Novel

A Different Thanksgiving

I was still feeling strange last Thursday, that’s why this post is a week late. My essay on attending last year’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day appeared in the My View column of The Buffalo News on the 8th – Election Day. I didn’t know if I was going this year or not. I decided last Thursday that I would. It’s a good program and a good place to be before the holidays begin.

Thanksgiving being held on different dates, the fact that my family often celebrated on the weekend before or after the holiday and the time factor blur what this is: the 20th anniversary of an argument that changed my life.

I’d let it go if I could. I was three days into not smoking, XO Man had invited me into his life, I was planning to go back to Texas and I was happy. Then my mother and I got into a fight. It left me devastated and feeling unworthy of love, happiness, or progress. Instead of going to Texas, I stayed in a miserable spot, started smoking again, and stopped growing as a person for a long time.

At Christmas, my mother was the opposite; full of delightfulness and laughter. I didn’t trust her. My “big” present was cash, which is what I wanted. I’d also gotten a bag of little stuff. I don’t remember now – whether I found them before or after – but there were a pair of earrings in that bag that I really liked but I didn’t have time to send her a thank you note. I wore them to her funeral; I haven’t worn them since then.

I suppose that is a pattern that repeats. I don’t know what my mother was going through when she picked that fight. I doubt my stepson realizes how pissed I was last year that I was not expecting him, his girlfriend, and her best friend to arrive the next day. I didn’t have time to clean properly, Husband had told me in no uncertain terms that the wedding reception was not going to be here and I told him to tell Stepson because I didn’t want to get involved in it. No. That morning, I got a request from an agent. I had no idea when they were going to arrive, or if they still were so I was working on getting my book submission perfect when they walked in demanding all of the attention.

Last Christmas, I tried to be tolerant of Stepson’s abysmal behavior toward all of my guests and his father and I could cope until he shoved something in my face and told me to do something with it. When I refused, he walked away telling everyone I was acting like a bitch. After that fight, I have no interest in having a gathering here over the holidays, if ever again.

I’m truly grateful that Shirley Palmerton invited Husband and me to her home for dinner today. I’m thrilled to be spending this day with fellow writers and their spouses. It’s good to have found this tribe. For Christmas, we’ll be at Husband’s brother’s house. I’ll bring some food there because Niece must have her quiche so she shall. We’ve agreed to no gifts, which is a huge relief.

The novel had a hiccup and now I’m dreaming the end. It shouldn’t take much longer to finish once I sit down to wrap it up. I had another flash picked up by 200 CCs. Thank you Paul A. Hamilton. And thank you Christopher James for my faux pas. I’m truly sorry and while I am still embarrassed to death, it’s a lot harder to pull that off than I thought, especially today.

I’m grateful for all my friends, the writers and artists, the editors and designers, the singers and actors, teachers and medical professions, builders and retail workers, musicians and thinkers of different points of view as well as the people who agree with me. If you think I left you out, know you’re in a class by yourself and I didn’t want anyone to think I was playing favorites…but we know, don’t we?

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

tgf

*These are my Creekside holiday reflections. Your experiences may vary.

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First Post of the New Year Written in a New Location

I’m at Spot Coffee and my tablet decides to update Microsoft Office. That isn’t productive for writing this blog post, so I went ahead and jotted notes down on real paper to remind myself of what I wanted to say. That I was writing – or at least attempting to write – outside of my comfort zone of known places where I normally write being the big news. That, and the beaver damn failed. It had been providing this nice waterfall view from my kitchen window for a while:

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Snow and cold made it to our area and the number of activities I had lined up for this week went from four to one, so when the meeting of novelists was threatened, I pushed through my normal homebody tendencies and declared I wanted to get out of the house. Gina to the rescue! (She is awesome, inspiring, and encourages me to finish things.) She picked me up and now I feel all “writerly” on the couch typing this while we’re waiting for Mary to arrive.

 
I wrapped up my interview with Susan Tepper about her beautiful new book and that will go live at the Tavern Lantern on Monday (Yes! Handed in ahead of the due date!) “Dear Petrov” will be coming out on 2 February 2016.

Petrov

I converted a bit of prose from a book in progress into a flash for a magazine call on the theme of “dance.” That’s about all the writing I’ve gotten done recently. Oh, well, there was a short story, too, but it was mostly written and just needed some polish.

 

 
Christopher James at Jellyfish Review nominated my flash, “Pretty Changes” for inclusion to Best Small Fictions. For those keeping score, yeah, that’s a win of the Gover Prize, a Best of the Net nomination, my first Pushcart Nomination and the Best Small Fictions nomination all in the space of six months.

 
I am honored to have two new pieces of Mia Avramut’s art to frame. I picked out the matte this weekend and can’t wait for Husband to cut it so they can be hung.

MIAB

MIAA

Other than that, I’ve been reading. It’s a nice change of pace, though not “really” writing results in a host of new problems like titles, characters, and bits of dialogue popping into my head at odd times. I know I need to get back to a novel, but right now, I need a break. And new experiences so that’s how I ended up in Spot to write this post.

 
*These are merely my Creekside (though written in a coffeehouse this week) Reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Tipsy-turvy and beautiful colors

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My cat is quite upset. Yesterday, I fulfilled my Facebook obligation to do whatever was asked of me by the esteemed Tuttle’s as long as they picked me up and took me to their house in order to do it. Yeah, I roll that way–if I say I’ll do it on FB, it will be done. A journalist from Buffalo Spree wants to interview them about living off the grid, so they wanted to spiff up their yard. I got to dig. I was gone all day and the cat couldn’t go in and out as she pleased, plus she knows I petted other cats–and two dogs–while I was away.

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It’s autumn and the weather has been good and the colors great. I’ve been catching this a lot–the dew point is just right so when the sun hits grass blades and tree leaves, a foggy, magical cloud appears. I find it a bit distressing–the sun accomplishing something tangible so easily and so early in the morning.

Life has been going quite well recently (knock up on wood) in the professional arena. After my interview with Karen Stefano went live, I was added to the Literary Orphan’s Masthead as an interviewer. I’ve been appointed Assistant Editor at r.kv.r.y. Quarterly and on Sunday, my Twitter feed went nuts with news that my story, “Prudence” was a Flash Fiction Sunday Edition pick. I was flattered by DeRicki Johnson ’s kind words.

I spoke at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday and plan to do so again at the next one. I really don’t want to run, but the more ignorance and tone deafness I hear from those so-called ‘leaders,’ the angrier I become and want to step in and give people a choice from the status quo. I hope these feelings pass soon. This energy would be much better spent on my writing.

That, too has been going well. I wrote past the problem I was having in the new book and got 20 pages out to the group. I came across a notebook where I listed stories that I’d roughed out. I opened up one and worked on it last night–it still needs some work, but it’s stronger and funnier than I remembered. So, that is what I’m off to work on though it’s a nice day so I might take a walk out back. Last time, I found this little guy on the creekside trail.

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Turtle1

Thanks for stopping by!

 

(These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Stops, starts, strange changes, and such…

With the addition of Kim Chinquee to our novel critique group, both Gina and I decided to submit new work instead of continuing with the books we had been working on. The next time pages are due, I’ll be busy with travel and appointments so I’ve been working on my pages. I have a good start on this new book and I know where it ends, but to get there is going to be interesting. Coming out of the flash workshop adds to my delight since I can take my time and explain things instead of compressing every nuance. Thank God!

 
The library’s summer hours began, so I’m out of there until September and yesterday was my last day mentoring. It worked out beautifully as I was able to attend the concert where Isabella and her friend Amy played. I am going to miss them—and being mistaken for a substitute teacher. Yes, the double loss of free Wi-Fi spots is going to suck, but I’m playing with the idea that the loss will make me concentrate on the new book and revising the last one. Hey, it’s possible.

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The water lily in my frog pond bloomed. Thank you, Christy! I see frogs on there all the time, so I’m thanking you on their behalf, too.

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Otherwise, the garden is doing well. Peas are growing and soon I’ll need to thin out the squash plants.

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Husband reworked the sides of the driveway bridge this weekend and we have a plan on how it will look when we’re done.

6.18.2015D

Eck! I don’t want to get into the ineptitude—let me correct that by saying the continued ineptitude—of certain Erie County departments and car dealerships, so I won’t. I’ll try to resolve those issues before I vetch about them here, but really, I am angry that people are more interested in making excuses than solving problems. I mean, if it’s your job to fix things—fix them. How hard is that to understand?

 
Whatever.

 

By the by, I hope everyone will join me in a toast to XO Man and his new bride. Cheers to them. I was thrilled we were invited to the ceremony, sad we couldn’t make it, but so happy for them both. Mazel Tov!

 

I’m having a fun time reading an advanced copy of “I Am Barbarella” by Beth Gilstrap. I have the privilege of interviewing her soon for The Tavern. I swear I love my job.

 

That is not the only thing I’m reading of course, but that one I’ll be posting about in the future—and I was on her site today—she gave me ideas on how to spruce up mine.

 

So, I guess that’s it for this post. Some things have wound down, others are ramping up—life. I guess that’s how it goes.

Thanks for stopping by to read my Creekside reflections. I trust your experiences will vary.

Meant To Be.

Sunday was exciting for the conversation I had with XO man. The pillows on the couch in the library are still in the position they were when I stretched out and laughed at the shared plight of having an inept dentist. We also talked of music, dance, and cleaning women.

I’d been cleaning the house in anticipation of the novel critique group meeting here tonight. It has corresponded with the ‘so called spring cleaning’ time of year, though I’m not moving the furniture yet due to the still chilly nights. Regardless, “art” has been on my mind a lot recently.

My “style” is eclectic to say the least and as I go along, pieces have to hit me to disrupt the equilibrium I’ve established with the pieces in the house. Monday, I met the newest love of my life.

I had a doctor’s appointment at nine–because even though my insurance card says I don’t need a referral, I can’t see a dermatologist unless I have one, which is a bunch of BS, but that’s for a different post. Anyway, because we have the one vehicle, Husband dropped me off then was going to pick me up on his lunch hour.

Randomly, the Monday I went for a referral, I was also sentenced to an X-ray on my leg, blood work, and an ultrasound. After my appointment, I was able to get the x-ray and the blood work done and walked out of there at ten fifteen. Go figure. I had hours to kill. I went to Café 56 and had a snack while I edited. I was quite content until I felt something and looked over to see I was being stared at by some guy in the corner. I didn’t like that at all.

Flustered, I stayed and worked. I looked out the window and swear I saw Agent Chase crossing the street and enter the antique shop. I leisurely finished my coffee, wondering how far I was going to take this. I calculated that if a fictional character walks out of your head and into the sunlight, you want to pursue, but not so quickly as to scare them away.

Bill paid, street crossed, store entered, I found Agent Chase was gone. I wandered the store after a few words with the shopkeeper. Husband had told me his supervisor, Jody Buttons, owned it. I verified that, then took my time looking at all the interesting things in the shop.

Near the end of my walk around, I came to a framed print. In an oval frame with the glass protruding like a pregnant belly, there was the smuggest, sexiest, slyest picture I’d ever seen. It didn’t remind me of Van Eyck as much as Vermeer but I don’t think it’s either of those. The colors are wrong for both. I looked it over, and there was no price. I asked the merchant, he said he’d have to ask Jody. I told him my husband worked with him, hoping for a better price, When husband picked me up, I told him about it. At work the next day, husband said something about it and Jody said, “That was you?”

I called the shop on Tuesday and Jody hadn’t given a price even he was asked about it three times. Wednesday, at break, Jody walked over and just gave Husband the picture. Jody said he didn’t know whom it was by, but the frame was at least one hundred years old. He wouldn’t take any money for it. Norm was aghast as Jody doesn’t giveaway anything.

So it’s mine now and Husband and I agree, in the event of divorce, it is mine. Right now, it’s hanging on the wall, and I’m even fonder of it though I have to change out and move other pieces around to accommodate this gorgeous thing. Once the novel critique meeting is over, the furniture will move and the other artwork will move to accommodate this newest acquisition.

After I had talked to XO man on Sunday, I got a call on my cell from someone looking for Gail and wanting to make sure she got home safely. Gail is the name of the MC in my current WIP so that freaked me out a little, but without that nudge of the fictional and real blurring at times, I might not have followed a phantom that led to this, new love.

 

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Sorry, taking a picture through curved glass isn’t easy, but look at the interplay between the women. Exquisite.

 

 

pi

 

(*These are just my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Some good things about April.

If you’re looking for good news, I have quite a bit this go around. On April 8th, I received word that “The Girl Who Loved God” was accepted at Ruthless Peoples Magazine. It was posted on the 10th and I am thrilled! Dominic Hamer was the greatest editor to work with. Please do check this story out if you haven’t already. It’s one of my favorites.

On the 12th, I received word that the first 15 pages of my latest novel won third place in the Houston Writers’ Guild’s Genre Contest. I was up until after 3:00 a.m. last night working on it so I do hope to get that polished, corrected, and submitted before this is old news. So far, XO man does not appear in it, which I’m grateful for, though I couldn’t help myself and put in an inside joke: The water in the vase was gone, leaving the rose petals so dry they were crunchy. Yes, that would take far too long to explain.

I also found out that two of my poems that were accepted for the first issue of Wicked Banshee Press went live. You have to scroll about 4/5 of the way down to read them. (Sorry!) The titles are “My First Big Break” and “Some Mothers.” Many thanks to SaraEve, Jennifer E. Hudgens, and Michelle Nimmeo

Otherwise, the crocuses are in bloom, the daffodils are preparing for their opening and I’ve seen tulip leaves. I really do like spring.

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Well, now I’m off to read Mary’s new opening pages, then work on my own.

Thank you for stopping by!

 

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

It’s Not Cabin Fever Exactly… It’s More Like Cabin Anxiety

This past Monday, I attended the novel critique group meeting at Gina’s. I’ve never worked this way, handing over twenty–now up to 25 pages–at a time. As I’m revising “The Life and…” I’m realizing I really have to slow down the pace. The recent installment included an added scene I thought I’d get slammed on, but they seemed to enjoy it–Mary said it felt like I’d nailed the voice. I’m glad of this, as I felt I had lost it and that’s why I had to take it back a few pages so events I’d glided through in the rough draft could be strengthened. I think the end result will be tighter, but I’m only a quarter of the way there. I know, I said I’d send out agent queries for Ellie’s Elephants, and I did get two out after the ambiguous “this doesn’t sound like a form rejection, but I don’t know how to respond either” response from Sobel. Meeting new people is hard enough. Needing to introduce myself and say, “Please, like what I write, too”…that makes me anxious.

So, I had enough “when I” and put brush to canvas. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever made, and I’m nowhere close to finishing it, put it’s a start. It felt good to mix colors and paint. The longer I was painting, the more that came back to me–including the fact that you can’t finish a painting in one sitting. Well, the one guy could, but I’m not him nor do I have my own show on PBS.

2.6

Speaking of that realm…WBFO, my local NPR station is doing an extra pledge week. OMG, enough. Here’s the thing, I love their work, the coverage, etc. However, they are on there telling me if I don’t pledge, my favorite shows will disappear. How many years and how much money have proved that to be a lie? Everything was great until Mark Scott retired. The resulting crapola version of a program lineup disgusts me. Why this station pays for programs that are great but plays them when no one listens and plays boring shows when people are tuned in is just stupid. There was a time when pledge week ended early. The reason for that was simple. They had there shit together; now it’s not worth it. If you also tell me how I have to pay to keep the programs I want to stay on the air, I will recite the ones they dropped when I sent them a few bucks and when I say I, I mean Husband. Whoever is in charge of programming is clueless, or trying his best to kill off this station and the rapid decline in listenablity has me thinking it’s the latter. WBFO, please, hear this and fix it. The person in charge of programming needs to go.

Otherwise, I’m excitedly looking forward to the 15th when I get to do my first official reading. It will be at the West Falls-Colden Library where I volunteer, so I’ll have the home field advantage. I find it a bit strange that they have a signup sheet for it. I mean, that makes sense if it’s a card making class, but a reading? Gary Earl Ross will be there as well as Susan Solomon, George Morse, and Lou Rera. We will be reading from Queen City Flash at 1:00-3:00 on Saturday 15th if you’re up for it. Jeff Schober did a reading there on the 1st while I was working. It was good to see him again. Boneshaker is a follow up to Broken and Profane and he’s working on two more in the series. 

Anyway, I’ve had a few “close calls” on acceptances. I was told one piece made it to the final round of cuts. They only take four stories per issue, so I guess I made their top five or top eight, which is nice, but I then sent that piece to another venue where it didn’t make it past the first cut. *Sigh.* I also got INK!!!! from The Sun. They held it for 8 months, so I’m considering that something. I sent that story to two places yesterday. I don’t know what it is. It’s gotten so many “almosts” but that just makes it more frustrating that it hasn’t found a home yet. I know, I’ve heard the stories yet those don’t make the personal rejections any less disappointing.

So, enough of this ranting about the problems I have because I love them all, including the fact that there’s more snow and I can’t wait to go for a walk in the woods, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Ah well…

 2.6b

(These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)