Queen City Flash

In the scheme of things, isn’t less more?

Years ago, at a launch for Queen City Flash, which was edited by Gary Earl Ross, I read my piece and I didn’t do it well. I was stiff, awkward, just awful. I organized and hosted readings at West Falls-Colden Library and when I introduced writers, I did it quickly because I wasn’t comfortable.

I started attending the Hamburg Writers’ Group, and they offered me an opportunity to work on those skills that I lacked. Without the help and encouragement there, I never would have been able to do as well as I did last week. I have so much gratitude to all the writers who cycled in and out of that group. Thank you to all of you!

2019 September Drop Hammer

And I again want to thank Kim Chinquee for the incredible honor of including me in the Drop Hammer reading series at Buff State.

It was an amazing experience made even better by Christina Francis being there and the surprise attendance of Linda Dinger — both HWG members.

The incredible Gina Detwiler also read and then afterwards, we stayed and talked to Kim’s class about writing, publishing, and writers’ groups. We had a delicious late lunch at Cole’s with Kim and Peter Ramos, then Gina and I extended our “author day” by going to Larkin Square’s Author Series to listen to a conversation between Lauren Belfer and Mark Sommer. Mark’s Book “Rocky Colavito: Cleveland’s Iconic Slugger.” I’m not a baseball fan, but the book sounded intriguing.

Speaking about new books… Last month, I attended Gina’s book launch for “Forgiven” at The Hub in Orchard Park. It mixed music with the presentation and I found it quite fun. Well done, Gina and all those talented musicians!

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The recent running around had me taping shows on the cable box upstairs since the one downstairs doesn’t record. When I went to watch them, I had to deal with Husband’s chair. It was a horrible, cobbled together mess. Office Depot’s had a sale. Now, we can both watch television in a comfortable chair. The old one was broken up and is now stacked on top of the wood pile waiting to go in the fire. Not quite “burning in hell,” but that’s as close as we can get.

Another household change was in my library. Now that the family is scattered, it can really be my library. The pullout couch was moved out of there. The light fixtures with glass covers that had been in there hung low and I feared hitting them with a dumbbell. My request for different fixtures resulted in compromise on going with fluorescents but I also had speakers installed in the ceiling. They have an on/off switch and a volume control. My red chair is in there now, too, so I’m set for reading, writing, and Pilates whenever I want, even if we have company.

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It’s been getting chilly at night and I’d love to start a fire, but Husband has nixed the idea. Other than that, life here has been pleasant as of late. The wood is up and with the back of the woodshed being cleaned out, I’m not as nervous about putting away the swing and benches since there is not only room to store them, but a clear easy pathway to do so. The daytime weather has been a perfect range of temperatures with low humidity. I’ve spent most of this week outside. The front lawn is mown, the trails tended, mulch applied. Yesterday though, was a long, uninterrupted writing day. I haven’t had one in a while and it felt good. I’m still feeling this new book out, but the ideas and characters are swirling. I have a project book where I’m storing character notes and themes I want to explore. I’m generally not a planner, but this book is following its own path into a hero’s journey setup. Perhaps that will help when I eventually have to write a synopsis…

I’ve gone back and forth with an editor on a longer piece recently. I’m waiting to hear whether the last round of changes were enough. I do hope it is accepted for the anthology! I’m reading a ton of submissions at Literary Orphans while I refresh my own queue. Besides the work on the book, I’ve gotten a few new flashes drafted. I’m trying to keep busy so I don’t fret and worry. I’ve submitted to several competitions and many will announce their results soon. Knock on wood, my pieces do well; if not, out they’ll go to other venues.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, (Hi Alex! Hi Rach! Hi Nina!) you’ve noticed I’m posting once a month instead of twice. I think that’s the way it’s going to go — at least for a while. Let’s face it, it’s better for all involved. Less for you to read, less for me to write and then there’s the possibility I’ll write deeper about things I post.

Anything is possible…Kudos to the Climate Change strikers! You’re inspiring the world to get it together and change!

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As always, thank you for stopping by and for the read. I do appreciate it! And I appreciate YOU!

I Love Summer for the Meet Ups.

In the summer, my social life gets tangled and wonderful. There’s a million places to go and people to see. On Tuesday, I got to see my best friend and her husband for a few hours. Soon, I’ll be at a graduation party. This year, I’ll try to better balance that with the household chores, maintenance and my “real work.”

I’ve signed up for Camp NaNo (again) and I’m not sure what I’m going to work on. Originally, I was thinking short stories, but I don’t know. I have a few days to decide. I may go back to a novel I started years ago.

I’m excited that an agent asked for my first three chapters on my latest novel. The beginning garnered a “show” in a contest. I’ll be ecstatic if she asks to see more, but I’m not holding my breath–I can’t–I have 4-6 weeks of waiting! I had a piece I originally wrote in 2009 FINALLY find a loving home in an Sci-Fi anthology coming out soon from Divertir Publishing and a cheeky NF piece will soon be appearing in The Other Herald, a gorgeous publication based out of Perry, New York.

Yeah, things are looking good and I’m grateful.

It just seems that there are so many things to do and pieces I want to write and submissions to read and comment on that I worry I’ll become too distracted by a bush and end up tripping over an exposed root–don’t get me started on the lawn care I should be doing and the weeding I should have tended to before now.

No matter what, there’s never enough time or money or oomph, is there–too get everything done.

*Sigh*

Still, I’m giddy at the amazing success of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances as of late. I know I’m pushing my boundaries, but I met Roxane Gay in Boston at the AWP book fair and she recognized my name and she was kind and such a beautiful woman…I’m thrilled that “An Untamed State” is getting so many good reviews. She deserves even more. Alex Pruteanu has a manuscript out for a book that I’m hoping to read soon. The short story, “The Sun-Eaters” was phenomenal–I can only imagine the book being better. Dawn Corrigan, woman extraordinaire has “Mitigating Circumstances” out which I’m badgering my library to pick up though so far they haven’t. (Boo John Saccco!) I shouldn’t be too mean; I love my library and when I got my copy of the summer newsletter, I felt like a rock star–they featured the reading I did with Gary Earl Ross and the other contributors to “Queen City Flash

Plus, the lovely and talented Mary Akers got the July Issue of r.kv.r.y out early and Mike Joyce—my other awesome boss got a lovely write up in Poets & Writers about the Rookery.

Except for the horrid slugs in my garden, things are good. Thanks for stopping by!

(*These are my Creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Pictures from a Reading

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Me!

T. L. Sherwood

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Gunilla Theander Kester

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Mrs. Morse reading George Morse’s Story

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Susan Lynn Solomon

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Trudy Cusella

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Mike Rera

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Gary Earl Ross

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George Morse, me, and his wife

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By the fireplace with Joanie Long

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Nancy Leone and Gary Earl Ross

~~~*~~~

This is the book that was launched at the West Falls-Colden Library on 15 February 2014

Queen City Flash

Many thanks to all that attended.

Photos by Husband

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

It’s Not Cabin Fever Exactly… It’s More Like Cabin Anxiety

This past Monday, I attended the novel critique group meeting at Gina’s. I’ve never worked this way, handing over twenty–now up to 25 pages–at a time. As I’m revising “The Life and…” I’m realizing I really have to slow down the pace. The recent installment included an added scene I thought I’d get slammed on, but they seemed to enjoy it–Mary said it felt like I’d nailed the voice. I’m glad of this, as I felt I had lost it and that’s why I had to take it back a few pages so events I’d glided through in the rough draft could be strengthened. I think the end result will be tighter, but I’m only a quarter of the way there. I know, I said I’d send out agent queries for Ellie’s Elephants, and I did get two out after the ambiguous “this doesn’t sound like a form rejection, but I don’t know how to respond either” response from Sobel. Meeting new people is hard enough. Needing to introduce myself and say, “Please, like what I write, too”…that makes me anxious.

So, I had enough “when I” and put brush to canvas. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever made, and I’m nowhere close to finishing it, put it’s a start. It felt good to mix colors and paint. The longer I was painting, the more that came back to me–including the fact that you can’t finish a painting in one sitting. Well, the one guy could, but I’m not him nor do I have my own show on PBS.

2.6

Speaking of that realm…WBFO, my local NPR station is doing an extra pledge week. OMG, enough. Here’s the thing, I love their work, the coverage, etc. However, they are on there telling me if I don’t pledge, my favorite shows will disappear. How many years and how much money have proved that to be a lie? Everything was great until Mark Scott retired. The resulting crapola version of a program lineup disgusts me. Why this station pays for programs that are great but plays them when no one listens and plays boring shows when people are tuned in is just stupid. There was a time when pledge week ended early. The reason for that was simple. They had there shit together; now it’s not worth it. If you also tell me how I have to pay to keep the programs I want to stay on the air, I will recite the ones they dropped when I sent them a few bucks and when I say I, I mean Husband. Whoever is in charge of programming is clueless, or trying his best to kill off this station and the rapid decline in listenablity has me thinking it’s the latter. WBFO, please, hear this and fix it. The person in charge of programming needs to go.

Otherwise, I’m excitedly looking forward to the 15th when I get to do my first official reading. It will be at the West Falls-Colden Library where I volunteer, so I’ll have the home field advantage. I find it a bit strange that they have a signup sheet for it. I mean, that makes sense if it’s a card making class, but a reading? Gary Earl Ross will be there as well as Susan Solomon, George Morse, and Lou Rera. We will be reading from Queen City Flash at 1:00-3:00 on Saturday 15th if you’re up for it. Jeff Schober did a reading there on the 1st while I was working. It was good to see him again. Boneshaker is a follow up to Broken and Profane and he’s working on two more in the series. 

Anyway, I’ve had a few “close calls” on acceptances. I was told one piece made it to the final round of cuts. They only take four stories per issue, so I guess I made their top five or top eight, which is nice, but I then sent that piece to another venue where it didn’t make it past the first cut. *Sigh.* I also got INK!!!! from The Sun. They held it for 8 months, so I’m considering that something. I sent that story to two places yesterday. I don’t know what it is. It’s gotten so many “almosts” but that just makes it more frustrating that it hasn’t found a home yet. I know, I’ve heard the stories yet those don’t make the personal rejections any less disappointing.

So, enough of this ranting about the problems I have because I love them all, including the fact that there’s more snow and I can’t wait to go for a walk in the woods, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Ah well…

 2.6b

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

Flashes, Novels, and Hope

I’m looking forward to my first official reading. I know, it’s a month away, but I’m excited. It’s a good time in my life for flashes. I’ll be reading “Wildflower Wishes” at the West Falls-Colden library; I was just awarded second prize in the Mary Kennedy Eastham Flash Fiction Competition, part of the Soul Making Keats Literary Competition, an outreach of the National League of American PEN Women, and “I’m Calling Him Skippy” will be up at Matter Press any day now.

If good things come in threes, let’s hope the next good news is about my books because I’ve been having a tough time sitting down to work on my latest. I wrote the first draft for Camp NaNo last spring and let it sit. Now that I’m in the novel critique group, I’ve been going through it twenty pages at a time and that’s been fine, but the last two days, I haven’t made any progress. It’s frustrating. I have until the twentieth, but I’d been hoping I’d be done by now so that I could work on other things.

Deadlines are the way I work best, though. In the past few weeks, I submitted “Campus Crimes” to the Barbara Kingsolver PEN Bellwether Prize, an application for the Rona Jaffe Scholarship at Breadloaf, “File It Under Whatnots” to Disquiet’s International Play Competition, and NYFA packets for both the Nonfiction and Poetry categories. Yeah, I’ve been a little bit busy with those things, and on top of that, I’m taking baby steps toward finding an agent.

Getting used to the dog being gone is taking some time. I wrote Grandma about Tye’s last few days. It was hard, but I know she’d want to know that Tye didn’t suffer. She loved that dog so much–I think she would have been happy just to have Tye visit her; Husband and I were just extra. Regardless, I’ve walked in the house expecting Tye to be in front of the fire and she’s not. She’s been in a few dreams which is sort of comforting. I don’t know. She was a good girl.

Tye

Otherwise, I guess that’s what’s going on around here. And as always, these are my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.

The Holidays. *Sigh*

Since last I wrote, things started out quite lovely. I got an acceptance from Matter Press for my piece, “I’m Calling Him Skippy,” about a woman who rescues a dog from bad owners. At about the same time, Husband called from Adoring Pets with sad news. While I assumed that the dog would cost us a million dollars, I didn’t think she’d die. What the one vet thought was a minor issue, was in fact cancer. It’s not in her lungs yet, but even with surgery (keeping her cast dry in this weather? Really?) and drug treatment there’s only a 48% chance she’d be alive in a year.

If you met Tye, you know how sweet she is and we can’t do that to her. On Monday, she’ll be going into work with Husband. Mondays suck anyway, and before Christmas is somehow better then afterwards…

Nancy, my friend from the Playwright Workshop, and I had plans to go see Gary Earl Ross read that night. Mr. Ross selected my piece, “Wildflower Wishes,” to include in the Queen City Flash anthology, and I hoped to pick up my copy that night, but with that news, and the snow, we didn’t go.

The snow…it’s been unbelievable. I didn’t go shopping last week, nor did I go to the library because the driveway was filled with snow. I’d shovel and later it wouldn’t look like I’d been outside. Husband got the driveway under control on Saturday, and then Sunday, we drove to Grandma’s house. I had no idea how hard the dog’s illness was going to be. Grandma doesn’t hear very well. I couldn’t tell her this was Tye’s last visit. It broke my heart to see Tye look up at her and hear my Grandma say, “It’ll be all right,” because no, it isn’t. 

12.13B

I had a short story accepted at Page and Spine. The bonus for that is I’d just had it rejected by Carve. If you have a piece rejected by Carve and it’s published elsewhere, they link it from their site. Maybe it will get them to look closer at the piece I have under consideration there now.

I was working on my novel yesterday waiting for Husband to get home when I heard something in the driveway. He was stuck. Our most awesome neighbor came with his tractor, cleared the driveway and got Husband’s truck out of the mushy part of the lawn. Thank you Bill!!! The thing was, I looked out the window, saw him stuck and thought, “Are you kidding me? Another crappy thing to deal with?” I have forgotten to mention that I got a call from my credit card company. My card had been stolen. So yeah, that was even more fun added to the mix. Today, on the news I found out it was most likely from the Target theft. Fun.

The holiday letter and cards are being sent out today, one of the latest send offs, but I just finished them last night after Husband’s company Christmas Party at J. P. Fitzgerald’s. It was a nice party. I sat by Trish and she and I talked about her work, her trips to Haiti, and her daughter’s writing. Paul and Kim were at our table, as was Tessa, and the old assless chaps joke came up once again. How can a party be bad when the conversation includes discussions of juice boxes and assless chaps?

So, I have more cookies to make and I need to finish up my twenty pages to send to my awesome novel critique group today. I hate being this late with things, but then again, I had no idea we’d have this much snow, which led to fewer shopping days. No, what it is is that I had no idea how much I love this dog and it pisses me off that she isn’t going to be around anymore. Screw it. I have cookies to make. I hope your holiday–if you celebrate one–is fantastic and blessed and bright. Here’s looking to a better New Year.

 

(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)