r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal

Fireworks, Honey, and a Lily in Bloom

Did you have a happy 4th? Husband and I went out to watch fireworks in East Aurora on Sunday since I knew he wouldn’t want to be out late the night before he had to go to work. Capturing fireworks is tricky and after about 5 minutes it was deemed a better idea to just set the camera down and experience the barrage of color and sound.

Kudos to the people sitting by us who kept redirecting the drop-in mouthy guy who wanted to bash Trump/Hillary/Bernie loudly before I kicked him in the shins and said, “Guess what? No one is here to talk politics. There aren’t that many things we as a community gather for, so don’t be an idiot and tarnish it because you think if you’re loud you must be right.”

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(And in case you’re wondering, I’m an undecided registered independent voter and I don’t care about any of your opinions, so don’t talk to me about the election unless I specifically ask you to do so. Also, I’m not going to ask you.)

 

 

 

Beehunt

I’d hoped to have more bee pictures of the partial extraction. I asked Husband to put them on his laptop over the weekend. I even asked if he downloaded all the pictures. If they’re on there, I can’t find them. *Sigh* There’s a reason “Trust, but Verify” got to be a saying. Regardless, this is what I ended up with:

Honey

A jar of raw honey from our very own wild bees.

MANY, many thanks to Vikki, my incredibly knowledgeable and brave sister. Love you!

 

The July issue of r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal is up and gorgeous. Jerri Bell’s “Care Packages” is deliciously written. Lucinda Kempe’s “On Perseverance: 5 Shorts” is wonderful and Len Kuntz’s “Twisters” will leave you breathless. Check them out, as well as the other amazing work made all the more incredible by Fay Henexson’s photography.

After last month’s scramble to get my 20 pages done in time for the novel critique group, I decided to drop “New Thing” and work on “Dreaming Lettie.” I’ve already gotten my required pages written plus a couple extra, though I need to slow one scene down. After I post this, I’ll be editing that and then continuing on. Working on the same thing for a little bit each day helps so much to encourage continuation. Hopefully, it will lead to completion.

I had a lovely evening last night in Eden at the Hodge’s. Mary Jo invited me and Nina Rochella Fosati for a light supper and a discussion about writing. Charles played butler beautifully, especially when he brought dessert. Mary Jo, Nina, and I talked about our writing process, submitting, agents, the good parts and the frustrations of doing this crazy thing where we take the same 26 letters and turn them into characters and force those fragile constructs into conflicts.

Otherwise, it’s been hot and dry here so I’m developing upper arm and leg strength taking multiple buckets of water out to the 4 remaining pines, 4 mounding perennial flowers and 3 blackberry bushes early in the mornings. Each time I do, I’m reminded that I’m not a morning person. Ah well, I guess that’s proof that I do love plants. Especially when they do things like this:Lily

Thanks for stopping by!

 

(The above are my creekside reflections. Your reflections may vary.)

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If it’s the 19th, I must be up to 31673 words.

 

{~Photos graciously provided by Joseph Fleckenstein~}

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Participating in National Novel Writing Month is a process that continues to fascinate me. I won’t say it gets easier, or that I am any closer to having a “real” book by the end, but each time I find a rhythm. I completely “pantsed” this year and so far, I’m finding my way – though by now, the beginning needs major reworking. Oh, how I love the problems I have.

 
I forget which “law” it is, but to me, writing is motion and once engaged, I write even more. My co-workers have been nailing comments on pieces sent to Literary Orphans, so I’ve mostly bowed out of commenting there because, “What Len said” and “Brittany summed it up nicely” grows tiresome, even to my own ear. I do read, and I vote. That is the loveliest thing – if you submit to LO, your piece is read by at least three people.

There’s more responsibility and leeway at r.kv.r.y. I made an executive decision Sunday night. A writer sent a piece and said he’d appreciate any feedback. It’s customary to wait a week before responding – I don’t know why that is, it just is. Anyway, the writing was good but the story wasn’t “there.” I offered my reasons and reasoning as to why I wasn’t accepting the piece. It was a bit scary – one never knows how another reacts – especially to rejection.

In the morning, the writer, Joseph Fleckenstein – my guest photographer today – responded with an abundance of gratitude. My time spent reaching out and talking to another writer ended in an offer of four beautiful images to choose from for my very own. The first was of a thistle. I chose that one because of it being a talisman to the family I married into – a thistle was on Gideon Whitson’s gravestone – and if the story I got from Husband is wrong, I’m sure my beautiful niece will correct me. So at the top and bottom are two gorgeous photos of thistles by Joseph Fleckenstein. My many, many thanks to him.

‘Tis the season to be grateful, isn’t it?

Nancy Leone came by yesterday with flowers, fresh rosemary, and her final notes on L&C. She had one major point I know I should consider fixing. It’s at the end and won’t require a lot, but I wish that book was “done” done. I know, it won’t be until it’s published – should I be that lucky, but it’s gotten to minutia and I’m tired. I want to move on. Is that wrong? Besides which, someone wondered if I wasn’t allowing too many critiquers into the pot, but the last major rewrite pleased him so I just don’t know anymore.

What I do know is that I took a break from a private office in Zoetrope. I didn’t think I was being useful and the prompts weren’t working. Late summer and early autumn are full of depression triggering time bombs. Events conspired, I wrote a creative nonfiction piece – something I shy away from writing, but I posted it and then could see the flaws. It felt great though, to dip back into flash. So, to you Kim Chinquee, I want to give my thanks for leaving that office door open. And thanks to Gina who has been such a positive guide. Thanks to Mary for her belief in me. Thanks to my incredible and kind Husband. To Sidney. To Alex. To Chyo. To XOMan. To my niece.

I could go on for a VERY long time naming people and things I’m grateful for but this post is already topping 600 words. That’s longer than the flash I wrote…which just proves the law I was talking about…

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thank you again, Joseph Fleckenstein!

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

The Minor(?) Cost of a Great Weekend

This past weekend was marvelous! Rachael flew in, Donkey and Lisa came by and Husband’s twin was here, too. The weather was perfect. There was a half game of gonzo croquet, several hands of cutthroat bridge, rich food and many carbonated beverages. Husband and I have a new favorite beer, Berkshire Brewing Company’s Coffee House Porter. We don’t often agree on beer, but this one rated a 9 from both of us.

8.22.2015(Thanks for the picture, Rachael!)

But of course, a good time often comes at a cost…

Here it is, two weeks later and I’m still revising L&C. I’m starting to hate this book. That isn’t the only thing that remains undone. *Sigh* I love the problems, I have–I really do, but this week seems especially full of them.

Last night was the last District Facilities Review Committee meeting. I’m sad to report that after it goes to the Board of Education, the new gym will most likely be put up for a vote ON DECEMBER 15th! On top of that underhandedness, the interim Superintendent will be gone by January so none of the fallout will hit her on the way out. Yes, I knew all politics is local and it’s all crap, but this is a bump up of at least two hundred dollars a year–with a steady 2% + increase every year for a declining student base–if this passes and with the voting machine Duwe has in place, it feels like a done deal.

I hate her–and her husband rubs me the wrong way, too. Putting it in a bubble and sending it away.

Other than that, I’m so behind on my reading for Literary Orphans it isn’t even funny and in a few days, the submission to portal for r.kv.r.y. opens. I’m not ready. I’ll be visiting Burlington Books in Perry tomorrow before I go to a viewing for my Uncle Erv. I was transcribing an essay I wrote in longhand in my notebook about him when he passed. Strange.

The consultation gig has at least two more rounds of emails to go through and this morning I woke to find edit requests on a story I thought I’d finished, but that’s minor. I’m sure there’s other things I’m forgetting at the moment.

I’m pulling out my “to-do” book, making a list, and getting to work. It will satisfy me to no end to cross off “write and post blog.”

One thing done well. Check.

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

It’s just a coincidence: new year/new blog post.

Can you believe it’s been 15 years since the Y2K scare?

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Remember the excitement?

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And then the let down when nothing happened.
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*Sigh*

This year marks a personally significant one; I will soon be the same age as my mom when she died. If it’s genetics, I guess my death is nigh, and if not I will probably end up working on a few messy, emotional essays about this topic. Some of those thoughts and ideas may end up in future blog posts. You have been warned.

Yesterday, I spent time in my office’s loft finishing up the organization of the things that were allowed to remain. I’m donating/dumping so much “stuff” that I’ve been holding onto for no good reason. It was just time for it to go–not so much because of the time of the year as much as being ticked off that I couldn’t easily get to the box I needed.

The correspondence stays.

I came across letters and cards with notes–I wasn’t able to read them all, but each was touching. And this morning I received an email from someone whom I encouraged, which brightened my day–and the beginning of this new year. (Thank you Sidney Thompson!)

No resolutions, no new me, just the same goals I’ve always had: continue to read, to write and improve with each piece.

Sadly, with the amount of reading for r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, my time for novel length books feels diminished. Instead of dwelling on that, I’ve added a book a week to my calendar–whether I get to reviewing them or not is a different topic. Once I get through Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist again, I might have that sort of courage and determination. She writes honestly about everything; that is the truest form of freedom and bravery.

There is snow on the ground and I followed a stray cat’s paw prints out to get the Buffalo News. I haven’t seen this cat, but I’ve known of its existence for months. Husband has another long weekend and I have a new story to work on. After a vivid dream that involved a lot of inappropriate kissing, I wrote down the details, and that somehow unlocked the plot to a long story/novella I wrote years ago that did not work. (It is from so long ago I may have to track down a 3.5 floppy disc reader.) Now, I see where several other bits fit together and I’m excited to see how well they will work together.

Anything to avoid writing messy essays and starting–in earnest–on the new novel.
So for now, I bid you adieu and send you wishes for a very good new year.

Thank you for stopping by!

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

Reading, revising, critiquing, and the need for a better system

For the last week, I’ve been revising L&C in that I’m addressing glitches and questions that have been brought up by my brilliant editor and the awesome women in my critique group. I sent Mary Akers and Gina Miani the last pages on Tuesday. In the notes I got from her last month, Mary wasn’t sure I could wrap it up. Now, I wait to hear her verdict. I’ve heard from Gina and had to pull a news item from 7 years into the character’s future to show her one thing that happened to them so she’d stop swearing at me. 🙂  I wonder if she caught that the characters are living in Manhattan 4 months away from 9/11. Yes, their lives are not easy.

I need to come up with a better system or be more diligent about my notes for revision. I’ve come to several spots where I know I had worked out a phrase I wanted to use but can’t find it or remember it now. *Sigh* I will remember this for the next book and that will make it go easier. (Stop laughing!) As soon as I post this, I’m back to revising. I printed out two scenes that are passable, but I want to be smoother, so that’s going to be my day–it’s too muggy to work on the ditch so maybe I’ll get some laundry done, too. I also need to pick out an outfit for my first day back at the West Falls-Colden Community Library. I’ve missed that place!

The best part of the past few weeks is my new love.

chair

This chair. It’s wonderful, my lapboard fits it perfectly and since Husband stole my rocking chair, I’ve been making do with the sofa, but that wasn’t working, so once the new chair arrived, all the furniture was rearranged and things are remarkably better on so many levels. As a bonus, the furniture had to be moved anyway because of winter coming up, so that bit of yearly hassle is already over.

Plus, it was a great spot to take pictures of my recent houseguest wearing tiny hats!

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I’m reading a book called “Convergence” to review from fellow Western New Yorker, Deborah Madar. The writing good, but she goes to dark places and I need to set it down and walk away, so DM, if you’re reading this, please know I like it, but for me–and my personal history–this is not a book I can read in one sitting.

r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal is back open for your submitting pleasure. I’ve read the pieces that have already come in except one which I’ve sent to my kindle to read–as a treat–in the library on Saturday. I like this person’s writing, and I’m hoping this is the “one” for him that I fall in love with and insist gets published–but no pressure on this piece or anything. Through several rejections and emails, I’ve gotten to know him a bit. Strange, the Internet.

Literary Orphans is always open, and if you haven’t read it lately, you should.

Otherwise, a drainage ditch was put in this weekend, well the hard part, anyway. Phase One, from the low spot in the woodshed lawn to the ditch went in the weekend before.

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There’s a bit of mortar work and back filling to do, but otherwise, it is done! Yeah!

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Thanks for checking in!

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

A nice start to the New Year

And what to my grateful eyes did I find in my inbox on New Year’s Day? A note from a publisher who is planning another anthology and offered the previous authors a crack at the new one. That is definitely a much better start to a year than a rejection. By that token, I’ve held off on sending rejections (sorry if you get one!) to several submitters. I really do try to treat submitters to r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal the way I’d like to be treated and I know I didn’t want to get a rejection on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

So, I’m concussed. How are you? Seriously, it was such a stupid thing. I took mail out and on the way back, I fell on the icy driveway and smacked my head. And do you know what you can do to help a concussion? Nothing but watch for signs. Modern medicine is come so far…Yes, I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse, like a broken leg or arm or wrist.

I don’t make resolutions since the year many, many years ago to not make resolutions. That one I knew I could keep, and I have. Even when I quit smoking, I quit on 1/7, not the first. However, I’ve been toying with the idea of going a year without drinking. Since New Year’s Eve is a big drinking night, and I shouldn’t be drinking with a brain injury anyway, I decided that I’d start on the first so I’d remember when I began. There are a few caveats. I’m allowed to drink on my birthday, if I sell a book, Husband’s birthday, Thanksgiving and one freebie, but only one. So, this will be my year of not drinking.

Otherwise, nothing has changed much. I’m working on new pieces and enjoying going through the latest book twenty pages at a time with Mary Akers and Gina. I’m so glad to have been asked to joining that novel critiquing group! After the 14th, I’ll be touching up the query letter, getting ready to send Ellie’s Elephant’s to another group of agents I’ve researched. I’m preparing applications for Breadloaf and NYFA. Same old, same old, but good.

 

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

Prepping For NaNoWriMo

I still have pepper plants flowering in the garden as I write. Who knew the combination of the pergola and garden shed would serve as a sweet spot where frost in the valley didn’t touch my babies? I’ve been raking leaves and taking care of things in preparation for winter. With temperatures so high, it’s hard to imagine the cold to come.

So, it kind of sucks that an arbitrary decision by a guy I used to know affected my life as much as it did. It was like being thrust into a horror film without signing a contract. Whatev…We’re here now. He’s dead; I’m living. Lately, I’ve had the weirdest vivid dreams…

Beyond that, I’ve been reading so much… The beginning of three different novels in progress in preparation for a tryout for an amazing novel critique group, stories for r.kv.r.y., the latest Oliver Sacks book. I’ve also gotten back to submitting my work. It’s weird being a writer. Tomorrow, I’ll be checking into doing something insane: taking a zip-line ride across the creek. I have no idea why I’m choosing to do it other than I can and the experience might end up in a story. Why else do I live on?

I have the vaguest sense of the story I want to write this year for NaNo. I hope the end comes to me soon. Once I have the end, I know I can finish the novel. I’m also looking into using Schrivner this year. Index cards do not work for me. Ah well, I love the problems I have. I want to get more stories sent out before November first. Rejections don’t seem as important when I’m working on a novel–possibly because I don’t have time to dwell on them. So, I’m off to look up guidelines and submit. Thanks for reading! I hope to have good news to share soon.

In the meantime, I’d appreciate your support in this: Bards and Sages, which published “Cosmas, Reporting for Duty” in the October Issue is running a contest for best story of the year. If you could, vote for me here: Reader’s Choice Thank you!

I love you all. I am required to say that since I may dive to my death soon. Hugs! I’ll try to hold on.

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