{~Photos graciously provided by Joseph Fleckenstein~}



Participating in National Novel Writing Month is a process that continues to fascinate me. I won’t say it gets easier, or that I am any closer to having a “real” book by the end, but each time I find a rhythm. I completely “pantsed” this year and so far, I’m finding my way – though by now, the beginning needs major reworking. Oh, how I love the problems I have.

I forget which “law” it is, but to me, writing is motion and once engaged, I write even more. My co-workers have been nailing comments on pieces sent to Literary Orphans, so I’ve mostly bowed out of commenting there because, “What Len said” and “Brittany summed it up nicely” grows tiresome, even to my own ear. I do read, and I vote. That is the loveliest thing – if you submit to LO, your piece is read by at least three people.

There’s more responsibility and leeway at r.kv.r.y. I made an executive decision Sunday night. A writer sent a piece and said he’d appreciate any feedback. It’s customary to wait a week before responding – I don’t know why that is, it just is. Anyway, the writing was good but the story wasn’t “there.” I offered my reasons and reasoning as to why I wasn’t accepting the piece. It was a bit scary – one never knows how another reacts – especially to rejection.

In the morning, the writer, Joseph Fleckenstein – my guest photographer today – responded with an abundance of gratitude. My time spent reaching out and talking to another writer ended in an offer of four beautiful images to choose from for my very own. The first was of a thistle. I chose that one because of it being a talisman to the family I married into – a thistle was on Gideon Whitson’s gravestone – and if the story I got from Husband is wrong, I’m sure my beautiful niece will correct me. So at the top and bottom are two gorgeous photos of thistles by Joseph Fleckenstein. My many, many thanks to him.

‘Tis the season to be grateful, isn’t it?

Nancy Leone came by yesterday with flowers, fresh rosemary, and her final notes on L&C. She had one major point I know I should consider fixing. It’s at the end and won’t require a lot, but I wish that book was “done” done. I know, it won’t be until it’s published – should I be that lucky, but it’s gotten to minutia and I’m tired. I want to move on. Is that wrong? Besides which, someone wondered if I wasn’t allowing too many critiquers into the pot, but the last major rewrite pleased him so I just don’t know anymore.

What I do know is that I took a break from a private office in Zoetrope. I didn’t think I was being useful and the prompts weren’t working. Late summer and early autumn are full of depression triggering time bombs. Events conspired, I wrote a creative nonfiction piece – something I shy away from writing, but I posted it and then could see the flaws. It felt great though, to dip back into flash. So, to you Kim Chinquee, I want to give my thanks for leaving that office door open. And thanks to Gina who has been such a positive guide. Thanks to Mary for her belief in me. Thanks to my incredible and kind Husband. To Sidney. To Alex. To Chyo. To XOMan. To my niece.

I could go on for a VERY long time naming people and things I’m grateful for but this post is already topping 600 words. That’s longer than the flash I wrote…which just proves the law I was talking about…

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Thank you again, Joseph Fleckenstein!

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

I have good news to share…

Jellyfish Review, a gorgeous new venue for flash accepted “Pretty Changes” and it will be going live this Saturday. That’s wonderful enough, right? On top of that, the brilliant editor, Christopher James, told me he’d recently been interviewed by Jim Harrington for Six Questions For and he mentioned my image at the end of the piece as the type of thing he looks for in submissions. How flattering is that?

“Could Have Been Us” will be included in The Best of Vine Leaves 2015 Anthology. Thank you to Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius. You are both such gracious women and it’s been a pleasure to work with you. (Because of their nudging, I now have an author page at Goodreads.)


Best of the Net Nominee! Best of the Net Nominee! You can call me a Best of the Net Nominee because Black Heart Magazine Editors and Readers remembered “Vocabulary Lessons” from when they posted it in November of last year as a story worthy of nominating. All I can say is THANK YOU to Laura Roberts and everyone at Black Heart Magazine. When I came across that, it was such welcome news. I’d been feeling a bit blasé about my writing career lately, but that news gave me a thrill. I’m still tingly!

Otherwise, I’m on day 5 of National Novel Writing Month and I’m a few words ahead. My MC is threatening to call me in for character abuse. Poor thing has so many problems going on as it is and I keep piling on more. Today there was a surprise I did not see coming. That’s the fabulous thing about writing, how characters know things you had no clue about. I don’t know where this book is going, but so far it’s keeping my interest.

Right, so


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

So that was a bit of a tease. The publisher at Hypertrophic Press contacted me about Chris DiCicco new collection, “So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds” and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the book or interviewing the author. I ran it by Brittany Warren, the Managing editor of The Literary Tavern. She said to go for it. I’m reading it now. It’s an interesting mix of stories.

I’m hoping to have it read and the interview conducted and turned in before Halloween, but I’m not going to kill myself trying to get it done. There is a wedding, a Bills game watching party, plus deadlines fast approaching. In an ideal world, I’d have clear slate for November, but that hasn’t happened yet and I’ve still “won” NaNoWriMo. Usually, I have some idea of what I want to write, but so far – aside from the title – I’m blank. After the tremendous amount of time I put into “Life and Crimes,” I think it’s to be expected.

I’ve done this enough to know that once I “see” the end, I’ll be able to get a rough draft down. It’s a tingly, full of dread and excitement phase now. Will I make it? Sadist (or insane writer that I am) I’m hoping to add more to “Dreaming Lettie” as well as writing 50,000 words toward “Considering the Alternative.” I’m covered for the 20 pages due for next month’s novel critique group meeting, plus I’ve got a few pages in my notebook for the December twenty (written during the boring parts of a Board of Education meeting) but otherwise, I’d hoped to be farther along. If we have pages due on December 1st, well, let’s just say I don’t see that happening…

Yes, I love the problems I have!

Nancy Leone, a woman I met in Bella Poynton’s playwriting workshop, has been reading the revised “Life and Crimes.” So far, so good. I had a lovely time with her yesterday over tea, apple crisp, brie, and grapes.

I finished the baby blanket and sent that off yesterday. The garden shed is cleaned up, the tool blades oiled, leaves raked and on the resting raised bed. I can’t say I’m “ready” for winter, but with all the garden tasks complete, I’ve been able to relax and enjoy the beauty of autumn. The Sweet Gum is changing color and it’s beautiful to see all of the colors it produces.





And my copy of Best New Writing 2016 arrived yesterday. I have to admit that it’s nice to see “Gover Prize Winner” associated with my name. Many thanks to Christopher Klim, Brittany Fonte, and everyone at Hopewell Publications.



Thanks for stopping by! Happy Halloween!





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


My cat is quite upset. Yesterday, I fulfilled my Facebook obligation to do whatever was asked of me by the esteemed Tuttle’s as long as they picked me up and took me to their house in order to do it. Yeah, I roll that way–if I say I’ll do it on FB, it will be done. A journalist from Buffalo Spree wants to interview them about living off the grid, so they wanted to spiff up their yard. I got to dig. I was gone all day and the cat couldn’t go in and out as she pleased, plus she knows I petted other cats–and two dogs–while I was away.



It’s autumn and the weather has been good and the colors great. I’ve been catching this a lot–the dew point is just right so when the sun hits grass blades and tree leaves, a foggy, magical cloud appears. I find it a bit distressing–the sun accomplishing something tangible so easily and so early in the morning.

Life has been going quite well recently (knock up on wood) in the professional arena. After my interview with Karen Stefano went live, I was added to the Literary Orphan’s Masthead as an interviewer. I’ve been appointed Assistant Editor at r.kv.r.y. Quarterly and on Sunday, my Twitter feed went nuts with news that my story, “Prudence” was a Flash Fiction Sunday Edition pick. I was flattered by DeRicki Johnson ’s kind words.

I spoke at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday and plan to do so again at the next one. I really don’t want to run, but the more ignorance and tone deafness I hear from those so-called ‘leaders,’ the angrier I become and want to step in and give people a choice from the status quo. I hope these feelings pass soon. This energy would be much better spent on my writing.

That, too has been going well. I wrote past the problem I was having in the new book and got 20 pages out to the group. I came across a notebook where I listed stories that I’d roughed out. I opened up one and worked on it last night–it still needs some work, but it’s stronger and funnier than I remembered. So, that is what I’m off to work on though it’s a nice day so I might take a walk out back. Last time, I found this little guy on the creekside trail.



Thanks for stopping by!


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

r.kv.r.y. is open for submissions and I have my Saturday shift at the library back. The weather has been perfect for sitting out on the patio so I can listen to the creek while I have coffee with my breakfast and read the paper. The leaves are just beginning to change color. I love the fall.

September Breakfast View

I was lucky enough to interview Karen Stefano about her short story collection, The Secret Games of Words, a book I recommend highly. It will be up at The Tavern Lantern on the 28th.

Otherwise, I’m dealing up with a bunch of ups and downs. My cat had at least ten seizures one night. It was terrifying and there was nothing I could do but try to keep her safe. I really thought I was going to lose her.

So that angst went up against the joy brought to me by my incredible son and fantastic daughter-in-law. They had a healthy baby girl. Her name is a combination of middle names–mine and Connie’s. Isn’t that sweet? So is the baby.


The garden is winding down and I’ve brought most of the houseplants back inside. I received a rejection–an inky, flattering rejection from The Minnesota Review that asked me to send them something else. Sure, it’s great, but frustrating. It’s the second story they’ve liked–but not enough… I love my problems. I really do.

Otherwise, I’m debating on the next book. I started sending “Dreaming Lettie” to the group, but got caught up on an information dump I have yet to work out. The beginning of “Life & Crimes” served as a placeholder for which pages I sent, but now I’m in a real bind.

I started a sequel to “L&C” a few years ago, but it went dark, fast and I didn’t want to write it then. Now, a lot of ideas are popping up to carry it through. The problem is that I don’t want to spend time on it if “L&C” gets no love. I don’t know. I have a few weeks before pages are due again. It’s a nice day. I may spend it out in the screened in tent on the swing far from the maddening strum of the phone that lets me know when email has arrived.




*These are my angst-ridden creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.

It’s getting to be that time of year again when the furniture gets changed around so we have a wall of firewood inside and can use the wood stove. If an antenna wire is installed, we might have the stereo in the living room this season. This bit of change is stressful since I start thinking I should get rid of things, but I rarely do since I have an attachment issue.

If that were the only issue I had…

My kindle’s battery was empty. That’s never happened before. I just figured out the new way to get stories from Submittable sent to it. All right, I didn’t figure it out, I had to ask for help after reading the FAQs. I’d like to add that the staff at Submittable are incredibly helpful and prompt. Thank you!

The book revision took over my life and I was frustrated since I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere and I wanted it to be done by Labor Day. Husband suggested I go in the library. I didn’t think it would work, but we went on an errand, which led to a trip to the Savage winery. We returned home, I went to work, and boom! That night I was finished…as finished as a 89,675 word novel gets. I’m doing a final read through and cutting a word here and there, but otherwise, I think that’s it.

At the novel critique group on Tuesday, there was a lively discussion on our respective pages and part of the conversation turned to agents. I was so dispirited. Two of the women are on their third agents. I’m weary of starting up the search again for my first.

I think I’ll start the new book instead.


*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.

This past weekend was marvelous! Rachael flew in, Donkey and Lisa came by and Husband’s twin was here, too. The weather was perfect. There was a half game of gonzo croquet, several hands of cutthroat bridge, rich food and many carbonated beverages. Husband and I have a new favorite beer, Berkshire Brewing Company’s Coffee House Porter. We don’t often agree on beer, but this one rated a 9 from both of us.

8.22.2015(Thanks for the picture, Rachael!)

But of course, a good time often comes at a cost…

Here it is, two weeks later and I’m still revising L&C. I’m starting to hate this book. That isn’t the only thing that remains undone. *Sigh* I love the problems, I have–I really do, but this week seems especially full of them.

Last night was the last District Facilities Review Committee meeting. I’m sad to report that after it goes to the Board of Education, the new gym will most likely be put up for a vote ON DECEMBER 15th! On top of that underhandedness, the interim Superintendent will be gone by January so none of the fallout will hit her on the way out. Yes, I knew all politics is local and it’s all crap, but this is a bump up of at least two hundred dollars a year–with a steady 2% + increase every year for a declining student base–if this passes and with the voting machine Duwe has in place, it feels like a done deal.

I hate her–and her husband rubs me the wrong way, too. Putting it in a bubble and sending it away.

Other than that, I’m so behind on my reading for Literary Orphans it isn’t even funny and in a few days, the submission to portal for r.kv.r.y. opens. I’m not ready. I’ll be visiting Burlington Books in Perry tomorrow before I go to a viewing for my Uncle Erv. I was transcribing an essay I wrote in longhand in my notebook about him when he passed. Strange.

The consultation gig has at least two more rounds of emails to go through and this morning I woke to find edit requests on a story I thought I’d finished, but that’s minor. I’m sure there’s other things I’m forgetting at the moment.

I’m pulling out my “to-do” book, making a list, and getting to work. It will satisfy me to no end to cross off “write and post blog.”

One thing done well. Check.

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


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