National Novel Writing Month

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!

Happy Halloween aka National Novel Writing Month Eve!

The competitions I was waiting to hear about last time all resulted in being long listed. Not bad, but not great either. Thank you to everyone involved in the Fiction Factory Flash Contest and the Brilliant Flash Fiction’s “Feed Me” contest for considering my work.

Tomorrow is the official start of NaNoWriMo. I’ve signed up. The book I’m working on needs focus to get it done. If I start with the pages I have, and add daily, perhaps I’ll complete my aim of a needs-little-editing first draft. I know, I know, people dismiss NaNo, but for me, it’s a matter of conditioning. I’ve done it so often, I can sense when I’ve made the midpoint of the 1667 words each day. Also, Husband and friends know I’ll be writing then and leave me to do the work.

Fewer blog posts is but one symptom of my seemingly having dropped off the face of the earth. I haven’t been to my writer’s group or to the Wednesday morning write-ins in weeks. I put off having people over. I’ve not followed up on getting together with others. It isn’t depression as much as stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. A lot of it can be pinned on Ben. And as of Tuesday night at 9:10pm, Ben is no longer in our lives.

Instead of the heartache of a decked out, unreliable Legacy Turbo, we’re now leasing a 2019 Honda HR-V. If car shopping isn’t on the list of most stressful things a couple can go through, it needs to be added. Divorce and suicide were actually considered just to make the process stop. And now it has. Just in time for the snow, but this time in a taller vehicle with all-wheel drive.

It amazes me how a body reacts to stress. A four-month-old travels from Texas to meet a million people in New York and develops a cold. Exhibit A:

When she arrives at our home, I’m exposed to those microbes. I’d been under some stress – not just Ben’s latest costly breakdown. As if in a textbook, two days later I’m not feeling well. The unwellness couples with new pressures and then I’m sick. I was looking up symptoms for walking pneumonia and getting “you must be dying” Google results on Sunday night. By seven o’clock on Monday, I felt a little better. Tuesday, I woke up and could breathe properly. Some colds linger, some are punctual with their symptoms, but all children are germ-spreading carriers of disease. Ah well, what can you do since they are necessary to the continuation of the species.

On the plus side of life is the fact that it is autumn. The leaves are changing color, it’s time to pull out sweaters and mock the pumpkin spice crowd. My red-eyed squeaking bat is suspended from the ceiling. My new novel has a roughly sketched out plot. The battery-operated ghost scares the dog. And our new cat is here. This is Glinda. Middle name Janis as in Joplin.

I hope your October was greater than mine. Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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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!

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.

The Post Valentine’s Day Post

Greetings! I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day – and if not – realize it’s one day a year and it’s over now. On my Facebook Timeline, a “memory” from 3 years ago popped up. It was when Husband crafted a rose for me. I shared it and he ended up with mad props from a bunch of people. Does that count as my Valentine’s Day gift to him?

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I chose a white rose with gentle red markings on the tips while we were at Wegman’s. I was/am happy with that. On Sunday – the day – Husband bought me a miniature rose bush. He is such a sweetheart.

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Next week I start a Flash Fiction workshop with Kathy Fish. I am so excited! I’ve admired her work for a long time. I can’t find my copy of Wild Life, but will be hunting it down to reread before class. Yes, I am that suck up.

The class is coming at a great time; I haven’t been producing much. I’m not blocked. It feels more like taking a breather. I’ve had several ‘insights’ into the book that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month – generally arriving seven minutes after I curl into bed for the night. I’ve dutifully jotted them down knowing the rewrite will be happening soon enough. I don’t know when, but it’s part of my process and I’ve learned to trust it.

Speaking of trust…I feel sorry for anyone who ends up with Leslie Gibbins as a lawyer. She is why I’m late posting today. Things that should have been taken care of in 2007 remain incomplete. Now, with a real lawyer, we’re figuring this out and correcting her ineptitude. Seriously, there is a couple in town that I do not like and I wouldn’t even want them to choose her as a legal representative. The worst part being that we didn’t choose her; someone else did. I know, maybe Leslie’s fun to drink with, but it’s Lent and I gave that up. Maybe she’s improved with age – I don’t know, but today, I am upset (but not surprised) by her failure to do something simple. Not that she cares, but it’s costing us hundreds of dollars. If it weren’t a pointless and costly endeavor to try to sue a lawyer, we’d be tempted. This, of course, is just my opinion, from my dealings with her…a reflection if you like. Creekside and all that…

Cheers! Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary (I should hope so!)

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.)

Another November, Another NaNoWriMo

I have good news to share…

Jellyfish Review, a gorgeous new venue for flash accepted “Pretty Changes” and it will be going live this Saturday. That’s wonderful enough, right? On top of that, the brilliant editor, Christopher James, told me he’d recently been interviewed by Jim Harrington for Six Questions For and he mentioned my image at the end of the piece as the type of thing he looks for in submissions. How flattering is that?

“Could Have Been Us” will be included in The Best of Vine Leaves 2015 Anthology. Thank you to Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius. You are both such gracious women and it’s been a pleasure to work with you. (Because of their nudging, I now have an author page at Goodreads.)

AND

Best of the Net Nominee! Best of the Net Nominee! You can call me a Best of the Net Nominee because Black Heart Magazine Editors and Readers remembered “Vocabulary Lessons” from when they posted it in November of last year as a story worthy of nominating. All I can say is THANK YOU to Laura Roberts and everyone at Black Heart Magazine. When I came across that, it was such welcome news. I’d been feeling a bit blasé about my writing career lately, but that news gave me a thrill. I’m still tingly!

Otherwise, I’m on day 5 of National Novel Writing Month and I’m a few words ahead. My MC is threatening to call me in for character abuse. Poor thing has so many problems going on as it is and I keep piling on more. Today there was a surprise I did not see coming. That’s the fabulous thing about writing, how characters know things you had no clue about. I don’t know where this book is going, but so far it’s keeping my interest.

Right, so

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Thanks for stopping by!

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

Being a writer is full of surprises.

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There has been a barrage of information about the weather. That’s all I’ve seen or heard about lately. The newspaper hasn’t arrived in days. When I’ve gone to watch a show or listen to a radio program, I hear about travel bans and record breaking snowfall totals. I’m a bit surprised since I’m from the area and my motto is “It’s Buffalo. It snows. Get over it,” and let’s face it, when my area gets hit, no one cuts me slack since I’m in “ski country,” and apparently that means I must like the snow, which I do, but that is beside the point. There is more to my world than the weather. What happened with the XL Pipeline? Are the Kardashians still exposing themselves inappropriately? Has ISIS taken over the world? I’m asking because I don’t know. I only know about the snow. There’s been no mail either.

I’m in a funky weird state after learning (via email) great news about one story I wrote only to have that information followed by a heart breaking email about a completely different aspect of my so-called writing career.

Are you ready?

My short story,”Between a Vacuum and Empty Space,” was not only selected for inclusion in a Sci-Fi anthology by Divertir Publishing, but it is going to be the first story and serve as the TITLE for the collection!

How does that happen? I don’t know, but it did. I sent a note to Jim Tuttle (Half of JT and the Law–go follow them) to let him know first because he helped me with the details–I am so grateful to him! His response made me smile. After that, I told Husband, members of Write To Be, and then Chyo. So weird and flattering. I still have a happy about it.

Then, of course, there was the ego-deflating bit. An agent who had requested the first 30 pages of L&C decided she didn’t want to see anymore. Eh. What are you going to do?

These new sagas are a nice breather from the truck needing repairs and the “Help! I don’t know what I’m doing in my NaNo story” angst. It’s fine. It’s life. It’s not French wine, but I could hum a few bars.

And that’s another thing! On the journey to Indiana, we bought wine to take as gifts. One being a strawberry wine from a local vineyard, which Susie got. She opened it and shared a glass with me. It was delightful. I mention this because we hit the liquor store before the storm and we bought another bottle, which happened to be on sale, and there is the odd chance it will be around for the upcoming Christmas Relative Party Shuffle.

Anyway, the excursion netted a bunch of canning jars. I was told of this in advance and thought “a few boxes” meant 20 jars–30 max. Yeah, I haven’t been able to fathom the idea of counting individual jars, but they take up four and a quarter shelves in the basement. Ah, but back to the wine aspect. In clearing the shelves, Husband brought up a black bottle with cobwebs all over it. I was talking to Chyo at the time, described the bottle and the label. Turns out, it is her favorite sparkling wine, Freixenet, from Spain. Neither of us can remember if it was a gift from her to me or a gift I bought to give to her and it was just forgotten. Regardless, it was on its side for years so the cork is probably still good and if you want to know, I had taken it as a sign that the agent I’d sent pages to was going to ask for more, but that didn’t happen. C’est la vie.

Back on the shelf it goes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hear from “the” agent for me. Until then, I’ll be inside, staying warm because snow is best enjoyed inside a house with wood heat.

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(*These are my creekside 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.)