XO man

A Holiday Tip and Thoughts on the New Year

Here’s a tip I came across by accident: when you receive a personal/instructive rejection, print it out on holiday paper. It makes the sting of the “no” a bit easier to take.



Gina Detwiler’s book launch for Forlorn this weekend was spectacular! It was a great time, too.


Hello! It’s another Thursday here and I’m happy for two recent rejections that were not only personal, but gave great feedback. I know – it is so hard to even think about doing that at most (if not all) places, so I want to say THANK YOU to both JMWW and Forge.

You’re catching me on a good day, as I’m super excited for many reasons. Tomorrow, a piece I really like and thought turned out well will go live at Flash Fiction Magazine. I’ll also be donating blood, meeting up with Husband for his urologist appointment then off to Hamburg Writers’ Group. After that will be Saturday and we’re headed to Pennsylvania to spend time with great people, including our niece, Rachael. Bridge will be played. Other than that, we’ll see. Bridge is important. There was a threat that “heads would roll” if Bridge wasn’t played.

Of course, it’s not all fun and excitement. I’m cleaning the house – which is no fun – but I like coming home to a clean house, so it’s worth the tediousness.

As the end of the year is looming, I’m thinking about projects I want to complete, new ones to embark on, and my friends and family. At Donna Hoke’s party, I heard encouragement from Dave about needing to say “enough” at some point, so I’m coordinating with XO Man so that when I finish the next revision of Near Eden, it’s off to him. That scares me more than querying agents. Or putting a hat on the cat…


Ah well, what is life if you don’t face your fears occasionally. Thanks for stopping by and  for the read! May your holidays be happy and bright!







*These are my creekside reflections; your experiences should vary.


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.


*These are my Creekside holiday 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.


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.


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


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


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?



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.


I spent Valentine’s Day with my Tax Guy and other confessions…

Yes, it’s true. On Saturday, we went in to Mark Adamchick’s office and he estimated our refund (NY State and Federal) would be equal to the County Tax bill which we received on Monday. Gotta love the timing.

The cold and snow have been unrelenting. I’m pet-sitting for a neighbor. Had I known what the weather was going to be like, I would have rethought my answer. I still would have done it, but I would have thought longer before agreeing to do it.


The day before Valentine’s Day, wonderful things happened. I received the postcard XO Man sent from Tierra del Fuego (props if you get the Letterman reference), there was a letter from a dear friend, and to top it off, Husband stopped to buy me a rose. He didn’t have to–I’d gotten mini-carnations two weeks before and we’d gone out to lunch last week since we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of dining out on VD.

My husband is awesome.


The writing lately, not so much. Oh sure, I had another piece accepted (Thank you Tim Sevenhuysen) and it went live today at 50 Word Stories. Otherwise, I’ve been spending a lot of time on rewriting some short stories and rewriting old stories feels like I’m not moving forward. I did squeak out a new flash for a contest. I started several one night, let them alone for a few days then picked the strongest and polished it to fit a contest’s requirements. Last weekend when I was at the library, I did make a leap forward with “The Little Woman,” a story I conceived of in November 2012, but again, it’s an old story.

I suppose the answer is to plunge back into “the new piece.” I still don’t know what it’s going to be–size wise–but I’m still smitten with it. Unless I decide to submit a bunch of stories…or maybe poems. I could polish a few essays I’m close to liking enough to send out, but maybe I should scour agent listings and send out more queries…


What I really want to do is buy seeds and plant them.

Thanks for stopping by!


My problem with travel

I love going places. It relaxes me to go to other realms, walk around, and see how other people live. It thrills me to hear about other people’s way of live, see the sights they’ve grown accustomed to, and buy things from their local stores.


Being a tourist, I love that.

My problem is that I live in those moments fully. That means that I remember it, but not in the way others might.

Husband and I recently went slightly west. This year, we had planned to travel east and attend the huge summer party in Binghamton as a guest of Jefferson Rose, but that party was cancelled so our (and when I say “our” I mean Husband’s) vacation time was up for grabs. A “Hey I was remembering when we were there” email to my ex sister-in-law led to a “Buddy Guy is giving a concert in October, why don’t you come then” response and we had rudimentary travel plans.

Much was discussed, things were ruled out, but what we ended up with was a beautiful reenactment with variations of our first slightly west journey when the cat was a kitten. I think.

Anyway, when we went to Cleveland, we saw Michael Burke again. This time, it was calmer and less hurried. I got a tour of Berea, saw the house where Husband grew up in, walked around the town, bought a hat and explored this amazing riverside walk by myself.





I met a woman who I may-or may not-have previously encountered in my dreams. (Coming out of the Berea Historical Building as we were walking by, she arbitrarily started talking to us. Come to find out, she’d been big in Berea Theater scene and knew my mother-in law. Fine, right? Except I had a dream a few months earlier about running into one of Carol’s friends who asked me how she was doing and I thought, ‘well, you’re not such a great friend if you didn’t know she died almost a decade earlier.’)

The Barking Spider was frequented, as was The Cleveland Museum of Art.




(Yes, that is a falling angel giving the finger) In the Cleveland Museum of Art, I did not heed Michael’s advice to take in a small amount of work, instead I ran from picture to portrait to sculpture and immersed myself with the almighty depth, breadth and longevity of the pieces and bought a lot of postcards. It is an amazing place, inside and out.


I wasn’t aware of the chandelier (bad picture, I know) or that Cleveland had the largest bank lobby–The Huntington Bank. Cleveland’s nightlife is far more “happening” that I would have thought.


From there, it off to Indiana. We saw Buddy Guy in Elkhart’s Lerner Theatre. Great music and a beautiful space. (When I find the right cord, I’ll get the pictures off the camera.)


In Plymouth, we spent time visiting with Sue and Kevin. I got to see my niece and her family, my ex mother-in-law and the brilliant nurse, Nancy Coney. Husband and Kevin got the glass doors on the bookcases while Sue and I toured downtown. We got to listen to albums up in the sunroom and because life is just too funny, their neighbor’s Ford Galaxy 500 convertible started up and I got to take a ride in it to the Dairy Queen, which sadly, I’d forgotten about until I saw the picture of the car.


On our way home, we stopped in Fort Wayne to see Chyo’s new place, then headed east. Cat was not impressed with our leaving, but I think she’s finally forgiven us–at least she isn’t as loud.

So, that’s the problem, I start to lose the details and nuisances that made the trip so interesting. *Sigh* I know, I’ll recall them when I write (I’m only down a day on NaNo) but the story I’m writing this time–the one that I plotted out, well, the characters have decided that the people I saw them ending up with don’t want anything to do with those people and there’s very little from my trip that relates to this new novel.

In my absence, the last round of edits from my editor arrived, so now I’m feeling out XO man to see if he and Girlfriend will have time to read it before they take off on a trip of their own.

Ah well, that is a sad little glimpse into the gorgeous problems (ones she loves) that this writer has gladly endured recently.


*These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.






Draft #whatever is done, on to other things

Chyo has my book on her Kindle and she’s killing me by either not reading it or waiting to tell me what she thinks. Regardless, I’m not sending it to XO Man until I hear from her. That book has wrecked me, but I feel it’s over–at least for now so I’m off to write other things–including this blog post which is a week late–mia culpa. I was in an editing/polishing zone and I really couldn’t break free until just the other day.

Everything was left to slide, including the garden. Yesterday, I spent most of the day out there and was pleasantly surprised that the minor love I’ve been giving it is paying off–the weeds aren’t out of control and the slugs haven’t devoured my pepper plants as of yet. I hate those slugs. They have an entire yard to graze upon but year after year they hunger for my poor peppers.

The irises have come and gone, but today, two of the peonies were in bloom. Here’s one:


The baby pines either thrived or died. I don’t know, it was bad timing when those saplings arrived. I’m grateful my brother-in-law was here that weekend to help with the planting. This one is the best looker of the remaining bunch:one

And the wisteria is beginning to bloom:


Otherwise, it’s a hot sticky day and the last of the plants in the greenhouse were taken outside so I’ll probably clean that room, maybe finish Gina Miani’s Avalon, get further into Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Hell, I might even start a story for The Molotov Cocktail Monster Flash contest. Maybe I’ll even paint.

Thanks for checking in!


(*These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may 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.



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





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