Gina Detwiler

Writing & Seasons

Yesterday, I got nine unique pieces sent out in hopes of finding a home. I couldn’t find it in me to get out another one. This year has been one of the lowest “submitting” ones I’ve ever had. I know, there’s still a few months, but I’m okay with accepting different years meaning different things. This one was all about a novel I loved, but since the rewrite, I’m worried over it, and worry takes up time.

The steps leading to the backyard have never been “right” so the most recent project is correcting them. We found out the drainage pipe is damaged, so that snag has delayed progress, but there is a solution and if the weather holds, we might finish this weekend. (And if I remember, I’ll take pictures for the next post.)

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The garden is a disaster – too much rain in the spring, ravenous slugs, and lack of time. I’ve been out there working with the baseball adage of “next year!” in my heart. Not every year of gardening will be bountiful. I did get some nice jalapeños and green beans. I think I’ll have a carrot and parsnip – unless something below the surface has nibbled them away.

I’m not Jewish – that I know of – but this post is sounding like I’m at a new year, doesn’t it? And I’m okay with that. In fact, I think it makes more sense to consider a year right now than at the end of December. I still won’t make a resolution, though. Promising to change isn’t the same as changing.

I do believe in goals and write them out, work toward them, cross them off. There is a list of ten 5-year goals on my fridge and I’ve reached some of them. In fact, seven out of ten is not bad with two years left. The ones not reached? All writing related. Ah well…I suppose I ought to work on the last three so off I go to edit, polish, rewrite and write anew.

Oh! And as a reminder: Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 1:00 there is an author reading. Please join me at the West Falls-Colden Library to hear Kim Chinquee, Barbara Early, Mary Jo Hodge, Gina Detwiler, Mary Akers, Deb Madar and Jeff Schober.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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(It finally bloomed!)

 

*These are all my creekside reflections. Your experience may vary.

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Oops! It’s Friday and I’m in love with Iced Lemon Biscotti!

Apologizes for my tardiness, but I have fantastic excuses. The first is that the rewrite is going well so I’ve been focusing on that, but the biggest focus has been figuring out the details of our trip to Essex for the family reunion. The car rental is reserved, tickets for the play we’ll be seeing while we’re there are bought, and a cat sitter has been found. Now I’m down to packing, making pasta salad for 40 and cleaning the house before we leave. Piece of cake.

Yesterday there was a tornado in Hamburg. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it to Tamara Grisanti’s place for her soy candle party, but I did and it was lovely. Iced Lemon Biscotti and Beach Linen were the two Hemlock House candles I bought and would recommend to everyone. We also got to sample some masculine scents that Tamara’s husband created for a bachelor party. I hope they make more of those soon. Kim Chinquee was there, too, and now I have a copy of Veer that will be traveling with me.

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There’s a novel critique group coming up and I’m psyched to see Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler again. It’s been too long! Tonight, I’ll be at Comfort Zone for the Hamburg Writers’ Group. Last week, I had the truck and spent time across the street at SPoT Coffee writing two new flashes. Yes, I’m back to being active in Hot Pants on Zoetrope.

Also, I want to say I was so happy to finally accept my first piece for Literary Orphans as Fiction Editor. Congratulations Tara Isabel Zambrano! Her stunning piece, Measurable Hours, will be in the September Issue.

Gardenwise, the hydrangea is blooming

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and the yellow flowers that attract so many different types of bees are opening up.

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Writing is a strange process. The more time I don’t have time to write, I write more. A friend of mine was lamenting that he’d just been given a chunk of time and space to do nothing but write and he’s written next to nothing. I’m thinking about ordering him a candle from Hemlock House so the amazing scents will reawaken his imagination.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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

Tearing myself away from honing #amwriting

Kudos to the wondrous Kathy Fish for hosting the Fast Fiction Reunion on Zoetrope this weekend. I met some wildly talented writers and had a blast. Plus, I wrote two new flashes. Yeah! It hasn’t been that long since I finished a piece, but it feels that way. Now, if I could just make time to submit…

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I’m in the middle of a minor kitchen project and when I say “I,” I mean Husband is doing the work and I’m coping with the displacement of things so of course this morning, Allison suggests coming round to drop off the “appreciation gift.” My life resembles a sit-com at times.

I’m honing “Near Eden, New York,” based on great suggestions from Nina, Mary, and Gina, plus my own thoughts after leaving it alone for a few months. My synopsis needs work, too. Being a writer is such fun, let me tell you. But I do take time to enjoy the roses.

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Literally. This is the sight that greets me on my way out the door.

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Sadly, the peonies are already waning.

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The bulbs that I can’t remember the names of are thriving in these days before the official start of summer. I hope you’re enjoying your time, no matter what you’re doing. As for me, I’ll be diving back into Tara and Pete’s story. It’s a lovely place to be.

Thanks for stopping by and the read!

 

 

(These are my creekside reflections. No sense getting worked up about them if they don’t agree with yours.)

Career Progress, Rewrites, and Sex Scenes

In case you missed it, I am Fiction Editor at Literary Orphans now!!! This thrills me like you wouldn’t believe. I thank Scott, Mike, and Brittany for being such wonderful people to work with and willing to let me join the next tier. And as I assured Mary, I will remain in my position at r.kv.r.y., too.

The Blueshift Journal published “Our Mother’s Memoir was Published Posthumously. On Purpose.” Oye, I’m so glad. The original version was written on 4/16/11. I worked on it occasionally and earlier this year got a higher tier rejection from Vestal Review. I looked at it again, tweaked it and boom! Six years later, acceptance.

And while that is a tale of not giving up, I admit that I did give up on this lilac bush. I planted it at least 5 years ago and nothing. I quit weeding around it, neglected it, really. Yesterday, it caught my eye.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it? And it smells great.

I nervously sent my pages to Mary and Gina. Nervous because “Sweet Spot” was part of it and in an earlier chapter I’d mentioned how badly written most sex scenes are so I was basically setting myself up for comparison to that and if I didn’t nail it, if it wasn’t right, organic, plausible, good, I feel the whole book would have failed. It worked. There were a few (very few) comments on that part so, now I have the confidence to proceed with the rewrite.

So here’s to more reading and writing!

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The Columbine and Iris are in bloom and even after all this rain, the tomato plants are in the garden. On a deeply personal note, Husband and I have made it another year so happy 17th anniversary to the man who never reads this blog unless I print it out.

Have a lovely day.

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

Remember, you are a great person!

Cheers!

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

Lent is over, flowers are in bloom, and I’m writing again.

The problem with “not writing” is that when I do, I end up writing deeper than I intend. The blog post I started for today has – somehow – turned into a craft essay. If I remember, I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime: Congratulations Nina Fosati for your story in Breath & Shadow! Gina Detwiler , congratulations on finishing Antillia! You both ROCK! Thank you for inspiring me!

It’s warming up outside and lovely things are in bloom.

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The one raised bed has been plowed up. (Thank you, Husband!) If it’d stop raining, I can get the peas planted. Otherwise, I’m hoping to visit garden places soon and choose tomato and pepper plants. This is the first year I haven’t grown any from seed which I don’t feel bad about since there are first times for everything. I will plant squash, sunflowers, and other things by seed in May. So there you go, those are my garden plans of the year.

I’m eager to get the “cabana” back up and the swing inside. Writing out there last year was so fruitful; I can’t wait to recreate that magic. This Lent, I learned a few different things about myself and my writing. Allowing myself to not write was healthy in some respects, but now I feel “backed-up.” Like not drinking a whole beer the first time I have a drink after abstaining, I’ve grabbed a set of 5 words from Hot Pants (Thank you Kim Chinquee!) and tried my hand at 300 word flash this past week. It’s going well, though yesterday I ended up with a 981 story that needs to be expanding. Ah, the twists, turns, and so-called thrills of being a writer.

I hope you’re well. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

 

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

Here I go, name-dropping all over the place…

I’m back from AWP in D. C. and had the best time while I was there!

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For a long time, my novel critique group has been saying, “We should go to a conference together.” Well, things fell into place and after I spent the night at Gina’s house on Tuesday, Mary showed up and we drove to D. C. We got there Wednesday afternoon, checked into the hotel, registered with the conference then we had dinner with the brilliant writer, Pamela Erens.

Up early on Thursday, I went to a 9am panel called, “Demystifying the Business Side of Writing and Publishing.” Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum led it and I learned great things from him, Whitney Davis, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Paula Munier, and Joshua Shenk.

From there, I went to “Time, Space, and Community,” led by Jac Jemec. The ins, outs, and quirks of residencies were discussed by Rebecca Makkai, Rachel Cantor, Erinn Beth Langille (I ❤ her!) and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. You know what’s fun? To know one’s underpants are part of this equation.

From the bowels of the Marriott Marquis, I went to the Book Fair and hit my prime targets. I tried to meet Paul Vega and failed. I did meet Kurt Baumeister—author of Pax Americana—and James Reich from Stalking Horse Press. (Talk about a thick business card!) I also tried to see Robert Vaughan at the Word Tango table and P. E. Garcia at The Rumpus, but all I got was an awesome tee shirt and mug that each say “Write Like A M-F.” (Sure, by M-F, I did mean mushroom finder. We can work with that, but I took a picture.)

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Mimi Schwartz, Phillip Lopate, Richard Hoffman, and Laurie Stone did a fantastic job of letting me know when real names were important or not during their panel called, “I Didn’t Ask to Be In Your Story: When Real Names Matter and When They Don’t.”

The next panel was awkward for the match up. I mean, ROXANE GAY was there—my hero! During “Beyond the Deadline: Surviving (And Thriving) In Magazine Publishing, it felt like  Katelyn Belyus was doing a great job but her panelists weren’t the target people to ask the questions she was asking. It was fantastic to listen to Chip Blake, Sy Safransky and Ms. Gay and watch them keep their cool.

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“Women’s Fiction: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It,” explained the reason why some agents requested comp titles. Thank you Dorian Karchmar!

Meeting up with Mary at the VCCA group meant I got to meet interesting people like Randon Noble. The conversation turned to food, which led to my first time eating Korean food. After that, I also had my first Uber ride with a guy who played a Mr. Rogers YouTube video and I fell a little bit in love with the whole idea of Washington, D. C. as a “city.”

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Friday meant Gina and I had breakfast together at the Washington Plaza near the pool. We attended the “Second Blooming: Women Authors Debuting After Fifty.” It was interesting, but I couldn’t help thinking that the people present kept saying they entered multiple contests, which required many dollars to enter so tier success seemed money driven and that bothered me. Does it mean only old people can be published IF they throw down thousands of dollars to win a prize? I didn’t raise my hand to ask Ellen Meeropol, Paulette Boudreaux, Jeanne Gassman or Cynthia Bond because I left there a bit early to call Husband.

From there, I went to “Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Organizing and Structuring Story Collections, but I couldn’t find the archives room on the map, and you know me with maps—I ended up in Salon F for “The Shape of Fiction: A Look at Structuring Novel Length Prose.” I sat down and Cliff sat on the end. A woman came in to claim the seat between us, but Cliff said, “Why don’t you sit in my seat and I’ll sit by my friend.” (Yeah, that’s right, Cliff Garstang referred to me as his friend!) Anyways, Christian Kiefer was the moderator and he was funny. It was an interesting panel with Jeff Jackson, Esme Weijun Wang, Janet Finch and Kristin Chen.

 

I then attended “From Flash Fiction to Microfiction: How Many words are Enough?” What an excellent panel! Pamela Painter, Sherrie Flick, James Thomas, Nancy Stohlman, and Grant Faulkner talked about prompts and results. Walking over to introduce myself to Grant, I ran into Len Kuntz! He was there with Robert Vaughan! They invited me to their table at the Renaissance for later that night.

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After that, I hit the Book Fair again. I saw Gina who was going with Mary to see Emma Straub & Ann Patchett speak in the Ballroom. I thought about going but decided I needed some alone time. At the hotel, I texted Jimmy and arranged a night out with him. He picked me up and we drove to Arlington to pick up his lovely fiancée, Lindsay. From there, we went to the El Paso Café for margaritas and quesadillas. The drive back into Washington was beautiful—multiple monuments were lit up. At the Marriott Marquis, we attempted to find Mary, but couldn’t find her. We popped into the Sewanee Writer’s Conference Reception. I did find Cliff, but it was so loud, we left.

At the Renaissance, we found a table populated with the brilliant Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, April Bradley, Karen Stefano, David S. Atkinson, and Robert P. Kaye It was such a great time. Jimmy and Lindsay left after one drink because they had to drive home.

Mary texted, then came to the bar. As that collection was breaking up, Cliff and my new best friend Jody Hobbs Hesler came round and we went to the next bar and before I could believe it myself, it was last call. I toddled back the many blocks to my hotel and in my effort to be Best Roommate Ever, I took off my jacket, blazer, and shoes before I went into my room so not to disturb Gina. Well, I left my blazer hanging on the next door’s knob. I woke to see Gina gone, my blazer missing and vague memories from the night before—a few captured on my phone.

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(This last one was from Mary’s phone. Thank you Mary!)

Anyway, after quizzing Mary, I went downstairs, asked at the desk and got my blazer back. I went to the Book Fair, bought Robert’s Vaughan’s Funhouse and he signed it. At the Word Tango table, I got to chat again with the lovely Jennifer Kircher Carr and meet Elizabeth Pettie. I ran into David S. Atkinson and he handed me his book, Apocalypse All the Time, for possible review. I picked up the free book I’d won in a drawing by Writing By Writers. I was supposed to wait until 4 p.m. but as I was leaving, I was able to choose The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch.

I saw Pamela on the way out to meet Gina and Mary. While waiting, I saw the guy from the first panel and had a chance to talk to him and exchange business cards. Such a circle, huh?

It was lovely fun. I’ve left out meeting Gay Degani in the hall just before a panel and getting a hug…not having to feel bad about missing Kim Chinquee’s off-site reading…receiving Mia Avramut’s lovely message…randomly bumping into Claudia Cortese on the sidewalk…finding P. E. Garcia’s voice fine, not strange…getting to meet Paul Vega later on…Beth Gilstrap recognizing me…and a thousand other details that were fabulous though not as fabulous as you for having read all the way through!

THANK YOU!

It’s great to be back though I did have to have my picture retaken at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night and the weather returned to winter and it looks like this outside:

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Ah, home…

*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.

Honey, I swear! The caviar was for research purposes only!

Yesterday was my turn to host the novel critique group. Spoiler alert: Early in Near Eden, New York, Pete brings caviar to Tara’s house to win over her cat. Anyways, at the previous novel critique meeting, Mary had said she hadn’t eaten caviar but thought it was salty and maybe the cat wouldn’t like it. Then, New Year’s Eve arrived and listening to NPR that morning, I heard Scott Simon interview Susan Stamberg. She described a dish called Caviar Pie. On the off chance they did, I asked a guy at Wegman’s if they sold caviar. They did, and some of it was reasonably priced.

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Obviously, not hosting the Christmas shindig created a groundswell of decorating and celebratory angst that needed to be expressed and I’m happy Gina Detwiler and Mary Akers made the drive to put up with it.

My cat didn’t like the caviar cold, but cleaned the stick that held 10 or so fish eggs later that night, just before I left to attend SGI’s French Honor Society induction ceremony. Valerie Brown was making crepes after, but I was quite full by then. When I got home, I received a call from my friend/line editor in California. He wants me to stop querying until we go over the book at least one more time. I don’t want to, though. I probably will, but I’m going to be pouty about it. I think Near Eden, New York is good, and he agreed, but he wants it even closer to perfection. He also hates my query letter because it makes it sound too much like a lighthearted story. I tried to convince him it’s just a romance. He says it’s so much more. I love fights like this and am so grateful these are the problems I have.

And, oh yeah, it’s official, I was duly sworn in and it was on Facebook so it has to be true. I’m a Board of Education Member! Photo courtesy of Colleen Mahoney and the Springville Journal.

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Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.