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The problem with “not writing” is that when I do, I end up writing deeper than I intend. The blog post I started for today has – somehow – turned into a craft essay. If I remember, I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime: Congratulations Nina Fosati for your story in Breath & Shadow! Gina Detwiler , congratulations on finishing Antillia! You both ROCK! Thank you for inspiring me!

It’s warming up outside and lovely things are in bloom.

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The one raised bed has been plowed up. (Thank you, Husband!) If it’d stop raining, I can get the peas planted. Otherwise, I’m hoping to visit garden places soon and choose tomato and pepper plants. This is the first year I haven’t grown any from seed which I don’t feel bad about since there are first times for everything. I will plant squash, sunflowers, and other things by seed in May. So there you go, those are my garden plans of the year.

I’m eager to get the “cabana” back up and the swing inside. Writing out there last year was so fruitful; I can’t wait to recreate that magic. This Lent, I learned a few different things about myself and my writing. Allowing myself to not write was healthy in some respects, but now I feel “backed-up.” Like not drinking a whole beer the first time I have a drink after abstaining, I’ve grabbed a set of 5 words from Hot Pants (Thank you Kim Chinquee!) and tried my hand at 300 word flash this past week. It’s going well, though yesterday I ended up with a 981 story that needs to be expanding. Ah, the twists, turns, and so-called thrills of being a writer.

I hope you’re well. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

 

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences shall vary. )

In Zoetrope, Mary Lynn Reed recently told of an inspiring ending to an old story. She dusted off some earlier work, sent it out again, and had it accepted. I’m exaggerating, but it was something dramatic like 10 years, 1000 submissions and boom! The piece ends up accepted at a great venue. You know where this is going…

I recently received a personal rejection from Vestal Review on a piece. I was ready to stash it, but after that post, I looked it over, tweaked it and sent it off to The Blueshift Journal. Three days later—on my birthday—I  received an acceptance from them. That totally made up for having to attend a Board of Education Meeting later on that night. Even that went well! I was given a bag of Girl Scout cookies that I shared with the administrators when they gave their reports, there were no public comments, no executive session, and we were out of there BEFORE 9:00!

The next day arrived with a mystery. I, and other writers were mentioned in a Tweet by Mr. Bear regarding a show on Boston Free Radio. I pinged my niece, she knew nothing about it. I asked Mary; she didn’t know, so I found the station online (mind you I was misdirected with “download this” for over 40 minutes or I would have mentioned it on Facebook) just before 8 so I was able to listen to the whole show. The title was These are No Ordinary Gardens and you can listen to the podcast here. (Mine is the last piece, sandwiched between songs by The MaMas and the PaPas’ and The Cure. Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Jan Stinchcomb, Jolene Mcillwain, Marilyn Horn-Fahey, and Jennifer M. Donahue are the other authors, and Georgia Bellas is the DJ.)  Let me tell you, that was the most amazing thing – to hear someone read my work! I have no idea how my flash came to Mr. Bear’s attention, but I’m so grateful! And that Jellyfish Review got a plug, too? Awesome!

The Monday birthday meant we went out for a nice lunch on Saturday. Shoe shopping and a trip to the bookstore were included, so it was a great day and on Monday, Husband brought me roses.

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Spring felt like it was here; we even had the usual signs:

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Now it looks like this:

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Ah well…Another lovely problem, right? I have another that I’m off to solve. I don’t have any more flash to send out! I have to create more. I love my problems. I hope you appreciate yours, too. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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

 

If all goes well, I will have this posted by midnight and this blog won’t technically be late, but it feels late. I really did work today and have a Hamburg Writers’ Group meeting, which turned into a brainstorming/moral support exchange with Chel. My son went home this morning; he’d been visiting and got to experience the days of no electric, a HWG meeting, time at the West Falls-Colden Library while I worked my shift, a Springville Griffith-Institute Board of Education meeting, the governor declaring a state of emergency for minor snow fall and various other bits of life over the course of a week.

I succumbed to the disease – or its part of the cult I’m in – and bought a selfie-stick and my son got it to work. Here are pictures of me and him and Husband at the Hamburg Brewing Company:

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(This one is with the selfie-stick)

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Also, he helped fix the problem I was having with my word-processing program. Technology wins are the best!

Otherwise, I was involved in some high literary drama that escalated into the realm of the bizarre. I’m not sure it’s over yet, but I hope it is. Normally, I wouldn’t mention it, but it took up so much of my time and if I were a man, I have no doubt everything about the situation would have been different. A link on Facebook to an “article” done in Twitter tweets about this very idea appeared on my feed shortly after that, so my theory must be true.

I don’t know if it’s true, but it feels likes the literary highs are getting higher and the lows are tickling rock bottom. I quit writing, you know. I’d had enough the other day. You can guess what happened…I was offered a lot of money to write some essays. A lot of money to me anyways, so, even though I was sure I was out this time, I’m back in. Good thing, too. Writing is the only thing I truly love to do.

Thanks for stopping by!

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

 

What’s this? Five minutes without something urgently in need of my attention? I must be slacking. No, that was yesterday when I had to work, and get my initial interview questions out to Kurt Baumeister about his book, Pax Americana, for the Tavern Lantern interview. Then it was off to home where I found a most welcome letter…with a deadline.

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Hence, my reasons for not getting this blog post up until just now. I have others, like surviving the reading on Tuesday at the Hamburg Library. Photos compliments of Husband!

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Me.

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Nina Fosati

 

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Shirley Palmerton and Jim Miner

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Debra O’Connor

Husband has been driving me nuts about the chairs, so I’m rearranging my schedule so we can go get them. I also need ink refills, so that has to be worked into the plan. I’ve also been spending too much time obsessing over the Pitch Madness Teasers for the Candyland Edition. I must stop going on Twitter, really. And today I’m looking forward to another bit of unexpected good news. My son is coming to visit next week! So, apologies for being late with this post. I’m juggling as fast as I can.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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

I’m back from AWP in D. C. and had the best time while I was there!

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For a long time, my novel critique group has been saying, “We should go to a conference together.” Well, things fell into place and after I spent the night at Gina’s house on Tuesday, Mary showed up and we drove to D. C. We got there Wednesday afternoon, checked into the hotel, registered with the conference then we had dinner with the brilliant writer, Pamela Erens.

Up early on Thursday, I went to a 9am panel called, “Demystifying the Business Side of Writing and Publishing.” Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum led it and I learned great things from him, Whitney Davis, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Paula Munier, and Joshua Shenk.

From there, I went to “Time, Space, and Community,” led by Jac Jemec. The ins, outs, and quirks of residencies were discussed by Rebecca Makkai, Rachel Cantor, Erinn Beth Langille (I ❤ her!) and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. You know what’s fun? To know one’s underpants are part of this equation.

From the bowels of the Marriott Marquis, I went to the Book Fair and hit my prime targets. I tried to meet Paul Vega and failed. I did meet Kurt Baumeister—author of Pax Americana—and James Reich from Stalking Horse Press. (Talk about a thick business card!) I also tried to see Robert Vaughan at the Word Tango table and P. E. Garcia at The Rumpus, but all I got was an awesome tee shirt and mug that each say “Write Like A M-F.” (Sure, by M-F, I did mean mushroom finder. We can work with that, but I took a picture.)

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Mimi Schwartz, Phillip Lopate, Richard Hoffman, and Laurie Stone did a fantastic job of letting me know when real names were important or not during their panel called, “I Didn’t Ask to Be In Your Story: When Real Names Matter and When They Don’t.”

The next panel was awkward for the match up. I mean, ROXANE GAY was there—my hero! During “Beyond the Deadline: Surviving (And Thriving) In Magazine Publishing, it felt like  Katelyn Belyus was doing a great job but her panelists weren’t the target people to ask the questions she was asking. It was fantastic to listen to Chip Blake, Sy Safransky and Ms. Gay and watch them keep their cool.

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“Women’s Fiction: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It,” explained the reason why some agents requested comp titles. Thank you Dorian Karchmar!

Meeting up with Mary at the VCCA group meant I got to meet interesting people like Randon Noble. The conversation turned to food, which led to my first time eating Korean food. After that, I also had my first Uber ride with a guy who played a Mr. Rogers YouTube video and I fell a little bit in love with the whole idea of Washington, D. C. as a “city.”

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Friday meant Gina and I had breakfast together at the Washington Plaza near the pool. We attended the “Second Blooming: Women Authors Debuting After Fifty.” It was interesting, but I couldn’t help thinking that the people present kept saying they entered multiple contests, which required many dollars to enter so tier success seemed money driven and that bothered me. Does it mean only old people can be published IF they throw down thousands of dollars to win a prize? I didn’t raise my hand to ask Ellen Meeropol, Paulette Boudreaux, Jeanne Gassman or Cynthia Bond because I left there a bit early to call Husband.

From there, I went to “Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Organizing and Structuring Story Collections, but I couldn’t find the archives room on the map, and you know me with maps—I ended up in Salon F for “The Shape of Fiction: A Look at Structuring Novel Length Prose.” I sat down and Cliff sat on the end. A woman came in to claim the seat between us, but Cliff said, “Why don’t you sit in my seat and I’ll sit by my friend.” (Yeah, that’s right, Cliff Garstang referred to me as his friend!) Anyways, Christian Kiefer was the moderator and he was funny. It was an interesting panel with Jeff Jackson, Esme Weijun Wang, Janet Finch and Kristin Chen.

 

I then attended “From Flash Fiction to Microfiction: How Many words are Enough?” What an excellent panel! Pamela Painter, Sherrie Flick, James Thomas, Nancy Stohlman, and Grant Faulkner talked about prompts and results. Walking over to introduce myself to Grant, I ran into Len Kuntz! He was there with Robert Vaughan! They invited me to their table at the Renaissance for later that night.

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After that, I hit the Book Fair again. I saw Gina who was going with Mary to see Emma Straub & Ann Patchett speak in the Ballroom. I thought about going but decided I needed some alone time. At the hotel, I texted Jimmy and arranged a night out with him. He picked me up and we drove to Arlington to pick up his lovely fiancée, Lindsay. From there, we went to the El Paso Café for margaritas and quesadillas. The drive back into Washington was beautiful—multiple monuments were lit up. At the Marriott Marquis, we attempted to find Mary, but couldn’t find her. We popped into the Sewanee Writer’s Conference Reception. I did find Cliff, but it was so loud, we left.

At the Renaissance, we found a table populated with the brilliant Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, April Bradley, Karen Stefano, David S. Atkinson, and Robert P. Kaye It was such a great time. Jimmy and Lindsay left after one drink because they had to drive home.

Mary texted, then came to the bar. As that collection was breaking up, Cliff and my new best friend Jody Hobbs Hesler came round and we went to the next bar and before I could believe it myself, it was last call. I toddled back the many blocks to my hotel and in my effort to be Best Roommate Ever, I took off my jacket, blazer, and shoes before I went into my room so not to disturb Gina. Well, I left my blazer hanging on the next door’s knob. I woke to see Gina gone, my blazer missing and vague memories from the night before—a few captured on my phone.

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(This last one was from Mary’s phone. Thank you Mary!)

Anyway, after quizzing Mary, I went downstairs, asked at the desk and got my blazer back. I went to the Book Fair, bought Robert’s Vaughan’s Funhouse and he signed it. At the Word Tango table, I got to chat again with the lovely Jennifer Kircher Carr and meet Elizabeth Pettie. I ran into David S. Atkinson and he handed me his book, Apocalypse All the Time, for possible review. I picked up the free book I’d won in a drawing by Writing By Writers. I was supposed to wait until 4 p.m. but as I was leaving, I was able to choose The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch.

I saw Pamela on the way out to meet Gina and Mary. While waiting, I saw the guy from the first panel and had a chance to talk to him and exchange business cards. Such a circle, huh?

It was lovely fun. I’ve left out meeting Gay Degani in the hall just before a panel and getting a hug…not having to feel bad about missing Kim Chinquee’s off-site reading…receiving Mia Avramut’s lovely message…randomly bumping into Claudia Cortese on the sidewalk…finding P. E. Garcia’s voice fine, not strange…getting to meet Paul Vega later on…Beth Gilstrap recognizing me…and a thousand other details that were fabulous though not as fabulous as you for having read all the way through!

THANK YOU!

It’s great to be back though I did have to have my picture retaken at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night and the weather returned to winter and it looks like this outside:

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Ah, home…

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

Tuesday greeted me with an email saying I was nominated for an award. It was a great start. I spent time tiding up and attending to loose ends—well, as many as I could manage. After doing some shopping, I went to see Betty and was sad to learn Rudy passed on. He was a good horse and will be missed. Of course after that, I got stuck in her driveway and she was wonderful in helping me get out, but oye, what a chore and after her sadness. Then I came home to a bit of a tiff with Husband, so, I guess that’s the way it goes.

I had to work on Groundhog Day proper (fun fact: my other husband (on stage) also has February second as his birthday) and then Husband took me to J. P. Fitzgerald’s for dinner. All of which is to say, the lack of time at home and laziness have put me behind and thus, this post is late.

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The weather outside is a delightful reason to stay in this morning, catch up on the tax paperwork we have to take to the CPA on Saturday after I get my hair done. I need to firm up my itinerary for AWP panels I want to attend and start packing. I’m going to Washington D.C. though I’m not happy with some of the things going on in the capitol and I’ve been calling to let it be known. I suggest you do, too. The Internet makes it incredibly easy to find the numbers you need. It only takes a minute or so. I mean, come on, someone with the lack of skills that DeVos has? How can you not speak up? It’s our country and the congressmen represent you no matter how you voted. And that rant is over. (Another fun fact: The girl who lived down the street from me and was one of my best friends also was born on Groundhog’s Day.)

I’m excited and have plans to meet many of the people I know only through Facebook and literary journal. And artwork. Until next time, I hope your Black History Month is insightful. Many thanks for stopping by!

 

*These are my creekside reflections; your experiences may vary.

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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Thanks for stopping by!

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