Published!

Cover of Dearly Beloved - Eulogies for the Ones We Lost by Zoetic Press
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A while back I told you that a piece that I had written about Carrie Fisher had been chosen for inclusion in the “Dearly Beloved” anthology from Zoetic Press. The publication is out and available for free pdf download! It came out a few weeks ago, but those of you who have been following my other blog know that things have been a little bit crazy for me. Regardless, it’s a great project that I am very proud to be part of!

I don’t think anyone can look back at 2016 and not think of at least one person that left us who had an impact on their life. Actors, writers, musicians, scientists – some of the biggest names in modern history passed on leaving us to mourn and try to come to grips over the deep sense of loss felt for someone we may have never met. I know it’s something I’ve thought of a lot. And every time I see a video I never saw before, or am reminded of Carrie Fisher’s talent I am still taken aback by both her loss and the feeling that comes with knowing you will never get to meet someone who helped to shape the way you see the world.

This publication is filled with people saluting the heroes they lost. They were funny, they were flawed, they were intelligent, they were human and they were larger than life. Join these authors as they explore the loss of someone how touched their life.

Please, visit Zoetic Press and download the anthology. I don’t get any royalties or anything, but I would love to hear what everyone thinks.

Published!

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In December I decided that I was going to put myself out there a little more and start sending entries to writing contests. So far, I’ve entered one. I found out last week that I’ve been chosen for publication in that contest!

zee-blk“Writer, Warrior, Royalty: Carrie Fisher” will appear in the Zoetic Press Dearly Beloved Anthology later this year. The anthology focuses on the large number of entertainers, icons and larger than life personalities that passed on in 2016, and how they impacted the lives of people they never met.

The piece being published is in the same vain but significantly different to the piece I wrote about Carrie Fisher a couple of months ago. Fisher remains a hero of mine, and I still find myself thinking about her passing with sadness. It’s strange when someone you’ve never met has such a lasting impact. That’s part of what I tried to get across in the piece I wrote for Dearly Beloved.

I have to say, I’m really excited about this opportunity. I know it’s a small step, but it is a step forward, and I haven’t had too many of those lately. I’m not stopping here, I have a second novel in the works (the first having been completed, ripped apart and eventually put on the shelf for a bit because I’m having trouble on getting from point C to point A- it’s a fantasy chick-lit piece so that is actually an accurate description of the issue). I’d love to get that completed in the next couple of months, but timing is up in the air with everything else going on. There are several short story and essay contests I have my eye on as well. Those may be a little more doable with the time I have available, so I’m starting to put some ideas together for those.

I’ll share publication dates and additional information as it becomes available. Until then, there are more stories waiting to be told. On to the next…

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Tell Me a Story Tuesday: Waiting Room Edition

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woman-865111_960_720I haven’t done a Tell Me a Story Tuesday for a while, so I thought it was time. For those of you who don’t know how this works, I tell you a little story and then ask you to tell one too. There are, of course, a few rules, but for the most part, you’re free to do your thing.

No one likes to sit in waiting rooms, well maybe more correctly, no one likes to wait. You do meet some interesting people and see some interesting things when you’re waiting. I think the level of interesting depends on where you’re waiting. For example, the ER waiting room can show you the best and worse of humanity. A doctor’s office or the waiting room at a mechanics bring a different atmosphere and clientele.

At the moment I’m at the car dealership getting a free oil change, sitting in a waiting room. This one is pretty tame. Well except when I looked up a minute ago and saw a car backing up into the waiting room. I get that it’s basically a big space, but you don’t usually glance up and see the taillights of a vehicle while you’re sitting inside. Everyone in the room got quiet and turned and watched it. Then went back to what they were doing.

Okay, that’s not the most exciting story. But as I’m writing this I drew a blank on the other story I had in mind. But my point is, everyone has a story. A kid who were pitching a fit. Someone on the phone who was having a very personal conversation that you really wish you didn’t hear. A couple having a fight or…the opposite…

So it’s your turn. What happened in a waiting room that you’ll never forget? Comment below with your story, or post a link to your own page with a story on it. It can be funny, it can be sad, it doesn’t even have to be real! Come on, tell me a story!

Telling No Tales

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woman-41201_960_720I’ve hit on this before, but sometimes it’s almost impossible to sit down and tell a story. Sometimes the stories are just too difficult to tell. Sometimes life just gets in the way. And you know what? That’s okay.

I mean it’s not okay if you can’t tell stories sometimes because it probably means that you’re so stressed out your brain, body, and soul don’t have the energy to do it. Trust me, that kind of stress is not okay.

Pressing on and trying to force yourself to put thoughts into words can be…painful. Again, trust me, I know. When that happens, when you find yourself in that situation, by all means, step back and take a break. Walk away. It’s okay to give yourself a vacation to clear your head or to take care of whatever it is that’s blocking your way.

Just don’t forget to go back and try again. That’s the part of the crazy trip I’m on at the moment. My brain and my body keep telling me at the end of the day when I would normally write that I just don’t have the energy left to try. I feel worn out and washed up and can’t imagine trying to capture the stories in my head.

writing-933262_1920But then we lost power during a storm about a week ago. With no phone, no computer to distract me, I say on my bed with a tiny lantern and tried to think of something to occupy my time until I settled enough to sleep like everyone in the house had already managed to do. So I grabbed an old notebook I use to capture bits and pieces of stories, dug out a pen, and took a deep breath.

I pictured a scene in the novel I’m working on and started to write. It started with carefully crafting the letters and words that came from the end of the pen as my brain tried to find what belonged on the page. Within a few minutes, the writing went from neatly printed to cursive as I started to write faster. A few minutes more and the writing became messy, misspelled and incomplete as I tried to force my hand faster and faster to capture it all as it poured from my brain.

It was an awesome feeling to finally have the words coming out again. Until sitting at an odd angle with the lantern got to be too much for my back. Then it was a little painful. Overall, I felt like a weight was lifted off of me.

The good news is, I know the words are still inside me. I know that I can access them. I just needed to look at it from another angle. I’ll be trying to write again soon, but with a lot more light.

 

A Kick in the Kidneys

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As I’ve mentioned here a time or two, last year my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 Renal Failure just after I lost my job. 2016 was not our finest year. 2017 isn’t shaping up all that well either.

As a person who is fairly Internet inclined tends to do, I went in search of blogs where I could hear from other people going through the same things we are. I found some great ones, but most of those were by the dialysis patient and focused on their perspective, and rightly so. But I didn’t really find what I was looking for.

So I did what someone Internet inclined tends to do, I started a blog. A Kick in the Kidneys hasn’t been up very long, but I’ve gotten pretty positive reactions so far. I’d appreciate it if you’d take a look and pass it along to someone with kidney issues, or someone who is a caregiver.

I decided on creating a new site rather than doing it here for a big reason, my sanity. There is so much happening in that part of my life that storytelling has become an even bigger escape for me. And maybe it’s selfish but I want to keep those two parts of my life separate. You will occasionally see some crossover, after all I am one person, but for the most part this will remain the little eclectic story haven it has been.

We really are just stories in the end, and I’ve got a new one to tell. I hope to see you there.

Punxsutawney Phil, Top Hats & the Weather

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UPDATE: Phil was named the Honorary Coin Tosser for the 2017 Puppy Bowl! Phil and his friends looked pretty chill and happy to be there. Great job Phil!

For those who are curious about the coin toss, it was tails.

Groundhog being held aloft by man in top hat

Phil and Friend

Punxsutawney Phil is a local legend where I come from. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is in the local television market, so we get live updates from Gobbler’s Nob. They even break into national programming to bring Phil, his friends, and the prediction as it happens. I’ve known a lot of people who spend February 2nd in the freezing cold waiting for the rodent to get drug out of his little temporary home. There may be large amounts of alcohol involved as well. I’ve never been there so I won’t incriminate those who’d like to remain innocent, or can’t remember for sure that they were there.

Guys in top hats with Punxsy Phil

Phil and his Inner Circle

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Punxsutawney Phil is the name used by a long line of groundhogs who live a pampered life in the Punxsutawney Library. In exchange for the luxurious room and board “Phil” puts up with people tapping on the window to his enclosure, conjugal visits from his “wife” Phyllis, makes public appearances throughout the year with a group of guys in top hats, and in the early morning hours of February 2nd every year he gets pulled out of a lovely heated manmade tree stump, held up in front of a screaming mass of people and bright lights in order for a guy in a top hat with an old stick to “talk” groundhog-ease with him and tell the world whether the furry little guy has seen his shadow.

groundhog20day20livestreamI don’t have anything against Phil. I mean he was great in Bill Murray’s movie. He’s a local hero for Pete’s sake! I just feel bad for the poor guy. Obviously, he is not a morning person…er…groundhog. I mean the Inner Circle has to wear heavy gloves on February 2nd because Phil has taken a chunk out of the hand or more than one of them. They usually have a hard time getting him out of the nice warm, dark burrow that they put him in on the stage. He usually glares at the camera when they pull him out. Put it all together and I would say Phil is not all that happy when sunrise rolls around.

29906170001_5307778419001_5307762324001-vsThis year Dear Old Phil saw his shadow, which means we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow spring is supposed to be right around the corner. People have questioned his accuracy over the years. He’s a groundhog. It’s not like the guy’s in the library window studying weather maps. What do you expect?

Here’s my take on Punxsutawney Phil – if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will be in six weeks. Which is probably a more accurate description of what happens.

2016-02-02t14-02-14-133z-1280x720-today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopOf course, where I lived growing up we had Phil’s cousin – Tire Hill Ted. He usually contradicted Phil out of spite. I’m not going to guess at the family dynamics, I just hope that in today’s political climate the two can put aside their differences and find agreement on travel restrictions for groundhogs.

Whether we get six more weeks of winter or spring arrives in six weeks, we all know one thing for sure – Punxsutawney Phil is best weather rodent in the world.

 

Forensic Flashback

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Words on the wall know the score.

I had the opportunity recently to judge a high school forensics meet. No, there are no bodies, no ballistics to study or fibers to test. As a matter of fact, it’s about as far as you can get from a police procedural drama as you can get. In this case, forensics is a speech competition where students participate in different categories like interpretation, extemporaneous, and my favorite category, informative.

 

That’s right, I competed in high school and in college. I loved it, in a masochistic kind of way. You stand up in front of six or eight students and a judge who listened to your speech/performance and rank you against the other people in the round. Considering most people are not fans of public speaking, doing it for fun and competition makes you a special kind of strange. Or at least a special kind of attention seeker.

It was really exciting for me to be back at a meet as a judge (I judged a bit while I was in college too), and I was surprised at just how familiar it all was. It’s been….let’s leave it at a while, shall we…since I was competing, or judging for that matter. But the nervous energy when you walk into the room is the same (whether you’re a competitor or judge). The pieces were different – we would have had points taken off for four-letter words when I competed, but the feeling was the same.20170129_174823

I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Okay, I encouraged my daughter to join her HS team this year, and I helped her work on her piece, but I didn’t realize how much I missed being part of the competitions. Was it nostalgia? Probably. But it was also the love of performing, competing, watching your fellow competitors get better and better (and maybe hoping  just a little that they would get a case of brain freeze), and the feeling of being in a cafeteria or auditorium in a school somewhere filled with people just as excited and nervous as you.

The good news is that I’ve been asked back to judge another competition – I’m not saying when or where to try to keep things fair. But I’m really looking forward to it.