Kathy Fish

Ready for Mardi Gras; Even More Ready for Lent

How are you and I’m happy to see you here!

Well this month went fast. Until 6:45pm, it didn’t register that today was the last day of February. Speaking of which, if for any reason you are not reading Fictive Dream, you should. I am honored that Laura Black chose to include an experimental story of mine in Flash Fiction February alongside other fabulous pieces by Nina Fosati, Len Kuntz, Meg Tuite,  Jude Higgins, Rosie Garland— the whole month is stellar. Please enjoy them all and the accompanying artwork by Claudia McGill. I thought her piece paired perfectly with mine.

I finished the bird story and resurrected an old one. Most of it was written 10 years ago, but there was no ending. I thought about it, reread it, even swapped it with another author for insight (Fun fact – that author was Tommy Dean whose workshop inspired “All the Love You Cannot See Told in Three Parts.”) When On The Premises announced contest #39, I went back to it again, cut the first two paragraphs, rewrote the beginning, and the ending finally arrived. We’ll see how it does, but I’m happy with the outcome.

Last week I virtually attended Literary Cleveland‘s Flash Fiction Festival. It was a lot of fun, well organized, and it generated new work. Such gratitude to Executive Director Matt Weinkam, instructors Kathy Fish, Vanessa Chan, Lindsay Hunter, Desiree Cooper, editors Tara Isabel Zambrano, Amy Stuber, Scott Garson, Aaron Burch and all the fabulous people who were also attendees!  I plan to spend Lent with those drafts and revisiting some other work. I bought bins to organize and reduce. I’m thinking about pulling together a chapbook or two.Today, I sent three submissions. I won’t say I’m feeling upbeat because that might jinx it, but I’m setting goals.

Thank for stopping by!

Feeling like Janus on a Monday

The sun is shining brightly on a 19 degree Fahrenheit afternoon. Thick snow covers the ground. This “warmer” weather compresses it while it grows dirty with debris. Woodpeckers make a terrible mess. They’ve been around, same with the cardinals. I’ve already seen buds on some trees.

It’s much warmer inside, of course, where I am writing. I recovered from the trip in most respects, but I did enjoy a lot of lovely food in Massachusetts. I only have myself to blame for those extra exercise workouts I’m doing, but I’m nearly back to where I’d been in December so yeah! A little less self-loathing going on always helps, doesn’t it?

As a matter of preference or perceived talent lying elsewhere, I don’t write many short stories. There was a call for contest. I had a few sentences about a bird that I had abandoned, possibly because it was refusing to be a flash and I didn’t think it had novel potential. I pulled up the story start after getting home and it felt weirdly like a trance. I was “in” the story but I kept getting in my own way. I wrote so much more than what was required. I refuse to look back at those extra thousands of words because I don’t want to find a novel. I’m not that in to the bird. But it’s done, Nina Fosati graciously reviewed it and gave me her top line comments – and this is unheard of – I let the story sit for 5 days before returning to correct the flagrant mistakes. Last night I made Kindle read it to me twice. It might be ready to fly soon.

This month has been incredible with art, artists, and friends among them. The talented Gina Detwiler was back in town and we were able to return to one of our writing haunts to catch up. It was good to sit upstairs in Spot Coffee again. There was an unexpected letter. I watched Apex’s Snap Judgement #3 and gained some insight on what those editors were looking for in their slush. The lovely Nina Fosati let me visit for friendship, love, and hope. I and SO many other people in the writing community took a Kathy Fish “Lessons from the Sandbox”class.

On Friday, I was able to take a “Finding Your Writing Groove” class with Jerry Gordon. I’m pondering a lot of things in my life right now, not necessarily from the class, but it pinpointed several things I needed to hear at the right time and in the right order to “hear” them…if that makes sense. The day after that, we went to see live theater. It was a series of 8 one-act plays. In back of us was a person I took a play writing class with and across the aisle were two Buffalo artists I know from Facebook but met at Donna Hoke’s Christmas Potluck. Funny how everyone is connected…

So, like I inferred, I’m looking forward, looking back, and looking at the carnage around me. (I didn’t mean the “two-faced, deceitful” definition of Janus.) It’s a contemplative mood so, I’m off to enjoy that. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

Potato Heart!

For 21 years I’ve been married to a friend. What does that mean? Our marriage can legally buy liquor and cigarettes now? Can it vote, too? No? Why not? (I’d insert the picture of the Chipmunk of Doom looking askance here, but it didn’t export properly.)

Early this month, I was a maskless guest in someone else’s home and it was glorious to hug again! (Thank you Nina for inviting me!) Shortly after, we had the pleasure of visiting with Bob and Teresa. They were vaccinated, we were, too; it was a lovely time. Unnerving at first, though – being maskless in a house with humans. Who knew that would be an anxiety producer? I mostly remembered how to behave. I didn’t trust myself to throw a dinner party, so it was nibbles and drinks here – and interesting conversation.

A few years back I made my bones and joined a gang of philanthropists so now I get invited to cool things like tours of new buildings. This is the new clinic by the hospital on the hill. (I went inside and took pictures for a yet-to-be-written-story.)

B and I mostly finished a project this weekend. You know that feeling when you’re sure you have a can of paint and you don’t? I felt that and now I wonder if the partial gallon I’m so sure we have (though I can’t find it and have checked all the hidey-holes) will turn up the second I come home with a new gallon tinted that color. So, a bit of paint – less than a few tablespoon’s worth – applied to five small spots and it will be done. Of course sprucing up one thing makes the rest of the room look shabby…but I only have so much time because knock on wood, we’ll see family soon. They – of all people – would understand walking into a construction site/battle zone/fresh paint situation, but I’d prefer to greet them with some things under control even though I know surprises happen…like going out to get a sump pump on my birthday and B taking care of that fiasco which turned out to be my present. Anyways, since I’d like to do a big in-person reveal, I’m not posting pictures of it now. What I can show you is this round flower though I’ve forgotten its name:

And this sassy iris:

It has been a plant-centric month. Holding out as long as I could, I finally succumbed to the lure of a mown front yard. (I have to mow for the rest of the summer now, which displeases me.) Saturday, the new flowerbed was weeded and part of the raised bed was hoed. With the weather being unusually cold, the seedlings needed extra time and care. I also had to figure out which nursery I bought citronella plants from last year. I found it on my second try and learned how to propagate them. I mean, I don’t mind plants taking up my energy, but I am surprised they take so much.

There’s more work to be done in the garden and keeping the lawn up, but the basics feel scoped out so I can get back to concentrating on what I want to write and hone. The book I’d gone back to finish writing? Yeah, I hit the point where I was able to convince myself that I had the wrong MC and should stop before I went any further. I don’t know, essays are being plotted out in my notebooks. I’m reading. I’m watching movies. (Props to the Hamburg library – they’ve been doing me good recently. I’ve found amazing reads in their 7 day shelves) I’m soaking in the changing weather. If I could, I’d gift some of this stress-free time to Mary. The Zoetrope/Firefox has been resolved and I’m already diving back into Kim Chinquee’s “Hot Pants” room. The gracious Kathy Fish is hosting her Fast Flash Reunion room there next weekend. PitMad is on Thursday. There’s so much to look forward to in the coming month – and I don’t want to jinx it – but sometimes feeling obligated to write actually works to get it done…kind of like writing this blog once a month, you know?

Anyway, I hope you are feeling fine and know you are appreciated in so many different ways. You rock. You roll. You need to get out of here and frolic in freshly cut grass or some sand!

Thank you SO much for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!    

Fast. Hot. Slow. Wet Cement.

I took advantage of Kathy Fish’s generosity last week and joined in the Fast Flash Reunion Extravaganza on Zoetrope. It was a great time and I adored reading other people’s work and saying “hey” to many fabulous and talented writers such as Raima Larter, Todd Clay Stuart, Nan Wigington, Cezarija Abartis, Matthew J Robinson, Jayne Martin, Jolene McIlwain, Alex Reece Abbott, Jan Elman Stout, Karen Schauber Karen Jones, Chris Haven, Patience Mackarness, Melissa Saggerer, Amy Braziller, Mary Crawford, Gay Degani, Andrew Stancek, Tommy Dean, and Chelsea Stickle. Over the course of that weekend, I wrote one creepy/Stephen King-ish flash, another that has a lot to flesh out and then two I didn’t post because they decided they couldn’t be flashes at the time.

What I’ve noticed is a similar progression of “lessening” lately. After a recent absence from Hot Pants, the first flash I wrote was solid and earned a finalist slot in a contest. The next piece wasn’t as good – though it had good parts – and the stories since then have had no true endings.

This is a reflection of my life. The lack of “the end” to Covid is insane and driven me to apocalyptic theorizing. The political news has altered my mind. Case in point: Mattresses. Not only is it the usual “what size and softness.” No, this creative mind of mine rushes to the financial outlook – no, not everyone will be all right. Will we? What if they stop making mattresses? What if we wait for the riots in Hamburg and Orchard Park and grab one then? What if our mattress is the only one in the neighborhood without bed bugs? What if climate chaos turns us all into backstabbing-for-survival neighbors? What if we lose in that battle? I don’t want to be murdered for my mattress. Black people have been murdered for less. Black people have been killed for no reason. The wide spreading-about of “bad apples” in law enforcement is astounding. Until it isn’t. Then it’s sad and awful. What kind of white privileged person am I? I may get Covid and I might survive even though my life has no more worth than anyone else’s simply because I am white and live in a state that took the threat seriously. Then again, I might fall under the care of that worthless physician assistant in Springville and die because he’s a useless jackass idiot.

Ah, there’s nothing like way too much information for a whizzing bang to the head. Obviously I’ve had time to over think and let small things fester. I vote we proceed to the picture portion of this post…

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A few of you dear readers were sent a video clip of an Evening Primrose exploding into bloom. You would think this boring, but it is fascinating. The process takes a variety of time but you notice it in the day, the ones getting ready. They grow plumper, like nourishment is rushing up the stems. In the dusk, you come out and watch. And wait. Perfect interlude on early summer nights when you seek communion and there isn’t a campfire. But with Covid, who is there to commune to?

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The hummingbirds were ferociously hungry this spring. I’ve never filled the feeders so much, but I only hung two feeders instead of three. There are many fuchsias, though. One has cascaded down from the hanging pot and I have watched the birds visit each of those flowers before visiting the nearby feeder. Other times, they treat the blooms as their dessert.

What is beyond sweet is the promotion work done by The London Independent Story Prize. The gorgeous and generous highlighting of their winning artists is amazing and much appreciated. I’m also grateful to Nina Fosati and everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for their help and many, many thanks to Kim Chinquee and the Hot Pantsers for theirs! Also wonderful is the promotion the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts does for its writers. My story is here with much gratitude to Randall Brown for including it in this year’s amazing group of stories. I am honored. Thank you!

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At 10 months, new cat sprawls about when not terrorizing the dog. I’ve had her out on a leash and harness. She is a skittish thing, afraid of everything. I ordered “The Tiny Tawny Kitten,” a little Golden Book written by Barbara Shook Hazen and read it to her. New cat doesn’t believe it was my favorite story as a kid.

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The reestablishment of the once railroad ties steps is slowly taking shape. We’ve been to the campfire area a few times. Letting it seed out last year seems to have worked, but now there is greenery up there to mow. The labyrinth and all paths leading to it are the best maintained. I’m not up to discussing the garden. I don’t want to talk about my mild inconveniences and minor tragedies. It doesn’t seem fair to mope. At least not online. I think there is so much more people agree on than not, but it’s so hard to get anyone to shut up long enough to see the obvious things. How is observable, data backed science something to debate? Opinions are not fact. Health emergencies aren’t about your rights…

Sorry/not sorry. I feel like it is something I need to say. If you’re reading this, please wear a mask.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking of opinion, the moon looked sneaky one night. Actually, that sounds like a great first line. After I post this, I’ll go see if it works. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to a story with a happy end. One with Covid contained and my Facebook family and friends intact. One where I have an agent, a book deal, and can report being annoyed over faulty sock elastic and feeling dread over how to effectively transfer feathers without feeling guilty for having such belligerent nothingness on my mind.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. I appreciate you!

What’s a marriage without an anniversary fight?

The above picture shows exactly how far the annual putting up of the screened-in tent proceeded until we were both hot and sticky, then pissy enough to walk away. That was on Memorial Day; it’s rained every day since then so there the parts lie rusting. I can only hope the canvas isn’t growing mildew. I don’t know why. We put this up annually, it’s the same parts, yet every year we find a way to have it not go together smoothly the first time. This year was particularly awful. Husband was on the ladder, holding the top while I was to run around to all the corners and slip in the posts…and I found we’d assembled the panels incorrectly. Everything needs to be undone and reassembled. Good times…

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The long weekend was productive in that the garden bed I’ll be using is tilled and after years of having them, the gates are all on so I can dump compost in there without the dog deciding that some bits weren’t ready for the heap.

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I missed the blooming of the crab-apple tree, but the lilacs are out and so are these purple flowers though I’ve forgotten their name.

The weekend before the ugly one, we had a lovely time over lunch at Julie’s with Robert Little. He was in town for an impromptu visit from Chicago. Jim and Julie Tuttle joined us, as well as their grandson. (The dumpster photo involves a joke I’m not going to explain.)

I haven’t been writing too much, or submitting, but after a drought, I have an acceptance! Thanks to John Xero at 101 Fiction, my piece born from a Kathy Fish Reunion prompt called “Landscapes” will go live on 2 June 2019. I also received word that “Firstborn” written from a prompt in Kim Chinquee’s Hot Pants office on Zoetrope made the long list in this year’s Micro Madness Contest for National Flash Fiction Day NZ in conjunction with Flash Frontier. I guess my so called writing career isn’t dead yet…or is it? Check back soon to find out for sure!

🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

The unlikely happened, I went a few places, and there’s a hummingbird in my lilies

There’s a tale of elder love on the radio this morning. It’s airing about 20 minutes before the week in politics program. A taste of hope before the chaotic contention. Around here, it happens the opposite way; I do a madcap rendition of cleaning/weeding/organizing/hauling buckets of water to the new trees/mowing before I achieve a calm to read and/or write. Even now, I typed the first three lines before walking away. There was a sink full of dishes, now washed.

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The wood shed roof is as complete as it can be – the two ends aren’t done because Husband didn’t have the panels for it. He says he could piece it together with remnants, but he’d prefer solid panels. It’s watertight though, something it hasn’t been in years. Walking back from getting the paper, this blue and white striped sight is quite cheery.

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I had an A M A Z I N G run. On the 24th, I got word that my story, “I Am Promilla” won the Postcards Poems and Prose Magazine’s “Clutch” Flash Fiction contest. June 27 will long be remembered as one helluva day. “We’re Toast” was accepted by Bending Genres, Former Cactus took “Tilt-A-Whirl” AND Spelk accepted “The Difference Between Us.” I could not believe it, but it happened and these are all venues I love. I am delighted – plus, on Tuesday, I received payment for “Pirouette” which will be included in the Bacopa Literary Review.

We’ve done a bit of weekend visiting with family recently. There was Ash’s Graduation Party,

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And then a quick trip to PA to see Niece from Boston & The Twin where mint leaves were muddled for juleps.

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Monday has me traveling alone to another gathering of family of a different sort – a funeral. As the amazing Kathy Fish recently hosted another Fast Flash Reunion on Zoetrope, I’m sure I’ll revisit the prompts to make sense of all the interactions that are coming at me in a furious pace, kind of like the Literary Orphans reading assignments. And the library just emailed that “The Female Persuasion” is in so I’ll be finishing that up soon, too. I better get going, there’s a lot to accomplish in this lull…

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like capturing pictures of hummingbirds in my lilies!

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Summer is a Whirlwind

Here it is, officially summer and already most of the projects have at least a dent made in them. Half the woodshed roof is done.

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The massive pain that were the rose bushes in the front yard have been ripped out and replaced with an Azealia bush and a maple.

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Plus the roadside portion of  the garden shed is painted and the redigging of the ditch on the hill was started last night, and several new steps to replace the front ones are complete. The next two weekends will be filled with grad parties and visits, so I’m glad we are so far ahead – compared to previous years that is…even with a minor injury of a run-in with the woodspliter. It’s much healed.

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It’s not been all work all the time. I do make a point to enjoy the beauty of flowers and trees we’ve planted and listen to insects and birds though I wish I didn’t have to listen to the pair of cardinals attacking the window outside my office, but one can’t have everything.

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On Wednesdays, I’ve been going to one of the multiple SPoT Coffees to write with Mary or Gina – yesterday it was both. Without them and Friday nights at the Comfort Zone with the Hamburg Writers’ Group, I’m afraid I’d lose my way. I can’t say thanks enough to Nina and everyone else who keeps me writing. And the Kathy Fish Fast Flash Reunion starts tonight! You know where I’ll be!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

The Day After the Day of Love

I’m disgusted. I could write about guns. Or mental health care. Or schools. I have written my misogynist representative. I’ve attended forums, school board meetings, bitched on Twitter. I hope this school shooting is the last one. There is no animal you can hunt with an AK47 and if you want to whine about how you think I want to take away your rights, save it. If you don’t believe children should be safe in schools, you don’t deserve to hold anything in your hands to protect you from the truth. As Kathy Fish so eloquently wrote in Jellyfish Review, it’s gotten to the point where children can be classified as targets. That’s wrong; end of discussion. We need sensible gun restrictions and the laws we already have enforced.

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In other news, Husband brought home a lovely bouquet on the 13th so I’d have an extra day to enjoy these beautiful blooms. (Translation: He was in Hamburg that day to run an unrelated errand and also wanted to avoid the last minute rush of other husbands on Valentine’s Day at the Hess Brothers Florist shop.)

I found out I was on the long list for the London Independent Story Prize and couldn’t say anything for a day. On the 8th, I went to JD’s Brew Pub to hear J.T. and the Law play, and to keep my mind off possibly losing. They have gotten better and it was great to hear J.T.’s brother sing a song called “Galileo” and Anna sang Maddie Larkin’s songs beautifully.

Last week’s meeting of the Hamburg Writers’ Group consisted of me, Patrick, and Michael. The conversation about craft and submitting was both interesting and inspiring. I read the piece that was long listed and Michael said he thought I’d win. I still had doubts. On Saturday, I went to the library for my shift. It was hard to concentrate on reading submissions because I kept refreshing the LISP page to find out who won. With Lent coming up, I wanted to go out to have a glass of wine with a meal before I couldn’t. Husband let me use his phone to check. Just as we were finishing our meal at Julie’s, the winners were announced. As anyone who was in the restaurant that afternoon can tell you, I won.

 

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So, today is the last day to submit to the American Short(er) Fiction contest and I’m preparing my entries. I’ve sent out some queries to agents and next week, I send pages to my darling, awesome novel critique group after the incredible Nina Fosati has gone over the book again. In this revision, she’s highlighted the parts she particularly likes. I’m now in love with the color turquoise and I’m seeing a lot of it, which I really need because “new book” is pure dreck at the moment.

Writing…not for the thin skinned or the impatient.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read. As always, these are merely my creekside reflections so I expect your experiences to vary.

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Projects, Procrastination, and Self-Censorship

If you’re keeping tabs, more work was to continue in the kitchen. A dishwasher wasn’t exactly promised, but darn close. Anyway, that has been shelved because of a touch of mold in the bathroom has led to chaos, repainting, and tile. Or will soon.  *Sigh.*

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I completed Kathy Fish’s fabulous Fast Flash Workshop and highly recommend it. In the writing I was doing there, I went deeper than normal, which was a little unsettling. I didn’t post the “object” prompt because that led into something longer.  I thought I was being brave when I sent it to the incredible Nina Fosati for her thoughts. Her response was to go even deeper . . . so I’m considering it.

Let’s say it involves a messed up situation and I’ve self-censored about it this week already. Seriously, I had trouble with one piece that I really liked, but couldn’t get to end right. I imagined someone and it fell into place. Great. But then, it was accepted and someone quoted a line and this thrilled me and I went to post a link on Facebook .  . . and realized I shouldn’t. Luckily, I had a three-year-old memory pop up and pimped that instead.

It’s a miserable drizzly day here and I’m struggling to find bright spots.

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The baby waterfalls was the best I could do. I’m behind in my work count for Nano, my reading at both magazines and the extra reading I’m doing for the Best of the Net awards and a new member of Hamburg Writers’ Group sent a book that I said I’d read the first chapter of . . . and haven’t opened. So, thank you for stopping by. I know it wasn’t much, but I need to get back to the work I love and ignore the impending torn out drywall and paint drips.

*These are my creekside reflections and I hope your experience varies.

Words. Oh so many words . . .

I’m day two into NaNoWriMo and day four into the fabulous Kathy Fish Fast Flash workshop. So, I’m writing. A lot. On top of this, there is the reading I’m doing. There are 14 participants in the workshop, so each day there are those to read on top of my normal reading, work reading at r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, and because I just don’t get enough, I’m a reader for Best of the Net this year. My group was assigned 46 stories to read. I’m up to 14 and there are two I like. It’s an interesting process to read so much, in so many styles on so many subjects.

Before NaNo began, Husband and I went out to dinner at Julie’s and then we went to the antique shop that Jody owns. I ended up with earrings – now I need to earn them.

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Local Authors Live at the West Falls-Colden Library went incredibly well.

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Again, many thanks to Mary Jo Hodge, Mary Akers, Kim Chinquee, Jeff Schober, Gina Detwiler, Deb Madar and Barbara Early for their stellar work.

Okay, I’m off to immerse and ignore the rising creek.

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Thanks for stopping by!

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