Christmas

4 Degrees on the 4th of January

Hello and welcome to the first post of the new year! Most places in the US are cold right now because of some weather phenomenon I’ve never heard of before, so I won’t add to the griping since it hasn’t snowed yet today, but we do have snow.

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The holidays were fun and each started out right with pancakes and mimosas. I meant to take pictures, but when you’re drinking champagne first thing in the morning, it somehow makes one forgetful. Who knew?

What I do remember is unwrapping this on Christmas morning:

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This gorgeous piece of pottery was made by the multi-talented Mary Akers. Thank you Mary!

Husband and I took Ben down to PA for an amazingly wonderful visit with his Twin, Niece from Boston, and Nephew from near Portland. Bridge was played so everyone was allowed to remain unharmed. And look what Niece got for me!

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Isn’t it perfect? I’ve been thinking about “new book” and someone does have to die in it, so…

So, yeah, I have been thinking about it. I’ve also been thinking about how I didn’t submit as much as usual last year. And dreading the rewrite of the last book, but not as much as the idea of querying agents. Yes, I do have the best first world problems and I love every single one of them – including the abundance of new books to read.

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Congratulations to Alex Pruteanu on this – I’ve waited a long time to read it and I am savoring it.

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And mega-thank you to Susan Tepper! I’m looking forward to this delight!

Lousy weather does have its joy – curling up in front of the fire and reading.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay warm!

*These are my creek side reflections. Your experiences should vary.

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A Different Thanksgiving

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.

Voting and Kvetching in December

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.

Being a writer is full of surprises.

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There has been a barrage of information about the weather. That’s all I’ve seen or heard about lately. The newspaper hasn’t arrived in days. When I’ve gone to watch a show or listen to a radio program, I hear about travel bans and record breaking snowfall totals. I’m a bit surprised since I’m from the area and my motto is “It’s Buffalo. It snows. Get over it,” and let’s face it, when my area gets hit, no one cuts me slack since I’m in “ski country,” and apparently that means I must like the snow, which I do, but that is beside the point. There is more to my world than the weather. What happened with the XL Pipeline? Are the Kardashians still exposing themselves inappropriately? Has ISIS taken over the world? I’m asking because I don’t know. I only know about the snow. There’s been no mail either.

I’m in a funky weird state after learning (via email) great news about one story I wrote only to have that information followed by a heart breaking email about a completely different aspect of my so-called writing career.

Are you ready?

My short story,”Between a Vacuum and Empty Space,” was not only selected for inclusion in a Sci-Fi anthology by Divertir Publishing, but it is going to be the first story and serve as the TITLE for the collection!

How does that happen? I don’t know, but it did. I sent a note to Jim Tuttle (Half of JT and the Law–go follow them) to let him know first because he helped me with the details–I am so grateful to him! His response made me smile. After that, I told Husband, members of Write To Be, and then Chyo. So weird and flattering. I still have a happy about it.

Then, of course, there was the ego-deflating bit. An agent who had requested the first 30 pages of L&C decided she didn’t want to see anymore. Eh. What are you going to do?

These new sagas are a nice breather from the truck needing repairs and the “Help! I don’t know what I’m doing in my NaNo story” angst. It’s fine. It’s life. It’s not French wine, but I could hum a few bars.

And that’s another thing! On the journey to Indiana, we bought wine to take as gifts. One being a strawberry wine from a local vineyard, which Susie got. She opened it and shared a glass with me. It was delightful. I mention this because we hit the liquor store before the storm and we bought another bottle, which happened to be on sale, and there is the odd chance it will be around for the upcoming Christmas Relative Party Shuffle.

Anyway, the excursion netted a bunch of canning jars. I was told of this in advance and thought “a few boxes” meant 20 jars–30 max. Yeah, I haven’t been able to fathom the idea of counting individual jars, but they take up four and a quarter shelves in the basement. Ah, but back to the wine aspect. In clearing the shelves, Husband brought up a black bottle with cobwebs all over it. I was talking to Chyo at the time, described the bottle and the label. Turns out, it is her favorite sparkling wine, Freixenet, from Spain. Neither of us can remember if it was a gift from her to me or a gift I bought to give to her and it was just forgotten. Regardless, it was on its side for years so the cork is probably still good and if you want to know, I had taken it as a sign that the agent I’d sent pages to was going to ask for more, but that didn’t happen. C’est la vie.

Back on the shelf it goes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hear from “the” agent for me. Until then, I’ll be inside, staying warm because snow is best enjoyed inside a house with wood heat.

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

The Holidays. *Sigh*

Since last I wrote, things started out quite lovely. I got an acceptance from Matter Press for my piece, “I’m Calling Him Skippy,” about a woman who rescues a dog from bad owners. At about the same time, Husband called from Adoring Pets with sad news. While I assumed that the dog would cost us a million dollars, I didn’t think she’d die. What the one vet thought was a minor issue, was in fact cancer. It’s not in her lungs yet, but even with surgery (keeping her cast dry in this weather? Really?) and drug treatment there’s only a 48% chance she’d be alive in a year.

If you met Tye, you know how sweet she is and we can’t do that to her. On Monday, she’ll be going into work with Husband. Mondays suck anyway, and before Christmas is somehow better then afterwards…

Nancy, my friend from the Playwright Workshop, and I had plans to go see Gary Earl Ross read that night. Mr. Ross selected my piece, “Wildflower Wishes,” to include in the Queen City Flash anthology, and I hoped to pick up my copy that night, but with that news, and the snow, we didn’t go.

The snow…it’s been unbelievable. I didn’t go shopping last week, nor did I go to the library because the driveway was filled with snow. I’d shovel and later it wouldn’t look like I’d been outside. Husband got the driveway under control on Saturday, and then Sunday, we drove to Grandma’s house. I had no idea how hard the dog’s illness was going to be. Grandma doesn’t hear very well. I couldn’t tell her this was Tye’s last visit. It broke my heart to see Tye look up at her and hear my Grandma say, “It’ll be all right,” because no, it isn’t. 

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I had a short story accepted at Page and Spine. The bonus for that is I’d just had it rejected by Carve. If you have a piece rejected by Carve and it’s published elsewhere, they link it from their site. Maybe it will get them to look closer at the piece I have under consideration there now.

I was working on my novel yesterday waiting for Husband to get home when I heard something in the driveway. He was stuck. Our most awesome neighbor came with his tractor, cleared the driveway and got Husband’s truck out of the mushy part of the lawn. Thank you Bill!!! The thing was, I looked out the window, saw him stuck and thought, “Are you kidding me? Another crappy thing to deal with?” I have forgotten to mention that I got a call from my credit card company. My card had been stolen. So yeah, that was even more fun added to the mix. Today, on the news I found out it was most likely from the Target theft. Fun.

The holiday letter and cards are being sent out today, one of the latest send offs, but I just finished them last night after Husband’s company Christmas Party at J. P. Fitzgerald’s. It was a nice party. I sat by Trish and she and I talked about her work, her trips to Haiti, and her daughter’s writing. Paul and Kim were at our table, as was Tessa, and the old assless chaps joke came up once again. How can a party be bad when the conversation includes discussions of juice boxes and assless chaps?

So, I have more cookies to make and I need to finish up my twenty pages to send to my awesome novel critique group today. I hate being this late with things, but then again, I had no idea we’d have this much snow, which led to fewer shopping days. No, what it is is that I had no idea how much I love this dog and it pisses me off that she isn’t going to be around anymore. Screw it. I have cookies to make. I hope your holiday–if you celebrate one–is fantastic and blessed and bright. Here’s looking to a better New Year.

 

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

Catching up with the normal

Last month’s post should serve as a warning to all–if you’re in my view or thoughts while I’m writing my blog post, you will end up being written about. Husband can once again attest to that. Some writers threaten that you’ll be put in a book or a story, but I don’t write that way. How I write is crazy. I made my word count for National Novel Writing Month, but I don’t have a novel. I have a rough draft that ended up sputtering. I got so far in, went so deep and what happened needed to happen, but I wasn’t ready to write about it so I backed off until I could face those things in a later version of that tale.

And if that makes sense…you might be a novelist.

This has been awesome. I know more about of the characters now. I found out a few things that surprised me, so hopefully (knock on wood) after revisions and rewrites, if you ever read that story, you’ll be as surprised as I was to find out who Henri turned out to be–and trust me–it is surprising.

Otherwise, I’m still hanging on to hope. *Sigh* The agent hasn’t responded after I sent the requested material. He asks for an exclusive month. The day after Christmas, I should have an answer.

Either way, I’ll carry on with what I do. Read, write, revise, repeat. I’ve also been nudged into a not quite new thing: Review

So, if you’re into that sort of thing, I recently posted a review of a book on–get this–the Book Review page of this blog.

I can’t say I’m comfortable with this. “Don’t judge, lest you be judged” was rammed into my head growing up. *Sigh* Regardless, my thoughts and comments on other people’s work are mine–honest, true and as there is enough negativity in the world, I doubt you’ll see me rating a book low. That a person can get a book published at all ought to be celebrated. I’ll take my Grandfather’s stance on my Grandmother’s cooking. When she made something he didn’t like, he’d say, “Well, you don’t have to make that again.” My—most likely private—thought will be, “Well, I don’t have to read that again.”

There’s laundry to do and a grocery list to make.You know, the “normal” things that slip to last place during NaNo.  Outside, most of the snow is gone. This is the view of the creek from my kitchen window this morning.

Creekside

*(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experience and reading taste may vary.)

NaNo Started, Or I started NaNo

If you’re reading this, it means I have successfully made it through the first day of NaNoWriMo 2012.

It was a bitch. I struggled, but as I was hovering around the last three hundred word mark, ready to give up for the day–tell myself I could come back and put in extra tomorrow, I caught a break and made it to 1806 with ease. I started a new sentence and saved the file in two places. I know enough of NaNo to not get too far ahead of myself.

Eck. So it’s a start. And I don’t talk about ongoing books because I’ve lost them that way, so how are you? Are you making Christmas plans?

My lovely niece is in negotiations to get as many people visited while she and her brother are in Pennsylvania for Christmas. I haven’t begun to take my Halloween decorations down yet. It’s on my list to have that taken care of before Thanksgiving. Or my sister’s visit–whichever comes first.

So, I know, it’s not much of a post. Please forgive, but if you’re looking for something to read, and you haven’t already, would you please at least consider buying Short Lean Cuts? I think it’s like a dollar for the kindle version. I started to read it yesterday.

I feel a wee bit guilty as I promised Alex that yesterday was the last day I was going to bitch, carp, cry, and complain about my submission to a certain magazine taking so long to go through the process when, on Duotrope, people are posting 70, 90, 100 day rejections and I’m like 270 days in now. For Feck’s sake! It’s annoying. If I had gotten pregnant on the day I submitted there, I’d be in labor now–or close to it. The third of November is the nine month mark. And since I just complained on the day I promised to stop for a month, I owe it to Alex Pruteanu to tell you that he’s a great writer. You can google him and read several of his stories for free before you decide to buy his book, but come on, it’s less than a dollar. Buy Short Lean Cuts. He’ll thank you for it and I won’t feel so bad about complaining about not getting a rejection (or acceptance) from a ‘top’ magazine in almost nine months.

Until next time!

(*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experience may vary.)