Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Acceptance

Received an acceptance yesterday (Christmas Day!) for a short-short from editor Clifford Garstang of Prime Number Magazine. First off: two acceptances in the same month is a first for me. It's a little sad when put like that, but, really, the important part is that it's very, very exciting. Secondly: the email was sent on Christmas Day. What an awesome Christmas present!! And what a hard working editor Clifford must be to be working on Christmas Day. I'm thrilled and very honored.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Acceptance

Received an acceptance letter today for a short story of mine from Editor-in-Chief Kasey Bunner of The Evansville Review. I'm thrilled!!! I have to say that when I opened the envelope, I was expecting a rejection. So when I caught "pleasure" and "welcome" I did a double take. I started over from the beginning, reading slowly and then I read it out loud to my husband. The grin on my face lasted well over an hour. Did I mention how thrilled I am??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great reads:

I've been reading again (in between watering my evergreen trees for the last time before the ground freezes, and hosting an engagement party for my daughter, and polishing up a story that's finally (yay!) out making the rounds, and and and... you get the idea). This is my long-winded way of saying that I've come across some wonderful stories, stories worth checking out:

From the Fall 2010 issue, #30, of Frigg: "Last Lilacs" by Clifford Garstang - and - "Blooms" by Kathy Fish. Both of these are full and rich and captivating.

From the October 2010 Special Issue of Foundling Review: "On A Date" by Ethel Rohan. This is tender and smart and a real treat.

From Issue 18 of Per Contra: "The Parking Victim" by Robert Kaye. I love the way an ordinary object takes on new meaning in this story. What I admire and what intrigues me about stories like this one is their ability to do something with an ordinary object that would never occur to me.

From the 26th Collection of The Year's Best Science Fiction: "N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka. Yes, this is sci-fi, but don't let that scare you. I love when sci-fi and literary worlds blend; the result is usually a well-written story about intriguing, creative possibilities. This story is no exception.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Study in Fall Grasses

Some pictures I took last week (when the weather was exceptionally nice for these parts!) of the grasses in our backyard. These are ordinary grasses all summer long, but come fall - wow - they sprout wispy feather-like tops full of texture that move in the breeze.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ballerina Box

Got my copy of The Bitter Oleander this week. My story "Ballerina Box" appears in the latest issue. I'm thrilled! There's something about seeing my words, my characters, my story in print, something about holding it in my hands that's so richly satisfying, so enjoyable. It never gets old.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It's been a while since I last posted and the reason, I've determined, is time. As in I don't have enough of it. I've been extraordinarily busy these past several months. Just as I begin to get a handle on one thing (or, more precisely, the 5 things I'm juggling at any given moment), another something pops up that needs my attention. I used to think this demand would settle down, smooth out; now I believe it's never ending. I fall into bed each night, exhausted, and dream of things I need to do: appointments to make; bills to pay; baskets of laundry to fold; piles of paperwork to sort. Long gone, it seems, are the nights when I would drift blissfully off to sleep, cushioned by restful images in my dream world.

When was the last time you thought about TIME? It's one of life's givens, like death and taxes. It cannot be bargained with. It's a constant; it marches onward whether I'm ready or not. But here's something funny/peculiar/interesting to consider the next time you're sitting with a warm cup of tea: is it possible that time is speeding up? I've had this thought several times over the years. Always fleeting, yet it persists. And I know it sounds silly, maybe even crazy, surely spawned by my life-on-the-hamster-wheel feelings of late. But it's possible, right? In the grand cosmic realm of things, anything's possible. Right?

By the (time) numbers:

2: HOURS I spend each day thinking about/researching/preparing gluten-free food
2.5: YEARS I've been dealing with a frozen shoulder
3: HOURS I stole last Saturday for a nap
3: DAYS since my last rejection (story)
3.5: MONTHS since I read anything that wasn't a grocery or to-do list
5: HOURS I spend each week driving my son to/from school
7: WEEKS since I've written anything that wasn't a grocery or to-do list
9: HOURS of sleep I got last night
13: HOURS to drive from Racine, WI to Birmingham, AL
14: DAYS since my last batch of stories went out
21: MONTHS since my last oil change
95: DAYS since my last (story) acceptance
175: DAYS we've been waiting for our federal tax refund

I need more time. Or at least the ability to push the "pause" button every now and again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sturgeon Moon

You know me and full moons... drawn to them like (fill in here with any number of cliches!) On August 24th, the Sturgeon moon was full at 1:05 p.m. ET. It was given its name by fishing tribes because the sturgeon fish (in the Great Lakes and elsewhere) were most readily caught during the month of August. Notable about this month's full moon is that it's the smallest full moon of the year. It will be 252,518 miles away - the farthest distance its orbit takes it from Earth.

Here's a picture I took 1 day past full with lots of clouds:

The moon is no longer full in this picture but my husband and I were out with the telescope looking the moon... it looks so awesome through a telescope! My next challenge is to figure out how to hook my camera up to the telescope so I can capture the closeup image. In the meantime, I used the longest camera lens I have... I like the detail that shows up here:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More Ireland!

A lasting impression I have from Ireland is one of flowers. They're everywhere! Big bunches of color in containers - bright and welcoming. All the stores and businesses in every little town have flower boxes at their windows filled with vibrant and colorful flowers. I never saw any that were brown or droopy and it made me wonder how they kept them all so fresh-looking. I decided it was all the help from Mother Nature: rain, misty and ever-present for at least a little bit, it seemed, every day. Left: in Durrus, on Sheepshead Peninsula (county Cork).

In Blarney (county Cork), at a restaurant called Muskerry Arms:

In Bushmills (county Antrim):

A hostel in Killarney (county Kerry):

In Northern Ireland, a street in the walled city of Derry (county Derry):

Monday, August 2, 2010


We just returned from 2 weeks in Ireland. It was both exhilarating and exhausting. The entire country is 170 miles wide and 310 miles long - roughly the size of Maine. But the roads! The roads near the bigger cities (Dublin, Cork, Derry) are 2- and 4-lane "motorways" and are wide enough so that you don't feel like you're going to smash side view mirrors. But everything else, especially all the coastal roads, are unbelievably narrow with so many twists and blind curves that it makes for a very traumatic and slow-going experience. We toured nearly the entire country, driving almost 1700 miles! I wouldn't do that again.

The people are very open and friendly and the landscape is beautiful beyond words. And when the sun comes out - wow - it's magical. I took over 1400 pictures! Here are a few from the beginning of our trip...

Sunrise on the Sheepshead Peninsula:

The coast of Sheepshead Peninsula:

And what would Sheepshead Peninsula be without sheep?

More to follow...!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Great reads:

I visited the local Barnes & Noble while I was out of town recently and picked up a couple of journals that my hometown B&N doesn't carry. I love, LOVE the stories I found:

From the #6 - Spring/Summer 2010 issue of HOW Journal:

"Economics" by Aryn Kyle. I fell in love, all over again, with words while reading this story! I realize this sounds a bit strange because, really, words are just words, right? No! They are so much more. I found myself pausing as I read this, letting the beauty of the prose sink in. I even read a passage to my husband (whose reading list includes entrepreneur type publications, as well as sports magazines) because I was so enamored with it.

"Confabulated Stories: The Doctor's Wife, From 1960-1962" by Luis Jaramillo. The style is more sparse than not and the story is broken up into sections, each with its own subtitle. The wife/mother is never given a name, always referred to as "the Doctor's Wife." But all these combine into a charming, engaging story.

From the Spring 2010 issue of The Pinch:

"The Apple And Paradise Too" by Erica Johnson Debeljak. I slipped right into this story. The prose was colorful and warm; it enveloped and lured me in.

"High School And The Mysteries Of Everything Else" by David Borofka. Interestingly enough, this story is also separated into distinct sections, each with its own subtitle. David creates a very likable character in Leanne, one who is at once smart, witty, and vulnerable.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I've been playing around with my camera (code for trying to learn how to USE it) and thought the fireworks presented a terrific opportunity to experiment with nighttime photography. I did lots of research beforehand, attempting to assimilate the various required settings and admit the most frustrating part was trying to figure out how to GET TO the "bulb" setting. But I found it! I was pleasantly surprised at how well the photos turned out - they look like actual fireworks! It was a lot of fun though fending off the mosquitos was not.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bitter Oleander

Received an acceptance for a short-short of mine from editor Paul Roth of The Bitter Oleander. Woo-hoo!!! To say that I'm swooning over-the-top thrilled would be an understatement.

The fall issue should be out in October.

It was the nicest acceptance letter I've ever received. Did I mention how thrilled I am??

Monday, June 21, 2010

I LOVE this journal:

PANK Issue No. 4. I've been leisurely working my way through this journal, thoroughly enjoying the stories, and while I'm not finished with it yet, I'm so excited and moved and thrilled by what I've read that I decided to go ahead and tell you about it. My faves:

"Funhouse" and "Superman And Jesus" by Katherine Grosjean
"October of Brief Empire" by Craig Davis
"Fallen" by Alicia Gifford
"Unzipped" by Aaron Burch
"Babies On The Shore" by Ethel Rohan
"Struck Dumb" by Nick Sansone
"The Twelve Times Cristina Paz Quoted Tupac" by Ryan Dilbert
"But You Don't Really Care For Music, Do You?" by Angi Becker Stevens
"When A Heart Is A Bull's Eye" by Steven J. McDermott

Look at all these great stories! And I still have a ways to go! It's well worth your time to pick up a copy and enjoy it for yourself.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Great read:

I have just finished reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and my reaction? Wow. I love, love, love it when I'm able to lose myself in a fictional world, when the characters are so real, so engaging, when the storyline is so compelling that I find myself dwelling on it even when I'm not reading it. Such was the case with The Lovely Bones.

I loved this. What I loved most was the idea of it, the story being told from the murdered child's POV, and how bits and pieces of "her heaven" were weaved in. Very creative. I have to say, also, that watching the gut-wrenching pain of a family struggling to deal with the horror and devastation of losing a child/sibling was tough. And gripping. What a testament to the author: it was so well done, the prose so delightful, so honest that I fell into the story, feeling what these characters felt, living their nightmare. The mom's pain, in particular, and how she dealt with it was rendered beautifully. That's not to say that the father's pain was any less; no, it was tender and just as painful. But there was something about the way the mother handled it -- being numb, avoiding it, never looking directly at it, running away physically, long after she'd left emotionally, coming back 7 years later to finally, tenuously, begin to heal -- that felt so real, like how I might react. So unbearable and yet you must go on.

I thought the reunion with Ray was masterful.

This was a great read. Very poignant, very moving in all the best ways.

Have you read it?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


The days are perfect: temperatures in the upper 70's, no humidity, cloudless brilliant blue skies. The kind of day where anything seems possible.

The weeds need pulling, vegetables need planting, the grass needs water. But, instead, I sit outside on the patio with a good book... it's what I wait all year for, what I dream about during the white, snow-filled days of winter.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great reads:

The last few days have been miserably cold and rainy, perfect for folding the loads of laundry waiting for me. But, instead, I've been reading. Here are some stories I found, read, and thoroughly enjoyed:

From the April 2010 issue, #10, of Knee-Jerk: "The Meaning of The Hat" by Anne Leigh Parrish. Its subtlety is what makes it so sublime.

From the April 2010 issue, #5.04, of Pank: "Seven Items In Jason Reynolds' Pocket, Two Days After His Suicide, As Found By His Eight-Year-Old Brother, Grady" by Robert Startwood. This is complex, full of rich layers and beautifully rendered.

From Issue 10.1 of Night Train: "Fresh Eggs" by Jeffrey N. Johnson. This is charming and full of meaning.

Go ahead and set your own waiting laundry aside and enjoy these.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Somewhere Warm, Like Florida

I'm thrilled to share the news that my story Somewhere Warm, Like Florida is live at Night Train. I'm in great company!

Go on... take a look.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Great reads:

I've been all over the place reading, reading, reading, and am amazed and thrilled and inspired! by the terrific stories I've come across. These are worth your time:

From the Autumn 2009 issue of The Southern Review: "Ecumenical Bedding" by Gilbert Allen. This is wildly creative and funny in a wry sort of way.

From the Fall 2009 issue of The Pinch: "Walk Through Walls" by Steven Wingate. This is also wildly creative, with a far-out edge that I find so appealing. The subject matter is as the title suggests: walking through walls. Really. And it's done so matter-of-factly, so this-sort-of-thing-happens-all-the-time that it's believable.

From Issue 26 of Smokelong Quarterly: Pregnant With Peanut Butter by Michael Czyzniejewski. Direct and amazing. You fall right into the story without realizing it's happening.

From the Spring 2010 issue of JMWW: Prescott, Presley, Preston by Matt Bell. This is another one of those far-out kind of subjects that I so love and, man, it's a killer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Worm Moon

The Full Worm Moon got its name because this is the time that temperatures begin warming, the ground begins to thaw and earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.

Other names: Full Crow Moon, Full Crust Moon, Full Sap Moon.

I often wonder what it'd be like if we had TWO moons orbiting earth... I think it'd be amazing and awesome if we looked up into the night sky and saw two bright discs shining down. Just me?

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I haven't written anything - new or otherwise - for the past several weeks (grocery lists don't count). I'm trying to not to worry, trying to just go with it, hoping the break will be a good thing. In thinking about it, I've determined there are a number of things distracting me (of course it might be that I'm easily distracted):

* New kittens: yes, they are adorable. But! Daisy is a female and this is important for two reasons: 1) I've never before had a female pet (well, except for a cat named Nancy - after Nancy Drew, of course - but I was only 8 so that doesn't count) and 2) females go into heat. Without warning. Geez, what a baptism. And talk about timing: Diesel was neutered just TWO days before Daisy went into heat.

* Rejections: they're rolling in right and left and while, theoretically, this should inspire me to get back to it, it's somehow not. At nearly 7500 words, my story is *very* long, but I was sure, optimistic, hopeful that the good feeling I had about one journal in particular would pan out. Not so.

* Garden: I've been thinking about planting a garden for a couple of years, about really committing to growing some vegetables, to giving my tomato plants a respectable place to thrive (instead of having to share space with the flowers), and I think this is the year. But it takes lots of work. And planning.

* Composting: also been thinking about composting, about creating my own "black gold." But where to put it?

* Ireland: my husband and I, along with his family, are going to Ireland in July. Lots to talk about, to plan. One of my assigned jobs: book the flights.

* Photography: we bought a really cool digital camera, a Nikon D80, 18 months ago. The problem is that I don't know how to use all the fancy buttons/features. The manual, you ask? Have you ever read one? So I took a class 3 weeks ago and it was the best $90 I spent. So now when it snows, or when the sun shines/sets, when the light falls just so, I'm outside experimenting with depth of field, bracketing, playing with the aperture and shutter settings.

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are all valid distractions, right? Examples of life getting in the way? Last month, over at JMWW, Dave Erlewine interviewed Michael Czyzniejewski and one topic discussed was writer's block. Michael's take on it was that writer's block doesn't exist, that it's just another name for being lazy or not caring or being frustrated. So maybe I need to take a forceful, disciplined approach: park my butt in a chair, pencil in hand, cup of tea at the ready, and... write.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Two noteworthy things are happening simultaneously here in my neck of the woods: the weatherman has forecast sunny conditions for 4 - count 'em: one, two, three, four! - days in a row (today is day 3) AND the temperature is supposed to hit 60 degrees today.

First, the sun: For everyone living just about anywhere but here it seems, opening your drapes on any given morning and seeing the sun is a normal experience. Not so in sunless Wisconsin. A month or two ago, during the deep dark days of winter, I counted 3 days of sun in a 14-day period.

Second, the temperatures: Yesterday it was in the mid-50's; teenagers were wearing shorts and flip-flops. That might be pushing it, but 60 degrees in mid-March is a wonderful thing, especially given that the average around here is 44 degrees. With 4 days of sunshine and temps in the low 60's it's easy to think spring is here. But, really, this is Wisconsin. Who am I kidding?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Meet Daisy and Diesel

We have 2 new family members: Daisy and Diesel. They are brother and sister and are very, very cute. Daisy is the black one and is more reserved, cautious. Diesel runs full tilt. Truth be told, I wasn't quite ready for a new kitty (or 2!); it's only been 4 month's since Pudding's passing. But their story tugged at my heartstrings and I took a leap of faith. These are the only 2 surviving kittens from the litter: a fox or coyote got the others. The mama cat dragged them up to the porch of a nearby farmhouse in an attempt to keep them from harm. The farmhouse folks took them in, fed them, and kept them safe, and then found them a new home: ours.

Who knew naming pets was so hard? We've had several pets over the years and I don't remember it being so difficult for everyone to agree on a name. Maybe it's because we have to agree on TWO names. Here's a sampling of the names we've considered (some of which were briefly adopted) and discarded:

* Sookie and Bill - I just couldn't call a cat Bill even though everyone came up with funny nicknames like Pecos Bill, Wild Bill, Bodacious Bill.
* Dr. Quinn (Medicine Woman) and Walker Texas Ranger - Quinn actually stuck for a while but Walker didn't feel right.
* Oprah and Dr. Phil - this was just plain funny

For him:
* Toro (as in the lawnmower because he purrs so loud)
* Bruno
* Brutus
* Rocky
* Duke
* Felix (this one stuck for a couple of days)

For her:
* Lexie (I really liked this and campaigned hard for it)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Great reads:

Keeping up with online journals can be tricky.

With printed journals the latest issue appears in my mailbox, signaling Hey! Read Me! I eagerly rip the packaging off and am left holding evidence: a shiny cover with, more likely than not, a cool graphic of some sort; pages that are sometimes creamy colored, sometimes stark white. And the smell! Paper, ink. Glorious! I guess I'm a bit old fashioned in that regard.

I need to find a better system to keep up with online journals. What they lack in real, hold-in-your-hands evidence, they make up for in instant gratification. I can navigate to their site and wham! just like that I can read a story. Or two. Or five. No waiting for the mailman. No garbage to dispose of. No adding to stacks of journals that threaten to topple over with a gust of wind. Something to be said for that.

Here are some great stories to check out, online:

At Night Train: Tattoos Alive by Lydia Ship. I read this almost 2 weeks ago and it has stayed with me. Such creativity!

At Night Train: Watching Stanley Kowalski in the TV Room of Belle Haven by Jeanne Holtzman. Wonderful voice.

At Staccato Fiction: Almost Shaped by David Erlewine. This was published a few months ago but I just stumbled across it recently. Wonderful, tender story. So much is said in such a small space.

At Smokelong Quarterly: What Passes for Normal by Michelle Reale. There's a sad, haunting quality to this story that has stayed with me.

Go on... check them out!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Supernova, Red Giant

I watched a show on the National Geographic channel last night about the Hubble telescope and, man, the pictures it's sending back are awesome. And the things I learned! I know I've heard all this before but, for some reason, it didn't stick. Until now. What I learned:

* The Crab Nebula (who hasn't heard of this, right?) is the result of a supernova that occurred in 1054.
* The stuff flung out into space as the result of a supernova contains the building blocks of new stars, new planets, new galaxies.
* Supernovas occur when a star (like our own sun) runs out of fuel and explodes.
* Estimates are that our sun will run out of fuel in about 5 billion years. Seems we ought to have figured out how to hop a spaceship to another galaxy by then!
*Our sun won't explode, though, because it's too small (supernovas result from stars that are - at a minimum - 4 times larger than our sun). Instead, our sun will turn into a Red Giant: it will heat up and expand outward, causing temperatures on Earth to reach 1000 degrees. As it continues to expand, it will incinerate the planets, one by one, until it engulfs the entire solar system.

I know this stuff isn't for everyone (my husband walked out of the room after watching just 5 minutes!), but it flips my trigger as they say. The possibilities! The things we don't yet know! The things we can't yet see: dark matter (the stuff that holds galaxies and universes together), dark energy (the stuff that's causing the universe to expand). Maybe I should have been a scientist.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Two days ago I was in the family room watching TV. I happened to look out the window and saw a daffodil shoot poking through the soil. I was thrilled for surely that meant spring was coming. Do you hear that loud, obnoxious laughing? Do not be alarmed... it's only Mother Nature. It snowed yesterday for nearly 24 hours straight, dumping 12 or 14 inches of snow (I lost count but, really, does another couple of inches matter at this point?) on us. We had to shovel the driveway 3 separate times. THREE!! My poor little daffodil.

Last year's hydrangea bloom still hanging on...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Here are a couple of random musings from the day:

- I was running on the treadmill (okay, running might be an overstatement...jogging? yes, jogging), something that cannot be done without music. Picture original Aerosmith, 90's alternative, vintage REO Speedwagon, Kings of Leon, and this: Jason Mraz's "If It Kills Me." Man, there is something so pure and honest about this song - his voice, the melody; it floors me every time I hear it. And what a marvelous thing music is, isn't it? It's like magic: the way it transports you, immediately and with preamble, to an event, to a person, no matter how many years have passed; the way it instantly makes everything you've ever wanted or needed feel like it's attainable; the way it deposits you in a great place emotionally, makes you feel that all is right with the world.

- Authentic living: I like how this sounds, like the deeper meaning and implications. But. Does living one's life authentically mean sharing all the awful/traumatic/embarrassing/emotional/overwhelming doings of your life with everyone in a preemptive strike sort of way? Does it mean sharing these things only when asked? Perhaps it's a combination of the two - finding a way to be real and open, a way to speak one's truth with grace.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Great read:

I am reading the latest issue of The Los Angeles Review (volume 6, Fall 2009) and, wow, am I having a good time. It's the first time I've ever read the journal, but it won't be the last. It's filled with terrific stories, stories by Alicia Gifford (one of my favorite writers), Ethel Rohan (another favorite of mine), Michael Czyzniejewski (a writer I've only recently discovered and am completely enamored with his work), Steve Almond (a writer who, of course, I've heard of but never had the pleasure of reading before now), and a ton of others I can't wait to read.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Character names

I was reading through some old stories, stories that I wrote 2 and 3 years ago, and a funny (or maybe interesting is a better word) realization hit me: the same character names appear again and again. The characters, themselves, are different, but the name Pete or Peter shows up a lot, as does Lily (Lilly) and Claire. I have no idea why. Maybe these were MY names in a different life. Ha.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Over the past two weeks I've reconnected with not one, not two, but THREE old friends. For one, it's been over 25 years since I last spoke with her. The planets must all be aligned because, although I'm a Leo, I tend to be on the shy side, reserved. Reaching out is normally not my thing, but I have to say that it feels really, really good.

Who do you need to reach out to?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Great reads:

I am going through my backlog of literary journals and this past weekend I came across 2 great stories in Cream City Review. They're from the Spring 2009 issue (I know... they're a little "old" but I gave fair warning with the word "backlog" - heh) but don't let that stop you. These are well worth the read:

"Hunger" by Clifford Garstang: This central character-only story includes a few key interactions and is wonderfully full and has terrific depth.

"This Way I Don't Have To Be" by Shelly Oria: The format is one I've not seen before - mini sections within 3 larger sections. But the story is intriguing and told with an openness that's compelling so that by the time you get to the 4th or 5th mini section, you skip right over the section breaks as though they're not even there.