Kim Chinquee

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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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.

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.

Girly things

On the 25th of September, I went to a Fashion Show that benefited the Hospital. It was interesting. On the 29th I drove to a place called Steer for a Girl’s Night Out hosted by the lovely and talented Kim Chinquee. That was a lot of fun. Between the two, I hosted the novel critique group and made quiche. Again, many thanks to Gina Miani and Mary Akers for making the drive and being fun to talk to and commiserate with over the nuttiness that is writing.

I’ve been busy piecing together this Pete and Tara saga into a book. Their hot sex scene is up — with all the warnings in the world implied for those with sensitive sensibilities– here at Bare Back Magazine. In pairing and/or extending the flashes into longer chapters, I have a solid 16,900 words in and haven’t got to that bit yet. I’m close to where “Something To Talk About” happens. *Sigh*

Otherwise, it’s been all about the canning.

(This isn't all I've canned)

Pictures of the wedding aren’t transferred yet, but I did scroll through them. There are one or two that aren’t bad. That task was on the weekend list…but Husband decided he’d –without my input– buy the new hearth rug. SO MUCH MEDITATION!!! I’m letting it go…and never combining my weekend list with his again.

Thanks for stopping by!

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*These are my creekside reflections. That is the creekside view this morning. Your experience and view should be very different.

Even if it isn’t fun, it will be memorable.

notblueThe large calendar continues to be useful. I even put the notation, “Blog!” on last and next Thursday’s squares. When I realized that meant writing one during Stepson’s wedding week, I switched that around and so you’re reading this now and not then – or last week.

Husband and I still have a lot to do to get ready for the guests that will be staying with us and normally I’d be outside mowing or weeding, but the humidity is brutal. It was bad yesterday, too, but I managed to get the rest of the wood in, Husband pulled out the old tractor to see if that transmission can be married to the one we’ve been using and I pushed the steps to the south lawn closer together. All of this with chipmunk scurrying underfoot, under leaves, under steps and in the trees. They are plentiful and brave this year.

I had an AMAZING run of acceptances recently. Christopher James took “It Only Hurts When I Smile” which came out of Kathy Fish’s workshop! It’s scheduled to appear in Jellyfish Review on 17 December. Kae Sable took “Something to Talk About” for Dime Show Review and it’s live. I felt unsure about “Birth Control” and put it up in Hot Pants in Zoetrope to workshop…and the incredible Kim Chinquee loved it as is and took it for New World Writing. It’s live HERE. And on Sunday, A. E. Phillips wrote to say she’s taking “An Alice is An Alice is an Alice” for both the print Fall Issue and the 2016 Year End Collection of The Donut Factory. Two weeks, 5 acceptances. Hell yeah!

(I did enter the bizarro world where the rejection from Apogee was welcomed. All that winning was starting to freak me out.)

Both “Birth Control” and “Something to Talk About” are very new and from the stack of flashes involving the characters Pete and Tara.  I thought the piece I wrote on Tuesday where Tara meets Pete’s mother for scones (with clotted cream – Thanks Mary Akers!) didn’t work and I was disappointed in myself. I went back yesterday and found it isn’t bad at all.

I was discouraged that only one sunflower came up this year – I planted two rows – but look at the multi-headed one that came up!

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Saturday, I’m back to my piece of heaven — volunteering at the West Falls-Colden Community Library. I won’t be there as often this season as I’ll be working some Saturdays. (Yes, Virginia, I did get a job.) And I’m glad I put that in the book, because I nearly forgot! So much is going on in the next two weeks from Husband doing things he’s never done before – including getting his hair and beard tended to by a hairdresser – to hosting a group of writers hours (I hope I have hours to prepare!) after our houseguests leave.

So, barring that it’s too much and does kill me, I’ll be back in two weeks to tell you all about with pictures of Husband in a tuxedo!

Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside 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.