Hamburg Writer’s Group

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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Strange days & happenings…

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I know I’m late with this post. It’s been weird. I started writing this Thursday afternoon:

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Today I had lunch at Julie’s with the SGI Superintendent. She is such a good person – and smart. It was a lovely time and I hope we do end up working on her book. It will be phenomenal when she has some time and it all comes together.

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Yesterday was a “regular” meet up at SPoT Coffee in Orchard Park to write with Gina. It’s been a long time and I was excited to find I could still sit down and write – that, too, has been iffy. The last time I posted, my brother-in-law was still alive. My, how things change. At the service, M and R wore their father’s shirts. I’m sure I’m not the only one who caught their breath – with the hat, the son resembles his father.

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Last Thursday, the cat was acting strange. Mary and Gina – my real life angels – picked me up and we went to Three Girls Café for bunch and catch up. It was so good to spend time with them and try to get back to a semblance of normalcy. I refused to check on the cat – figuring if she was dead, she wouldn’t be reviving, but she was on my mind. I came home, braced myself, and found she was alive. And since then she’s been improving which is miraculous since she’s 19-years-old now. That night, I went to the Comfort Zone for Hamburg Writers’ Group. That, too, was a taste of normalcy. I came home, let the dog out and he tangled with a skunk. Such a roller-coaster of a day.

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And while real life was raucous, the career side has been going along swimmingly. Nina Fosati did a brilliant edit on a story I wrote and I sent it out to higher tier publications. She’s working through a piece I enjoy and – knock on wood – she’ll find the way into it match the tone she wants for it and then it will get published and nominated for prizes. I do think it’s that good.

I received my contributor copy of Bacopa. “Pirouette” is on page 6.

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Furtive Dalliance was released with “Sounds So Familiar,” and after YEARS of submitting, I finally cracked the top ten of On The Premises in the “near death” call for submissions. Weirdly, it was sent at the last minute and I didn’t think it had a chance. It’s a story that Jim Tuttle liked in an early draft. Fingers crossed – but honestly, I’ll be thrilled with the critique.

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The furniture was moved into the “winter mode” and I’ve brought in a few pieces of wood to dry out. Saturday, I start the fall hours at the library with my 10-noon shift. Sunday is Gina’s book release event that I’m so excited to attend. So, apologies for the lateness ~ it’s just the way things have been going as events have prevented sameness and ruts to continue here, creekside, where I haven’t been doing enough reflecting or Pilates…but there has been a lot of love and for that I am grateful.

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Thanks for stopping by and the read!

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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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The Day After the Day of Love

I’m disgusted. I could write about guns. Or mental health care. Or schools. I have written my misogynist representative. I’ve attended forums, school board meetings, bitched on Twitter. I hope this school shooting is the last one. There is no animal you can hunt with an AK47 and if you want to whine about how you think I want to take away your rights, save it. If you don’t believe children should be safe in schools, you don’t deserve to hold anything in your hands to protect you from the truth. As Kathy Fish so eloquently wrote in Jellyfish Review, it’s gotten to the point where children can be classified as targets. That’s wrong; end of discussion. We need sensible gun restrictions and the laws we already have enforced.

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In other news, Husband brought home a lovely bouquet on the 13th so I’d have an extra day to enjoy these beautiful blooms. (Translation: He was in Hamburg that day to run an unrelated errand and also wanted to avoid the last minute rush of other husbands on Valentine’s Day at the Hess Brothers Florist shop.)

I found out I was on the long list for the London Independent Story Prize and couldn’t say anything for a day. On the 8th, I went to JD’s Brew Pub to hear J.T. and the Law play, and to keep my mind off possibly losing. They have gotten better and it was great to hear J.T.’s brother sing a song called “Galileo” and Anna sang Maddie Larkin’s songs beautifully.

Last week’s meeting of the Hamburg Writers’ Group consisted of me, Patrick, and Michael. The conversation about craft and submitting was both interesting and inspiring. I read the piece that was long listed and Michael said he thought I’d win. I still had doubts. On Saturday, I went to the library for my shift. It was hard to concentrate on reading submissions because I kept refreshing the LISP page to find out who won. With Lent coming up, I wanted to go out to have a glass of wine with a meal before I couldn’t. Husband let me use his phone to check. Just as we were finishing our meal at Julie’s, the winners were announced. As anyone who was in the restaurant that afternoon can tell you, I won.

 

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So, today is the last day to submit to the American Short(er) Fiction contest and I’m preparing my entries. I’ve sent out some queries to agents and next week, I send pages to my darling, awesome novel critique group after the incredible Nina Fosati has gone over the book again. In this revision, she’s highlighted the parts she particularly likes. I’m now in love with the color turquoise and I’m seeing a lot of it, which I really need because “new book” is pure dreck at the moment.

Writing…not for the thin skinned or the impatient.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read. As always, these are merely my creekside reflections so I expect your experiences to vary.

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On the right path. I think.

In case you haven’t heard, I’m now the managing editor of Literary Orphans – words I never thought I’d be privileged enough to say. I’m still numb from the news. It came during the novel revision crunch. I wanted it done by January 31st – and I succeeded – but just barely. I’ve since extended the “listen to the whole thing being read by the computer to catch any glitches” deadline to Ground Hog’s Day and may have to go further – to Sunday – because I need to catch up on real life. While I was in the book, laundry piled up, the woodpile dwindled, and Husband’s truck acted up. I stayed off-line for two days and there are Twitter & Facebook messages to look at and respond to, along with the possibility of diving into the recent scandal.

Wednesday, I found out Shirley Palmerton, a dear friend from Hamburg Writers’ Group had her piece accepted and published in the Buffalo News “My View” column. It is sweet and made me miss my great grandparents and my grandmother.

I also got what I’m taking as a sign from the universe that I’m on the right path. In the emails with Scott, he said at one point I was “someone who lives and breathes indie lit,” which was so sweet. I received an email from Page & Spine accepting “Anam Cara,” one of the early flashes that were the genesis of this book. In the story, the two main characters mention Karen Stefano, Pat Pujolas, and of course the great Alex Pruteanu. Many thanks to N. K. Wagner for the acceptance and her lovely compliment.

Right, so I need to end this and get to work catching up on boring household chores so I can start the fun of querying agents. This time, I’m looking forward to the process. I’m also looking forward to finding out what the little rodent says tomorrow. Gardens in winter are forlorn looking, and kind of sad.

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Thanks for stopping by and the read!

 

 

 

 

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

Projects, Procrastination, and Self-Censorship

If you’re keeping tabs, more work was to continue in the kitchen. A dishwasher wasn’t exactly promised, but darn close. Anyway, that has been shelved because of a touch of mold in the bathroom has led to chaos, repainting, and tile. Or will soon.  *Sigh.*

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I completed Kathy Fish’s fabulous Fast Flash Workshop and highly recommend it. In the writing I was doing there, I went deeper than normal, which was a little unsettling. I didn’t post the “object” prompt because that led into something longer.  I thought I was being brave when I sent it to the incredible Nina Fosati for her thoughts. Her response was to go even deeper . . . so I’m considering it.

Let’s say it involves a messed up situation and I’ve self-censored about it this week already. Seriously, I had trouble with one piece that I really liked, but couldn’t get to end right. I imagined someone and it fell into place. Great. But then, it was accepted and someone quoted a line and this thrilled me and I went to post a link on Facebook .  . . and realized I shouldn’t. Luckily, I had a three-year-old memory pop up and pimped that instead.

It’s a miserable drizzly day here and I’m struggling to find bright spots.

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The baby waterfalls was the best I could do. I’m behind in my work count for Nano, my reading at both magazines and the extra reading I’m doing for the Best of the Net awards and a new member of Hamburg Writers’ Group sent a book that I said I’d read the first chapter of . . . and haven’t opened. So, thank you for stopping by. I know it wasn’t much, but I need to get back to the work I love and ignore the impending torn out drywall and paint drips.

*These are my creekside reflections and I hope your experience varies.