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Yesterday was my turn to host the novel critique group. Spoiler alert: Early in Near Eden, New York, Pete brings caviar to Tara’s house to win over her cat. Anyways, at the previous novel critique meeting, Mary had said she hadn’t eaten caviar but thought it was salty and maybe the cat wouldn’t like it. Then, New Year’s Eve arrived and listening to NPR that morning, I heard Scott Simon interview Susan Stamberg. She described a dish called Caviar Pie. On the off chance they did, I asked a guy at Wegman’s if they sold caviar. They did, and some of it was reasonably priced.

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Obviously, not hosting the Christmas shindig created a groundswell of decorating and celebratory angst that needed to be expressed and I’m happy Gina Detwiler and Mary Akers made the drive to put up with it.

My cat didn’t like the caviar cold, but cleaned the stick that held 10 or so fish eggs later that night, just before I left to attend SGI’s French Honor Society induction ceremony. Valerie Brown was making crepes after, but I was quite full by then. When I got home, I received a call from my friend/line editor in California. He wants me to stop querying until we go over the book at least one more time. I don’t want to, though. I probably will, but I’m going to be pouty about it. I think Near Eden, New York is good, and he agreed, but he wants it even closer to perfection. He also hates my query letter because it makes it sound too much like a lighthearted story. I tried to convince him it’s just a romance. He says it’s so much more. I love fights like this and am so grateful these are the problems I have.

And, oh yeah, it’s official, I was duly sworn in and it was on Facebook so it has to be true. I’m a Board of Education Member! Photo courtesy of Colleen Mahoney and the Springville Journal.

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*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

 

On the recommendation of my “ink guy” at Rapid Refill, I bought a new color printer/scanner on Monday. He’s the one that steered me to my black toner workhorse of a printer so I trust him. He pointed out that I’d spend roughly the same amount for new cartridges for my old printer and those aren’t refillable – and the one he suggested was on sale. I removed the Lexmark and cleaned the spot, then decided to clean that whole corner of my work area. That led to clearing off the desk. Since I was getting rid of the one printer, I cleaned the drawer with all the computer paperwork. And the next one down, and the middle, then another…

All of which is to say, this is what happens when I’m anxiously waiting to hear from beta readers:

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I just got off the phone with Nina and her niggles and quibbles are easily fixable. I took six pages of notes, which sounds like a lot, but I doodle. I’m looking at adding seven sentences and adjusting seven more. Mere tweaks! Well, compared to full out rewriting…

Yesterday, I met with Kim Moritz, the superintendent of SGI and picked up my laptop, learned passwords, and found out when the agendas were available. Looks like I’m really doing this Board of Education gig; it’s still surprising to me that it happened at all.

Lake effect snow is piling up and I have no interest in going anywhere today, so I’m off to fix the quibbles, work on a flash for Jellyfish Review, and after dinner tonight, make stock because I do that now – make soup the old-fashioned way with no cans.

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*These are my Creekside Reflections, not yours. Your experience ought to vary.

This is my last post for the year and — knock on wood — we get to the new one before yet another celebrity passes. Cohen, Bowie, Rickman, Prince, and Princess Leia all in one year is devastating! Sadly, there were even more…

I’ve ended up with a bit of a time buffer that I’ll be using to play catch-up-on-the-paperwork. Such a fun game! I made a decent dent in the filing of my writing over the weekend, have been winnowing the newspaper stack each night, but I’m dreading the receipt sorting/gathering tax paperwork part of the game. Yes, I know, it could be worse and I am grateful for the problems I have, but I still sometimes wish I had a secretary so I didn’t have to play one in real life.

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Speaking of real life, I really was appointed to the Board of Education. Is that life imitating art or me getting suckered punched into a bureaucratic and political quagmire? Either way, it will be more experience to plunder for another story or two…

Writing wise, I only know I’m not getting my hopes up. When I finished Life and Crimes, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever written. Full requests from agents was so damned sweet and then, when they said no, it hurt. This book, tentatively called Near Eden, New York, is better written than that — in my opinion by a lot. What if it isn’t enough though? What if I need to write another book that surpasses this one in quality before I have a book published? It’s such a heartbreaking profession — not at all the way I imagined it would be when I started dreaming about being a best-selling author. I know I’ll get there because I’m not smart enough to quit, but in the interim, I think I’ll return to the Hot Pants office at Zoetrope and start churning out flash.

I stopped in there last night before I glanced at my flash file. I don’t have a lot left to send out. Again, I know, that is the best problem to have — getting so much accepted that I have nothing left to submit. I am grateful. So grateful and I would love to continue kvetching here, but that isn’t reducing the paper stack.

Thanks for stopping by!

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

Weather Dictation

In theory, I should be headed to Lockport for the novel critique group meeting at Mary’s house. The threat of 2-3 feet of lake effect snow negated that trip so I was able to get farther along in the Pete and Tara book.  I’m so close to the end and I’m excited—in a tempered way. I’m trying desperately to not think about the next steps. I’ve been editing as I go, so that isn’t the problem, it’s the thought of another round of that fun game I call “Agent Hunt.” Hell, I’m still waiting on responses from the last round for the last book…

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Prize for “First Christmas Card to Arrive” this year goes to a dear friend in Kentucky. Poor thing thinks she’s behind a letter to me. Sorry Natalie, that’s me. I’m the one who owes you two letters now. I’m sure I owe other people letters, too. I get caught up with writing and then assume that social media will fill in the gaps, but the people that I write to and write to me are often not on social media. I need to be better disciplined about such things. I think I’ve said that before. It sounds familiar somehow.

Remember to shop local! I stopped in at Herbs & Things last Saturday and found gifts for the few I’m buying for this year plus a gift for me at Kellie Shanley’s shop. I’m loving the scent diffuser I bought there—far more lovely and useful than a lava lamp.

All right, it’s short this time, but I do want to say that I am so ecstatic that the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts accepted “Meeting Notes”— one of the original Pete and Tara stories (which didn’t make it into the book but became the genesis for it). THANK YOU RANDALL BROWN!!!! In the funniest bit of irony, that story is set at a school board meeting and today, the questions that are going to be asked of the candidates at Monday’s board meeting arrived in my inbox this morning. I’m going to have to start writing historical fiction so things like this will stop occurring.

Thanks for stopping by!

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*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

I was still feeling strange last Thursday, that’s why this post is a week late. My essay on attending last year’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day appeared in the My View column of The Buffalo News on the 8th – Election Day. I didn’t know if I was going this year or not. I decided last Thursday that I would. It’s a good program and a good place to be before the holidays begin.

Thanksgiving being held on different dates, the fact that my family often celebrated on the weekend before or after the holiday and the time factor blur what this is: the 20th anniversary of an argument that changed my life.

I’d let it go if I could. I was three days into not smoking, XO Man had invited me into his life, I was planning to go back to Texas and I was happy. Then my mother and I got into a fight. It left me devastated and feeling unworthy of love, happiness, or progress. Instead of going to Texas, I stayed in a miserable spot, started smoking again, and stopped growing as a person for a long time.

At Christmas, my mother was the opposite; full of delightfulness and laughter. I didn’t trust her. My “big” present was cash, which is what I wanted. I’d also gotten a bag of little stuff. I don’t remember now – whether I found them before or after – but there were a pair of earrings in that bag that I really liked but I didn’t have time to send her a thank you note. I wore them to her funeral; I haven’t worn them since then.

I suppose that is a pattern that repeats. I don’t know what my mother was going through when she picked that fight. I doubt my stepson realizes how pissed I was last year that I was not expecting him, his girlfriend, and her best friend to arrive the next day. I didn’t have time to clean properly, Husband had told me in no uncertain terms that the wedding reception was not going to be here and I told him to tell Stepson because I didn’t want to get involved in it. No. That morning, I got a request from an agent. I had no idea when they were going to arrive, or if they still were so I was working on getting my book submission perfect when they walked in demanding all of the attention.

Last Christmas, I tried to be tolerant of Stepson’s abysmal behavior toward all of my guests and his father and I could cope until he shoved something in my face and told me to do something with it. When I refused, he walked away telling everyone I was acting like a bitch. After that fight, I have no interest in having a gathering here over the holidays, if ever again.

I’m truly grateful that Shirley Palmerton invited Husband and me to her home for dinner today. I’m thrilled to be spending this day with fellow writers and their spouses. It’s good to have found this tribe. For Christmas, we’ll be at Husband’s brother’s house. I’ll bring some food there because Niece must have her quiche so she shall. We’ve agreed to no gifts, which is a huge relief.

The novel had a hiccup and now I’m dreaming the end. It shouldn’t take much longer to finish once I sit down to wrap it up. I had another flash picked up by 200 CCs. Thank you Paul A. Hamilton. And thank you Christopher James for my faux pas. I’m truly sorry and while I am still embarrassed to death, it’s a lot harder to pull that off than I thought, especially today.

I’m grateful for all my friends, the writers and artists, the editors and designers, the singers and actors, teachers and medical professions, builders and retail workers, musicians and thinkers of different points of view as well as the people who agree with me. If you think I left you out, know you’re in a class by yourself and I didn’t want anyone to think I was playing favorites…but we know, don’t we?

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

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*These are my Creekside holiday reflections. Your experiences may vary.

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.

 

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

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and the Sweet Gum changing colors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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