Husband

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!

Edit the old or NaNo?

That’s the question of the day. I’m prepared to NaNoWriMo in the sense that the house is decluttered and clean, BUT my husband, whom I assume doesn’t pay attention, said last night that I don’t need to. He said my writing has been going well, so did I really want the stress? So now, I’m conflicted and doubting myself…just like every other day of the year.

And my writing has been doing well. I attribute a lot of that to Nina Fosati. She points out things I don’t see and it has drastically improved my writing. (Thank you Nina!) Recently, a story I wrote from a prompt by Meg Pokrass won second prize in the Montana Mouthful contest. I’m sheepish about publishing that on my Facebook page though. I’m fearful someone who has read my work in the past will read it and assume it’s about them and it isn’t. Yes, I love my ego problems. Aren’t they nutty?

It’s raining again and there’s the threat of flooding. I really hate this fear over something I have no control over. I’m trying to focus on the good, like the workshop I’ll be attending on Saturday, the fact that Ben got his repairs done quickly and he passed inspection (Mike, at Star Service – thank you SO much!!!) and that the leaves of the sweet gum are turning color.

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I’m leaning toward editing…Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Tearing myself away from honing #amwriting

Kudos to the wondrous Kathy Fish for hosting the Fast Fiction Reunion on Zoetrope this weekend. I met some wildly talented writers and had a blast. Plus, I wrote two new flashes. Yeah! It hasn’t been that long since I finished a piece, but it feels that way. Now, if I could just make time to submit…

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I’m in the middle of a minor kitchen project and when I say “I,” I mean Husband is doing the work and I’m coping with the displacement of things so of course this morning, Allison suggests coming round to drop off the “appreciation gift.” My life resembles a sit-com at times.

I’m honing “Near Eden, New York,” based on great suggestions from Nina, Mary, and Gina, plus my own thoughts after leaving it alone for a few months. My synopsis needs work, too. Being a writer is such fun, let me tell you. But I do take time to enjoy the roses.

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Literally. This is the sight that greets me on my way out the door.

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Sadly, the peonies are already waning.

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The bulbs that I can’t remember the names of are thriving in these days before the official start of summer. I hope you’re enjoying your time, no matter what you’re doing. As for me, I’ll be diving back into Tara and Pete’s story. It’s a lovely place to be.

Thanks for stopping by and the read!

 

 

(These are my creekside reflections. No sense getting worked up about them if they don’t agree with yours.)

Career Progress, Rewrites, and Sex Scenes

In case you missed it, I am Fiction Editor at Literary Orphans now!!! This thrills me like you wouldn’t believe. I thank Scott, Mike, and Brittany for being such wonderful people to work with and willing to let me join the next tier. And as I assured Mary, I will remain in my position at r.kv.r.y., too.

The Blueshift Journal published “Our Mother’s Memoir was Published Posthumously. On Purpose.” Oye, I’m so glad. The original version was written on 4/16/11. I worked on it occasionally and earlier this year got a higher tier rejection from Vestal Review. I looked at it again, tweaked it and boom! Six years later, acceptance.

And while that is a tale of not giving up, I admit that I did give up on this lilac bush. I planted it at least 5 years ago and nothing. I quit weeding around it, neglected it, really. Yesterday, it caught my eye.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it? And it smells great.

I nervously sent my pages to Mary and Gina. Nervous because “Sweet Spot” was part of it and in an earlier chapter I’d mentioned how badly written most sex scenes are so I was basically setting myself up for comparison to that and if I didn’t nail it, if it wasn’t right, organic, plausible, good, I feel the whole book would have failed. It worked. There were a few (very few) comments on that part so, now I have the confidence to proceed with the rewrite.

So here’s to more reading and writing!

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The Columbine and Iris are in bloom and even after all this rain, the tomato plants are in the garden. On a deeply personal note, Husband and I have made it another year so happy 17th anniversary to the man who never reads this blog unless I print it out.

Have a lovely day.

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

Remember, you are a great person!

Cheers!

(*These are my Creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Lent is over, flowers are in bloom, and I’m writing again.

The problem with “not writing” is that when I do, I end up writing deeper than I intend. The blog post I started for today has – somehow – turned into a craft essay. If I remember, I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime: Congratulations Nina Fosati for your story in Breath & Shadow! Gina Detwiler , congratulations on finishing Antillia! You both ROCK! Thank you for inspiring me!

It’s warming up outside and lovely things are in bloom.

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The one raised bed has been plowed up. (Thank you, Husband!) If it’d stop raining, I can get the peas planted. Otherwise, I’m hoping to visit garden places soon and choose tomato and pepper plants. This is the first year I haven’t grown any from seed which I don’t feel bad about since there are first times for everything. I will plant squash, sunflowers, and other things by seed in May. So there you go, those are my garden plans of the year.

I’m eager to get the “cabana” back up and the swing inside. Writing out there last year was so fruitful; I can’t wait to recreate that magic. This Lent, I learned a few different things about myself and my writing. Allowing myself to not write was healthy in some respects, but now I feel “backed-up.” Like not drinking a whole beer the first time I have a drink after abstaining, I’ve grabbed a set of 5 words from Hot Pants (Thank you Kim Chinquee!) and tried my hand at 300 word flash this past week. It’s going well, though yesterday I ended up with a 981 story that needs to be expanding. Ah, the twists, turns, and so-called thrills of being a writer.

I hope you’re well. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

 

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences shall vary. )

Not enough hours in a days sometimes…

What’s this? Five minutes without something urgently in need of my attention? I must be slacking. No, that was yesterday when I had to work, and get my initial interview questions out to Kurt Baumeister about his book, Pax Americana, for the Tavern Lantern interview. Then it was off to home where I found a most welcome letter…with a deadline.

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Hence, my reasons for not getting this blog post up until just now. I have others, like surviving the reading on Tuesday at the Hamburg Library. Photos compliments of Husband!

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Me.

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Nina Fosati

 

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Shirley Palmerton and Jim Miner

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Debra O’Connor

Husband has been driving me nuts about the chairs, so I’m rearranging my schedule so we can go get them. I also need ink refills, so that has to be worked into the plan. I’ve also been spending too much time obsessing over the Pitch Madness Teasers for the Candyland Edition. I must stop going on Twitter, really. And today I’m looking forward to another bit of unexpected good news. My son is coming to visit next week! So, apologies for being late with this post. I’m juggling as fast as I can.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

*These are my Creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.

If it’s the 19th, I must be up to 31673 words.

 

{~Photos graciously provided by Joseph Fleckenstein~}

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Participating in National Novel Writing Month is a process that continues to fascinate me. I won’t say it gets easier, or that I am any closer to having a “real” book by the end, but each time I find a rhythm. I completely “pantsed” this year and so far, I’m finding my way – though by now, the beginning needs major reworking. Oh, how I love the problems I have.

 
I forget which “law” it is, but to me, writing is motion and once engaged, I write even more. My co-workers have been nailing comments on pieces sent to Literary Orphans, so I’ve mostly bowed out of commenting there because, “What Len said” and “Brittany summed it up nicely” grows tiresome, even to my own ear. I do read, and I vote. That is the loveliest thing – if you submit to LO, your piece is read by at least three people.

There’s more responsibility and leeway at r.kv.r.y. I made an executive decision Sunday night. A writer sent a piece and said he’d appreciate any feedback. It’s customary to wait a week before responding – I don’t know why that is, it just is. Anyway, the writing was good but the story wasn’t “there.” I offered my reasons and reasoning as to why I wasn’t accepting the piece. It was a bit scary – one never knows how another reacts – especially to rejection.

In the morning, the writer, Joseph Fleckenstein – my guest photographer today – responded with an abundance of gratitude. My time spent reaching out and talking to another writer ended in an offer of four beautiful images to choose from for my very own. The first was of a thistle. I chose that one because of it being a talisman to the family I married into – a thistle was on Gideon Whitson’s gravestone – and if the story I got from Husband is wrong, I’m sure my beautiful niece will correct me. So at the top and bottom are two gorgeous photos of thistles by Joseph Fleckenstein. My many, many thanks to him.

‘Tis the season to be grateful, isn’t it?

Nancy Leone came by yesterday with flowers, fresh rosemary, and her final notes on L&C. She had one major point I know I should consider fixing. It’s at the end and won’t require a lot, but I wish that book was “done” done. I know, it won’t be until it’s published – should I be that lucky, but it’s gotten to minutia and I’m tired. I want to move on. Is that wrong? Besides which, someone wondered if I wasn’t allowing too many critiquers into the pot, but the last major rewrite pleased him so I just don’t know anymore.

What I do know is that I took a break from a private office in Zoetrope. I didn’t think I was being useful and the prompts weren’t working. Late summer and early autumn are full of depression triggering time bombs. Events conspired, I wrote a creative nonfiction piece – something I shy away from writing, but I posted it and then could see the flaws. It felt great though, to dip back into flash. So, to you Kim Chinquee, I want to give my thanks for leaving that office door open. And thanks to Gina who has been such a positive guide. Thanks to Mary for her belief in me. Thanks to my incredible and kind Husband. To Sidney. To Alex. To Chyo. To XOMan. To my niece.

I could go on for a VERY long time naming people and things I’m grateful for but this post is already topping 600 words. That’s longer than the flash I wrote…which just proves the law I was talking about…

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thank you again, Joseph Fleckenstein!

(These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

I spent Valentine’s Day with my Tax Guy and other confessions…

Yes, it’s true. On Saturday, we went in to Mark Adamchick’s office and he estimated our refund (NY State and Federal) would be equal to the County Tax bill which we received on Monday. Gotta love the timing.

The cold and snow have been unrelenting. I’m pet-sitting for a neighbor. Had I known what the weather was going to be like, I would have rethought my answer. I still would have done it, but I would have thought longer before agreeing to do it.

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The day before Valentine’s Day, wonderful things happened. I received the postcard XO Man sent from Tierra del Fuego (props if you get the Letterman reference), there was a letter from a dear friend, and to top it off, Husband stopped to buy me a rose. He didn’t have to–I’d gotten mini-carnations two weeks before and we’d gone out to lunch last week since we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of dining out on VD.

My husband is awesome.

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The writing lately, not so much. Oh sure, I had another piece accepted (Thank you Tim Sevenhuysen) and it went live today at 50 Word Stories. Otherwise, I’ve been spending a lot of time on rewriting some short stories and rewriting old stories feels like I’m not moving forward. I did squeak out a new flash for a contest. I started several one night, let them alone for a few days then picked the strongest and polished it to fit a contest’s requirements. Last weekend when I was at the library, I did make a leap forward with “The Little Woman,” a story I conceived of in November 2012, but again, it’s an old story.

I suppose the answer is to plunge back into “the new piece.” I still don’t know what it’s going to be–size wise–but I’m still smitten with it. Unless I decide to submit a bunch of stories…or maybe poems. I could polish a few essays I’m close to liking enough to send out, but maybe I should scour agent listings and send out more queries…

*Sigh*

What I really want to do is buy seeds and plant them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Meant To Be.

Sunday was exciting for the conversation I had with XO man. The pillows on the couch in the library are still in the position they were when I stretched out and laughed at the shared plight of having an inept dentist. We also talked of music, dance, and cleaning women.

I’d been cleaning the house in anticipation of the novel critique group meeting here tonight. It has corresponded with the ‘so called spring cleaning’ time of year, though I’m not moving the furniture yet due to the still chilly nights. Regardless, “art” has been on my mind a lot recently.

My “style” is eclectic to say the least and as I go along, pieces have to hit me to disrupt the equilibrium I’ve established with the pieces in the house. Monday, I met the newest love of my life.

I had a doctor’s appointment at nine–because even though my insurance card says I don’t need a referral, I can’t see a dermatologist unless I have one, which is a bunch of BS, but that’s for a different post. Anyway, because we have the one vehicle, Husband dropped me off then was going to pick me up on his lunch hour.

Randomly, the Monday I went for a referral, I was also sentenced to an X-ray on my leg, blood work, and an ultrasound. After my appointment, I was able to get the x-ray and the blood work done and walked out of there at ten fifteen. Go figure. I had hours to kill. I went to Café 56 and had a snack while I edited. I was quite content until I felt something and looked over to see I was being stared at by some guy in the corner. I didn’t like that at all.

Flustered, I stayed and worked. I looked out the window and swear I saw Agent Chase crossing the street and enter the antique shop. I leisurely finished my coffee, wondering how far I was going to take this. I calculated that if a fictional character walks out of your head and into the sunlight, you want to pursue, but not so quickly as to scare them away.

Bill paid, street crossed, store entered, I found Agent Chase was gone. I wandered the store after a few words with the shopkeeper. Husband had told me his supervisor, Jody Buttons, owned it. I verified that, then took my time looking at all the interesting things in the shop.

Near the end of my walk around, I came to a framed print. In an oval frame with the glass protruding like a pregnant belly, there was the smuggest, sexiest, slyest picture I’d ever seen. It didn’t remind me of Van Eyck as much as Vermeer but I don’t think it’s either of those. The colors are wrong for both. I looked it over, and there was no price. I asked the merchant, he said he’d have to ask Jody. I told him my husband worked with him, hoping for a better price, When husband picked me up, I told him about it. At work the next day, husband said something about it and Jody said, “That was you?”

I called the shop on Tuesday and Jody hadn’t given a price even he was asked about it three times. Wednesday, at break, Jody walked over and just gave Husband the picture. Jody said he didn’t know whom it was by, but the frame was at least one hundred years old. He wouldn’t take any money for it. Norm was aghast as Jody doesn’t giveaway anything.

So it’s mine now and Husband and I agree, in the event of divorce, it is mine. Right now, it’s hanging on the wall, and I’m even fonder of it though I have to change out and move other pieces around to accommodate this gorgeous thing. Once the novel critique meeting is over, the furniture will move and the other artwork will move to accommodate this newest acquisition.

After I had talked to XO man on Sunday, I got a call on my cell from someone looking for Gail and wanting to make sure she got home safely. Gail is the name of the MC in my current WIP so that freaked me out a little, but without that nudge of the fictional and real blurring at times, I might not have followed a phantom that led to this, new love.

 

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Sorry, taking a picture through curved glass isn’t easy, but look at the interplay between the women. Exquisite.

 

 

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(*These are just my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Catching up with the normal

Last month’s post should serve as a warning to all–if you’re in my view or thoughts while I’m writing my blog post, you will end up being written about. Husband can once again attest to that. Some writers threaten that you’ll be put in a book or a story, but I don’t write that way. How I write is crazy. I made my word count for National Novel Writing Month, but I don’t have a novel. I have a rough draft that ended up sputtering. I got so far in, went so deep and what happened needed to happen, but I wasn’t ready to write about it so I backed off until I could face those things in a later version of that tale.

And if that makes sense…you might be a novelist.

This has been awesome. I know more about of the characters now. I found out a few things that surprised me, so hopefully (knock on wood) after revisions and rewrites, if you ever read that story, you’ll be as surprised as I was to find out who Henri turned out to be–and trust me–it is surprising.

Otherwise, I’m still hanging on to hope. *Sigh* The agent hasn’t responded after I sent the requested material. He asks for an exclusive month. The day after Christmas, I should have an answer.

Either way, I’ll carry on with what I do. Read, write, revise, repeat. I’ve also been nudged into a not quite new thing: Review

So, if you’re into that sort of thing, I recently posted a review of a book on–get this–the Book Review page of this blog.

I can’t say I’m comfortable with this. “Don’t judge, lest you be judged” was rammed into my head growing up. *Sigh* Regardless, my thoughts and comments on other people’s work are mine–honest, true and as there is enough negativity in the world, I doubt you’ll see me rating a book low. That a person can get a book published at all ought to be celebrated. I’ll take my Grandfather’s stance on my Grandmother’s cooking. When she made something he didn’t like, he’d say, “Well, you don’t have to make that again.” My—most likely private—thought will be, “Well, I don’t have to read that again.”

There’s laundry to do and a grocery list to make.You know, the “normal” things that slip to last place during NaNo.  Outside, most of the snow is gone. This is the view of the creek from my kitchen window this morning.

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*(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experience and reading taste may vary.)