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In a recent letter to a friend, I came up with the idea of sending out a submission a day for a year. Thinking about it further, I decided on a more sensible goal of 31 submissions in 31 days – or one a day in January – and achieved it. My thought was that if I did that much, I could continue, and if not, that was fine, too. I mean, really, 366 in 366 is a lot to commit to, but I’ll probably pick another month and do that again – just not this month.

For a short month, there is a lot on my calendar. I met with Nancy yesterday to discuss life and writing. Monday, I’m auditioning for a role in 1 of 9 ten minute plays. Lent is fast approaching so soon there will be dinners out on Fridays for fish fries (and no dishes to wash!) On the 18th, the novel critique group is meeting once again after its brief winter hiatus and later this month I have the amazing good fortune to be taking an online course about Flash Fiction with the incredibly talented Kathy Fish.

One thing I will be submitting to is the 21st Dear Lucky Agent contest hosted by Chuck Sambuchino. This time, Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein from McIntosh & Otis is the judge. I’m sending the first page of “Ellie’s Elephants.” Wish me luck!

The news has been filled with the sad passings of people with enormous talent. Bowie will be read about forever and I want to give kudos to my cousin, Gregory Cason for being part of a tribute. He’s all bashful about it, but his name is on that byline and I’m proud of him. Hugs and high fives, Greg!!!

All right, I’m off to write, read, and make tomato sauce for dinner after our trip to the lawyer tonight. Thanks for stopping by!

2.4.2016

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

It got to the point where the papers in the “to file” box tumbled over the sides again and while I picked them up for the fifth time, I realized I really had to tackle that job. Bank statements, take-out menus, invitations to events I never had any intention of going to, and stray button batteries lingered in that box for up to two years – perhaps longer – but the box is now empty. Not only did I file, I went through the files and purged them of outdated material. It feels really good to have that done. I have some hope that I’ll get to the filing a bit quicker next time.

(Don’t laugh! It could happen!)

Occasionally, I’ll try the “touch it once” paper solution idea, but that rarely lasts longer than three days because I’d rather work on a story than go through mail the second it comes. Besides, I like lingering over J. Peterman catalogs…

Of course that “good deed” lead to others, like making an appointment with a lawyer to update our wills since the ones we had named a now dead person to be the executor in case we died at the same time, which led to the deed being “quick claimed” so if something happens, (knock-on-wood-it-doesn’t) probate can be avoided. Lawyers are expensive creatures! I mean, I knew that in general, but when I got the bill, I started wondering if I shouldn’t have stuck with my 6th grade goal and pursued a career in the legal profession.

I also went through the stack of “there’s an article/quote/cartoon/recipe I want in here” newspapers. Then, I tackled the print out stack in my office and I can now find the stories I want because they are in folders. It’s a New Year miracle!

All of that good stuff means I’m behind on collecting the tax stuff, but I’m close. I’m also upping my game with writing and submissions. I don’t know how long these good intentions will last, but they aren’t “resolutions” so they have a better shot of continuing than not. I hope.

I think the burst of ambition has a little to do with being inspired by beauty.

MiaBlue

MiaMauve

They are both by Mia Avramut. Husband matted them last Saturday and they are ready to hang, but I have them on the shelves of the bookcase where I can admire them for now. They are both so gorgeous; these photos do not do then justice.

So, that’s what has been happening around here. Thanks for checking in!

 

 

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

I’m at Spot Coffee and my tablet decides to update Microsoft Office. That isn’t productive for writing this blog post, so I went ahead and jotted notes down on real paper to remind myself of what I wanted to say. That I was writing – or at least attempting to write – outside of my comfort zone of known places where I normally write being the big news. That, and the beaver damn failed. It had been providing this nice waterfall view from my kitchen window for a while:

BD

Snow and cold made it to our area and the number of activities I had lined up for this week went from four to one, so when the meeting of novelists was threatened, I pushed through my normal homebody tendencies and declared I wanted to get out of the house. Gina to the rescue! (She is awesome, inspiring, and encourages me to finish things.) She picked me up and now I feel all “writerly” on the couch typing this while we’re waiting for Mary to arrive.

 
I wrapped up my interview with Susan Tepper about her beautiful new book and that will go live at the Tavern Lantern on Monday (Yes! Handed in ahead of the due date!) “Dear Petrov” will be coming out on 2 February 2016.

Petrov

I converted a bit of prose from a book in progress into a flash for a magazine call on the theme of “dance.” That’s about all the writing I’ve gotten done recently. Oh, well, there was a short story, too, but it was mostly written and just needed some polish.

 

 
Christopher James at Jellyfish Review nominated my flash, “Pretty Changes” for inclusion to Best Small Fictions. For those keeping score, yeah, that’s a win of the Gover Prize, a Best of the Net nomination, my first Pushcart Nomination and the Best Small Fictions nomination all in the space of six months.

 
I am honored to have two new pieces of Mia Avramut’s art to frame. I picked out the matte this weekend and can’t wait for Husband to cut it so they can be hung.

MIAB

MIAA

Other than that, I’ve been reading. It’s a nice change of pace, though not “really” writing results in a host of new problems like titles, characters, and bits of dialogue popping into my head at odd times. I know I need to get back to a novel, but right now, I need a break. And new experiences so that’s how I ended up in Spot to write this post.

 
*These are merely my Creekside (though written in a coffeehouse this week) Reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Everyone celebrates the winter season in different ways. Husband and I rarely do the proper things on the “right” days due to a multitude of reasons. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t post last Thursday because I already had enough stress going on with getting things ready for the gathering at our home last weekend.

And all I can say about that is thank the Grinch it’s over. Some people were truly outstanding in their efforts to make that the suckiest weekend ever. I’d love to blame it on the full moon though Red Bull might be to blame. I’m not sure what else to think…other than a new year is fast approaching. Billy Crystal’s confusion about the meaning of the words to Auld Lang Syne at the end of “When Harry Met Sally” also comes to mind. The fact that I still haven’t made it through “Billy Jack” niggles away at my thoughts, too.

And with that happy enigma of odd sentences, I present to you either a repeat of what I already sent or a clearer picture of where my poor head is at right now during this festive time of year:

wreath

 

OUR 2015 HOLIDAY LETTER…SORT OF

“Why do I have to sign these cards? You haven’t written your dreaded holiday letter yet.”
“I told you not to complain or you’d be the one writing it. And addressing the envelopes. Then you can stamp them and take them to the Post Office!”
“Touchy! Is this an example of your holiday cheer?”
“Yes. Yes it is. I don’t think you know hard it is to write these things.”
“You’re a writer. It’s what you do.”
“And you’re a carpenter. Don’t I still have a hole in the kitchen floor? Weren’t you going to fix that? Isn’t that what you do?”
“I told you it wasn’t that easy.”
“And neither is writing a holiday letter to friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues without ticking someone off.”
“So don’t tick them off. Just tell them about the good stuff.”
“I can’t think of anything.”
“Riener. asked Aaron to marry him and she said yes.”
“Yeah, I know your son is getting married in September.”
“Daniel and Christina had a baby girl.”
“That was on my Facebook page, and my blog…But yeah, having both a granddaughter and a grandson now is pretty cool.”
“We went to my family reunion in Essex this July. All three of my brothers were there and you got to see Champy the Lake Champlain Sea Monster.”
“That was a wooden toy somebody put in the water!”
“But you liked the old school house we stayed in and the fireworks display in the yard.”
“Sure.”
“And didn’t you win a prize or get nominated for some writer thing?”
“The Gover. For the millionth time I won the Gover and was nominated for a Best of the Net and a Pushcart.”
“I still don’t know what any of those are.”
“Of course you don’t. You never listen to me.”
“And you listen to me? Really? Where have I been working this year?”
“You’re still working for Kirst.”
“Funny. Where have I been working?”
“Mostly at MRI. A few days at Steuben foods. Lately, Salamanca. ”
“So you do pay attention.”
“I’m a writer. That’s what I do.”
“Well, Miss Writerly Person, if you were paying attention, you would have realized we pretty much wrote the holiday letter just now.”
“You called it dreadful.”
“Dreaded. I called it dreaded. I knew you didn’t listen to me.”
“You’re one to talk.”
“Just write the letter.”
“Sign the cards!”
“Make sure you wish everyone a Happy New Year.”
“Don’t I always?”
“I wouldn’t know. I never read those things.”

Wishing You Yuletide Warmth and Best Wishes for the New Year
From our Happy Home to Yours
~ Me and Husband ~

Ecstatically, I’ll tell you this: the incredible editor of New World Writing, Kim Chinquee, not only edited and accepted my flash “I Saw the Announcement in the Paper” she nominated it for a PUSHCART! Can you believe it? I’m still having trouble breathing.

Seriously!

WOW!

Husband’s reaction to that news: “So? I don’t know what that is.”

And, that’s my life.

Thanksgiving here was small and quiet, which I appreciated. I’m happy to report I “won” another year of NaNoWriMo. Do I have a novel? No, but I found some interesting characters, themes, and a lovely setting. My friend Nancy chose me to check in with for accountability as she begins her novel writing process. I am humbled by this and enjoy receiving her nightly texts. Husband’s twin visited recently so I got to play hostess. It was nice. I’m looking forward to doing that again. His perspective is different than his brother’s and comparing them interests me. Also, niece had an amazing interview for her dream job and she will be here soon so I can hear the details. Christmas gifts have been ordered. Husband’s present arrived yesterday morning and the UPS delivery guy was not only good looking, but funny, which made my getting out of bed worth it. I don’t know. Seasonal Affection Disorder? The weight of the thing I feel more and more? The dual suicides this summer bothered me. I attended a Suicide Loss seminar. It didn’t help. I go a little crazy when I think about the amazing people who aren’t around anymore. The holiday cheer adds to the sting of missing them, but life goes on, doesn’t it?

Another facet of my life is the mind numbingly annoyance of the Springville Griffith Institute’s Board of Education nonsense. I cannot believe that they — in good conscience — collectively agreed to waste at least $17,000 on a special election for a new gym for the high school when in ten years the student population will be down by 150 students. It hurts my head to consider why they think it’s a good idea and the numbers they are throwing around! It’s going to cost the average household far more than they are advertising with their claims of “per parcel” tax rates.

Ah, the life and qualms of living in a small town are curious, aren’t they? That, or I’ve retained my childlike belief in that people want to do good. I’d rather own that than have Seth and Allison destroy all hope I have in humanity. It’s tenuous, this grasp I have, but I want it. I need it. I’ve known too many people for whom it slipped away.

Christ, I still think this world can terraform our way out of climate change, pollution, and world hunger. Of course I’m delusional; I’m a writer.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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

 

{~Photos graciously provided by Joseph Fleckenstein~}

BPS-B1-FLECJ-Thistle_Blossom

 

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…

Thanks for stopping by!

55-56-57

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.)

AND

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

nanocat

Thanks for stopping by!

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

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