Spot Coffee

June is gorgeous with words and flowers

What can I say? The writing news has been shockingly good recently. In case you’re not bored to death from my Facebook posts, here’s a recap: I placed second in the latest On the Premises mini-contest (#42!), which can be read here. I thought I’d only made the Micro-Madness Long List – and I was so happy with that – but then, last night, I saw that I was shortlisted and published here(June 13)! (And if you’re anal-retentive like me, you’d do the math and see my story was in the top 10!) 101 Fiction Issue 23 was released with my story in it. I wrote it during a Kathy Fish Fast Flash Reunion Workshop. Another one is coming up this weekend and I’m excited as all get out.  I also received an email from the Strands International Flash Fiction Contest…and I’m on the short list. Plus! The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature took a story of mine and it will be out in March of 2020. Like I said, shockingly good news on the writing front which has been quiet the balm for the rejections which have also tumbled in to remind me I’m NOT all that.

The yard and garden have been keeping me on my toes. I had a Disney Princess montage! I went out to plant willow near the road. I put three in and turned around to see a black butterfly with amazing blue iridescent spots. I walked around to the next section and found a yellow swallowtail butterfly on the pale pink lilacs fluttering about. Then, walking to the next section, I heard a ruckus. It turned out to be a duck squawking for the baby ducks to get in line. All of this happened in like 6 minutes. It was amazing. And of course I had no camera at the time.

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This is the pale pink lilac bush. I wish there was a way to have you inhale the aroma. Wild roses are blooming nearby so it’s heady on that path.

Monday, I had a lovely time in Springville at Café 49 catching up with Kim Chinquee and Wednesday morning found me at Spot Coffee in Orchard Park with Mary Akers. I wrote and she worked on Crab Con details. And I got my swag bag!

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Tuesday I did more yard work since the weather is spotty and found the slim irises are also in bloom.

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And back on 31 May, even though I told Husband he didn’t have to, I was honored to receive roses from him to commemorate 19 years of being married/20 years together. (Isn’t he sweet?)

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Anyways, and all in all, this is one of the happiest posts I’ve ever gotten to write. Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

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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!

 

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.

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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.

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Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

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!

Oops! It’s Friday and I’m in love with Iced Lemon Biscotti!

Apologizes for my tardiness, but I have fantastic excuses. The first is that the rewrite is going well so I’ve been focusing on that, but the biggest focus has been figuring out the details of our trip to Essex for the family reunion. The car rental is reserved, tickets for the play we’ll be seeing while we’re there are bought, and a cat sitter has been found. Now I’m down to packing, making pasta salad for 40 and cleaning the house before we leave. Piece of cake.

Yesterday there was a tornado in Hamburg. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it to Tamara Grisanti’s place for her soy candle party, but I did and it was lovely. Iced Lemon Biscotti and Beach Linen were the two Hemlock House candles I bought and would recommend to everyone. We also got to sample some masculine scents that Tamara’s husband created for a bachelor party. I hope they make more of those soon. Kim Chinquee was there, too, and now I have a copy of Veer that will be traveling with me.

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There’s a novel critique group coming up and I’m psyched to see Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler again. It’s been too long! Tonight, I’ll be at Comfort Zone for the Hamburg Writers’ Group. Last week, I had the truck and spent time across the street at SPoT Coffee writing two new flashes. Yes, I’m back to being active in Hot Pants on Zoetrope.

Also, I want to say I was so happy to finally accept my first piece for Literary Orphans as Fiction Editor. Congratulations Tara Isabel Zambrano! Her stunning piece, Measurable Hours, will be in the September Issue.

Gardenwise, the hydrangea is blooming

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and the yellow flowers that attract so many different types of bees are opening up.

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Writing is a strange process. The more time I don’t have time to write, I write more. A friend of mine was lamenting that he’d just been given a chunk of time and space to do nothing but write and he’s written next to nothing. I’m thinking about ordering him a candle from Hemlock House so the amazing scents will reawaken his imagination.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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

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.

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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.

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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.