writing

Life Goes On Until It Doesn’t

The house is tidy, organized. It’s been a massive undertaking, this year’s “spring-cleaning.”

I no longer remember the specific impetus that led to the first bit of sorting. I know I was quite sick of the mess my office had become. We’d move things in here to get them out of the way when we had visitors, and not everything made its way back to where it had come from and so I was living in close proximity to a lot of clutter. I didn’t like it, but we were storing somethings and even when those things left, I didn’t immediately do a tear down/clean out.

I know an Apex discussion a few months ago made me consider the fact that I’ll probably never publish a book traditionally, and even if I did, well, what then? The “what then” was that I wanted to live in a cleaner and more organized house. I mean, if this is it – the best it will ever be and I never write or publish again – then I’m kind of okay with my life ending up here (except for the wasting of my whole life on literature.)

One of the silly little motivational quips I have taped to my office computer says, “What you are not changing, you are choosing,” so I’ve been choosing to improve my conditions.

Life doesn’t offer a lot of choice in some matters though. We had to say goodbye to Kobi and it sucked to lose my sidekick, but he had cancer in his lungs and even if I were able to afford chemo for him, I don’t think I could put him through that. I know – supposedly – there are new options for cancer treatments but…

I haven’t picked him up yet – his ashes. That seems too final yet.

Our remaining cat made it known that a pet sibling was important, so today – weirdly enough Cat Adoption Day – I went to the Ten Lives Club. (They are a no-kill shelter, so if you’re feeling generous, they have a wish list here.) “Freddy” is acclimating now – though we’re definitely changing that name. This is what he looks like:

It’s not the same as a dog, but I need time to mourn, too.

Creative writing hasn’t happened in a long while, though I have written letters. I’m sorry if I owe you one and you haven’t received it yet. You are very likely on the list.

Until next time (or your letter arrives) I want to thank you for stopping by and for reading.

Cheers!

A chickadee home outside the bedroom window

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!

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!

Cleaning. Sorting. Living the Dream.

It’s been the usual mad dash between seasons here. The weather has been lovely. I’ve done chores that need to be done before summer ends leaving Husband with time to work on the upper greenhouse.

I began pulling up the rocks around the frog pond. It needs redoing like crazy and now we’re expanding the area around it. Who knows if it will stay above ground level when we have a hard rain, but if it does, what a lovely place to sit and watch dragonflies. So knock on wood…and stone, I guess…pictures may follow though, as I often do, I forgot to take before doing anything photos. This morning, I wasn’t aware I’d be moving rocks at all.

We had the first fire of the season last night. I choose to blame the occasion for my tardiness with this amazing post. “Amaze” in the sense of trying to fill you—the reader—with wonder or astonishment. I don’t know if it will work though. Let’s try an inkblot speed test. What do you see in the next two pictures as you scroll down to the next bit of text? Don’t linger; let your mind go…

What did you see? (You’re only getting an approximation of what I saw. The woodchip was far away; the dead bug, I espied through thick, unwashed window glass.) My mind leapt to flying creatures. An angel and the albino hay field fairy queen to be exact.

Along with those “What is that?” seconds of wonder, I also have personable vegetables this month. I cut into this pepper and not only did a round white thing roll out of it, but I saw this angry face. My only thought when the round white growth rolled out was “What now?”

A day later, this carrot that was far too sexy not to have a photo shoot showed up.

Writing has been ongoing and interesting. I was astounded to receive an email stating I made the longlist in Forge’s contest for a nonfiction piece. I have two stories coming out in Sledgehammer soon and BeZine took a story that received kind words at several places before being picked up. Thank you universe!

So that’s the news from here. I hope you’re doing great and that your town’s version of Ivanka and Jared never get you down. Cheers!

August Abundant

Earlier today, I was complaining in my head about having to write this post. It’s not something to complain about, though. Only I keep up this monthly look at myself, my life, my career…recent pictures. I could quit at any time.

I don’t know if I could quit writing forever. Well yes, I could quit writing. Making up stories in my head? Probably not. Sometimes it’s like watching a movie of vague shapes and names. Inserting new relationships among characters. How do they all go together before writing a word. I was doing a bit of that today – seeing if any recent characters have meat.

I’ve hit upon the premise of a longer story – or book. Luckily, I’ve had ideas before and now know to kick them around before beginning on a premise alone and while I do, I’m looking at these new characters who’ve popped up in recent flash.

Contests spurred the output. I wonder if it’s a hold out from younger years. When summer is waning, get in as much fun stuff as you can, and dazzle on the first paper due when you go back to school – a combination of the two.

So, in August, this creature has taken up time:

Which made this one jealous:

And this one sad because there was NOT enough petting going on with two animals in this house so adding a third is – in his opinion – a bad move. He is waiting for us to rue.

Husband had a proper cake for his annual aging celebration – from the store – but look at the candle placement! I did that part! (There would be a picture of him, but they blurred and cropped in weird ways.)

There is a “change one thing – let’s do it all over” list of projects going on in this one picture. Oi!

Well, as always, there is editing to do, things to clean, flowers to smell, so I’m off to do all that.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Yes, I probably thought of you. Cheers!

Those Sweet Baby Boys

This month, there were two additions to my orbit. I plead ignorance on how to show you Zachary. (I could do it but I’m not going to because if you don’t know the parents, well…the amount of exposure his precious little face is presented to the online world is something I’m leaving in his parent’s hands. Did I mention he’s adorable? He is. He has hair!) The other baby is this tyke.

He’s a cuddler. There were other kittens hanging out around the woodshed but I haven’t seen them lately. There are eagles and hawks in the area. Foxes, fishers, and cars, too. Plus the creek, which flooded the south lawn because the bridge is too small and an arch.

That issue has taken up a lot of my time. An onslaught of promotion envelopes from insurance companies has not helped in my trying to take care of things. I’m closing in on finishing the Camp NaNo challenge of 50,000 words in a month written on top of the regular cooking/cleaning/weeding/splitting/stacking/etc. The convergence of extra demands requiring devoted attention has driven me to take up tea as self-care. (I do have lovely problems, don’t I?)

One thing that isn’t a problem is a squeaky new publication of a flash. It’s my current personal favorite. LEON Literary Review, a venue I swooned over the first time I visited, made my dreams come true by accepting The Eye of Florence and it is live now HERE!  

I want to thank all the people in my life that I’ve been connecting with recently. I’m grateful for the conversations and new knowledge. It helps to know other people are finding it hard to “human,” too. I think we all are to some extent. It’s hard for some people to admit they’re in pain when others are so much worse off, but then it grows and there’s only so much some people can take of it so they blow and then it’s a mess. There are a lot of messes around and I’m trying to take of them all, I swear, but boy, is it tough with two hands and one mop.

Speaking of messes, I have so much filing to do. And I have to hunt down a user guide to the new printer that I can’t get to work even though I had installed it and had printed from it and now it won’t do any printing and I need to figure out why in my spare time which I won’t have until I finish Camp NaNo and I’m close so adios and thank you so much for stopping by and for the read!

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!  

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.

A little chat about characters in August

I can’t imagine a worse job than being a neurologist stuck trying to study the brain of a writer. Even the prefrontal cortex of a reptile is complex. Writers create characters and those characters have needs, wants, and desires. Some become so real, they “come to life.”

August tends to be the month where I get a lot of writing done because I can sit alone in cabana without radio or internet and focus on a story. After one of those sessions, one of Mary Aker’s characters stopped by. Atlas was…unbalanced in the book. (No doubt you’re thinking I am as I tell you this.) He asked if I remembered a fight scene in her book. I did. He told me he had a problem with it. I nodded at him with the wary respect I lend to forest animals. He went away.

The next time I was out there and getting ready to leave, he showed up again and asked if I’d spoken to Mary. I told him I hadn’t had time and rushed away. Mary happened to text a breezy, hi-how-are-ya-I-miss-you. I told her I’d been thinking about her book.

Atlas reappeared and told me he thought a certain baby was his. I told him he was mistaken. The sperm was from – he cut me off. He claimed it was switched. Or mixed. There was a chance that it was his. I told Mary this. We had a zoom with Gina, and the subject was brought up. We all hashed out possible plot twists. What if a Gloria switched the sperm and told Atlas about it in a certain scene – trying to keep from rewriting down. It was a weird but good exchange. I was done with the matter. I went out, worked on my own story, and Atlas stayed away – satisfied, I suppose.

Gloria waited until I was cutting up fruit for dinner to make her appearance. She likes Atlas. She can’t have children, but sees nothing wrong with taking Sylvia’s baby away when it’s born. If there’s one successful pregnancy, there would be another. Sylvia could use the sperm of the specimen she really wanted. What was 9 months of delay?

I find it all rather Meta that these shifty characters Mary created had a way to pop into my head for a chat. Are all the abandoned characters out there waiting for us to notice them again? Would a neurologist be able to explain away the phenomena instead? These are the things that have been on my mind.

Otherwise, I’m rewriting a book which is frustrating because two characters that had little to do with each other in the original are about to fall into bed – or shoot each other. Either outcome challenges the rest of the plot. Sigh.

Husband had another happy 45th birthday.

The garden is producing many tomatoes.

The dog

Went to the groomer.

The rose bloomed.

Wild grapes were picked.

There was a nocturnal visitor at the hummingbird feeder.

Another section of the house is being painted.

And thus concludes this month’s blog post. You are wonderful and full of grace. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!