NaNoWriMo

Grateful this paticular November is over

Is there is a line between what is a rule at your house and what is tradition? One tradition/rule we have is sitting down at Thanksgiving. Tablecloth, stemware, turkey, hassellbacked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar cooked in tinfoil, green bean casserole from a box, mashed potatoes, pecan pie, white wine. I hadn’t planned to stop at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving. I hadn’t planned on going to any store at all that day, but ended up needing to get cash for the groomers. The bank – in the grocery store – IS the closest ATM.

I wanted a red for that night’s dinner; we’ve had a bottle of cheap champagne forever and thought we’d open that for Thanksgiving dinner, but walking down the local wine section, I saw this label:

Table white. On sale. Sold. Only later did I see this and thought, “Okay. Let’s giddy up and go.”

My November led into the brambles of fancy terribleness which made me hate having feelings for swaths of time because they were hurt so much. The ghastly lack of ethics in the local school district flabbergasts me. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone either, that these politicians are so slimy. And their lies. You cannot convince me they are human. (I do have more on this subject, but the hour is closing in on so many opportunities for yeses, so I‘m curtailing a rant for now in order to shine up some stories to submit before the 30 November deadline.)

Speaking of stories…I am honored to have Like A Mango-Basil Smoothie up at Sledgehammer Lit thanks to J. Archer Avary and his incredible team. It’s sans audio, but as I alluded to, this month has been hell. I chatted briefly with Hilary this morning while she was doing a thorough house inspection. She had a similar dark spot in her month. I didn’t mention this to her, but I say the lunar eclipse during the Beaver Moon – a concurrent event not witnessed in some 512 years or so had to have had something to do with the state of the way things are. So say I, writer of this blog…the one who would like to think the chaos of this month with all the ups, downs, and slap-me-sillies happened for a reason. I mean seriously, one might just as well shame midnight and blame the moon.

This is the first “real” snow of the season. I guess we could blame climate change, too.

I’m so grateful that this little one shared some time with me.

Oh, that face! No, sorry, I still don’t know what happened. No, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Trashzina  took a hit out on a kitten, that lizard woman has shown no evidence of owning a heart. The veterinarian hasn’t called with results from the lung biopsy. Yes, it’s been a while but if a lab is shorthanded, as a pet owner, I’d prefer they deal with tests that could extend the life of a still-alive pet such as this one.

(No, we did not get a new cat. This is a picture of our cat from two years ago)

Or this one posing for a before and after a visit with Dana at Paw Spa.


 I’d started the month fully expecting to work out some scenes and get to know new characters and places during NaNoWriMo. I was also going to write a flash a day. Instead, I have a few thousand words and about 20 flashes – most in need of a severe edit. But, I wrote. I took a Tommy Dean workshop from Pioneer Valley two days after the kitten died which helped so much to pull me away from grief. There was more to come. A friend who moved south in her retirement passed away, as did my aunt. One son got deployed, one fell severely ill. And I was doing as well as I could with that, but there was one more bit of news that broke me. I don’t want to acknowledge any more than this, but after that, the Beaver Moon underwent a lunar eclipse and though I’m struggling, I’m still here. I’m glad you are, too.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Salut!

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!

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

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

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

As you can see, actual floor can be seen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Novel Critique Groups and Writing for an Audience of One

It’s been a NaNoWriMo type of November. I can tell because I have an extra 50,000 words added to my novel and next to no pictures taken during these past 30 days. It wasn’t all writing and no socializing though. When I went to vote, I ran into old friends. I had a chance to talk to Maureen Lee and Kimberly Moritz after the SGI school board meeting – conveniently held in Colden this month. Springville Journal’s esteemed Max Borsuk was there, too. Five out of five Friday nights saw me in the Comfort Zone for the Hamburg Writers’ Group plus Husband and I went to see the movie “Knives Out.” The first snow has fallen and occasionally, it’s a pretty thing to admire as long as shoveling isn’t involved.

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After a gap when Mary Akers, Gina Detwiler and I pursued other writing projects, we each had new work to share so we reconstituted our roving novel critique group meetings. First stop: My home. Why yes, it was fun cleaning the whole house in two days and make quiche and cauliflower nuggets and two types of sweets because I wasn’t sure either would turn out. Dog went to a new groomer before the meeting and was far too sexy for a photo session.

I know, it’s a cheat to take pictures when he’s sleeping, but isn’t that the cutest Thanksgiving bow-tie? Thank you everyone at Paw Spa!

Anyways, I want to say that I’m still surprised that every book I write ends up being written in a different way. Last time, it was a ton of flashes that expanded into a whole. This time it was a lot of wasted writing trying to find a proper beginning. Regardless, once I found it, a lot of the themes and ideas I wanted to explore fell into place.

On and off through October, I worked on the blurb and the first chapter. I searched thumb drives for the abandoned bits and plumped out a catchall file with those meanderings called LineAboutMarriage. I know, it’s not a snappy working title, but it is a little more descriptive than NewBook17.0

I had sent the semi-polished first chapter to the amazing Nina Fosati and Prisoner for their take. Each were happy with it. When I revised it a bit more and sent it to Gina and Mary with no introduction to what it was about, I received my first negative response. It was a kind assessment of how she couldn’t tell if it was a romance or a mystery or what. And that was okay. I had been working at “genre” the last two books after I sent the dark literary “Ellie’s Elephants” to twenty agents and didn’t get more than a few requests for partials. “Blue” and “Near Eden” – the genr-y books had requests for fulls, but again, no agent took them on. For this novel, I’d abandoned the genre slant and wrote it for me.

Lots of people I’ve met have self-published. Some are lovely and I enjoyed them. A few people I’ve shown my early novel attempts liked them. I could have put them on CreateSpace when that was a thing, but my goal has always been to have an agent who will help with the process. Ideally, I’d like to be published by a big house. Making the long (or short) list for first-book awards would be a pleasant surprise, too. If I had self-published, I wouldn’t be eligible to strive for a lot of the goals I set out to reach from a young age. At heart, I’m still the 12-year-old who read “Peyton Place,” saw Grace Meticulous on the back cover in front of a typewriter and wanted to BE her.

But I don’t write like Grace Metalious. Or Nora Roberts. Stephen King, Douglas Adams, Madeleine L’Engle, Toni Morrison, or anyone else. I write like me and while I hope as I work through the rewrite of this crappy first draft, you and others will like it, in the end, the only thing I really want is for it to be a manuscript I want to read repeatedly and be happy to call mine. I’m writing for one person. It’s taken years to understand this oft-mentioned piece of advice

In the meantime, I appreciate you and the time it took to read this post. My new assistant is waiting patiently, so I must be off…

 

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!

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.

Nope, no NaNoWriMo this year.

This is the first time in years I haven’t committed to National Novel Writing month and it’s jarring. I’m far too involved with this book about Pete and Tara to drop it for something new. At roughly 43,000 words, I think it’s going to end up being 80,000. The midway was reached at 40,000, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

Otherwise, I’m typing this at the office. I’m off work, so don’t think I’m blogging on company time, or that I’m working for a company for that matter. Actually, you can think whatever thoughts you want. I’m just waiting for Husband to come pick me up. Then it’s fun times ahead with a trip to the post office then home to make dinner and catch up on laundry before posting this to wordpress.

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That’s a picture of what it looks like from my work desk. Past the bench, there’s a table (Made by Husband) where the Bemer mat rests. The orange Post-it is where the metal brace is going to go so yours truly won’t have to stoop to press the controls. Yes, that’s my job, hooking up people and pressing buttons. Also, I serve water. If you try Bemer – and you should – drink water, it helps so much with the treatment.

I have two pieces that will be up shortly. I am so excited! One was a piece written during the Kathy Fish workshop and the other is a Pete and Tara story. Many, many thanks to the amazing Cristopher James at Jellyfish Review and Les Weil at The Flash Fiction Press. I don’t know which one of these acceptances makes me happier and I’m overwhelmingly grateful to have that as an issue in my life.

Speaking of gratitude, I sent the first pages of the Pete and Tara stories to Mary Akers (Congrats on the gorgeous edition of Bones of an Inland Sea) and Gina Detwiler for critique this month and they didn’t kill me for not finishing up with Dreaming Lettie. Again, it was a matter of being caught up with Pete and Tara and since I’m not writing it the way I usually write a novel, I feel I need to keep an eye on all the moving parts in here to make sure it turns out right before I go on to something else. I’m also polishing as I go, so hopefully, when I reach the end, I’ll be done. And that’s another thing that’s bothering me. I’ve always known the end before I begin a book and now, I’m working without that. It’s slightly terrifying. Such a lovely problem, too.

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The Best of 2016 came out! If you want a copy, email me and let me know. It was a great experience working with Nina Fosati and Nelson Locher on this edition of Hamburg Writers’ Group writing. It is a great group of people and I’m glad Mary Jo Hodge suggested I join and that Jim Miner allowed me entry.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

*These are my office reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Halloween isn’t as scary as this election campaign has been…

 

welcomeThis election cycle has been the worst one ever and I CANNOT wait for it to be over. Why was there NO trigger warnings issued? That’s what I want to know. So, that being said, let us move on to the beauty of the still blooming morning glories

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and the Sweet Gum changing colors.

I went to another Girl’s Night Out, this time at Kim Chinquee’s beautiful home. It is such a treat to be around such smart and interesting women. I also met Tamara Grisanti and hope to work with her in the future. So MANY thanks to Kim for being an awesome host. I’m pushing my comfort zone to drive into Buffalo, but am so glad I am doing it.

The Hamburg Writers’ Group is putting out their second anthology and I’m privileged to not only have some of my work included, but to have been part of the editorial process. HUGE thank you to Nina Fosati for being the true mastermind behind the project. One of the pictures that wasn’t chosen as the cover photo was so inspiring to me that I plan to incorporate it into one of the stories and should I ever get to the end, maybe use that as the cover for the Pete and Tara Stories or whatever title I eventually come up with should I go with the self-publishing option.

That seems so far off in the future though. I‘ve never written a book this way before and I can‘t say I hate it because it seems to be falling into place, but I find myself nit picking and tweaking every time I turn around so, to me, the progress seems slow. I’m at roughly 35,000 words now. When I do NaNoWriMo, I put that many words out in about 21 days and technically, I’ve been working on this since August.

And I’m nervous about the whole thing. Yes, I’ve had some success with individual flashes that have since become fuller chapters, but I could not switch out of this book and return to “Dreaming Lettie” so I sent the first 24 pages to Mary Akers and Gina Miani for this month’s critique. I am so anxious to hear their opinions on these characters. Ugh! The angst of waiting.

Plus I’m not sure I’ll be able to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and I’ve been doing it so long it feels weird to not do it. Another ugh.

I know…it could be worse. There could be another year of the presidential campaign instead of mere weeks.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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

Voting and Kvetching in December

Ecstatically, I’ll tell you this: the incredible editor of New World Writing, Kim Chinquee, not only edited and accepted my flash “I Saw the Announcement in the Paper” she nominated it for a PUSHCART! Can you believe it? I’m still having trouble breathing.

Seriously!

WOW!

Husband’s reaction to that news: “So? I don’t know what that is.”

And, that’s my life.

Thanksgiving here was small and quiet, which I appreciated. I’m happy to report I “won” another year of NaNoWriMo. Do I have a novel? No, but I found some interesting characters, themes, and a lovely setting. My friend Nancy chose me to check in with for accountability as she begins her novel writing process. I am humbled by this and enjoy receiving her nightly texts. Husband’s twin visited recently so I got to play hostess. It was nice. I’m looking forward to doing that again. His perspective is different than his brother’s and comparing them interests me. Also, niece had an amazing interview for her dream job and she will be here soon so I can hear the details. Christmas gifts have been ordered. Husband’s present arrived yesterday morning and the UPS delivery guy was not only good looking, but funny, which made my getting out of bed worth it. I don’t know. Seasonal Affection Disorder? The weight of the thing I feel more and more? The dual suicides this summer bothered me. I attended a Suicide Loss seminar. It didn’t help. I go a little crazy when I think about the amazing people who aren’t around anymore. The holiday cheer adds to the sting of missing them, but life goes on, doesn’t it?

Another facet of my life is the mind numbingly annoyance of the Springville Griffith Institute’s Board of Education nonsense. I cannot believe that they — in good conscience — collectively agreed to waste at least $17,000 on a special election for a new gym for the high school when in ten years the student population will be down by 150 students. It hurts my head to consider why they think it’s a good idea and the numbers they are throwing around! It’s going to cost the average household far more than they are advertising with their claims of “per parcel” tax rates.

Ah, the life and qualms of living in a small town are curious, aren’t they? That, or I’ve retained my childlike belief in that people want to do good. I’d rather own that than have Seth and Allison destroy all hope I have in humanity. It’s tenuous, this grasp I have, but I want it. I need it. I’ve known too many people for whom it slipped away.

Christ, I still think this world can terraform our way out of climate change, pollution, and world hunger. Of course I’m delusional; I’m a writer.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

*These are merely my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may 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.)