Husband

Dear October, What A Lovely Month You Turned Out To Be

There’s a coffeehouse in Hamburg called Comfort Zone and for every dollar you spend there, you get a point. You can use your points for discounts or save them up. After eating there for several years, I reached 1000 points – enough for a special outing and what an incredible experience it was! Whisked off to the Roycroft for a tour and then absolutely delightful conversation over dinner in the library at the Roycroft Inn. I snagged a ride in the convertible back to Comfort Zone for even more magic.  I had pink chips, I played roulette, and I was up at the end of the night. It was a perfect, perfect night. Many thanks to Cindy, Zenia, Zach, Liz – just everyone who made it special.

I looked at my calendar and wowed myself with how many other great people I interacted with this month.  I had a long phone conversation with an old friend to catch up recently. I was able to spend time with the awesome writers Nina Fosati, Gina Detwiler, and  Jeff Schoeber. I met Nicole Hebdon and her husband at an author’s night she orchestrated at the Joylan Theater. The drone of the Board of Education and the Superintendent Search jargon was nearly cancelled out by the first mani/pedi I’ve had since…quite a while ago. I had my hair cut by eight inches and Husband did not notice.  

I drag him out to see the colors at dusk sometimes –

much easier to do now that the upper greenhouse chaos has “settled.”

We went to a wedding. Congrats to my beautiful cousin and Ted.

Online, I’m happy to have “A Lonely Bath” up at Sledgehammer. Thank you J. Archer Avary! Also, I’m thrilled to announce I was longlisted for The Forge Flash Competition…in the nonfiction category. I’m on the same list as Hannah Grieco -and if you know how “holy shit” that is to me, well, it just is.

Another “just is” is November, which will soon arrive, and I’ll be drizzled down a hole called Day One of National Novel Writing Month. I’m also eyeing Nancy Stohlman’s Flash Nano and wondering, “Can I do both?”

Obviously, I’m insane, but at the moment, a touch of happy, too.

Thank you for you. Thank you for reading. I hope you find magic in this scary time, too.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Cleaning. Sorting. Living the Dream.

It’s been the usual mad dash between seasons here. The weather has been lovely. I’ve done chores that need to be done before summer ends leaving Husband with time to work on the upper greenhouse.

I began pulling up the rocks around the frog pond. It needs redoing like crazy and now we’re expanding the area around it. Who knows if it will stay above ground level when we have a hard rain, but if it does, what a lovely place to sit and watch dragonflies. So knock on wood…and stone, I guess…pictures may follow though, as I often do, I forgot to take before doing anything photos. This morning, I wasn’t aware I’d be moving rocks at all.

We had the first fire of the season last night. I choose to blame the occasion for my tardiness with this amazing post. “Amaze” in the sense of trying to fill you—the reader—with wonder or astonishment. I don’t know if it will work though. Let’s try an inkblot speed test. What do you see in the next two pictures as you scroll down to the next bit of text? Don’t linger; let your mind go…

What did you see? (You’re only getting an approximation of what I saw. The woodchip was far away; the dead bug, I espied through thick, unwashed window glass.) My mind leapt to flying creatures. An angel and the albino hay field fairy queen to be exact.

Along with those “What is that?” seconds of wonder, I also have personable vegetables this month. I cut into this pepper and not only did a round white thing roll out of it, but I saw this angry face. My only thought when the round white growth rolled out was “What now?”

A day later, this carrot that was far too sexy not to have a photo shoot showed up.

Writing has been ongoing and interesting. I was astounded to receive an email stating I made the longlist in Forge’s contest for a nonfiction piece. I have two stories coming out in Sledgehammer soon and BeZine took a story that received kind words at several places before being picked up. Thank you universe!

So that’s the news from here. I hope you’re doing great and that your town’s version of Ivanka and Jared never get you down. Cheers!

August Abundant

Earlier today, I was complaining in my head about having to write this post. It’s not something to complain about, though. Only I keep up this monthly look at myself, my life, my career…recent pictures. I could quit at any time.

I don’t know if I could quit writing forever. Well yes, I could quit writing. Making up stories in my head? Probably not. Sometimes it’s like watching a movie of vague shapes and names. Inserting new relationships among characters. How do they all go together before writing a word. I was doing a bit of that today – seeing if any recent characters have meat.

I’ve hit upon the premise of a longer story – or book. Luckily, I’ve had ideas before and now know to kick them around before beginning on a premise alone and while I do, I’m looking at these new characters who’ve popped up in recent flash.

Contests spurred the output. I wonder if it’s a hold out from younger years. When summer is waning, get in as much fun stuff as you can, and dazzle on the first paper due when you go back to school – a combination of the two.

So, in August, this creature has taken up time:

Which made this one jealous:

And this one sad because there was NOT enough petting going on with two animals in this house so adding a third is – in his opinion – a bad move. He is waiting for us to rue.

Husband had a proper cake for his annual aging celebration – from the store – but look at the candle placement! I did that part! (There would be a picture of him, but they blurred and cropped in weird ways.)

There is a “change one thing – let’s do it all over” list of projects going on in this one picture. Oi!

Well, as always, there is editing to do, things to clean, flowers to smell, so I’m off to do all that.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Yes, I probably thought of 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!

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.)