May is Complicated with Progress

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Here, spring is transitioning from bleak limbs to an ongoing explosion of colors. Driving to town reveals a profusion of yellow from shrubs and daffodils, then white petals another day, purples a few days after that.

The future green leaves begin in different shades that alter as they grow. Even the hawthorns look lovely.

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I love this time of year for its nuance of hues, just not the associated pollen.

It’s been wetter than hell so the lawn has grown taller than it should be, but there’s no sense mowing when pushing the mower into mud sinks the tires and the blade will not spin. This year, the living room/dining room/ kitchen area underwent an extensive spring-cleaning. I had told Husband I didn’t want to clean and move the furniture around until he cleaned the chimney and stovepipe. Once he did that, boom, I was off on a mission. In the process, somethings were purged,  shelves in the corner were put in, and the big pullout door was installed. Even without the doors, I love the improvements to the kitchen. And yes, there is a light in the cabinet!

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The fabulous Ellen Meister opened a new page for writing prompts on Facebook. Check out Sparks! So far, it’s fabulous and I’ve gotten two new stories written!

Since last I posted, we attended the West Falls – Colden Library Volunteer appreciation dinner and acquired a new-to-us truck. Life changes quickly sometimes, too slow at others. Ah well, at least it’s interesting. So thank you for being interested enough to stop by a read my allergy pill induced post! I do appreciate it very much.

Seeing spring flowers, George Saunders, and progress

Today, I was rudely woken by the racket of heavy machinery. It interrupted a dream conversation I was having with an old friend of mine named J. P. We were discussing the cuff links he bought – they were more expensive than the suit he was buried in. I’d gone to bed last night trying to find the “structure” for the novel I’m working on and had been toying with the ramifications of when the mother dies in the story. I think all of my novels involve a MC with a dead mother. If the mother is alive at the beginning of the new one, is that progress?

I’m writing this in view of these lovely flowers from a person whose book I’m beta reading/editing. When they hate the comments I have and the insights I’ll offer, at least I’ll have picture of this beauty. As a writer, I know that only thing I’m hoping to hear is, “It’s perfect! No changes needed!” when someone (Nina Fosati) reads my work. As an editor, I rarely read anything that doesn’t need a tweak or two…or much more.

Babel’s season ended last Thursday with George Saunders. I enjoyed his talk and the following conversation with Barbara Cole immensely.

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Many thanks to Nina Fosati for arranging and driving there this year. Speaking of driving, the maple dropped red bits on Ben so it looked like he had measles. Actually, he needs another part and will be back in the shop next week. So I guess that’s more “not driving” related than “driving.”

I’ve never had a dog I had to take to a groomers before. They do wonderful magic. Kobie went from this:

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To this:

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The transformation was huge and quick, unlike spring where the changes take time.

And the kitchen renovation. Man, that is taking time, too.

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Ah well, I’m enjoying it all while it’s happening and if it’s possible, I extend the length of beauty as much as I can. Perhaps that’s why I’m dawdling on the new book. It’s a good theory, don’t you think? Beats the easier to believe one where laziness is to blame.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Crocuses and Siren Songs

I had a birthday last week and it was not the best, but I survived and am looking at it thus: Bad starts lead to the best finishes. Since then, things are looking up. The crocuses have bloomed!

The car went into the shop and I’m allowed to drive it for a while. We’ll be traveling to my Aunt’s 80th birthday party this weekend and I’m glad we’ll be going in the car –not Husband’s truck.

Last Friday, I had the best time with Tamara Grisanti. I went with her to the Exhibit X Fiction Series. Kim Chinquee and Christina Milletti read at Hallwalls. After, we attended the reception at Christina and Dimitri Anastasopoulos’ home.

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I’m still reading the books I mentioned last time and added “Daisy Jones and the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid to the mix. So far – page 118 – not bad. I’ve also read many of the award winning flashes and micros from the lists that have recently been announced. There is so much great writing out there and so many contests and opportunities! Tamara sent an email about the Berlin Writing Prize. I let everything roll over me – birthday wishes, the readings, the theme of circus – and I pounded out a story on Saturday. Thank you SO much Tamara for the inspiration! And thank you once again Nina Fosati for being such an amazing, honest, and thoughtful first reader. Tamara and Nina, you both ROCK!

Speaking of things looking up, this lovely thing arrived the other day. I’m rather fond of it.

We took a walk in the back forty this weekend and found this stray.

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The frogs are in the pond.

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Our Christmas tree is now planted.

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I am thrilled to be able to walk out back again with ease. Scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, I found other calls and I am competitive – with others and myself. Always trying to write better, learn more, find typos…so I’m off to polish, possibly submit, and definitely read while listening to the siren calls of spring and submitting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bits of Spring with a Cartoon Sheepdog Impression at the End

There’s a meme floating around that gives a rundown on “spring” and how it takes several stabs before it actually arrives. Creekside, we’re at the spring where the snowdrops appear.

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They are a welcome sign. I’ve also spotted tulips and hyacinths emerging.

Later today I’ll be transplanting the roma and cherry tomato seedlings to pots so yes, for me, spring is here, and so far it’s fabulous. Happy birthday to XO Man because it’s his birthday. Mine is coming up soon and I’ve already gotten a gift, Mr. Fishy fish!

Isn’t he adorable? Mary Akers made him and I’m using him as a tea bag holder. She gave him to me (Gina got one, too) yesterday at SPoT Coffee on Transit. There, I started a new story. On the way home, Ben’s check engine light came on – right in front of Goodyear. They plugged in the scanner and it was an oxygen sensor so I drove to the Hamburg Library. I returned “The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez. Great book, but a bit harsh toward memoirists of trauma, I thought. I picked up the books that I had requested: Coetzee’s, “Disgrace,” Brautigan’s “The Abortion,” and Saroyan’s “Boys and Girls Together.” I’ve been waiting on “The Abortion” for months and the copy I received also has “Revenge of the Lawn” and “So the Wind Won’t Blow It all Away” in it. After I read the others, I might take up the extras. “Disgrace” was referenced in the Nunez book. I read “Boys and Girls Together” yesterday. It has been touted by Jim Miner in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for a long time. Now I need to find out what why. I’m on the fence about finishing Cathleen Schine’s “They May Not Mean To, But They Do.” She had the biggest blurb for the Nunez book, and I adored “The Love Letter” but I’m on page 83 of this novel and can’t figure out why agents and editors thought it was important to publish. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I finish it. Maybe it’s not coming to me at the right time…

On the 17th, Husband was being loud with the kitchen renovation which pushed me to get dressed and drive to Rust Belt Books. I wish I had left sooner so I would have had more time to browse, it’s an enchanting space. There, I saw Kim Chinquee read from her latest, “Wetsuit” and Joey Nicoletti read from “Thundersnow.” Afterwards, some of us went to the Gypsy Parlor for dinner and drinks. (Tonic for me – it is Lent after all.)

I met Nina Fosati at the Comfort Zone on Wednesday the 20th.   We had a lovely meal then drove to Kleinhans Music Hall to see Min Jin Lee.

She was funny and bright and the question and answer question section with Barbara Cole was a delight.

The story I’ve been writing for the SMOLDR contest is finished. I cannot thank Nina Fosati enough for her help. Her insight and sharp eye were paramount in getting the piece as good as it is. I also want to thank Mary Akers for spotting the tense shift in the third section, James Wood for his “action verbs,” everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group who has listened, commented, and suggested tweaks, and Gina Detwiler who read the final version yesterday and said it was, “So Good,” funny, sweet and clever. Let’s hope the judges think so, too – knock on wood.

So those are the highlights from the past two weeks. I’m off to do Pilates, transplant seeds and write. If the weather holds, I’ll probably take the dog out again for an extended walk. Notice his resemblance to the sheepdog from the Road Runner cartoon.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

Let There be Lent and Melting Snow

Even though I’m not Catholic, every year I give up alcohol for Lent. So, yeah. I’ve been completely sober for a week. This time, the thought of being done with drinking forever is stronger than it was last year, and stronger than the year before that. I mean, I’m not getting much out of it, am I? Plus, when I stop drinking, it’s so much easier to lose weight…and not engage in pointless Facebook and Twitter “debates.”

Tuesday held a pleasant surprise – and gave me an excuse not to watch The Bachelor. At the SGI Board of Education meeting, they voted to return the polling place to the Library/Media Center starting this May. Apparently, the points I made in my speech last month were well taken. It’s kind of nice to have made a difference for voters and according to Kimberly Moritz, future users of P-TECH. The handicap accessibility that was originally drawn up for that building is being reworked.

Wednesday was another writing session at Spot Coffee in Orchard Park – this time with Mary Akers! She was gracious enough to read the short story I mentioned in my last post. Oi, I’ve been polishing that thing! So many and such huge thank yous to Nina Fosati for her editorial assistance and keen insight into the genre. Mary noted a switch in tense that I corrected but said that otherwise it was good. I’m closer to sending it off. The rules for the contest have been slightly changed. Should I be lucky enough to make it to the top three entries, I’ll be begging for votes, as the winner will be determined “American Idol” style.

This morning the temperature was decent and I went out to hunt for signs of spring. No robins were spotted and no bulbs have emerged so far, but the sweet gum is forming buds.

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The windows are cracked open and fresh air is drifting in…it’s delighting me to step away from the computer and do something else, like take the dog to explore the melting snow and ice.

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Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

February Creeping Away

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I had every intention of posting last week – even started writing about how I assured Husband he needn’t buy me roses on Valentine’s Day, but he did anyways, and they were lovely – except I got called into work at the hospital gift shop (there was a code!) and a) I mucked up my hip and b) caught a non-severe stomach bug. Volunteering is not for the weak. The upshot is that I have more to write about.

My “read voraciously” urge has been slowing – I finished “The Inbetween Days” by Eva Woods and enjoyed it immensely but I’m just not getting into Kate Moretti’s “In Her Bones” so I’ll be returning it, unread past the first few chapters. It’s just as well, I’ll be evaluating a friend’s manuscript soon and determining if I want to take on the task of editing it. I was going to pick it up yesterday, but the roads were awful.

The awful weather – specifically those wild winds – delayed the return of my neighbor so I took care of these two charges for an extra two days.

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The Albright Knox offered free admission last week so Husband and I went up on Sunday. I returned alone on Tuesday with the camera.

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There’s a lot to be said for spending time with art. Those two days filled me with a peace. And I needed all the peace I could find with a torn up kitchen.

We went from this – notice the spaciousness under the sink.

To having a dishwasher installed. It is so quiet! And I’m learning things from it like “don’t put aluminum in here.” It’s quite wonderful and the kitchen is still torn apart and my mixing bowls and baking dishes are still in the mudroom, but this bit is a lovely improvement.

I have been slow to return to writing, but I plugged away on a short story and “finished” it. I sent it to the amazing Nina Fosati who pointed out the obvious – it isn’t “there” yet and I’m an idiot for not bothering to Google Monopoly properties before adding them to a story. Fie! I wonder if writing ever gets easier…

Kitchen Renovation Supervisor

Kitchen Renovation Supervisor

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

 

 

Me, being me (edited and redacted)

Me, being me, needed a break from blogging. Besides the usual allotment of year-end form rejections, a lot of interactions have troubled me. Some hurtful things were said during a family visit – not the first time this individual was insensitive – but upsetting accusations and backhanded “compliments” nonetheless. The library in its infinite wisdom – after the idiot John verbally attacked yet another woman – decided that instead of dismissing the abusive man, two people needed to be on a shift instead of just one. And then there’s boys I went to high school with on Facebook and strangers writing to the Buffalo News. So yeah, I’m a little sick of opinionated men right now.

I’ve been reading a lot of books. Some have been recently released and others I’d heard about but never got around to reading. Vox, by Christina Dalcher, The Glitch, by Elisabeth Cohen, Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan, Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, and currently, There There, by Tommy Orange. What I’m finding is that checking books out of the Erie County Library helps get them read. Who knew deadlines work? Well, I did in regards to zines and contests, but I haven’t been paying attention to writing deadlines lately. I’ve also been doing editing for people I know which is adding another insight into what works in writing and what doesn’t.

The last few write-ins at Spot Coffee have gone into a new book. I’ve been able to sit there and write over a thousand words at a time toward it. It feels too easy, so I’m not trusting it – or working on it otherwise.

I do feel this is more of a “filling up” time in my writing life, and I’m fine with that. The two pieces I’ve finished writing have been speeches. One I’ll deliver at the next board meeting. That’s all the fun here.

Thanks for the read!

 

 

 

Still around…

I am thrilled and honored that Barren Magazine has published “The Shots Fired, The Shots Called” in their gorgeous 5th issue and OMG! Cathy Ulrich tweeted about it while I was off-line in my funk. Remington Review published “Anniversary Plans” on page 5 and I’m thrilled with the outcome. I’ve liked that story a long time and it found the best home. Thank you to everyone at Barren Magazine and Remington Review for believing in my pieces and publishing them.

Yesterday, I had a lovely chat with Nina Fosati about stamina, direction, and purpose in regards to writing. I told her it’s the first time since I don’t remember when “a book” or a “goal” wasn’t foremost on my mind and how this made me feel…adrift.

Personally, I find it to be a sucky feeling and hope it turns into something freeing or worthwhile. Maybe it’s the weather. Or the anniversary of my mother’s death. Or some other “thing” causing this ennui, but I hope it resolves soon. In the meantime, I’m reading, tidying, cleaning, and trying to figure out the next step.

Regardless, I am grateful you stopped by for a bit. Thank you for the read and may your day be stunning!

Cheers!

Pulling the plug, a December tradition

Once again, the Christmas chaos calms down and a piece of my heart dies with it…but first, let’s explore the highlights of the past few weeks…

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I know, this may not be a great thing for you, but look at the back:

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Ink! From the Paris Review! I also got a nod of encouragement that I could take my writing to a whole new level and get published in the Reader’s Digest if I wrote differently, so I’ve got that going for me…

The Playwright’s Potluck dinner party at Donna Hoke’s house was amazing. I met Gary Earl Ross’s wife, Tammy, as well as other writers, directors, and actors. I reconnected with some people from previous parties or workshops and had a great time. Husband and I caught up with Stepson and DIL over dinner at J. P. Fitzgerald’s and exchanged presents before they left to return to Texas. Within two days of their departure, my son flew up from a different part of Texas to Indiana. We agreed to meet about mid-way on a Wednesday. The timing worked and in Cleveland, we had lunch with a great friend named Michael who turned us on to an amazing market. We wandered around in there while waiting for my son and his family to arrive. Husband and I had appetizers with my son, DIL, and both grandkids at Great Lakes Brewery.

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While exercising off our meals, we stumbled across a glass operation with a resident chicken.

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We got a tree – which isn’t that unusual, but we went with a living pine tree for decorating. We – and by we, I mean Husband – put up multiple strands of light.

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All month, I’ve been receiving cards and notes from all over and I love each one. Thank you to all who sent us holiday wishes!

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Nephew from Portland, Niece from Boston, and her husband arrived to spend the holidays with us.

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During their visit, we went to the Eternal Flame. A logjam prevented me from going to the end because I’d brought the dog with us. He later thought he’d scored a rug, but it was a beautiful, 8 years in the making, gift from Niece to her brother.

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We drove to Leicester to see my sister and another niece. I was able to make it to a writing session/gift exchange with Gina and Mary. I doled out bags of candy to the workers at The Comfort Zone and my other writers’ group. I stopped by and visited with Nina Fosati. So basically, I’ve seen pretty much all the people and I’m grateful for those interactions because today is a rough one. Like I said, I’m losing a part of my heart today…

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She’s been in decline, but now – 4:30pm, actually – we’ll be driving her down the road for an appointment where we say our goodbyes.  I know, not the greatest way to end the year, but what are you going to do – other than wish you a Happy New Year. I’m ecstatic to be leaving this one behind.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read.

A Thursday in December

It’s only the 6th of December and I’ve already attended two Christmas parties. I’m not complaining, I just saying…I’m having a lovely time. Last Saturday, Husband and I attended the KiRST Construction Annual Family Bowling Christmas Party at Legion Lanes. We played against Nancy and Harry and it was fun. I hadn’t bowled since last year’s party and it showed.

The mail recently has been delightful. Out of nowhere, I received Shot Girls from Kim Chinquee!

I can’t wait to dive in to this collection and my copies of the Coffin Bell Anthology arrived. It’s just stunning. Tamara Grisanti and her team at Coffin Bell did a fabulous job and I’m honored to have a story included in it. Thank you Tamara!  And as an interesting “small world” coincidence, William R. Soldan has a story in there. I was his 700th Twitter follower, and because of that, he wrote a poem for me here: One More While the Wind Blows

Monday night had me visiting the Eden Library for the first time. It’s a lovely space. I was there for Christina M. Abt’s reading. She spoke about her book, Beauty & Grace  as well as how Mary Jo Hodge had not only inspired the book, but was the reason the book got finished at all.

Tuesday was more fun at the School Board Meeting. This time, it was surreal at the end where a fog seemed to have descended and no one knew what was going on. #electedpeopleatwork

Wednesday was the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Woman’s Association Holiday Dinner and Auction. The dinner was delightful as well as the company.

And today…is #PitMad. To all that see my tweet, retweet it only – unless you’re an agent. If you’re an agent, please heart it! I am grateful to this competition – it helps me focus on the PR aspect of my book…and my next one. I do love how the more I interact with other writers, editors and agents, the more I understand the business side of publishing.

This year I participated in The Common’s Weekly Writes Workshop. I doodled a few pieces, hoping for an amazing fiction piece to emerge. What happened? A few essays. I tend to shy away from those because I go too deep. Anyways, I worked on the strongest one and asked the amazingly talented Nina Fosati to look it over. She came back with great suggestions – many of which I agree with – and I submitted it. Now I wait, as I do…

And for a final bit of good news —– I tend not to dwell on or talk about the insane amount of rejections I receive — I’m happy to say The Remington Review got back to me recently to say they accepted “Anniversary Plans.” Look for it soon! I’m signing the contract today!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!