Gina Detwiler

Bits of Spring with a Cartoon Sheepdog Impression at the End

There’s a meme floating around that gives a rundown on “spring” and how it takes several stabs before it actually arrives. Creekside, we’re at the spring where the snowdrops appear.

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They are a welcome sign. I’ve also spotted tulips and hyacinths emerging.

Later today I’ll be transplanting the roma and cherry tomato seedlings to pots so yes, for me, spring is here, and so far it’s fabulous. Happy birthday to XO Man because it’s his birthday. Mine is coming up soon and I’ve already gotten a gift, Mr. Fishy fish!

Isn’t he adorable? Mary Akers made him and I’m using him as a tea bag holder. She gave him to me (Gina got one, too) yesterday at SPoT Coffee on Transit. There, I started a new story. On the way home, Ben’s check engine light came on – right in front of Goodyear. They plugged in the scanner and it was an oxygen sensor so I drove to the Hamburg Library. I returned “The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez. Great book, but a bit harsh toward memoirists of trauma, I thought. I picked up the books that I had requested: Coetzee’s, “Disgrace,” Brautigan’s “The Abortion,” and Saroyan’s “Boys and Girls Together.” I’ve been waiting on “The Abortion” for months and the copy I received also has “Revenge of the Lawn” and “So the Wind Won’t Blow It all Away” in it. After I read the others, I might take up the extras. “Disgrace” was referenced in the Nunez book. I read “Boys and Girls Together” yesterday. It has been touted by Jim Miner in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for a long time. Now I need to find out what why. I’m on the fence about finishing Cathleen Schine’s “They May Not Mean To, But They Do.” She had the biggest blurb for the Nunez book, and I adored “The Love Letter” but I’m on page 83 of this novel and can’t figure out why agents and editors thought it was important to publish. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I finish it. Maybe it’s not coming to me at the right time…

On the 17th, Husband was being loud with the kitchen renovation which pushed me to get dressed and drive to Rust Belt Books. I wish I had left sooner so I would have had more time to browse, it’s an enchanting space. There, I saw Kim Chinquee read from her latest, “Wetsuit” and Joey Nicoletti read from “Thundersnow.” Afterwards, some of us went to the Gypsy Parlor for dinner and drinks. (Tonic for me – it is Lent after all.)

I met Nina Fosati at the Comfort Zone on Wednesday the 20th.   We had a lovely meal then drove to Kleinhans Music Hall to see Min Jin Lee.

She was funny and bright and the question and answer question section with Barbara Cole was a delight.

The story I’ve been writing for the SMOLDR contest is finished. I cannot thank Nina Fosati enough for her help. Her insight and sharp eye were paramount in getting the piece as good as it is. I also want to thank Mary Akers for spotting the tense shift in the third section, James Wood for his “action verbs,” everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group who has listened, commented, and suggested tweaks, and Gina Detwiler who read the final version yesterday and said it was, “So Good,” funny, sweet and clever. Let’s hope the judges think so, too – knock on wood.

So those are the highlights from the past two weeks. I’m off to do Pilates, transplant seeds and write. If the weather holds, I’ll probably take the dog out again for an extended walk. Notice his resemblance to the sheepdog from the Road Runner cartoon.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

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Pulling the plug, a December tradition

Once again, the Christmas chaos calms down and a piece of my heart dies with it…but first, let’s explore the highlights of the past few weeks…

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I know, this may not be a great thing for you, but look at the back:

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Ink! From the Paris Review! I also got a nod of encouragement that I could take my writing to a whole new level and get published in the Reader’s Digest if I wrote differently, so I’ve got that going for me…

The Playwright’s Potluck dinner party at Donna Hoke’s house was amazing. I met Gary Earl Ross’s wife, Tammy, as well as other writers, directors, and actors. I reconnected with some people from previous parties or workshops and had a great time. Husband and I caught up with Stepson and DIL over dinner at J. P. Fitzgerald’s and exchanged presents before they left to return to Texas. Within two days of their departure, my son flew up from a different part of Texas to Indiana. We agreed to meet about mid-way on a Wednesday. The timing worked and in Cleveland, we had lunch with a great friend named Michael who turned us on to an amazing market. We wandered around in there while waiting for my son and his family to arrive. Husband and I had appetizers with my son, DIL, and both grandkids at Great Lakes Brewery.

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While exercising off our meals, we stumbled across a glass operation with a resident chicken.

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We got a tree – which isn’t that unusual, but we went with a living pine tree for decorating. We – and by we, I mean Husband – put up multiple strands of light.

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All month, I’ve been receiving cards and notes from all over and I love each one. Thank you to all who sent us holiday wishes!

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Nephew from Portland, Niece from Boston, and her husband arrived to spend the holidays with us.

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During their visit, we went to the Eternal Flame. A logjam prevented me from going to the end because I’d brought the dog with us. He later thought he’d scored a rug, but it was a beautiful, 8 years in the making, gift from Niece to her brother.

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We drove to Leicester to see my sister and another niece. I was able to make it to a writing session/gift exchange with Gina and Mary. I doled out bags of candy to the workers at The Comfort Zone and my other writers’ group. I stopped by and visited with Nina Fosati. So basically, I’ve seen pretty much all the people and I’m grateful for those interactions because today is a rough one. Like I said, I’m losing a part of my heart today…

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She’s been in decline, but now – 4:30pm, actually – we’ll be driving her down the road for an appointment where we say our goodbyes.  I know, not the greatest way to end the year, but what are you going to do – other than wish you a Happy New Year. I’m ecstatic to be leaving this one behind.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read.

Weeks Late, Full of Thanks, How ’bout You?

What I find lovely – yet frustrating – is the cycles of writing. I resent it when I need to write but I edit. Editing will take over when I’ve accumulated new books. Curled up in my chair, I’ll be happily reading when writing calls. Even now, I feel a tug…

Someone on Twitter made a joke about a reading retreat and I honestly think that should be a thing. I have Gina’s draft and Jim’s in my queue, but then this lovely volume arrived in my mailbox:

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The two prose poems I’ve read so far are intricate and interesting. I can’t wait to finish reading the rest. Randall Brown is an amazing writer and so is Alex Pruteanu. His latest book is on its way, as is Tamara Grisanti’s Coffin Bell Anthology. Plus, I received my contributor copy of Montana Mouthful – and it came with stickers! (Thank you Jasmine Lamb!)

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Domesticity doesn’t overtake me that often but when it does….yikes! Thanksgiving had me push a boundary – I don’t know why – but I made real crust for a pecan pie – which turned out fabulously. I also roasted a turkey breast. Yeah, I know, it’s not that impressive, but still, I thought it was picture worthy a week ago…

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It’s hard to believe Saturday will be the first of December. I’m proud to say I have a story up at (mac)ro(mic) which touches upon late spring flowers and I just reviewed the galleys of my story in Solidago’s Initiation Issue about a late summer exchange between an Aunt and her niece. That’s another thing I love/hate about writing – how the stories are written, accepted, appear out of season sometimes, but the timing always feels right.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

October. Bam!

While it’s tempting to wait as long as possible before the first wood fire, there’s also the tricky comfort level of humidity and cold bones to consider when living in western New York. Needless to say, we’ve had a few fires already and I’m trying to start one now…

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It’s been a fantastic week. Former Cactus came out early. My story, “Tilt-A-Whirl” was plugged by both Cathy Ulrich and Tommy Dean, so I guess I can die happy now. It’s a great issue including “Boomtown” by A.E. Weisgerber and such fun that Tommy Dean’s “Throttling” was first and mine was last. Alpha, omega…

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Riggwelter #14 contains my story, “Doing the Arithmetic,” a piece I wrote during a Meg Pokrass workshop. Thank you Amy Kinsman for accepting it!

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The esteemed Mary Akers decided to use several of my photos in October’s “Rust” Issue of r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Review. I don’t think anyone knows how cool that is to me to have my pictures paired with such awesome writing. Thank you Mary! And thank you Gina Detwiler for offering Silo City tours as part of your book launch for “Forsaken.” Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been inspired to snag Husband’s camera and take pictures. I ❤ you both SO much!

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On Wednesday, I met Nina Fosati at The Comfort Zone for dinner, then we went to Kleinhans Music Hall to see Mohsin Hamid as part of the Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series. It was smart and interesting. We sat by the woman who’s student started/narrated the video describing the block party series. I ❤ Buffalo!

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Oh, while I was talking to Nina, I found out Literary Orphans Issue 36: Nichelle dropped! Not only is my interview with Grant Falkner in this issue, so is this amazing story by z. t. wiser titled “True Love Waits.”. And  “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” by Lori Sambol Brody.  It’s one of my favorite issues!

Seriously. All of this. In one week. Bam.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!

Summer is a Whirlwind

Here it is, officially summer and already most of the projects have at least a dent made in them. Half the woodshed roof is done.

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The massive pain that were the rose bushes in the front yard have been ripped out and replaced with an Azealia bush and a maple.

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Plus the roadside portion of  the garden shed is painted and the redigging of the ditch on the hill was started last night, and several new steps to replace the front ones are complete. The next two weekends will be filled with grad parties and visits, so I’m glad we are so far ahead – compared to previous years that is…even with a minor injury of a run-in with the woodspliter. It’s much healed.

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It’s not been all work all the time. I do make a point to enjoy the beauty of flowers and trees we’ve planted and listen to insects and birds though I wish I didn’t have to listen to the pair of cardinals attacking the window outside my office, but one can’t have everything.

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On Wednesdays, I’ve been going to one of the multiple SPoT Coffees to write with Mary or Gina – yesterday it was both. Without them and Friday nights at the Comfort Zone with the Hamburg Writers’ Group, I’m afraid I’d lose my way. I can’t say thanks enough to Nina and everyone else who keeps me writing. And the Kathy Fish Fast Flash Reunion starts tonight! You know where I’ll be!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

My intentions are paving the way to hell…

After a long break from scheduled blog posts, it didn’t occur to me that I’d post late, but here it is, Friday afternoon and I’m just now starting to write this.

And as I write, I’m enjoying the weather from inside the “cabana,” where I can’t see the frog pond, but I hear the activity. This is the view:

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Monarchs are flitting about as well as the deer fly and bees. The cotton woods are busily trying to copulate, their seed dances about and falls to coat everything with a soft haze of down.

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This is the first day I’ve had to truly enjoy the yard. I’ve spent most of the time away mowing, weeding, gardening, and watering the new trees – generally with Kobe nearby, smelling everything and generally being a happy and good dog. This weekend we’ll be getting 5 cords of wood, so I’m glad I have a few minutes to sit and relax. Kobe is underneath the swing, patient and observant.

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Monday, I made a careless mistake/had an accident and went to the doctor’s office instead of the ER. Suffice it to say, I learned a lesson and will be far more diligent with the wood splitter in the future. Nothing broke, but my index finger on my left hand was squashed enough that I’m certain the nail will fall off. It is disgusting to look at – I shan’t share the image.

Prior to that bit of fun, I read Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” which was quite good. It took me longer to finish than I anticipated so I have to return “The Female Persuasion” tonight and sign up for it again. Had I not read last night, I would have been FINE not finishing it, but the main character just left Faith’s house after the weekend stay and I just found out why she had a million messages on her phone when she was out of range. Oi! Sad news!

Writing wise, the biggest thing is the acceptance by Bacopa Literary Review for a flash called “Pirouette.” As I understand it, I’ll be paid for it which is always lovely. I wish I had money to pay all the writers “I” publish at r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, but, alas, I don’t and that sucks, but I love the work that is accepted and try to show it on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve made it to several “write-ins” with Gina at Spot Coffee and even squeezed in a few hours at home so I have some new work to hone and submit. I’m rather fond of a piece called “The Eaves;” I aimed high with that one. Oh, and the Bellevue Literary Review sent a personal rejection with both praise and suggestions for my “Southern story.” I’m batting it around, sprucing it up, letting it sit, tackling it again.

Tomorrow is my last shift at the library before the summer break. Tonight is another meeting of the Hamburg Writers’ Group where I’ll get a chance to see Nina and the others. I plan on reading a flash tonight that I’m submitting for a contest. I’d had the premise for the story and the first few lines for years but could never get it to go. Sometimes a prompt is the prompt you need to finish something.

 The mail is here, so I’ll gather my things and get ready to post thing. I’ll see some of you soon and I can’t wait! Everyone else, I’ll be back here in two weeks – more or less. That’s my intention anyways…

 Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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Clichés are dumb, but they tend toward truth…

On Tuesday, I took Kobe to the vet and was there for less than an hour. When I returned home, I had two rejections – one for a contest and one for a fellowship. Being a writer is filled with all sorts of delightful occurrences like these…

*Sigh* I’ve been in a sad funk. Apparently, even if you care nothing about a person, it still bums you out when you’re told by them that Nazis should kill you. Who knew? The fight with Husband and the assault on my senses, which was snow flurries on April 30th, didn’t add any merriment to my life either.

Luckily, I have a great friend named Kellie, and during my downward spiral, I read her newsletter that was about dragons – of all things. Anyway, the message came across as you can either lie waste to everything you’ve built with fiery breathe – OR – you can polish and repair the minor nicks in your scales. I’m still not in a great mood, but I took down the firewood platform, cleaned the floors, and rotated the living room furniture today. As I write from this new spot, I feel better. Kobe is supportive of the move, having curled up to my right. (Of course, he walked away when I picked up the phone to snap a shot. I’ve never seen a more picture-shy dog in my life. The vet’s assistant can attest to this as she spent seven minutes trying to take a picture of him for his file but only has a fluffy blur of ¾ of his face)

So, I guess the take away is that life – especially the writing life – can be daunting, but there are people out there who can help it along. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I believe in signs (see a recent previous post about that) but here it is, May 3rd and the flowers are out,

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the frogs are lounging in the pond,

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and no Nazi’s are currently at the door ready to take me out.

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(As I’m preparing to post, I do want to say this minor shift in surroundings and thought has gone to remind me how lucky I am, and the amazing friends I have, so shouts outs to Nina, Gina, Mary, Jim & Julie, Betty, St. James, Dan, Wendy, I can go on for a very long time… Seriously! What was my funk about exactly?)

The GORGEOUS May/June issue of Ink in Thirds is out and one of my pieces is included with the likes of the amazing Timothy Gager, Tara Isabel Zambrano and Meg Tuite!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!