Dreaming Lettie

Nope, no NaNoWriMo this year.

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.

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Halloween isn’t as scary as this election campaign has been…

 

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.

August has arrived

When I finish writing projects, I’m usually thrilled to be done…not so much this time. I know, I know, I plan on this being a trilogy, but in roughly two days, this draft of Dreaming Lettie will be done and that makes me sad.

I’m thrilled to have such lovely problems.

The “fun” story I mentioned last time was polished up and I want to give a shout out to Nancy Leone and Nina Fosati for their help and insight and to Saundra for laughing when I read an early draft at the Hamburg Writers Group meeting.

The heat has been getting to the plants. The garden is doing great, as well as the trees and shrubs I’ve been taking water out to every day in the far backyard but today I noticed the hydrangea, one that’s been doing well for at least 6 years, was stressed so I hauled water out to it, too.

The bee saga came to a peaceful conclusion. When Vikki, my amazing and brave sister was here, she soaked cotton balls in almond extract and plugged them around the entry. The wood that was pried off, stayed off.  I had a plan to entice them to a new home, but when I secured a bottle of lemongrass oil, (Thank you Nancy!) the bees had moved on. Husband replaced the wood last weekend. Soon the gutter will be repaired, the tree taken down, caulk applied, the window washed and scaffold taken down. Now that’s a project I will be glad to be done with!

The timing of that will be convenient since the vegetable canning has already begun. I put up three quarts of green beans yesterday using the outside stove my incredible Husband made for me years ago. It is such a great thing to do water boiling outside in this weather.

And so, out to the screened-in tent to begin the end of my latest book. If you’re interested in reading another book, here’s what I had to say about Christopher DeWan’s soon to be released collection, “Hoopty Time Machines.” Thanks for stopping by!

 

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*These are my creek side reflections. Yours may vary.

If Only…

Last week, Thursday was the only day I didn’t have to be somewhere to do something and I really needed the day to decompress. Hence, this blog post is late. I send this picture of a pink hollyhock as a peace offering.

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Thanks to the encouragement from Gina Miani and Mary Akers, I’ve been putting in at least 1000 words a day into “Dreaming Lettie.” Not today though. Today, I wrote a flash that amused me. I’ll be sharing the rough draft with some of you shortly. (Sorry!) After I stack some wood, I’ll probably go back to DL. Yesterday, I wrote over 1500 words, but after an implied sex scene, I didn’t know what to do. I may need to go back to the beginning and write the scenes I skipped to find out the timeline.

The summer projects are going along as well as can be expected. The garden is growing; the trees, flowers and bushes in the back haven’t died; and the walkway redo is farther along than it was last week. We have company coming next week and I’ve been a willing guinea pig for Nancy who just got a Bemer. If you get a chance, try it. After I got a compliment on how radiant I looked from a friend at Lowe’s, I got carded at Wal-Mart. (I didn’t even know they carded at Wal-Mart!)

With the writing, the yard work, and the wood, I haven’t been on Facebook, watching television or listening to much radio. It’s just as well. With this election, everyone seems to be losing their minds. I caught one perfect comment though. Roxane Gay said the equivalent of “I don’t need my president to be my friend; I just need them to lead.” If only she was running – Or Matt Boyle. Sigh.

Have a great week! Thank you so much for stopping by! You’re awesome and I appreciate you! Here’s two more flower pictures!

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*These are my creek side reflections; your experiences ought to vary, you know. Just sayin’.

Pics of Nearly Summer

The problem with living in the moment things is that events in the forefront are what get written about in this blog as opposed to what has already happened. As an example, I forgot to mention Husband and I went to the Arboria luminarium at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and Tifft Nature Preserve over Memorial Day weekend.

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This past weekend was memorable for the swarm and that I learned how to post a video, but on Facebook, so you’ll have to go here, (SORRY!):

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This is the back of the house. We were outside on the patio talking as we normally do when he gets home from work. I heard a buzzing I couldn’t figure out – it wasn’t the dryer hum, it wasn’t the air compressor kicking on, etc. It got closer and I was drawn right into it. Husband had seen a swarm earlier this spring and talked to Scott, “The Bee Guy” from Delevan who told him they would be docile. Husband took out the camera and around the minute thirty spot, you can see me waving in the bedroom window, trying to get his attention.

The Swarm

This is the first video – I’d hoped to figure out how to edit the video by today, but no dice. It is clunky, and some of you have seen it before.

Regardless, we’re now looking for someone to retrieve the queen.

After that excitement, I went to the Comfort Zone for the Hamburg Writers Group meeting. Mary Jo Hodge was there and it was good to see her again. Nina Rochella Fosati read a revised version of the story she read last week. I am so impressed with her ability to go back with fresh eyes and strengthen a piece in new and interesting ways. My rewrites rarely get overhauled that much. I hope to learn that skill from her.

This weekend, we got enough gravel so our driveway resembles an actual driveway.

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The herb garden was finished.

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In three days, I wrote over 5000 words in “Dreaming Lettie” for the novel group. Deadlines are the only way some writing gets done. I’d been working on the “new thing” and stopping to go back to Lettie was a bit of a challenge. Keeping up with the lawn and garden has been fun, too. I wrapped up the labyrinth yesterday.

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The garden “complex” is closer to having a fence.

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Ten pines are our newest addition.

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And I’ve got to find time, space and energy to plant these blackberry bushes.

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Also, the beavers are back.IMG_20160616_114330

 

Good times and almost summer fun all around. Thanks for stopping by!

 

*These are only my Creekside Reflections and if yours didn’t vary from mine, that would be awkward.

Wrapped up in reading while waiting for the thaw

The long, cold weather resulted in the water under the driveway’s bridge freezing. Solid. We had a bit of a warm up and the snow started to melt. Guess where the water in the ditch went? Yes, right into the lawn and the driveway. *Sigh* When Husband came home last night, we shoveled slush and made a pathway for the water to flow toward the ditch on the other side of the bridge. This morning it was iced over, but the flooding seems to be staunched for the time being.

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In general, I’m not a fan of driving in winter. Luckily, I have nowhere to go…except to my chair to read. And read I have. In the past month, I’ve read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Sylvia Cassedy’s Behind the Attic Wall, Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time, Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, and Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Goes It.

I also read Ryan Boudinot’s essay, “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.” I don’t understand the uproar the piece caused. Not all writers are created equally. Why is that shocking for someone to say that?

The new piece (and I really need to come up with a working title for that thing) had me scared to continue writing it, so I set it down. I’ve worked on a few things, but next week, I’ll have sent half of “Campus Crimes” to the writer’s group and I know from the last book, the end flies by. I have been going to bed with the thought that I’ll dream of which one of the two rough first drafts I have to work on.

What I’ve consistently dreamed of is being naked, but not self-conscious about it and in mostly empty rooms where different men show up. XO man one night, the guy in Australia another night, my brother-in-law the night before that. Right, so as I was telling someone about this (the desire for the dreams to guide me and the nakedness, etc.) it dawns on me that maybe the message is to work on this new book that scares me. I’m not sure I’m ready.

*Sigh*

I mean, I really should finish Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted first…and Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted. Plus, I need to keep an eye on the lawn drainage situation. Also, I want to add some Yoga to my morning Pilates routine. Where is that DVD? Finding it could take a while. And the kitchen pantry needs a good sorting…

Yeah, I know, that all sounds like I’ll be procrastinating, but I’ve already broken out the colored index cards and tape. Looks like I’m going to plotting “Dreaming Lettie.” Kidding! I’ll be too busy thinking of a working title for the new piece, which will probably continue to tear me open. That’s why I set it aside.

Thanks for stopping by to read my Creekside—and ditch on the other side—Reflections!

Name Dropping & Linking All Over the Place

After posting last time, I went shopping. Upon my return, I found an email from one of the women in my RL writer’s group. There was a writer’s conference in Westfield on Sunday and if I was willing to drive, she’d pay my conference fee. On Saturday, Husband took me to Eden so I’d know my way to her house. We stopped in and had a lovely visit. Then on Sunday, she and I went to the gorgeous Patterson Library.

It was the first time they had done a conference there and kudos to Peter Hamilton for putting it together. Mary Jo and I went to the same sessions. The first was done by James Goertel who tackled the Writer’s Craft . He’d just gotten back from AWP (I was so jealous! He could have heard Roxane Gay  give a reading while he was there. I would have!) and even though James was tired, he was a motivated instructor.

We broke to listen to LouAnne Johnson, author of My Posse Don’t Do Homework which turned into the movie Dangerous Minds. She read from Muchacho. It was very entertaining. She sat at the same table as we did for the lunch which was held at the church across the street.

After lunch was Marketing Your Work by Linda Lavid. I thought it was informative and I found out a few things I hadn’t known. Some things I was doing already and it turns out they were the ‘right’ things to do which was gratifying to hear.

Then, the people who signed up drew numbers to choose the order to read their work. I went second and read “Wildflower Wishes.” Mary Jo went fourth and read from her book, “Under Cover.”  While the conference had been scheduled to go until after six, we got out of there around 4 p.m. It was a great day all around.

Facebook revealed a chance for women’s essays to be included in an edition of Brevity titled Ceiling or Sky: Female Nonfictions after the VIDA Count and in response to the recently revealed VIDA and its nearly identical pie graph which shows 75% of most magazine’s contributors are male. I sent in “Finding Peers.” An editor of the new cool zine to read, Jumping Blue Gods asked for my submission. (Much appreciation to Jennifer Bridges!)

Robert Tucker at Chrysalis Reader sent the edits he made to “Delaware and the Rip-Off King.” We disagreed on a single line and he agreed to use the one I offered, so that is now wrapped up.

This past Saturday, I happened to see in Gusto that there was a reading being done at the West Falls library. I went and listened to Jeff Schober. Oddly, as he was signing my book, he mentioned the Arcade & Attica Railroad Mystery Train. Turns out, he was writing the script for this year’s production and he had been an actor in the last one with Betty. Tiny little world, isn’t it?

Then, later on this past Saturday, there was the most awesome news: The return of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction! Round Eight was announced. In case you missed it, hit the link above. I heard about it on FB before the show started and didn’t take long to come up with a story and write it. Seriously, maybe an hour tops to write–though I think it was closer to twenty minutes. I’d thought of an ending line, then two characters arrived, and as I wrote toward the end line, the story took me to a different place.

I trimmed it until I could read it in under 3 minutes, then read it to Husband, who–get this–thought it was nice. I sent it in. Usually, I end up with regret when I send things in so soon after they’re written, but the next morning, I still thought it was a good story.

On Monday, I sent it to Chyo, and except for one word choice, she thought it was fantastic. I wound up in a brief email exchange with Long Distance Friend and sent it to him. He not only liked it, but wanted to share it with his Secret Girlfriend. Now, I wait on Guy Roz and the judges at 3MF to decide if they like it, too.

In a teensy tiny way, I’m a bit on edge over the idea of finally having one of my stories chosen by 3MF. I mean I am the self-proclaimed Susan Lucci of this contest. Can I give up that continuing sting of disappointment? Well, it’s out of my hands now. And if it isn’t chosen as the winner, I hope it isn’t chosen as an also ran. I have three magazines I want to submit the story to. Sigh. We’ll see how it goes. In the other rounds, I’d written to win. This story I wrote because it was something I wanted to read.

Speaking of which.. One of the things Chyo said was that the story I wrote was a piece which would cause her to look up other work by the same author. She then told me of series of books she’s bought because of short stories she’d come across in an anthology. So, while I’m waiting on yet another person’s thoughts on Ellie’s Elephants, I’ve opened up the third book of the Dreaming Lettie series, and I think I’m falling in love all over again… How could I forget about the Dreads!

Until next time!

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