Monday, December 27, 2010

Contest Winner!

Okay, I'm a little behind on picking names out of a hat as I slept all day yesterday trying to get over this cold and plan to go back to doing that as soon as I'm done here. Out of the five blogs where I posted the contest there were three entrants (I think this will definitely be the last contest - if so few people care about whether or not they win a free copy of what I write I just need to give up trying to give it way now and hope they at least choose to buy it sometime in the future). If you don't remember, the original contest blog was here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/12/15/merry-christmas-happy-boxing-day-happy-new-years-win-a-poetry-zine/ (or it may have appeared to you on my Tribe blog, my MySpace blog, my Blogger blog or my Facebook Notes page).

And the winner is.....

Ms. Smart!

Ta Da!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll be contacting you soon for a snailmail address......

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday week!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Belated Winter Solstice!

Happy Belated Winter Solstice and here's the Winter Solstice 2010 issue of Eternal Haunted Summer with a poem in it by me. In case the setting sounds familiar, yes, it's based on Marine Park.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas! Happy Boxing Day! Happy New Years! Win a poetry zine!




I wasn’t going to do it. I figure my days of blog contests were pretty much at an end, what with the economy being bad and my income being worse, but I find myself with an extra issue of the November 2010 Scifaikuest.

Yup! The one that has my poem in it. So, in honor of the holidays, I’m whipping up a quick 10 day blog contest. So, leave a comment down below by midnight December 25, Christmas Day, and on Boxing Day I’ll put the names in a hat, draw one out and voila! We’ll have a winner!

You can see some poems from the issue here: http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/scifaikuest/contents.htm

But if you don’t win and still want to read my poem, you’ll have to buy an issue here: http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#scifaikuest

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Commencement of the Holiday Season!



I shared this poem last year. Just sharing it again. I wrote it years ago when I lived in San Francisco. I used to love shopping downtown San Francisco during the holiday season. If the link on the picture doesn't work then go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFAGEew-oSg

Sunday, November 14, 2010

T- 41 and Counting! Get ready or not, here it comes!

Cross posted from Blogetary: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/11/14/t-41-and-counting-time-to-get-ready/

I know you don’t want to hear it – don’t want to touch it – don’t even want to think about it – but only 41 days until Christmas. That’s a month and ten days, or a little over 5 weeks, with a holiday weekend in the middle to get ready for on top of that.

Yeah, I know. You don’t want to face it. You want to enjoy your autumn. You have things to do. Dinners to prepare. Kids to pick up from school. Work to hustle through. This Christmas thing is just going to end up being a drag in the middle of an already busy season.

So, you know what you need is a little break from it all. What you need is a short little holiday romance to help take you away from the demands of your life for a little while. And for the price of less than a latte you can download The Holly and the Ivan from Drollerie Press or Amazon and spend an hour on a nice little holiday retreat. All for yourself. And while you’re on Drollerie Press’s website, take a look at some of the other novels and novellas they have available for download. Cuz you deserve a break.



Or, if you don’t have the cash now and still need a bit of holiday fun, then check out these links on my website, where if you scroll to near the bottom you can read some stories and poetry for free online, or hear me mumble through it on YouTube:http://www.puttputtproductions.com/fiction_and_poetry
And for anyone who’s interested, stay tuned for more publications in the future. Below is a time table:

* This month, check out SciFaiKuest, where I have a poem published in November’s issue.
* In December, there will be a poem out on Eternal Haunted Summer for Winter Solstice. But you can also read a poem of mine published in the Autumn Equinox issue.
* Later on, though I’m not sure when, there will be a short story, “The Oracle of Themazuri,” published online at MindFlights.com. I’ll let you know when it comes out. In the meantime, check out the short holiday story, “Santa is My Homeboy,” published by them a couple of years ago.
* In March, rumor has it another novella of mine, “Needs Must When the Devil Drives,” will be coming out through Drollerie Press. Again, check back later for more details.
* In July, there will be a short story of mine, “Gramma and the Giant Tomato Worm,” published in Beyond Centauri. Again, check back later for more details. Or better yet, subscribe now at Genre Mall, so you’re sure to get it then.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Little Light Reading

Cross posted from Blogetary: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/11/03/a-little-light-reading/

I never thought of myself as someone who read short stories or poetry except for assignments in class, until I became one of those readers who needs something for the commute to and from work as well as ten minute breaks and 30 minute lunches. Then, short stories and poetry became a whole lot more appealing. I didn’t feel like I was losing out at the end of my commute or break because I had just consumed a nice small bite of literature – large enough to keep me buoyed up and small enough to read in a small chunk of time. This is one of the things the “Small Press” is good at – providing small books with bite-sized pieces of literature – almost like those mini-candy bars you see at the drugstore that you pick up cuz you just want a little chocolate at a time, not the whole bar.

However, the thing with publications from the “Small Press” is that they aren’t necessarily easily found on your bookshelf at Barnes & Noble or Borders, nor are they the first to pop up on an Amazon search. You kind of have to know where to find them, and where to search. Sometimes you find them through friends, search engines, or in small independent bookstores. But when you do, you fall in love. It’s not the grand love of your favorite epic novels or series, it’s more like the love of a favorite postcard, photograph or drawing. Something you can read that will pull you away from the world for a little while, so you can return five minutes later refreshed and ready to go, or at least more aware of the world around you.

These days, small lit press is not just a hard copy zine with a stable binding, carefully Xeroxed by one of the editors late at night at work so they don’t have to pay for the paper and ink. These days they come with fantastic art work, perfect bound, POD publications only printed out when you ordered them, or solely online on a website or in PDF or some other ePub format easily downloadable for free or cheap. And you can find them everywhere.

Duotrope Digest and Writers Market are two places to start. Or just type what you’re looking for – say Fairy story magazines – into your favorite search engine and see what comes up. They’re all over the place and they really do range anywhere from free to really cheap. Some of the really cheap ones even offer free work online to give you a taste of what’s in the rest of the hard copy should you order an issue or a subscription.

And don’t think that just because someone is in a small press zine or anthology that they’re lowly beginners or that the literature is just so-so. That could be the case sometimes, but there are a lot of pros out there who are prolific and just want their work read wherever it will get accepted. And while they’re waiting to hear back on the novel they just sent to their agent, they’re typing away at all the short stories that stirred in their soul, struggling to get out while they were working on their grand epic.

So, go out there and take a look. If you a want a good place to start, then might I suggest (beware of plug here) you take a look at some of the publications where I have had short stories and poems published, such as Electric Velocipede, Aoife’s Kiss, Beyond Centauri, Bewildering Stories, MindFlights.com and Drollerie Press, plus many more. You can find links to all of them right here: http://www.puttputtproductions.com/fiction_and_poetry



Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Scifaikuest out for All Hallows!



Scifaikuest is out with a new issue this month in honor of Halloween and All Hallows. Lots of spooky scary haiku, haibun, tanka and other scifi/fantasy poetry, including a poem by MOI! You can see some poems from the issue here: http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/scifaikuest/contents.htm

But if you want to read my poem, you'll have to buy an issue here: http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#scifaikuest

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween! Get 25% off the Summer 2010 issue of Poetry Quarterly



Poetry Quarterly (http://poetryquarterly.com/ ) is a new poetry quarterly out of Indiana, edited by Glenn Lyvers, who also edits Inwood Indiana (http://inwoodindiana.com/ ), the smallest press in the world. Recently they published two of my poems in the Summer 2010 issue. You can see the Summer 2010 issue here online ( http://poetryquarterly.com/?page_id=7 ), or order a hard copy of it here ( https://www.createspace.com/3484741 ).

I'm not going to be having a blog contest for this magazine, so I thought what I would do is pass on the discount that I got to anyone out there who was thinking of getting a copy. The discount code is MKFTZQL2 and they will be removing it in a week or so. So, if you've been thinking of it, this might be your chance to get a copy. There's some other very fine poetry in that issue besides my two little bits.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October Illuminata Out Now!

Tyrannosaurus Press has come out with the new October Illuminata! The Illuminata is a free newsletter that has reviews of scifi/fantasy books and movies as well as articles on different scifi/fantasy topics, and sometimes even some short stories. So check it out: http://www.tyrannosauruspress.com/Illuminata/archive.html


What could you lose? It's FREE!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Come One! Come All! News and Updates!

Crossposted from Blogetary: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/10/08/come-one-come-all-news-and-updates/



Poetry Quarterly is a new poetry quarterly out of Indiana, edited by Glenn Lyvers, who also edits Inwood Indiana, the smallest press in the world. Recently they published two of my poems in the Summer 2010 issue. You can see the Summer 2010 issue here online, or order a hard copy of it here.

If you wanted to see what the book fair was like for the Miracle Mile Writers Club, then check out the pictures here. We had a great meeting last week, too. Come on by on November 6 for our next meeting at the Fairfax Library. You can check out some of our minutes and pics here.

Next month I’ll have a poem in SciFaiKuest. I’ll give you a heads up when it comes out.

For more information on where you can read me, check out this page on my website.

I’m also available as a proofreader, copy editor or beta reader for anyone out there working on books or articles of their own. You can read more about that here.

Remember to support small press and search out cool small ‘zines and books through indie publishers where you can find them! Or see what you can find at LuLu.com or places like BookLocker, which help authors publish their own works. Keep reading and writing alive!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Win a copy of the September 2010 Aoife's Kiss!


Click the picture above to see the video or go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StYWv6nsV3g


Leave a comment down below by Oct. 15 and you'll be entered to win in a drawing for a copy of the September 2010 Aoife's Kiss. Or better yet, go to Genremall.com and pick up a copy yourself!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Murder Weather, by C. Leigh Purtill

My friend, Leigh, is the one who pulled me into the WeHo book fair maelstrom so I got to moderate the panel. I've blogged about her stuff before. She's author of Love, Meg, All About Vee and The Rise of Ginny Cooper. I just found out she has a new short story out called Murder Weather, which, if you live in Los Angeles, or SoCal, is particularly timely to read right now...as it's hot as anything. You don't know what hot is until you've read this story...

Friday, September 24, 2010

West Hollywood Book Fair Wind Up...



Hello! Just an update to remind anyone in the LA area that this Sunday, September 26, is the West Hollywood Book Fair. This is the 9th annual fair and it promises to be the biggest yet. There will be lots of stages, events, booths, author signings, panels as well as a food court and playground. It runs between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Included in all the doings will be a panel on YA Fantasy: Other Worlds Other Realms. It will be between 10:50 and 11:50 a.m. I will be moderator and will be speaking with Frank Beddor (Looking Glass Wars), Francesca Lia Block (Weetsie Bat Books), and P.J. Haarsma (Softwire series).

Our Miracle Mile Writers Club booth will be located at E39. If you look at the map below you will see it in the yellow section, kinda near the food court. So, bring us some snacks if you drop by. We'll be having two drawings. One for a packet of poetry by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz and one YA fantasy packet that includes Thingie by Masu Gaam. The drawings will be held at 5:45 p.m., so come by anytime before then to drop a slip of paper with your name and phone number or your business card in the kitty. You might be the winner.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

xposted from blogetary:http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/09/23/happy-autumnal-equinox/

Hope you're enjoying the autumn season and all that comes with it. I have a new poem that went live today on Eternal Haunted Summer: Pagan Songs & Tales. You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writing Update

xposted from here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/09/08/writing-update-2/

So, the last update was a writerly type update, but it wasn’t really an update on what I’ve been working on, and more about the stuff that’s been going on around me. And truthfully, I’ve been stuck in the summer funk, waiting for all these publications where I have submissions out to to come back from vacation, read my stuff and tell me whether or not it suits them. So, I’ve been in sort of a holding pattern, trying to work on revising poetry and stories and parts of stories I’ve already written as well as working on things like memos, info papers, business proposals, proofreading and copy editing varying things and learning about stuff like Smashwords.com.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on some new stuff, though. Besides pulling out old poetry that I thought would just languish on my hard drive for eternity and seeing if I could revise it or rewrite (or just give up on it), I have been working on some new stories. So, for anyone who’s interested out there, here’s some of what I have been and will be working on – after I’ve proofread/copy edited a client’s screenplay and after I’ve put together the board and the handouts for the MMWC boot at the Weho Book Fair and after I’ve researched and come up with intelligent questions for the YA Fantasy panel at the WeHo Book Fair:

1) The scifi/space exploration story project. I’ve been letting it sit for a while. It’s grown over time since I first thought I “finished” it. I’ve gotten as far as I can on my own and it keeps getting kicked back, but my new critique reader, my sister, has gone over it with a fine tooth comb (bless her heart – she really helped me with a recent short story I currently have out on submission) to show me where I’ve gotten too close to the story, too verbose, too wandery and or not enough of one thing or another. I think by the time I truly “finish” this story it will be about 15,000 words or so (it’s at 12,000 words now)- smaller novella or novellette size (depending on which editor you’re submitting to) and we’ll see if it goes anywhere. I have enjoyed working on it.

2) Part 2 to the Canto Sybilla stories, a quartet (or even quintet) of novellas. Still working on this. I keep trying to get past a certain point, but though I know what’s supposed to happen, I can’t seem to make the story go there, it wants to wander, so I get frustrated and put it down to work on something else. I probably should just wander with it, see where it takes me and then edit it down later when it needs it. As Will, in writers group says, the first draft, we’re telling ourselves the story. The second draft, we’re telling the readers the story, cuz hopefully, we’ve figured it out by then. But I need to get it down and done. Really, it’s past time that Nicole and Donna and Julie and April all got to have their stories told.

3) Cynthia. That’s how I write it on my list when I’ve got it down on my Modus Operandi list for the day. Just-Cynthia. It’s not sure if it wants to be a short story or a novella. And it doesn’t know if it wants to be paranormal chicklit or straight chicklit with some action/adventure spy stuff written in. I like Cyn. I like writing her. I like some of the characters I have in her world. And I could see it being a longer story. We’ll see. Right now she’s at the end of a very long, very bad day, but she’s been there for a while. I’m wondering if I should write in a meteor or something just to blast her out of her seat and get her going.

4) The Kiko Stories. If you know me, you probably know about Kiko, one of my best friends in either the four- or two-legged world. If you know me, you also know that I love reading fantasy anthologies and some of my favorite anthologies have been edited by Andre Norton and/or Martin Greenberg, the CatFantastic series. One of my favorite fairy tales is The Bremen Town Musicians. And many of my favorite stories include The Wind in the Windows, The World According to Winnie the Pooh, Watership Down, and Tailchaser’s Song. You see the trend here? I love good animal stories. I try to write good animal stories. Sometimes it works.

Anyway, years ago, when Kiko first came to my roommate at the time and I (in 1994), she said that I needed to write a story about Kiko. And I laughed it off, but filed that suggestion away for later. They say that sometimes you need space between you and something in your life before you write about it properly. I think I might have that space, finally (Kiko passed away March, 6, 2007). About a month ago or so I found myself outlining a series of short stories based on Kiko. Still not sure if they will end up being YA/children’s stories or adult – but since they’ll be told from his point of view, it probably won’t matter. What will matter is whether I can find someone who likes them. And that could be anyone, or no one at all. Who knows. It could show up on a Lulu.com/Smashwords.com near you.

5) Finally, the Gramma project. Recently, my mom started going through old letters and bits of writing my gramma and grampa had left behind after they passed away. Mom’s been sharing them with the rest of the family, sometimes scanning them into the computer to share with us and sometimes just quoting bits of story. So, in our little family, Gramma has been much on our collective mind. We’ve been sharing favorite stories. And Gramma is the one who pretty much taught me (and all of us – my mom, my aunts, my sister and I) how to garden. My sister calls her the Garden Warrior. Nothing phased her. Dirt was just dirt. Weeds were just weeds. There’s nothing wrong with eating the berries or the herbs off the plant as you’re working out there with them. That’s what they’re there for, after all. “It’s okay! Take your shoes off, honey, and let me spray your feet with the water hose,” were the first words she said to me when I popped out of the car onto her lawn at the age of five, fresh out of the city. I don’t remember ever being barefoot on a lawn until she said that and taught me it was okay. Not to be fearful of bare feet on the moist grass.

Because I am my grammas granddaughter, when I had my own garden, I frequently snacked on say, the snowpeas, the mint and the cilantro whilst working in my own garden up in San Francisco. When I was in junior high, I ate the cherries I was picking when I earned money cherry picking one summer. In high school I snacked on the strawberries in the fields where I was picking strawberries. Everyone did. That is who I am and who I will always be (and I would consider myself a wimp if I didn’t continue to be that person). So, one day a little over a week ago, I’m out back where we have some herbs growing. And, again, because I am my Gramma’s granddaughter, in this same tradition, I’m tasting some of the herbs. We’ve got Greek oregano and Italian oregano. I wanted to compare them. Someone else was out there at the same time and I was really excited. They did taste different! I said, “here! Have a taste!” To my sheer amazement, he started wiping off the leaves and then, he didn’t even taste them, just smelled them. I said, “It’s okay, you know,” thinking he needed encouragement. Subconsciously taking on my gramma’s tone so he wouldn’t be afraid to try the herbs. But for him, it wasn’t the thing one does I guess. He wasn’t comfortable with that.

Two things hit me a) the huge cultural divide that existed in this one moment between this person and I in regards to gardening and b) how brave my gramma was. She taught me and everyone else in our family to be brave and have fun and not sweat the small stuff. She was much more genteel than I and probably would have smoothed over that awkward moment – I was just so shocked I couldn’t do much more than shrug it off, but it definitely felt awkward. It just felt so off for me. And the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with not being comfortable with eating something right off the branch or the vine, but I couldn’t believe the strong reaction I felt at someone else not being able to do that.

So, between this small (yet huge) thing in the back garden and our family remembering Gramma, I decided it was time to write a story about how brave my gramma was. It’s probably going to end up being a kids’ story, maybe, though right now I’m writing it from the adult’s point of view. We’ll see, that might change and I might change viewpoints so it’s from the kid’s point of view. It will definitely be of the scifi/fantasy realm because, well, it’s what I like to do. And I’m sure Gramma woulda been just as adept at the scifi/fantasy realm as she was at the mundane world. I mean, she does have three daughters, two granddaughters and one grandson who ALL enjoy scifi/fantasy (well, my mom has to be convinced, but if she let’s herself, she enjoys it – she is the one that got my sister and I in the habit of watching Star Trek when we were kids, and read the Narnia chronicles to us). This is the story that’s grabbing my imagination at the moment. I’m probably at the first 1/4-1/3 of this one.

I miss my gramma. Like I said: she was brave, good, kind, loving, and could can/pickle/preserve with the best of’em (but she always burnt the meat).

So, anyway, it’s after midnight now (Craig Ferguson is on) and I need to go to work in the morning, but this is my official writing update for anyone out there who cares.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time for an update!

xposted from my blogetary here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/09/03/time-for-an-update/

I was reading Leigh's blog and realized I haven't been doing regular updates like I used to. I've let Facebook take over my life with it's easy status updates where you just yell into the crowd brief shouts and wonder if anyone out there really cares. Well, I still wonder who out there really cares with blogs, but at least I get to ramble on a little longer. It's one of my greatest joys in life -- rambling. Must be why I enjoy writing so much.

So, yeah - NEWS -

First up, if you are someone in the scifi/fantasy writing community and you haven't subscribed to Locus Magazine, then now is the time to start, with their shiny new GORGEOUS steampunk issue.




Included in this issue are all sorts of interviews and essays, as well as a list of the World Fantasy Awards Finalists. I have a copy sitting on my desk right now and normally I like sharing them with people, but I'm not sharing this one. So I suggest you go out and get yourself a copy of this issue or subscribe. Now. TODAY. They're gonna run out of this one.

Speaking of interviews, if you happen to see the September issue of Aoife's Kiss, the you will also see that there is an interview of me in there (by Karen L. Newman), as well as a poem by me.



And while I normally like to have blog contests or give a way bunches of these things, I'm not very solvent at the moment, so that might not happen this time. So, unless you're immediate family, you're going to have to pick up an issue yourself. Which is very easy. GenreMall is very PayPal friendly and as subscription to Aoife's Kiss is virtually painless at $22/year ($26 with shipping). And they'd love to have you!

Then, next on the docket, I'll be going to see Rachel Vincent, Kelly Armstrong and Melissa Marr at Vroman's Bookstore on September 20. It will be part of their Smart Chick's Kick It tour. It's at 6 p.m, going to be held outside (lots of people attending, I think), so get there early!

Finally, if you live in the LA area and like book fairs, then stop on by the West Hollywood Book Fair on Sun., Sept. 26.



There are MANY reasons this would be a good idea. For one, the Miracle Mile Writers Club will be there and we'd love to have you stop by and say hi (We'll be at E39 between the Guerrilla Readings Booth and the UCLA Extension Writers Program booths). There will be novelists, poets and other writers there for you to talk with and get to know. We have one poet who is scheduled to bring her opera (she wrote the libretto) to play while she's there from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. And we might even have SNACKS! For another, Leigh Purtill's dance company will be performing Alice in Wonderland!!!! Doesn't that just make you SQUEEEEE! It does me. I hope I get a chance to see them. And one more reason you might be interested in going (besides all the fantastic stuff going on) is that I will be moderating an author panel on YA Fantasy at the Scifi, Fantasy & Horror Pavilion from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. The authors I will be speaking with will be Frank Beddor of the Looking Glass Wars, Francesca Lia Block of the Weetsie Bat series and PJ Haarsma of the Softwire series (psst - this last website has a fun little video with Nathan Fillion).

So, lots to do here that I wanted to share with people "out there" wherever "out there" is. Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend and can pick up some of the awesome magazine issues or come by the MMWC booth, or even come see the Smart Chicks' tour!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Crow King



xposted from here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/08/24/the-crow-king/

A little over a year ago, The Crow King was published in Aoife's Kiss (Sept. 2009). Like other stories I haven't looked at for a while I can see all sorts of things wrong with it that I swear I'll fix if I ever republish them elsewhere, but this story is still close to my heart as the main character is based on my dad.

You can hear an excerpt of the story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYcf6u6NcZY

You can buy a copy of the zine here: www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm where you go to Aoife's Kiss and then scroll down to the Sept. 2009 issue.

My Favorite Things

xposted from here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/08/24/my-favorite-things/



A Christmas story for the heat of August. Here's a portion read for your pleasure and edification. It was my first published story and I sold it for $10 whole dollars. And no matter what I said on the video, it was published in December 2005. I said 2007, which is wrong.

Trivia point for anyone who is interested, I named the hero of the story after two childhood friends of mine, which seemed cool at the time, but might be considered pretty weird what with the nature of the story and all (adult romance). But, they're both gentlemen and the hero of the story is a gentleman, so it seemed appropriate at the time.

You can hear a portion of the story here.

You can purchase it on Amazon here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping Track of Yourself



xposted from here.

Like many writers, I obsessively track my submissions. For the past few years I have used an Excel spreadsheet and only recently discovered the submissions tracker on Duotrope Digest. Now I use both (Gee, obsess much?). While Duotrope is free and subsists on donations and therefore always on the brink of extinction, it offers some things that I haven’t been able to get my little Excel spreadsheet to do. For one, it can give you the percentage of acceptances and rejections (according to what’s been input into their system) for each publication you are considering submitting your piece to. Also, from the data it’s got on hand, it can tell you not only the outside amount of time that a publication tells you it will take to get back to you, but also the average (according to the data) of what the amount of time actually is.

In fact, by using the submissions tracker and including your data in their search engine, you are actually helping yourself and others keep better track of your submissions process. One of the cooler things it does is provide you with your acceptance percentage, which could be depressing, but can also be ultimately motivating. Or at least give you an idea of where you fall on the writers’ Bell Curve. :-P

Now, I know some people are of the “why would you want to keep track of that” school, but practically speaking, if you’re trying to do this writing thing as more than just as a hobby then you pretty much have to keep track. You don’t want to submit the same piece to the same place twice (most places don’t like that unless they specifically request changes and a resubmission). You don’t want to submit your piece simultaneously to several places when many of them don’t accept simultaneous submissions. Most places also don’t like multiple submissions (more than one submission at a time) unless it’s poetry. And then, you need to keep track of when it was submitted so if you get impatient (that would be me) you can mark on the calendar the appropriate time to send a query letter to ask about the status of your submission (querying before say 60 or 90 days can be seen as a bit of faux pas).

And then, on the off chance that your piece does get accepted some place (and after you’ve told all your friends, jumped up and down and shouted WhooHoo! to your cat or dog or kid), you need to notify any other publication where it might be out for submission to let them know it’s no longer available. Then you need to write down when it’s coming out because most of the time it will be several months after it’s accepted for publication before it sees the light of day. And THEN if this is a place that offers payment (with either free copies or money), chances are you will be paid a certain amount of time after publication. So you need know when to expect all that to pass.

And finally, even if all you received was $5 for that nifty poem, you need to record it and all of the above for the good people at the IRS, especially if you’re also recording expenses having to do with your writing.

So, yeah, keeping track of yourself can get pretty obsessive, but in the long run it’s what you need to do. And then next time you’re at a cocktail party or trying to explain to your parents how you spend your time (and possibly their money) all you need to do is bring out the spread sheet, log in to a site like Duotrope to show them your progress, or show them your list of publications that you might keep tucked in your wallet, like baby pictures, for just such occasions.

BTW – you can find my “baby pictures” on my website. For my fiction and poetry click here. Or for any other articles I’ve written, click here. ;-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Laundry Day

xposted around, but originally here: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2010/08/16/laundry-day/

I don't love doing laundry or laundry day, but once you get into it,there is a Zen-ness to it, at least for me. I don't attain that Zen-ness when doing dishes or scrubbing the toilet, but I get it when doing laundry.

Laundry is a funny thing. People get very particular about their laundry where they won't be particular about anything else. The sorting- by color? by material type? by function? The cleaner - soap or detergent? without or without perfumes? Fabric softener or no? Laundry sheet in dryer or not? Or does one hang to dry instead? And then there's the folding. Does one just toss ones underwear and socks somewhere? Or is there a particular way to fold them? What about hanging clothes? How are they hung properly? Wire hangers? Plastic hangers? Wood? Padded? Which are hung and which are folded? And what about sheets and towels and blanket?

You don't really think about how you do laundry, but once you do,you realize how pretty particular you are about how you do your laundry as opposed to say how a roommate or friend or partner does their laundry. It becomes a ritual, but not a day long ritual (well,depending on the size of family you have).

And that's not really surprising. Laundry is easier these days, but we still think of it as something that takes up a large chunk of time.But about 100 years ago, laundry didn't take just an afternoon at the laundromat or an evening watching movies and switching things over in the laundry room or basement. It took all day and included washing and scrubbing and boiling and rinsing and hanging to dry, sometimes to freeze dry out in the snow even. I remember when I was a kid, - 40years ago - my gramma used lye soap and a wringer washing machine and that had made washing the clothes that much faster, but still was notas fast as the "new" agitator washers with regular laundry detergent.It was a big day when she got one of those.

So, it was really interesting, recently, when my mom found a crumbling piece of paper that was a "receet" (back then they called recipes "receipts") for doing laundry handed down from my great-great grandmother to my great-grandmother (my grampa's mother) we think. Mom decided to type it up and pass it out to the family so we'd get a kick as to what's changed between then and now.

To give it some perspective time-wise, my grampa was born in 1909(?) and he was the baby of the family and I think his oldest sister was probably 15 when he was born (?). So, this "receet" was probably originally written up between 1890-1895 by a woman who had been born in the 1830s - maybe?

Below is what I got from my mom:

Mom and/or Dad had two copies of this in their things. I think probably it was Dad.

It is a "Grandmother's Receet"...for washing clothes, given to "mymother as a bride ...Kent" (Kentucky?) The paper is dry and crumblingaway so I am copying it for posterity.

1. bild fire in back yard to het kettle of rain water.
2. set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.
3. shave 1 hole cake lie sope in biling water.
4. sort things. Make 3 piles. 1 pile white. 1 pile cullord. 1 pile werk briches and rags.
5. stur flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with biling water.
6. rub dirty spots on board. Scrub hard, then bile.
7. rub cullord but don't bile just rench and starch.
8. take white things out of kettle with broom stick handle then rench, blew and starch.
9. spread tee towels on grass.
10. hang old rags on fence.
11. pour rench water on flower bed.
12. scrub porch with hot sopy water. (One says "scrub privee seat and floor with sopy water caught from porch scrub".)
13. turn tubs upside down.
14. go put on cleen dress—smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tee—set and rest a spell and count blessings.



Kind of offers up some perspective. Makes me think a lot about chopping wood and carrying water and reading more Brother Lawrence and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dwarf Stars Call for Submissions

xposted elsewhere:

Dwarf Stars is the Science Fiction Poetry Association's yearly edited anthology of short-short poetry. They are trying to find the best speculative short poetry of 10 lines or less published in 2009. “Speculative” is defined as “science fiction, fantasy, horror, mythic or any combination or variation of the above.” The deadline for nominations for 2009 poems is August 31, 2010.

This is what you can do to help.

1. Send us your 2009 short poems of 10 lines or less.
2. Send us recommendations of 2009 short poems of 10 lines or less that you've read and think are deserving along with publication information and the e-mail addresses of the poets, if you have them.
3. There is no limit to the number of poems you can send.
4. You do not need to be a member to send poems/recommendations.

Send these poems to at dwarfstars@sfpoetry.com. You do not need to be a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association to send poems/recommendations. Please include the words "Dwarf Stars Submission" in the title of the e-mail.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today Only!

I'm up at Everyday Weirdness for the day, my poem, I Dream ... Eyes: http://everydayweirdness.com/

If you read this AFTER July 29, 2010, then try plugging this in instead: http://everydayweirdness.com/e/20100729/

Monday, July 26, 2010

War Dancing Pixes and such...

I met Rachael de Vienne through the author group at Drollerie Press. You can read about her here. Besides being a goat-herding pixie, she is also a fantasy writer and author of Pixie Warrior. A while ago, after she so graciously read my story, Love's Clothing (out in the February 2010 issue of Aoife's Kiss), she asked if I'd be interested in writing a guest blog for her. Well, I cogitated some, and then some more, and a few months later (oops!) I came up with something. And she has very kindly posted it on her blog, which you can find here.

Wasn't sure what I was going to write at first, but decided writing about what I have been learning would be best. And maybe it will help someone else out there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Late Night Thoughts...

From the blogetary...

1) I am beginning to suspect that some markets have me on auto-reject. I don't think they even bother to read what I've sent. And if that's the case then so be it. It's not honest, but that's just way it is and there are plenty of other markets out there who do seem to like what I write.

2) I have a poem coming out on Everyday Weirdness next week. I'll put up the link when it's up.

3) I know other writers and artists go through this. Sometimes it feels like our friends and family don't take us seriously. We don't have the 12 hour a day job that eats our soul; we have the sometimes 2 hour and sometimes 48 hour job that feeds our soul. But, because we work at home in our flip flops they don't really think we're working. Other people in our field don't take us seriously.We aren't getting handed awards or big contracts, so we don't feel validated for all the hours of work we put in looking for work, doing the work, creating the work, marketing the work and advertising the work. Well, no one else BUT us really knows what we're up to. We have to learn to pat ourselves on the back and keep going. We can't let the negative tapes in our head get to us. Nor do we have any time to spare worrying about ego strokes. Ask yourself why are you doing what you are doing. If it's for money or ego, you're in the wrong business. Not that there's anything wrong with feeling good about getting a byline, or getting paid well for what we do, or seeing our name on the cover of a magazine or book, but that's not why we're doing what we're doing.

So, those are my late night thoughts.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

News and stuff...

Been busy and I have lots of news, so if you're interested, then read on. Not sure how soon I'll be able to stop and do this again.

1) My poem, "In Passing," is up on Daily Love. You can find it here. There will be another one in August called, "That Night...". I'll give you a heads up when the link is available for that one.

2) Just signed a contract with Drollerie Press for another novella. Can't say anything else about it right now, but I'll let you know more when I know more.

3) Tyrannosaurus Press just came out with their third quarterly issue of The Illuminata, their free newsletter. In this issue there are a couple of short stories, some reviews and a few articles on things of a speculative fiction nature (including at least one of each written by me). You can download it in either ePub or PDF format.

4) I had a poem accepted by Aoife's Kiss, and rumor has it it will be in the September 2010 issue. I'll let you know when it's out and if I'll be having a blog contest for it.

5) Had my first InfiniChi Medical Qigong appointment on Friday and I highly recommend trying it out if you can find a practitioner near you. They use a combination of Reiki, massage, acupressure and other energy-type work. I was so present afterward that I think my business meeting went much better than it would have otherwise. I was much more helpful to my client and will probably give her a better product because I was more present. I'm moving slower today, but again, I'm also more present, and hopefully more productive.

6) This next week commences the Great Bathroom Make Over - basically gutting it and making it over almost brand new. What this means is that I have been moving everything out of the bathroom and have made up an overnight bag/kit to use in a functional bathroom elsewhere in the building for the next week. Monday morning will be the last time I really use the bathroom before it's gutted. It means I will lose the white tile with black trim wainscoting I love so much around the room. It's fairly old - vintage - which is why I like it so much, but it needs to be replaced (sigh).

It took much convincing on the part of the person doing the work as I kept wondering why he couldn't just patch up the ugly and leave the rest, but when you compare the new tile to the 30 some year old tile, there's just no way it would look good together. And redoing the entire thing exactly as it is now, but using 21st century materials, would be prohibitively expensive. It's sad and I hate change, but he explained to me this also means I will probably gain room because the wainscoting is like an inch thick all around and that will disappear to be dry walled and the tile around the tub to go up higher and around the window. Everything repainted. And they're going to try to stay with the black and white tile I like. It also means the ugly patch work tile around tub faucet will be replaced. And lots of other stuff either cleaned up or replaced. But, I'll also lose things like the tile towel holders and tile toilet paper holders. But, it's basically a brand new bathroom, too. And other than having to use another bathroom occasionally over the next week, free and easy to me.

I love that it's happening, but I'm just sad to see the old vintage stuff go. Some people like living in newness. I'm the person who doesn't see the cracks in the paint as much because I'm charmed by the oldness. But again - it's all good and being done by someone I trust (Pye doesn't hate him -- well not as much as he hates other people, anyway).

7) Because of the work on the bathroom I might not be hanging out on my usual cyber haunts as much. My home office is kinda near construction central so I'll probably be using my netbook elsewhere or working on other things in other places. We'll see how it goes. It will be good. But if you know me, you know how much I can grouse about change and things being "different". I like my routine. But my brain will enjoy the change, I'm sure.

When it's all done, however, I will make sure to post before and after pictures so you can say "oooh" and "ah" along with me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two Good Things

Got two poetry acceptances recently. One will be appearing online at DailyLove.net later on this month and another one will be appearing online at Eternal Haunted Summer probably around September. It’s the little things that keep you going! ;-)

When I have URLs to link to and know more, I’ll pass it on.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Spider and the Crow




If you want a little 10 minute break from your weekend, here's the first part of my short story, The Spider and the Crow, which was published in the July 2009 issue of Beyond Centauri through SamsDotPublishing.

Hope you enjoy it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr7rbTOgDI8

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Cool Things

1) It’s time for the Science Fiction Poetry Association voting of the 2010 Rhysling Awards. Every year people in the SFPA can vote on the previous years best poetry from those nominated. You get this neat book to look through and decide on the short and long poems you think are deserving of the year’s awards. I’ve never been involved in nominating anyone, but I do like reading those who have been nominated, seeing all that’s out there, and voting on the ones I like best. My choices never win, but I like knowing I was part of the process and hope that the people who’s poems I voted for will soon be recognized elsewhere if not here. Anyway, it’s a cool thing to be involved in.

2) My short story, “Love’s Clothing”, published in the February 2010 issue of Aoife’s Kiss, got a good brief mention on Charles Gramlich’s blog, Razored Zen (last paragraph here). If you haven’t followed his blog before, I recommend reading along. He can be a good read. And I feel good that a writer so talented enjoyed something I wrote.

Anyway, just sharing the two cool things I’m involved in right now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Under the skin...

Crossposted from Blogetary...

Sunday, my dad and stepmom came down to visit and spend time with me and a cousin who now lives down here. Family vacations and outings can be a chore—ask anyone. But this last time it all went so very well. We had a great time. We were patient with each other, listened, joked, and actually heard each other. Good times were had by all. I was amazed! I'm a veteran of the family/friend outing where someone gets pissy or miffed or slams a door or needs to go take a timeout. But this was not the case this week. So, I was a little sad to see my dad and stepmom go, but it was the perfect amount of time, so it was all good.

On top of that, I still love my job. Really, really love my job. I'm thankful for it every day and felt guilty that I couldn't work past my normal quitting time because I had guests in town. I felt guilty because I like my work. That feels so good!

I was in a glow of goodness.

After Dad and my stepmom left, I went to dinner with some friends and it was amazing how fast that glow was shattered. Two sentences (maybe less) into my story about my idyllic family Fathers Day weekend one friend loses his temper at something I said. But instead of saying "sorry" like I normally do I actually stood up for myself, which just made it worse of course. And the rest of the evening was basically not the fun catchup dinner it was supposed to be and the golden glow I had about my visit was gone. No way I wanted to share it now, not if I was going to get yelled at.

We came to a truce, had a pleasant evening, but even then for some reason it seemed to be my fault the evening was ruined, even though it was someone else's bad behavior and hypocritical comments that had kind of sent things that direction.

So, no drama with the family, but drama with the friends.

That evening I couldn't get it out of my head, still can't. But last night I realized part of the success of one and failure of the other is that I have developed tools over the years to function in my family. Plus, as much of an ass as my dad can be, he can take as much as he dishes out, so if you're willing to stand up to him intelligently he's fine. I'd had three days of being able to hang out with a group of people who can tease and banter and give and take and it's EXPECTED that if you dish it out, you're gonna get some back. If you're gonna complain about someone being late then the next time everyone is waiting for you, you're going to hear about it. All in good fun because that's part of the art of good banter. But those are also the tools I have with my family.

With some of my friends, I don't have those same tools. I've let a codependent relationship develop where it's okay for me to be the butt of jokes but not okay me to dish it back. It's okay for them to play hooky from work but not okay for someone else to play hooky. I might be feeling a little under the weather, but it's not nearly as bad as what they're going through. Or, for some reason because I have a shell, smudge stick and mug on my bathroom shelf, I'm a packrat, even if I could fit all I own into a small Uhaul truck while they might have storage spaces, garages and rooms full of stuff they rarely even see, let alone use. I'm the one with the "artistic" temperament when they're the ones who throwing fits over the types of foods or materials that come near them. I might do the same to them. We project our fears and expectations on each other rather than seeing each other clearly.

That's an extreme description of several people and only from my own point of view. It's not always like that. And it's certainly not wrong for people to have their own perspectives or points of view. We aren't always so trapped in our own perspectives, but it goes there. And since I've been reading The New Codependency by Melody Beattie and rereading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Han it struck me how I have gotten to the point, without realizing it, of needing tools to deal with my friends. I expected to need tools with my family. I didn't expect to need tools with my friends, so their remarks have stuck under my skin more than is necessary. I haven't had my boundaries up and at the ready when I should have.

So, last night when I was thinking over what I could have done or said differently to remedy or bypass the drama, I realized it would have been an Akido move - surrender to the blow and use the energy to come back in a detached and logical manner. I think, I don't know, that that would translate to letting my friend be angry, taking a deep breath, counting to 10 or 20 or 30, and then after he'd resumed a normal heart beat asked, "Why are you getting mad at me when you are obviously mad at someone else?" or "Why are you mad about someone doing something that you yourself have done many times and will do again many times more?" or "Why is this important to you? Why can't you allow for this without commandeering it for your own perspective?" "Why does anyone belong in a 'doghouse' when no one is at fault?"

But that's "couldawouldashoulda" or water under the bridge and I just need to release it and learn from it, and ultimately, understand that I need my tools for healthy interaction just as much with my friends as I do my family. And understand that when a friend is trapped in their own perspective or illusion of what life (their life, my life, someone else's life) should be, that I need to have patience with them so they'll have patience with me.

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Perspective

Perspective is important. Perspective is what tells you whether you have enough room to park. Perspective is what tells you when and when not to get involved in something. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook I read in junior high, a writer has to have the same kind of perspective that a pilot has - deep and ready to make a decision in a split second. And then, a friend of mine has a quote, something to the effect that those with the biggest perspectives win. In other words, having a big enough perspective to allow others to have theirs.

I've been pondering perspective lately for several reasons. For one, I was in a tribe on tribe.net where we were discussing how to bring people back to tribe and what was considered troll-type behavior (that being a consideration in why some people left). Another reason was reading a review of scifi/fantasy work by a respected reviewer. Then, there's reading The New Codependency by Melody Beattie (boning up on my boundaries) and the rereading of The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. And then, there's just the day-by-day spending of time with people who have a different perspective.

For example, on tribe we were discussing why people come to tribe. Personally, I go there because I've made friends I like to banter with. I like banter and repartee. I like fun and having a laugh. Technically, that's not a hobby, but for me it is. Why be here if you can't laugh and play? But, another person pointed out in the same discussion that she doesn't get enough serious conversations in her personal life and she comes to tribe just for the serious discussions. When people go off topic and get silly, it seriously bothers her. That was a perspective I had not bothered to consider before. I don't think that my perspective was wrong, but I can have more sympathy for her now that I know that.

Then, when I was reading the review of a sci/fi piece by a respected reviewer I was put off by it because he was dismissive of a writer who still believed that happy endings and high ideals in scifi (specifically YA sci/fi) are okay and good, and the reviewer, apparently, thought the views of the writer were anachronistic (I hate that term, but in this case - it's applicable). Personally, I think the reviewer's opinion is stupid and short-sighted, and I was ready to rip off a letter to him and then counted to ten and realized he's as entitled to his opinion as I am to mine. If he wants to cut his life short by being a "Douglas Downer" then that's not my problem.

Which takes me to the reading of the New Codependency and the Miracle of Mindfulness, which both reminded me I am not in charge of other people's opinions. I still get to have my own opinions and that's okay. That's one of the perks of living in these United States. I can have my own perspective - think Meg Whitman and Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter are embarrassments to womankind, for example, and that's my right. But, it's not my job to change someone else's mind. If they want to think those women are the trifecta of perfect womanhood, then that's their right.

So, I guess all this thinking of perspective brings me back to my yearly post on freedom of speech and thought. We each have a right to express our opinions — either online, in a letter to the editor, in a letter to our congressmen, or just in day-to-day interactions. That is our right. And it is equally the right of those around us to disagree with us. Yet, somehow, even when we disagree, we have to figure out how to live together and compromise with each other and allow others their different perspectives.

This isn't easy. It's easier to say "my way or the highway." But we live in a country where compromise and consensus is what keeps us going. Yes, we can really disagree with each other, really hard. And that's not wrong. But we have to allow for the other perspectives and eventually figure out how to have those disagreements and still peaceably share space with those that disagree with us.

We'll figure it out eventually. We always do. But this past week has reminded me that sometimes I just need to allow for those other perspectives, whether or not I agree with them — just acknowledge that they're there — and that's a step in the right direction.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hope and Despair - Optimism and Pessimism: Finding Balance

Last week I had an astounding opportunity. I was phoned on Monday by a high school student who needed someone to interview for her career development project (her group is doing the career development project that is part of RoadTripNation.org). She and her group needed to interview someone who had followed their dream and also had some failures along the way (wow! sound familiar?). I had her email me more information on the project and her group (so I'd know what I was getting into) and by that evening we'd scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon.

I spent the next day and a half wondering if I could clean up my language enough to speak with three young high school women, and if I'd be able to share enough with them to actually be of help to them. In figuring out what I wanted to say, writing up talking points, and contacting other freelancers who'd be willing to answer questions or at least let me share their websites with the girls, I came to the realization that I never had this opportunity. At their age my female role models included women from history books like Joan of Arc, Edith Cavell, Helen Keller and Elizabeth Blackwell. Other than that, there was my mom, who worked for a living. There were women I knew who were teachers. One of them, Madam Geri Van Zanten, I admired very much and dream about her still even after she passed away. And one friend from grade school had a mom who had been a model and tried to teach the neighborhood girls things like how to sit down properly, set the table, and give ourselves our own manicures.

But freelancers, businesswomen, artists, singers, writers? We didn't have those in our lives, that I remember. These young women have women in government, music, business and all over to look up to and emulate if they want. They don't just have a couple of movies on self-destructive artists who have to choose between "love" (or living within their man's definition of love) and their career - but women who have both family and career. Women on both sides of the political aisle, even, who have families, have had to battle cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, and have had not just one but two careers.

They have so much more to choose from and they found me and wanted to interview me. That is not just cool, it's, as some friends of mine used to say, hen hao cool.

So, I was a bit nervous making my way to the appointed Starbucks for the rendezvous. And halfway there I realized there was no way I knew that I would recognize them. What if this was like one of those bad internet set-up dates where I showed up and he saw who I was and just left without telling me? What if it was a joke?

Two hours of bus travel later (and about 10-15 minutes late - not a good example to begin with), I showed up at the Starbucks to see a table of high schoolers holding up a sign with my name on it. It was so exciting. We found a table outside where I sat on one side and the three young women sat on the other side and their friends filmed us as the young women asked me questions and I did my best to answer them without becoming Queen Non Sequitur. (I hope their friends were able to edit those bits out.)

We talked for a little over an hour. One woman wanted to be a writer, one an actress and one a veterinarian. I, we, talked about finding a good supportive group of friends to help keep you going, not allowing your own dreams to be subsumed by the dreams of the latest boyfriend, the importance of constantly learning (whether or not that happens in college), decision-making, the importance of making friends with accountants, staying away from emotional vampires, never giving up, keeping on at it, even when you make really bad mistakes, and understanding that your parents may not understand your dream, but they still love you. You just have to prove to them that you can have your dream and a stable life, too.

And when I was done I kept wondering if I'd told them enough. Had I told them the right things that would help them? Had I been clear enough? Had I honed in on the wrong things? I wanted so much to go back and say "and another thing...".

This last week since then has been nothing but one big, "and another thing....". As soon as I got back from my interview with the girls I found two rejections - one form (but a form that was written to SOUND personal, but hasn't been changed in like five years- :-P), and one that was personal and much more helpful (but a rejection nonetheless). I had to tell myself what I'd expounded to those young women - don't give up. Don't give up when your clients drag their feet in paying you. Don't give up when the rent check bounces and you're living on rice and mayonnaise. Don't give up when you see other people in your field zooming ahead of you and you have awful feelings of jealousy that you just can't seem to quash. Don't give up when the mean people seem to win and the nice people are left in agent/publication limbo. Don't give up when it feels like Rome is burning and you're wondering if it might be better after all to get a full-time brain-numbing retail job with at least a regular paycheck and health benefits.

Take a break, maybe. Reassess your goals, maybe (Are we really Pulitzer Prize-winning authors? Or are we best suited to writing fun action or romance stories meant to make people happy). But never give up.

I think I learned more this last week than I had any hope of teaching those girls. But I do hope that somehow some of what I said will help them follow their own dreams. And maybe they will help me follow mine.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Poetry Break

I have been going through some of my pieces recently, tweaking and revising some poetry, wondering about reviving work on a story or two I may have laid aside a while ago. Came across this poem I wrote - oh - a while ago - two-three years? Back in the days when I waited for the #10 for an hour each evening because they NEVER run on time. This was a familiar sight:



Anyway, ran across this poem and thought I would share it. I don't feel like this as much as I used to, but sometimes I still go there.

Liposuction in the City of Lost Dreams or
Beer on a Budget

Scalpel poised above –
emergency operation gots to be done!
STAT! ASAP!
I mean RIGHT NOW!
(How I hate those words.)
Infusion of hope prescribed ---
excision from this dreariness.
Soul sucking demands on a
dream-ridden, aged princess.

Credit? Cash? Coverage?
Give’r an aspirin and a bandage.
Maybe a beer ….
Maybe one or two –
A patch of anesthesia to see her through.
This is no great affliction.

And then?
Huge metal deathmonsters?
Prime property acquisition?
Class conscious status symbols
slapped on a gaping wound.

Addictive elitism stumbles on her crutches.
Ancient and treacherous,
near impossible to escape her clutches.
Staying afloat – don’t want to drown.
This is a bright and brittle
One-trick pony kind of town.

Life-rings are limited
to the wealthy and connected.
The rest --
are bound to be rejected.

Beer --
It will have to be beer.

Beer it is then.

by Rachel V. Olivier

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Halfway Mark...is Time really that fluid?

Cross-posted elsewhere:

So, our June issue was delivered to the neighborhood on Friday morning.



We're constantly working a month ahead. A couple of the editors have two calendars by their desks - one for the current month and one for the next month. So, I'm used to thinking a month ahead for things, but suddenly now it feels like we've gone from January to June in the space of just a few heartbeats. How did it get to be the middle of the year so fast? Where did the time go? It just seems to keep marching along, paying no-nevermind to the rest of us.

It doesn't help that I have what a friend of mine calls a case of the ADOS's - or Attention Deficit OH SHINYs. I sit down to work on a story and end up doing a crossword or surfing tribe or Facebook. Yesterday we had our writers club meeting and Will, our president, pointed out that June marks the four year mark for our little club. FOUR YEARS. And we're already planning for what we're going to be doing in September (hopefully getting a table at the West Hollywood Bookfair - come by and visit us!).

So, on the one hand, I'm appalled at the time that flies by and how much I haven't achieved yet. Then, I have to remember basically what I posted last month, that eventually time goes by and milestones seem to just happen. And before you know it, things do get done after all.

Maybe Time is more fluid than I think.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Milestones -- Or How Did I Get to the Point Where I Know Stuff?



The concept of milestones began back in during the Roman Empire. Milestone is from the Latin, millarium. They were originally stone obelisks make of marble, granite or other stone. They didn't necessarily mark off miles as we know them today, but they did mark off space. Since then, they have become a regular feature of ways to mark length of travel from one point to another (even though now they're little more than metal stakes in the ground). (Milestones). And the point of milestones is that they not only show you where you're going, but they show where you've been.

A milestone is also a term we use to refer to landmarks in our lives to mark where we've been and where we're going, or at least hope to go.

Recently, I've been thinking about milestones and progress in my own life's journey. Sometimes things hum along nicely, or it seems so, and other times it all feels stuck somehow. And sometimes, I don't realize I've felt stuck until an obstruction has been lifted and I'm able to travel along again. The milestones give me a way of gauging whether or not I've made any real progress.

This last month I felt like I'd gotten bogged down somehow and not making any progress. I was getting proofreading and copy editing work, but I hadn't been able to work on any of my fiction and poetry. I would open up files and stare at the stories and have nothing, absolutely nothing, to contribute to them. I felt stuck and frustrated and couldn't figure out how to get unstuck. I'd had a fantastic birthday and was refreshed. And then took a trip to Palm Springs where I had nothing to concern me for several days in a row other than how much time I spent at the pool and how to save the bees that liked to drown themselves in said pool. I brought my novel and short stories to work on, but again I'd open the files and stare and just draw a blank.

My best friend's mom sells Tupperware and one of the things she often says in regards to generating anything is that you can't make soup if you don't stir the pot. It's easy when things are coming in regularly to just accept them and not look any farther for work or inspiration. But even when things are going well, you need to "stir the pot" to see what's out there and draw in energy and ideas for your business and your writing. So, I started poking and prodding myself into action. I queried places where I'd sent work and had not heard back from, looked for work in various new places, renewed my WritersMarket.com subscription, and began hanging out on Duotrope.com more to research possible markets for the works in progress and poetry I'd had sitting on my hard drive for a while.

A funny thing happened. Once I got myself moving, other things got moving, too. I heard back from other work possibilities, and found markets I didn't know were available for my work. I heard back from one place that one story of mine had been accepted and another passed on. I felt energized to look at my old work and see if I could revitalize it, rework it and submit it somewhere else. One place I submitted poetry to didn't want just your average two-three sentence cover letter, they wanted as much as you could tell about mentors, degrees, awards, grants. I scoffed at that, thinking I didn't have anything to offer. Then I started working on that super-duper cover letter and realized I had more in background, had passed by more milestones, then I realized. It made me stop and ponder. It was difficult for me to grasp that I had some major milestones in my own history.

Finally, I received the questions for an interview I'm giving someone and I have yet to finish it. Every time I look at the questions I have to start over answering them, because in the middle of writing I always realize there's more to tell then I'm telling. More going on and more I've experienced than I am giving myself credit for. For years I've just thought of myself as someone who had no experience with all this, and who didn't really know stuff or know what's going on. So, seeing that I did actually have experience made for this huge, "well, huh" moment that I'm still trying to deal with, but is good because it's energizing me to get back to work on all those WIPs that have been sitting around unfinished and submissions I want to get out there.

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine. Listening to her deal with some decisions she has to make I realized I wasn't the only one who doesn't give him- or herself credit for the milestones in their lives. In a lot of ways she was still remembering herself as the student working part-time at a brewery. In the middle of figuring out her life she'd almost lost track of the fact that she was a career professional with lots to offer, and worth more than she gave herself credit for. And we started talking about how it seemed like yesterday when we thought we knew stuff, but didn't really know anything. And now here we were, and we actually know stuff.

When did we become the adults? When did we get past all these milestones to the point where we are the ones in charge? Or as another friend of mine often says, "Who's bright idea was it to make me the mom?"

It reminded me, once again, how important it is to stop and take stock of your life occasionally. And not only look at what you need to work on, but honestly assess how much you've accomplished and be glad of the mileage of your life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Writing is hard on your health

Cross posted from Blogetary:

I never thought of writing as a dangerous pursuit or past time, unless of course you were one of those journalists who traveled the world on assignment researching things like war torn Cambodia or travel writers who were sneaking into parts of China or Turkey they weren't supposed to be. But I know some writers with serious health issues. One of them died of heart failure as he was working all night on something that had a deadline of the next morning, and another had a serious stroke while sitting at his desk working. Sometimes those issues are just there, but many times it's because of their profession. Sitting at a desk all day researching or writing is hard on your body. It's stressful. Your body likes to move. Your eyes like to watch something other than a screen a couple of feet away that's constantly moving. And always working on someone else's deadline is also a serious strain.

Of course, writers aren't the only ones who have issues from sitting at a desk all day. Anyone - any freelancer or office worker who spends hours a day at a desk, in front of a computer and even on the phone is going to experience things like back pain, eye strain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Today Yahoo put up an article on six problems that people who sit at a desk all day can experience, as well as ways to alleviate those problems.

The most obvious solution to it all is to not sit at the computer all day. It's tempting to just sit there and switch over to Facebook, or tribe.net, or whatever game site you play on and think playing on those for awhile before going back to writing is good enough. But it's not. The best thing you can do is get up, get yourself a glass of water, stretch, go for a walk, go to the gym. In the long run, you'll be more productive.

Below is the list of ailments from the article and suggested ways to alleviate them:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Problem: The tingling, numbness, itching or even sharp pain caused when a nerve that runs through the forearm is compressed by swollen ligaments and bones in the wrist.
Prevention: Stretching and other exercises may help release tension in the wrist.

Lower-Back Pain

Problem: Sitting for hours on end, particularly if you have bad posture, can be devastating to your body over time if you don't get moving on a regular basis.
Prevention: Besides being better aware of your posture as you're sitting at your desk, getting regular exercise including abdominal strengthening activities should relieve some of the pressure on your lower back.

Other Joint Problems

Problem: The human body is meant to move, and staying in one position for too long can make joints feel tight.
Prevention: Besides getting up from your desk at regular intervals and walking around a bit, the Mayo Clinic recommends a number of stretches that can help loosen up your hips.

Eyestrain

Problem: Office workers who spend hours a day staring at a computer screen might tell you that after a certain amount of time, their vision gets blurry and their eyes generally become more sensitive.
Prevention: Increase your font size so you don't have to squint, suggests Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT - News) (though the font on this informative page might cause readers to do just that). You may also want to rest your eyes frequently by looking away from your computer screen and reducing any glare on your monitor, the Mayo Clinic suggests.

Bacteria

Problem: "The desk, in terms of bacteria, is 400 times more dirty than your toilet," University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba told WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD - News). "People turn their desks into bacteria cafeterias because they eat at them, but they never clean them. The phone is the dirtiest, the desktop is next, and the mouse and the computer follow."
Prevention: If you frequently eat your lunch at your desk, you may want to make sure you have hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to wipe down your work surface daily. That can also protect you from germs sprayed into the air by your coughing and sneezing coworkers.

Stressful Situations

Problem: Stress can be a problem at work regardless of how physical your day-to-day activities are, but those who do exert themselves on the job can actually use some of their activities to ease their stress. If you're chained to a desk, however, you may be even more likely to have stress-related outbursts. About 22% of U.S. workers say they've been driven to tears because of workplace stress and 9% say that stress has led to physically violent situations, reports RJC Associates, a career development firm.
Prevention: Smaller stressors can be handled with breathing and relaxation techniques at your desk or a break outside of the office, but some conflicts may call for mediation by an unbiased party. And believe it or not, video games have been suggested as a method for easing workplace stress, according to CareerBuilder.com. With the job market recovering and more companies hiring, however, it's starting to look like new job prospects could be a promising way out of stressful work conditions as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Story Time at Putt Putt Productions…




Another story time episode from Putt Putt Productions. This is the story Slow and Steady Wins the Race published in the April 2009 issue of Beyond Centauri. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Trying to Figure Out What to Blog...

Cross posted from Blogetary.

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to blog about and I will just ignore it for awhile because I don’t feel like I have anything worthwhile to say. I didn’t realize that many fiction writers also have this same problem. However, in the Writers Market newsletter they had an article (well, blog post) on what to blog about when (as a fiction writer) you’re not sure what to blog about. You can read it here on Jane Friedman’s There Are No Rules. One of their suggestions includes sharing interesting information or thoughts related to research or themes in what you’re working since we’re usually doing research or observing different things.

I’m never quite sure about that. I feel like I’m jinxing something if I write or talk about what I’m working on too much, or what feels like too much. But as Friedman points out, this is one way for a writer to build their platform. And it helps draw people in if they know the type of stuff you’re working on.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why do you read?



A lot of writers talk about why they write. In fact, there are some pretty famous writers who've got some good quotes on the topic:

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965): We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.

Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992): I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn't, I would die.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940): Writers aren't exactly people... they're a whole lot of people trying to be one person.

Why a writer writes is a common and varied topic that could be bandied about at length just about anywhere. In fact, next time you're in a writers group and you're not sure what to talk about, just ask everyone why they write. You won't get anyone to shut up!

But another question that needs be asked that probably supersedes why a writer writes is why do they read? Many writers (and others who are avid readers) remember the first book that made them fall in love with reading. They remember the books that changed their lives or the ones that they have reread every year for the last 5, 10, 20 years. And it's this love affair with reading and books that first kick started a lot of writers writing.

I was thinking about this the other day when a friend of mine and I were talking about the books we read. We both read a lot. He prefers nonfiction such as biographies, history, inspirational and self-help books. I prefer fiction, heavy on the genre, and a little lyrical poetry and humor thrown in. We both read a lot, but for different reasons. I read to escape (obviously) and he reads to connect. Yet, as different as our reading material is, we can connect with each other and other readers on what we have learned from our reading. As readers, we will always have that desire to go back to searching for yet another great book that could change our life for the better, or give us insight into a part of ourselves that we have yet to understand, or to inspire us to try hard to be better at our music, art, writing, business, teaching or ... what-have-you.

You don't find that kind of satisfying read on the internet, at least not in 140 word bits about life's insipid details. You only find that type of satisfaction in a piece of art; words strung together in a thoughtful, meaningful manner.

It could be in a paperback at the beach, a hardback from the library, an ebook on your ereader, or a downloaded audio book from iTunes or Audible.com. It's still a book. You, despite your busy days and other demands on your life want nothing better than to read that book. Whatever the case, and whether it's to connect more with the world, learn more about it, or escape from it, you just know that you have to read that book.

But, next time you're in meta-type, philosophizing mood, ask yourself, why do you read?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I am not that girl that men fall in love with, swoon over or buy flowers for. I'm the woman the men talk to about the girls they have fallen in love with, swooned over or are thinking of buying flowers for("Should I or shouldn't I? Do you think...?"). So I can count the number of times I have had flowers given to me on one hand and one of those was a, "Yeah, I got this for free and thought you'd like it," tossed at me by one boyfriend and then a couple of, "My girlfriend/wife is mad at me and refused these, but you might like them." The remaining two were flowers from my best friend, Jim (long story, but pretty purple mums that I really appreciated), and a bouquet on my birthday from a college roommate, Charissa.

Now I LOVE flowers. When I had a garden there was one year that my love for flowers took over my Taurean practicality and instead of vegetables it was all Monet flowers all summer long. And there have been years when all I did was YEARN for flowers and friends and family would ask me what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas and I'd list books and albums and flowers. And I'd always hope for flowers. And never get the flowers.

Which is why I started buying flowers for myself for my birthday. I realized it was silly to wish for something when I had the capability of getting it for myself all along. And so flowers were things I started buying for myself whenever I wanted to celebrate something for me - Christmas, Birthday, or just because.

And then today, on a Sunday, I get a call from the front door for a delivery, but I didn't order anything.....

And it's FLOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roses, hydrangeas, little wild flowers that my gramma would have loved and I loved, too.

Thank you, Aunt Pat, for my wonderful, glorious birthday flowers! They are truly appreciated for the gift that they are!





Friday, April 9, 2010

In Search of the Best Lemon Cake Ever!

As I mentioned on my last post my birthday is in a couple of weeks, and normally, around my birthday, I like to do things that I know I really like just for me. Some of those things include buying myself flowers (I tend to be partial to yellowy orange roses this time of year, but anything that catches my fancy and spirit makes its way home), treating myself to my favorite lemoncello, and making myself a lemon cake with lemon frosting.

[Normally, at this point, I would insert a picture of one my past tries at my favorite cake, but I can't find any. So, instead, here's a copy of a lemon cupcake I had from Lark, on Sunset, a couple of years ago.]



Usually, I use cake mix from a box and frosting from a tub and just see what I can do with that, decorate it with lemons and voila! My own lemon cake. This year, however, I decided I'd like to try something from scratch, or a little different from just using a box mix and a tub-o-frosting. So, I thought I would look up lemon cake recipes on the interwebs and see what I can find there. There are a LOT of lemon cake recipes out there in the world. There's a Tequila Lemon Cake, a Greek Lemon Cake, and a Lemon Cake with Candied Pansies on the first Google. And a lot more I don't want to sift through. So, what I thought I would do is ask my friends for their help.

So, if you have a recipe for a lemon cake that you really think is the best lemon cake you've ever had, I would love to have you send it my way! And then, if I choose your cake and I'm able to do it justice, I'll blog about it and show a picture and, if you like, let everyone know where I got such a wonderful lemon cake recipe!

Or, if nothing else, I'll get a box of lemon cake mix and see what I can do with lemon juice and lemon rind and then I'll show you a pic of that.

It's all good.


(from my garden when I lived in San Francisco...)