Thursday, October 20, 2016

The World Runs on Stories

The world runs on stories. Watch television. It could be the five o’ clock news, a sitcom, or a movie—they’re all stories. Listen to the radio. The lyrics to the songs, a Dj’s repartee, and the advertisements you’ll hear are all stories. Every single second you spend on social media, you’re bombarded with them—stories on which celebrity did what, on which team beat which team, or what juncture each of your friends are at in their life. Blogs, advice columns, rant rooms—there’s no escaping them. Even after you click off that electronic device, stories are everywhere—in jokes told, in gossip spread, in simple conversation, or even within our own minds. We are a world of many cultures united in the enjoyment a good story can bring.

And who brings all these stories to life? A writer, of course. Without writing, where would we be? Word of mouth is only trustworthy for so long before it stretches and bends into something else. History is only solid when it is written down. That story bouncing around in your head won’t stay there forever. It needs to be written.

While we, as people, crave stories as a world in whole, as individuals, we each seek out stories as diverse as we are. From fiction to nonfiction, romance to politics, fantasy to historical, there are all kinds of readers out there. So also, does there need to be writers ready to provide it them.
Still, most writers have doubted the sanity of writing at one point or another. Some question the worth and value of their works. Others routinely feel guilty about the time they spend scratching on paper or tapping keys. Then there are those who view the time they put into writing as self-indulgent. And, most writers worry that there are other, more important things they should be doing with their time.

Such drivel!



Writing matters because the world needs stories.

So, writers, do not doubt the worth of your work. When you find yourself questioning the sanity of spending hours on end putting down words, remember that the world runs on stories: big and small. Whether it’s happy, sad, fantastically bizarre, written to upset the status quo, funny, or comforting, your story will be written in the unique way that only you can write it.

(Photos from Bing images license: free to share and use)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Third Sunday, Story Teller: Part One

I've decided to start an ongoing story blog the 3rd Sunday of every month. New chapters will be forth coming every 3rd Sunday. I'll try not to put to many cliffhangers. Let me know what you think?

A small, dark room with only a small table in the center. On top of the table sat a framed photo of five people, two young graduating woman with their boyfriends and an older woman in the center of them. They all looked happy.
The only light came from an almost extinguished candle next to the picture.
A beautiful brunette sat cross legged on the floor facing the photo. You can see bruises and small cuts on her body as she lets the air dry her naked body. Her eyes closed, she thinks about the life she once had. 
It's been a year since my fiance was taken from me. A year since I lost my Aunt Mags. Their absence from my life is the price I continue to pay for my vengeance. She took my life from me, and now I'm going to take hers. No matter what it takes. Even it means becoming one of them.

Chapter One A Year Ago

I enter my dorm room and breathe a sigh of relief. Finally made it. I didn't think I would ever make it through the throngs of college students and their parents. I see someone has already made herself at home when I notice suitcases sitting on the floor next to one of the beds. 

I guess there will be no haggling over who gets which bed. It doesn't really matter, I'm just glad to be here. I walk over to the other side of the room and put down my bag and my box of memories from home. 

I hear noise coming from the bathroom and I start to investigate when a pretty red head walks out, and sees me. "Oh, you must be my new roomie. Olivia." She walks up to me and gives me a hug. Oh great, a hugger. I think to myself. She notices my one suitcase and barely full box beside me. "Is this all you have?" she asks.

"I'm afraid so. You must be Heather," I say.

"I guess it isn't going to take you long to get settled in, me on the other hand...," she says as she turns to her bed and all her belongings.

We both look up as a guy who happens to be very easy on the eyes, walks by their open dorm room and waves.

"Or, we could just put it off till later. We can get acquanted with the neighbors." Heather says, with a wink.

I walk over to the door and wave her through and say, "After you."

She walks up to me and puts her arm over my shoulder and says, "You and I are definetely going to become great friends."


Later that night, after our "meet the neighbors" and Heather has secured herself a date for Friday night, I finish unpacking my bag and tackle the box. Well, not really tackle, I didn't bring many momentos of home. The truth be told; I don't have many. 

I look over at my new roomie as she lies on her bed listening to music. She lied. It didn't take her long to unpack her things. Once she set her mind to the goal, she doesn't stop till it's achieved. Who knew she was such a fan of stuffed animals? 

I turn back to my task and pull out a framed photo of my Aunt Mags. I really should call her. I put the photo down and pull out my cell phone. "Hey Mags. Whatcha up to," I asks.

"Olivia, my dear. I'm making dinner. How did your first day go? How is your new roommate?" she asks.

"It went well, met some new people and my roommate, Heather is great. She seems really nice and I think we will become great friends. What are you cooking?" I ask, as I lie down on my bed.

"I'm glad to hear, things are going great with you and your new roommate. I'm making dinner for a friend," Aunt Mags says.

"Friend? Is it the man from your book club? " I say. I hear the doorbell in the background.

"I have to go,that's the doorbell. Who say's it is a man. Call me tomorrow, and I will tell you all about it. Love you Liv."

"I'm gone for a few days, now look at you. I'm going to hold you to that. Talk to you tomorrow. Love you, Mags.

We disconnect and I get up to walk to the bathroom. Heather pulls out her earbuds, puts them under her pillow, and asks, "Is everything okay?"

I stick my head out, "Yes, that was my Aunt."

"Oh yeah, your Aunt Mags. I remember you mentioning her at lunch today," she says as she swings her legs and sits on the edge of the her bed.

"I call to check up on her and she has a date," I say as I shake my head, and walk over to Heather's bed and sit down.

"Well, from what you told me, I believe it. I can't wait to meet her. I'm sure she will be fine. I mean she raised you," she says as she runs into the bathroom.

"Hey, I wasn't through in there," I laughingly say.

"You snooze, you lose. I won't be long. Just a quick shower," she says as she closes the door. 

I roll my eyes and look at the time. It's late and I decide just to go to bed. We both have an early morning breakfast meet and greet. I look at the bathroom door, quickly take off my jeans, and get into my bed. I'll just to take a shower tomorrow morning. 

I reach over and turn off the lamp next to my bed and try to fall asleep as I hear Heather singing. Wait, what? Is that the Spice Girls? Who knew, stuffed animals, 90's music lover, but definitely can't hold a tune.

I smile as I close my eyes and find myself singing..."tell you what I want, what I really, really, want..." 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016



thick juicy green
fades to whispering wildfire
and falls

the sun shifts
spilling cold diamonds 
across slow water

a scrawny yellow bird
watches the yard
from atop the feeder

I love autumn. While many people see it as an ending, I see it as the first step toward a new beginning. The plants and animals prepare themselves for a season of dormancy. They shed the unnecessary and go deep, protecting themselves from the inevitable challenges of winter and reading themselves to welcome a new season of birth and growth. I find inspiration and courage in autumn. I, too, can gather what I need, let go of what I don't, and look forward with determination.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Those Pesky Words: Is It This Word or That One?

Lan Lee at MCC
I was writing a sentence and it happened again. Ugh, one of those words. You know what I'm talking about. Those words that mean sort of the same thing but don't. 

Let's take lesser or fewer. These two words may be the most common duo of words incorrectly used, and not just by writers everywhere but grocery stores and big chain retail stores as well. How many of us have been shopping and didn't realize a certain sign was wrong? Which one of these signs is correct?

Many of you, especially this writer, would have chosen the sign containing the word less, because it's what we've seen for so many years growing up, and even still today. But the correct sign would be the sign containing the word fewer. How many times have you heard someone say that? Recalling memories of conversation with people, I have never heard anyone say 10 items or fewer, it has always been 10 items or less. So, here's the rule: use fewer for the things you can count and lesser, for things you can't. 
For instance:      
fewer cars        less exhaust
fewer people      less drama
Moving on, let us look at the words farther or further. I myself have questioned which is the proper word usage in a particular sentence. They are the reason for this blog. These two words are similar in rule. Use farther for physical distance. For figurative and nonphysical distance use further.
Here are some examples:
The farther I drive the  further my pain is left behind.
The further I practice, the farther my kick will go.
Bottom line, The word farther is used for physical distance and all other distances, use further.
Another set of words, that cause me to think twice is who or whom. They are both pronouns but identify with different parts of a sentence. For those of you who can remember the correct usage, kudos. For those of us who cannot, here is the rule and some examples:
Who/whom wrote this blog?
She/he wrote this blog, who is correct.
Who/whom should I take to the dance?
Should I take him/her to the dance, whom is correct.
The rule: the word who refers to the subject of the sentence and the whom refers to the object of the sentence. 
Here is a quick reference to remember:
who = subject    whom = object
who = he/she     whom = him/her
If you can replace the word who with he or she, use who, if you can replace the word whom with him or her use whom.
The most difficult for me, personally are the words affect and effect. The rule for the most part is: affect as a verb, is used to influence and effect as a noun, is used to impact or to change, but as you well know there are exceptions to the rule. Here are some examples:
My anger affected my feelings toward you. The effect was you broke your arm when I pushed you down the stairs. (Remember, this is just an example. I would never push anyone down stairs.;])
The possibility of you having poor grammer can affect your reader. Hopefully this blog will have a positive effect on your grammer.

Whew, I know, right? So many grammer rules, I can't remember them all, and it's okay if you don't. There are plenty of reference material out there, and I hope you find this as a helpful reference. What are the words that usually get you "tripped" up?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Color Me Green: Illness, Love, Jealousy, and Permission

I'm feeling a little green around the gills. 

Strep throat is visiting me again. When I went to the doctor the yesterday he examined my throat and said it was not too red, but he would do a swab test just in case because I am high risk--I'm around elementary kids and one of my darlings coughed right in my face the other day.
Image result for lemon poster breast cancer

You know how you read all the signs, posters, and degrees on the wall in the little check up room while you wait?  All the posters were the same size, more like info-graphics than straight out 'read-me' text. They were laminated. The degrees told me this doctor finished up school in the last few years. While I waited he printed out and an organized OTC medicine guide he'd made himself. He even including herbal remedies. Somehow, it all reminded me of my classroom. He really made me chuckle when he came back in and told me my 'spidey-sense' was right--maybe because I had on a Daily Planet t-shirt and he thought it was the Daily Bugle?--and that I did indeed have strep throat.

Our love is evergreen.

My boys--son and hubby--each gave me a gift yesterday. Son came home from school to have lunch with me. We've been in a rough patch lately; he's sixteen, 'nough said. He made a cup of coffee for me, brought it to me at the kitchen table, and scooted his chair around to sit by me. I was Tweeting my pitches for #PitMad. We trolled the feed and laughed at some, wondered why some were getting likes, and he pointed out a very select few he thought were interesting. At one point I realized this was the least tense I'd felt with him in a while--it was kinda bitter sweet.

Image result for pho

Hubby knows I love Pho and that the best in town is made by the mother of our Club member, Lan. Unable to get his hands on that, he stopped at the next best place and brought home hot soup for my poor throat.  He even asked for extra Hoisin sauce. He's my hero.

I'm controlling my green-eyed monster.

Image result for green eyed monster
I know the literary world is competitive--at that is part of the rush of voluntarily putting myself on the chopping block by entering competitions like #PitMad or #PitchSlam. Unlike other writing competitions in which we send our pages off to some journal or organization, and then waiting to hear back in a month or two, these competitions tease the bejezzers out of us because of the Twitter feeds.

I admit I was glad for the commiseration of my son yesterday when we searched the feeds for entries similar to mine, and found one or two which got 'likes' from agents requesting pages--while mine did not.

Honestly, I don't think the pitches were any stronger than mine, nor did my green-eyed monster. So what made the difference for the agents? Did they see the other posts first? Had they met the author(s) at conferences? Is the universe sending me a message?

How the heck do I know!

I just have to remember the words of wisdom I have heard so often lately, 'it's all subjective'.

I am giving myself the green light.

Image result for green lightMy plan is to keep moving forward. The long and short of it is to use what I've learned to polish my pages--again--and then start the querying process. 

In the meantime, I have a historical romance in the planning stages and a sci-fi MS I can pick up again. A few short story competitions are on the horizon and I have a great local writing group to keep working and celebrating with! My network is spreading on-line, I have new CPs, and I am inspired by the perseverance and encouragement I find from these connections.

There is work to do.

Who Wrote It #2: Reveal

To read our original stories click here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Grandma Lorraine and her amazing smile.
(I'm the blondie in the pink shorts!)
My grandma Lorraine was one of my favorite people. I never doubted for a second that I was one of her favorite people. She came to stay with my parents for an extended stay (a week? more?) and would often tell me about the important bonding we did during that time. That bond remained strong until she died. I wrote about the depth of our connection on that day, promising that she would always be in my thoughts.

Then I stopped thinking about her.

I didn't know I hadn't been thinking about her until last week when I was talking with a dear friend about my family tree and the bonds therein. It was only then that I realized how little I had thought about Grandma in the last decade. It's not like I forgot she existed or I stopped loving her... I just...didn't think about her.

As my friend and I talked, it became obvious that my lack of thought was out of self-defense. Thinking and talking about her brought up an ocean of self-recrimination.

I wasn't there for her when she needed me.
I didn't go to her when she had her stroke.
I was in a movie theater in California instead of by her bed in Minnesota when she died.

Although my mind could rationalize all the truths behind these perceived failures--I had a job and a life in California that didn't allow for hopping on a plane whenever I wished; we had a very tight budget that year (and many years before and after); I didn't know she was going to die that day or during that two hour block of time--my heart never forgave itself. I spent the last ten years blaming myself for failing her.

As these things came to light, my friend and her beautifully empathetic horse helped me sort through them, helped me recognize the pain for what it was and forgive myself. She asked me to remember the bond my grandmother and I shared and feel her presence around me even now.
My beautiful aunt, when she was much younger.

The next day, my mother and her sister came to visit. My aunt has Down's Syndrome and paranoid schizophrenia. Despite being born in an era when children with developmental disabilities were regularly shuffled off to care facilities and forgotten about, she was never treated any differently by my grandparents. She went to school, held a job, had a boyfriend and even lived in her own apartment for a while. After my grandfather died, she moved back in with my grandmother. She spent more time with my Grandma than any other person on Earth, I think.

During her visit to my house, she kept turning to me and saying, "You look different." This didn't surprise me much as A) my hair is currently purple and B) my aunt often lives in a world of her own making comments that may or may not be relevant to what the rest of us are experiencing. We spent several lovely hours together. As we walked out to the car together to say goodbye, my aunt became weepy. She clutched my hand and cried. When we asked what was wrong, she simply repeated, "I'm losing you!" I assured her that I was not going anywhere and that I would be coming to visit her soon.

A few days later, I saw my mom again. She told me that my aunt had remained sorrowful for most of the two hour trip home. Usually, her emotions are fleeting and her thoughts are distracted by pleasurable things (like the cheeseburger she got to have on the way home), so this was strange. As we talked about it, we realized that I am not only the person in the family who looks most like my grandmother, but I am also currently the same age as my grandmother was when my aunt was a young girl. It's very possible that when my aunt told me I looked different and that she was sad to be losing me, she was actually talking to my grandmother.

I can't think of a better reminder that she is always with me.
Grandma and me.