Monday, March 31, 2014

Keeping the Ball Rolling

I met Lynn Obermoeller one December weekend when there was a book launch in Joplin for Storm Country. She and many others contributed to the anthology. I have continued to follow her blog Present Letters where she keeps readers abreast of her writing…and her writing pals! She has passed on a blog chain to me that started with Margo Dill. I have never met Margo, but I have read some of her YA novels. She is an excellent writer. I am not in the same category of excellence as these women, but I do accept the challenge of participating in the blog chain without dropping the ball!

I am to answer the four following questions:

1)     What am I working on?

Well, at the minute I have a couple of irons in the fire. but they are cooling off due to events in my life. I do intend to get back to them. One is a “part” for a novel. It is about 9000 words and I have a problem with time sequences; but the storyline did come to a natural ending. I see this as part of a multigenerational saga type book. This is so interesting to me because I “see” my own great grandmothers (who I never met) as the characters. No, I am not telling their true story, but I am using their time period and creating people on the page I would like them to be. 

I am also trying to write a historical romance short story for a contest. Not sure what I am doing exactly, but I am really liking the characters. They too have a potential for a longer work and keeping it a short story is hard. I chose to set the historical era part in the corner of Kansas when the M-K-T railroad raced with others to get a southern route built through Indian Territory. Not many people know that this competition was as hot as the earlier railroad race to the West coast.

When inspired, I write poems, but poetry has been quiet these last months.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?
That is one of the problems; my work isn’t vastly different from other stories out there. It might be rather blah for that reason. But I am not giving up.
 My poems are different in that I don’t reach for profound statements or extraordinary enlightenment. They are simply my voice, capturing a moment that I want to share, want others to see with me.
3)     Why do I write what I do?

I knew I wanted to write something, anything, when I was a child. I loved books…words…stories…sentences…even the way a #2 pencil scratched across the paper of a Big Chief tablet.  I have bounced around wondering all my life what I was to write. I liked to write essays, but the world did not seem to need them. I wanted to write short fiction for magazines, but magazines don’t use such things anymore.  Poetry will never buy bread. I have dabbled in several things, but lately I have decided I don’t have enough life left to please the world. Now I must please myself. So I write what I want: fiction and poetry-for me. If it is published, that is wonderful. If it pays, even better. But right now, I write because I love the people I meet on the page and the things I learn in the process of following them around!  


4)     How does my writing process work?

My writing process depends on what day it is and what kind of inspiration has struck. There are many “methods” and plans and organizational plans for producing a written work. For me, it might come into my head so fast and be so bothersome that I simply must turn the cooking pot off or get out of the bathtub and just WRITE.

However, more often than not, my writing begins like the pea that was put under the mattresses of the princess who wanted to marry the prince. It is a tiny kernel of a thought that begins to disrupt the book in my hand that I am reading, is last thing that dances through my mind before sleep, or causes me to pull a notepad from my purse to scribble a color, a verb or dress style as I ride down the highway. I let the idea fall into fertile dirt of my head, to germinate, to grow until I begin to “see” a story line. Then I begin to write and let the plot or the characters take me along to where they want me to go. I shape some, but usually try to stay out of the way. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised as to what happens in the end.


Now I need to pass this chain to two other writers to answer the four questions:

Debora over at Things Are Lovely ( is on the West Coast. I started following her as she posted the most beautiful photos! About three weeks ago she explained she has been quiet lately due to setting out on writing a novel. I am hoping she will take a few minutes to share her thoughts with us.

Marilyn Warner grew up about 45 minutes from me and I never knew it. I can’t remember how I ever bumped into her blog (, but it was my lucky day. Marilyn writes beautiful posts with exquisite, thought-provoking material. Her memories are about her 95 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s and who happens to be in the hospital right now. So Marilyn might not have time to write quickly now, but I can assure you, her post will be worth any wait.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I See April Ahead

Yes, the yard and deck are in a mess, but it is a good thing. The weather was so nice today, to be nicer tomorrow, and then a rainy week moving in on Monday. We need rain in this area so I will try not to moan about gray days…April showers bring May flowers you know! Only a couple more days of March and April will arrive. There are teeny tiny greens bits appearing in my lettuce pots!

So this morning we began the day with a trip to Lowes where we seem to spend a lot of time anymore. We have ordered a couple of new windows to be the first spring project. We only have two big sliders left before we can say all the 55 year old windows are replaced. This morning we went for deck sealer, stripper, and a wee tad of lattice to close off the shed’s foundation from animals. When we got home, DH went to shop to work on a gluing effort on some old chairs. While it was still rather cool, I began to unload all the deck with hopes we could seal the boards in the near future. Since we lost the huge maple last November, we know life on the deck will have changes; dealing with no shade and a harsh western sun is going to be a challenge. Flowers and ferns I used before will now not be able to stand up to the burning sun.

By the time the deck was unloaded, the sun was out strong and it was delightfully warm. A check of the weather showed a change in forecast. The Monday we had planned on being clear was now the beginning of the coming rain. DH looked at the cleared deck and decided to apply the sealer today. Oh, it looks nice and in tomorrow’s 70 plus weather including wind we know if will be very dry by Monday. This feels so good to have a big project almost done…things still have to be moved back.

While he sealed, I made us a good lunch. The dog injured her leg backing into a chair. By the time deck was finished and lunch over. Man, dog, and wife were tired and achy! All three stretched out on floor or in recliners for a couple of quiet hours. But we all dreamed of what was coming: freshly mowed grass, tea parties on the deck, geraniums the blood red of a rooster’s comb, wrens returning, chasing Frisbees, robins splashing in the bird baths, outside meals, and other bright spots of spring and summer.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wearing Down March

Here we are at the end of another week and once again the weatherman is using four letter words for the weekend: rain and snow! Right now I write with windows and doors open at 70 degrees. This morning was windy, but the wind died down this afternoon making the last hours near perfect! I snatched a fresh air nap, we walked the dog, and now DH is anchored in front of March Madness Basketball!

Our days have been centered around our Death Row Doggie. She likes it here and is pretty nice about most of our rules. Biscuit still has some fear of vehicles and strangers but she gets better each week. She hates going to bed and becomes violently playful about 8 p.m. She is then like a hyper four year old. No amount of play is enough. So by 10:00 we all fall into bed exhausted!

We brought DH's winter project into the house this week. He made a bedside table to replace a lace tablecloth covered stand. This is quite a different look and we both like it. We have a lot of other projects on the list yet, but this made a good winter one since it was small and his shop was closed due to weather more days this winter.

In my writing world, I edited a short story I want to submit for a historical romance contest, but nothing new got written. :(

Last weekend I returned to reading which had been sparse this winter due to many interruptions. I read Weekends with Georgia O'Keeffe by a woman who had been employed at Abiquiu
for about seven years. The artist ate very healthy food she grew and cooked herself. She was a unique woman.

Then I went to The Woman Who Watches Over the World by Linda Hogan. This was a memoir by a poet and writer who had a most unusual childhood. She was part Native American and she writes of the conflicts of cultures she experienced. She adopted two Native American daughters and both had serious issues adapting. The book was interesting but hard to read about so many problems.

Then I moved back into a book I am reading about the political atmosphere of the times of Jesus. Wow, I don't understand all of that history. It is heavy stuff. However, I guess crooked leaders and selfish people have been around so long I doubt if we get rid of them!

So the weekend is here and most of March is gone. Now to see if it is a snowy weekend and if more reading is on tap. Have a great weekend ahead readers--with good books if necessary.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is It Spring Yet?

Yesterday was the most perfect day, the first day of spring in a way. It was warm and we were home and we were rested. So we hit the decks early fetching potting soil, washing the truck, and returning home for yard work. I planted onions and lettuce. DH moved all the dirt and wood chips from the stump of the old tree cut down last fall. We even had tea and later lunch on the deck! In between times is was laundry and some rearranging for dog life. All of the above was done with the assistance of Biscuit. The day was glorious and all were tired by nightfall.

Lowes had very few flowers other than a multitude of bright monkey-faced pansies in rainbow colors. I succumbed to one mixed pot of pansies that I can see from the kitchen windows, reminding me, yes true spring will come. Inside the rabbits crawled out with a little more promise.

All day the windows and doors were open. We went to bed with our window open. The wind chimes outside our bedroom tinkled us to sleep. Sometime in the night, rain began to fall. That was good as our earth is dry. The new plantings and the new grass seed needed the moisture. A gentle rain was just right.

Then the temp began to drop. I mopped the kitchen floor this morning and looked up to see this from the window. Ah, a reverting to winter after that lovely day yesterday. I will not give up! I know spring is close by and Mother Nature just wants to hear me scream. But I won’t…until tomorrow maybe…

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Biscuit Finds a Home

No, I have never been the brightest crayon in the box. I appreciated the rainbows others could arch in their lives, but I was pretty drab really. However, I am violent purple when it comes to feelings. This winter has been one with shades of dark plums, as my heart bruised with compassion and sorrow watching both friends and relatives die and supporting a breaking branch of my family tree.

I have missed a dog here for that several years. Kids gone, grandkids far away, old dogs dead and buried.  The freedom to come and go, no responsibilities was nice, but there was a lonely hole of no one greeting me at the back when I returned…unless you count DH’s face asking what was for dinner!

We each had different tastes in dogs and I have been looking on line the last year for a pup friend. Trips to kennels were torture because I left crying almost every time. If I chose one, how could I look in the eyes of 50 others saying, “Why wasn’t I good enough?”

Last week I found a dog that seemed interesting, and she looked a lot like our much loved grand dog. DH said call and see how big she was as we agreed no big dogs for us at our age. The dog sounded about right, was labeled non-aggressive and loveable. She had been abandoned in a backyard and the city had to pick her up as no one wanted her. BUT….this was not the humane society but a city animal control kill facility. She and three other dogs were top of the list and were scheduled to go down. The attendant could put a hold on her for a day or two…no more. I broke and cried and cried and cried. How could I let one more anything die this winter? DH assured me she would not know I had done it by leaving her there.

But several hours later, we were in the car. We agreed I thought to pay for her keep even if she wasn’t right for us. The workers were so good. They stayed late…had her out away from other dogs so we did not see them, and the dog gave us kisses right away. She was about 10 pounds heavier than we wanted and had we known for sure, would not have gone probably. But DH said in less than five minutes, "Let’s take her." We had no crate, no food, no leash, nothing.

Thus began a whirlwind of activity and adjustments for all of us! The house that I thought needed cleaning is now really a mess. Dog prints on floor, grass bits on carpet, sloshed drinking water, oh and the house smells like wet dog since it has been raining. Nothing like wet fur and spring mud to give a home a living in feel!
It is responsibility, inconvenience, expense, shredding hair and dirt, but somehow watching DH run in play like a young fellow-well almost--and having a warm face cuddle near my computer chair might mean we got the better part of the bargain. At least Biscuit got another chance at life. Whatever sense I lost here, I hope it was worth it…and I think it will be.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Again Already?

If I did not feel bad enough...if the barometric pressure wasn't pushing me around as this???

Because I refuse to whine more here, I have left this page blank for ten days. I actually saw a few fat robins this week, put out pastel plates on the table, began to lean towards spring and hope again. Ha, now this! I made a huge pot of vegetable beef soup...again. Bought milk and eggs...again. And again I have doctor appointments and funerals on the week's calendar right in the middle of the new snow storm! Enough said!

"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life."   W. Somerset Maugham 


If you are still in a winter writing mode, here is an interesting op.

Call for submission: Anthology on writers and rejection.

Cairn Press LLC is looking for essays, short stories and poems in a forthcoming anthology. All works should address being rejected for publication (or otherwise) in some way. We feel that all writers could use a bit of encouragement in regard to the rejection letters that pile up far faster than the acceptances. Sometimes we can get down on ourselves. However, in realizing that most every writer has to deal with rejection, even a few notables, we can carry on.

We are seeking works that address being rejected as a writer, whether through short story, personal essay, example, elegy, or brief rant into the void. Regarding tone, we’re hoping for humorous, sarcastic and pithy, rather than “sitting at the edge of the bed, staring at the floor.”  

“Staring at the floor,” is, we feel, very depressing and pathetic. However, it’s a nice way to realize you need to vacuum. Please refer to the genre-specific guidelines below. 

Submission guidelines:

Creative works must be submitted between January 1 and March 31, 2014.

All submissions must be sent as an attachment to, or in the body of, an email addressed to:
rejectionAT cairnpressDOTcom
Please identify your genre (nonfiction, fiction, poetry) and the word “submission” in the subject line. A brief cover letter is welcomed. Please, no hard copy submissions. If accepted, we will require a 50-75 word bio. All authors will be notified of their status by July 1, 2014.

Nonfiction and fiction: If attaching your work, please send as doc/docx/rtf/pdf file type only. Only works with a word count between 100 and 5,000 will be considered. Please double-space and number your pages. We prefer a Times font for readability.

Poetry: If attaching your work, please send as doc/docx/rtf/pdf file type only. Please, no poems more than a page in length, with a maximum of three poems submitted. Please single-space poems. We prefer a Times font for readability.

(Note: We understand the irony that we will likely have to send out rejections for this anthology.)

Have a good weekend and be safe wherever you are. See you in the spring if there is one! :)