Nina Fosati

Squirrels are chillin’ while we toil and other fun near the creek

I’ve decided to find it hilarious that I must have thought out 5 different blog posts this month – with interesting titles – but don’t remember one as I start this post, mid-summer afternoon on the last day of July.

Wood has been an interesting adventure this year. Normally, the last of the wood is being put up in September, just when we need to rearrange the house and stack a partial wall of wood near the stove. Instead, the woodshed is as full of wood as we usually have for a season and no end in sight to the pile. I am grateful for the dilemma.

I’m also incredibly grateful for the amazing generosity of fantastic friends. C and Nina Fosati dropped of a stove and this is the part that goes on top.

Isn’t it fancy? I’m a sanding fool, dancing between restoration and good enough. We’ll be painting it in a manner pleasing to the eye and the environment of the patio upon which it will stand.  I’m excited and it’s a boring chore with a vast reward, so I really do find it a cheery endeavor.

Part of my quest to live in a better world involves more color. I painted the awful blue chair – loot a thief left behind – to something less ugly.

This is my first Thistle design and in person, it does not look this boring.  (I was working with flaws in the wood to tell a tale of how I see plants not coping in the conditions they once thrived in.)

Work on the back of the house stalled as paint had to be hunted down and then someone sold one of the four we ordered so hopefully it will be enough.

Omg! The lack of intelligence like that in customer service has recently been wild. I’m especially singling out the “new” girl at Citizens Bank in the Springville Tops. Ffs, I was paying a little extra on two credit cards. She asked how I wanted my change. I was like what? She only applied the amount due to the account, not the amount I wrote on the slip I was playing with. I asked why she’d changed the amount and she snapped back that she had not changed it. She started over, finally got it right. As I was leaving, I said, “You did change the amount. At least own what you did.” I mean seriously, it was a mistake, but to be so snitty about it? Maybe she needs to explore a less public vocation. Tax preparer, maybe? Perhaps a mortician?  

The computer problems I’m having are deflating my gusto toward the written word – reading, writing, editing. As with the wood, I will remind myself that I don’t need to fix everything all at once, just take one breathe at a time. I snagged this guy to help remind me. 

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. I hope your home and world are stable. The weather I’ve heard about/seen clips of from where friends and family live overwhelms me. I am thinking about you and hoping to hear you’re safe. Sending love and comfort to those reading who need it. Take care of you!

Cheers!

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!

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!

The Door’s the Thing

Last month I was keeping something a secret. It was that we were doing some bathroom alterations. Now that we’ve had company, here are some pictures.

He regrouted the tile floor. We got a replacement window – I mean mirror. The awful globe lights are gone, replaced with a cool looking arched LED. And things were rewired so the switches are different and we have another outlet. All the walls are orange, brown trim. Updated photos in the frames. Pretty fish dot the shower curtain and now, if I wanted to, I could take a bathroom selfie because the door no longer looks so unfinished.

The company consisted of Niece from Boston, Nephew from Portland, and for breakfast, their mom.

 We met Nephew and Niece at a restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, home and a fire on the beach.

 Old chair cushions topping 5 gallon buckets turned upside down for seats.

 A nearly full moon. Talk. We didn’t get to the part about me feeling like I’m drowning, but the time was brief.

I know writing is hard, and rejections are like a badge, but strings of no’s hurt. I’m grateful for friends I can reach out to – I know you’re there. Probably. I’m in a cocoon. I can go out, but suffer from anxiety sometimes. A wave of, ”I need to wear my mask, rush in, rush out” or guilt from sitting at a table and wanting this to be okay again, but it’s changed and that’s weird. I’ve had coffee with Nina Fosati at two places now. Lovely times, both. I’m grateful for her help in everything. Without her, I don’t know if I would have made it through all this.  ❤

Things were scattered during the bathroom update and now that the furniture is back to normal, there are things to file. And I’m miserable about the idea of writing – especially a new book. I’m glaring at you Camp NaNo, all starting tomorrow and since I still haven’t heard about “real” camp in August, I might spend time with you. Enter a deeper part of the cocoon.  But there is so much I want to do outside, like take wood out of the wood shed so I have a way out when I take the wood in the back and transport it to the first row. Plus there is always mowing and trimming and weeding. Don’t mind me, I’m usually not quite so glum but there is a lot of tasks to complete and since I have written some good shit which hasn’t found a home and I’m still without an agent, why do I even bother?

Does every crisis of faith reduce down to “Why are we/Why am I here?”

Perhaps…

I do want to thank Janice Leandra and everyone at Janus Literary. I’m grateful they chose my micro, Panache for this issue and there is some other cool writing in here.  And what a fitting place to end, with the idea of looking both ways.

Thanks 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!    

An Eagle and the Moon

This March has reminded me of the charter Ebenezer Scrooge. Miserly, unkempt, and petty but redeemable after a few dreams. Not that it’s easy to sleep in now, spring is everywhere and insistent that attention be paid.

Crocuses dot the lawn

Turkeys march

The sky is blue and the subtle colors of tree buds abound.

I’m drawn outside, but so much of life happens online these days. The fabulous Kim Chinquee put together a reading for members of Hot Pants – a private room on Zoetrope’s Virtual Studio. Besides me and Kim, Avital Gad-Cykman, Pia Ehrhardt, Liesl Jobson, Joan Wilking, Eric Bosse, Gail Siegel, and Lydia Copeland all read. The link is here, if you’re interested. And if you were there, like the incredible Nina Fosati was, I thank you!

Writing has paused while a flurry of queries were released into agent’s inboxes. I’ve had a request for a partial and a full and I’m waiting to hear back from more. Since waiting is annoying, I signed up to participate in Camp NaNo – anything to keep my fingers from hitting refresh, it seems.

My first Pfizer shot is scheduled for 6 April, and Husband’s second dose is on the 9 April. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends in real life soon. Until then, there are trails to walk and the moon to chase.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

February’s Bracing Ride

For a short month, this February was packed. Two Star Review, a favorite piece of flash written during the summer of Tara and Pete was published in Emerge Literary Journal. The Rains went live in Fictive Dream as part of Flash Fiction February. If you haven’t yet, check out both of these places; they print some seriously decent stories and poems. I am grateful to have my work included in them.

Also, randomly out of Taipei, I received an invitation to talk about characterization. Todd Sullivan contacted me because he came across My Song for Majabin. During an interview, which you can catch here, I read part of the story and answer some questions.

Barrelhouse held a virtual conference and I was there for it. Great experience all around and I produced new drafts I’m letting sit for a bit. Editing is never done, but until some of it gets caught up on, I’m not working on new things…which can be problematic. Attempting to write this post yesterday, I ended up with a micro, two flashes, and the outline of an essay.

I absolutely adore the problems I have, including the creepy hand icicle…it may not be my favorite thing, but it didn’t grab me, so I’m good.

There was a lot of snow. Too much time was spent dealing with doctors, insurance companies and that ilk. Okay, I did have a few pleasant exchanges with one doctor, but that was a friendly with XO Man. Another bit of happiness was a long overdue chat with Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler. (Happy early birthday Gina!) Other awesomeness was the sanity and comradeship I so delighted in during weekly Zooms with the talented Nina Fosati. Thank you SO much for your friendship, loveliness, and being a bright light!  

So, March is howling at the door with both a reading and a check in/write in scheduled. I’m off to hone pitches for Thursday’s PitMad and then edit some more. Thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate it!

Living in a material world with this cat

This is the last day of the month and I’m just now starting this post.  It’s not been a particularly great month. There was bad news, and then some more.  Silly me for hoping 2021 would be any better than 2020.

Rolling my shoulders, taking a deep breath, I’ll state that I am grateful for Husband. New cat kept breaching the baby gate that was there to keep her out of the library where I read, write, Zoom and exercise.

Yes, I could – and did – shut the door, but in doing so, the temperature drops. The solution? French screen doors. (Proper knobs were chosen and installed yesterday but no photos were taken of those.)

 I’ve been doing a lot of rewriting of the latest novel’s opening pages in response to books I’ve been reading lately. I broke down and bought Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody, but Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland was more insightful and easier to grasp. In the mix are The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Crowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders a book I’d suggest to any storyteller and Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham, which is quite male oriented. I’m applying for fellowships and grants so Bev Browning’s Grant Writing for Dummies was dusted off, and since I’ll be querying again soon, Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages and Michael Hauge’s Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds are within easy reach. Spoiler alert: a lot of them contain the same information, but I’ve found that when and how you hear it makes a difference. Huge thanks to the esteemed Nina Fosati for her immense help and insight. Thanks also to Michael Parzymieso for his fresh eyes on the revision.

Tomorrow is the start of a new month. I’m hoping for brighter days and new growth. We were gifted an Aero Garden and pods for Christmas, so if new writing doesn’t grow, basil and chives will. Knock on wood.

As ever, thank you for stopping by and for the read. You are awesome, warmhearted, and witty!  Cheers!

A Merry Good Time to Exhale

Christmas was the day I felt some of the pressure leave my shoulders. There was nothing I could do about packages not making it on time, I’d locally delivered all the holiday treats, I even let Husband make the bed with the sheets wrong and let it go instead of redoing it. Cards were sent, food prepped, and vaccine shots were starting for emergency personnel. Letting go of this year is a physical relief.

Not having anyone over this year meant I could put off any deep cleaning that otherwise would have gotten done. Before Christmas, I pulled all of the books from the L in the library with the bigger fiction and the physical/societal/spiritual/financial books. Those shelves were cleaned and readjusted. Nothing is where I can find it and I found a different TBR pile to mirror the one I have in other stacks upstairs.

Christmas morning was scrumptious with sausages, pancakes, and mimosas. Thank you again to Gina’s husband for his syrup. We finally finished the syrup our neighbor gave us and opened yours!

I want to give a shout out to everyone who sent us cards; they do mean a lot to receive. This is the door we place them on to admire. Once we take them down, I’ll be putting a poster I got for Christmas on there. Thank you Michael!

Husband made me this:

See, when I do Zoom, I had a stack of books to set the tablet on for the correct height. Now, I have this platform with a place for the keyboard, making it such an upgrade in ease – and let, face it, beauty.

I’m not a “New Year’s resolution” type of person, never have been, but this year is hitting differently.  Had she lived, my mom would have turned 71 today. It’s weird to consider this since she passed away in 1997 at 47. I’ve outlived her by a few years. So has my sister. I didn’t get as much written, edited, or published this year and I’m kind of pissed at myself about that. I don’t need assurances, this isn’t a plea for pity, it’s a public acknowledgement of my personal feelings. Next year, I may publish less. Or more. I don’t know, but I’m cobbling together a list of goals I would like accomplish but I can’t make myself call them resolutions…not yet.

I do want to express gratitude to everyone at SMOLDR, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Blink Ink, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, HAD, and Milk Candy Review for believing in my work and publishing me this year. Thank you. You all helped me survive this insane year. So did the amazing friendships I have with Nina Fosati, Chyo, my Husband, well, I could spend all day making this list and then nothing else would get done but yes, you are on the list…you know you are.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. And on a deeply personal note, I doubt there are birthdays in the afterwards, but I hope my mom is having a happy day wherever she is. I miss her.