. (And as soon as I wrote that, I received a rejection. Ugh!)

The library reopened and so far I’ve read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and  The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. I’m catching up on stories in the New Yorker, too. I grew brave on a perfect day and visited with the spectacular Nina Fosati – outside and six feet apart. Not giving and getting hugs saddened me, BUT hopefully soon Covid will be in the past and we can all get back to whatever we choose to be a brighter and more humane normal. In the meanwhile, this creature tempts me to pet and to play, otherwise I’m sure I would have done even more this month.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Remember, you are AMAZING and I probably miss you!

It was Husband. In the basement. With a Broom.

Hello and happy face emojis to you! We’re less than a week away from November 3rd and that feels great. We’ve made it this far and I’m giddy that tomorrow will bring it closer to five days. Then four…I’m all for free speech, but MAYBE we can curb the running time on these barrages. Two or three months should be sufficient enough time for all the Rs to say the Ds will raise taxes and all the Ds to say the Rs will cut services since that’s all they ever say anyways. I’m also in favor of bringing back the equal time rule that Reagan abolished. I catch a bit of Canadian TV and I love the pot guy running for some office. I’ve forgotten when I saw him, but he represented a third (or 70th ) party candidate and I loved that he got as much airtime as the rest of the candidates.

But ENOUGH about politics! There are other things in the world like hard work and cajoling. It works miracles, I tell ya. For those in the know, the basement is a source of squalor where dead(But I can fix it!) engines, fans, and who knows what else go to live. That’s all fine and good BUT the gas shut off and now the water to the shed shut offs are and the “path” to them was nearing impossible. No more.

As you can see, actual floor can be seen.

The other improvements include the top step no longer tilting, the wooden “landing” at the bottom of the steps is now solid concrete, and the electric to the table saw is no longer in rusty conduit under a ton of sawdust.

It is weird but beautiful to be able to enter from the Bilco doors and walk up the stairs without tripping or contorting. Amen to small miracles.

I’ve been doing more reading than writing. I’m editing, too. I have decided to wait until 1 November to commit to NaNoWriMo. In reality, I’m committed to put in the effort until the 6th. I have a mammogram scheduled on the 5th and if that isn’t perfect, I reserve the right to stop writing. Also, I have no idea what I’ll be writing about yet which is giving me a bit of a panic.

On the 5th, I’ll have a tiny little flash appearing in Milk Candy Review. Cathy Ulrich is not just a fantastic editor, she writes amazing stories, too. Tonight, Nina Fosati will be reading as part of the Persephone’s Daughters series, but if you miss it, you can catch the podcast later. Go Nina!

Autumn has ramped up with cooler temperatures and the damp. I’m waiting for a dry day to tuck the bulbs into the dirt and tie up the fence. I’m also considering taking up deer hunting as an activity. Bambi’s hunger for my plants is driving me to violence. Or it’s the weather. Maybe the decisive politics is to blame. I suppose I should succumb to a regular yoga routine instead. Eh, I’ll save those decisions until the sixth, too.

In the meantime, know that I appreciate you stopping by for the read and enjoy those autumn colors!

Also, if you haven’t already done it, please VOTE!

September Thoughts

This month seems contradictory in it speeding by while dawdling. The rapidity of the election taking forever to go from 60 days to 40 was cute. I’ll be glad when it is over and happy if the people I want to win do.

Reading has taken up more of my time than writing. I haven’t submitted anything either, nor queried, but I’ve been doing Pilates and thanks to Myfanwy Collins and Sarah Yaw, I’ve dusted off my Tarot cards.

I think there’s a story in there – one I haven’t discovered yet.

The weather is changing, the leaves are falling and the garden looks sad

but the morning glories are still blooming.

Deer, being the piggy pigs that they are, informed the consolidation of flowerbeds. I haven’t planted the bulbs yet, but this fencing should keep them out when I do.

We’re trying a new idea this year – leaving the base up for over the winter. Fingers crossed the snow doesn’t take it out.

The cat has a new perch to keep an eye on her domain. She’s hilarious. Anytime someone walks in there, she jumps up, stretches out, and adorably asks to be petted just like this.

Instead of the seasonal draining of the hot water heater, we bought a new one. The fear of the old one leaking and destroying the library has dissipated, but now the new fear is that the new is bad. Knock on wood, it isn’t but…

Otherwise, it’s been a mostly quick month trying to finish up chores before the raking starts.

I’m glad you stopped by and I apologize I wasn’t more entertaining. Cheers to you and yours!