Mary Akers

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

Advertisements

Let There be Lent and Melting Snow

Even though I’m not Catholic, every year I give up alcohol for Lent. So, yeah. I’ve been completely sober for a week. This time, the thought of being done with drinking forever is stronger than it was last year, and stronger than the year before that. I mean, I’m not getting much out of it, am I? Plus, when I stop drinking, it’s so much easier to lose weight…and not engage in pointless Facebook and Twitter “debates.”

Tuesday held a pleasant surprise – and gave me an excuse not to watch The Bachelor. At the SGI Board of Education meeting, they voted to return the polling place to the Library/Media Center starting this May. Apparently, the points I made in my speech last month were well taken. It’s kind of nice to have made a difference for voters and according to Kimberly Moritz, future users of P-TECH. The handicap accessibility that was originally drawn up for that building is being reworked.

Wednesday was another writing session at Spot Coffee in Orchard Park – this time with Mary Akers! She was gracious enough to read the short story I mentioned in my last post. Oi, I’ve been polishing that thing! So many and such huge thank yous to Nina Fosati for her editorial assistance and keen insight into the genre. Mary noted a switch in tense that I corrected but said that otherwise it was good. I’m closer to sending it off. The rules for the contest have been slightly changed. Should I be lucky enough to make it to the top three entries, I’ll be begging for votes, as the winner will be determined “American Idol” style.

This morning the temperature was decent and I went out to hunt for signs of spring. No robins were spotted and no bulbs have emerged so far, but the sweet gum is forming buds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The windows are cracked open and fresh air is drifting in…it’s delighting me to step away from the computer and do something else, like take the dog to explore the melting snow and ice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

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…

PRfront.jpg

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

PRback.jpg

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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…

KIMG0085

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

P9030842.jpg

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!

Strange days & happenings…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

IMG_20180908_155720

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks for stopping by and the read!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

a_002

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

p6090549.jpg

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the frogs are lounging in the pond,

p5020374.jpg

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(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!

p5020370.jpg

 

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!