Thursday, April 30, 2009


So, most likely the cat will not have to go, afterall. But the box turtle needs a home.

My son just called to say he is graduating with honors in a couple weeks. I am so proud of him! His sassy little 18 month old daughter has a lot to say but not enough expressive vocabulary yet. Well, she can express herself; she's very vocal. She's got the "look"! She's got the body language. Pity her parents when the words start piling up into sentences, which reminds me of a joke: I had a few words with my wife; she had a few paragraphs with me.

It's true, females talk more than men. I can think of many reasons why. My hubby pulled a muscle in his back tossing bags of top soil. I called from work to see how he was feeling, and he said, "A little better; so I'll probably mow the lawn." Boy did I have a few paragraphs with him! Tonight he'll be begging for pain relief and a back massage.

Well, it's 5:00 and I'm headed back to school for a meeting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Desperately seeking a good home for my son's 2 yr. old cat. White with gray patches. He's neutered, nofront claws, gentle, very sweet and docile, good around kids. Please someone...

Poetry? Me? Really? Yes!

A couple of years ago, I heard Richard Newman of River Styx read his poetry at a Writer's Guild meeting,and I thought, If that is poetry, then I can do it! And I did. I compressed lengthy prose and wrote some award-winning poetry. I'd always had a knack for writing rhyming, humorous poems, but the word poetry made me think of all those mind-boggling lines with layered meaning that gave me a brain ache. Although I enjoy St. Louis Writer's Guild Open Mike Nights,I never thought I'd attend a poetry reading. I attended one last night at Puddin' Head Books in Webster Groves headed up by Amanda Wells, Publisher of Literal Chaos, a local literary magazine. I even read my work after the featured readers. Bill and I had a great time and especially enjoyed Evan Copacetic Soul, an outstanding slam poet. I shall never nibble a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie again without thinking of his hysterically funny routine. His other pieces were heart wrenching, and gut busting. A most enjoyable night.

Stepping out of a comfort zone is not easy; trying new literary things is challenging, but in order to grow, a writer must reach in all directions. Stretch yourself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting sidetracked~

I was determined to catch up the nine journals that I keep for our grandchildren. Just planned to jot a few sentences about their Easter visit at our house. I keep getting sidetracked. Now I have fifteen minutes before I have to get ready for work. Should I exercise or write? Think I'll lift a few weights instead of a pen and promise to catch up tonight. That's what I say anyway.

Going to Puddinhead Bookstore this evening for poetry reading and open mike. Hope to see you!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My day begins~

I just went outside to get the newspaper. Sometimes I feel embarrassed creeping out in my long robe, but then I think, Why? Most women expose more of themselves in street clothes than I do in night clothes.

The morning is still, the air thick and warm; I feel relaxed and ready for a new day. Early morning and late evening, just before dark have always been my favorite times of the day. My respirations are even, my thoughts unrippled, unlike during the day when I'm juggling a million things. The best gift I received this morning was a big round pink-tinged, sun-filled cloud in an otherwise gloomy, dark cloudy sky. And we have the cutest little chipmunk in residence.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My life at the moment~

The wind is whipping around like the stories in my head. You'd swear this was Chicago instead of St. Louis. I'm not complaining; I love having my hair windblown.

I'm going to sit on the patio and finish my book and pretend this is sea breeze.

Thin Threads has accepted my stories after multiple edits, and I feel a huge sense of relief about that. I think I'm on the right track now. Never stop beieving that you can do it. Persistence pays off.

We went to a friend's 60th birthday party. I had such a good time visiting with Phil and Pat, friends from high school. He's a vocalist, guitarist and the band was great. Best of all, Bill and I danced the night away. It's been a long time since we've gone dancing; we should dance more often. It was invigorating. We still have what it takes to jitterbug, Texas two step, waltz and belly rub.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Honing in on the real picture~

I hammered out a poem about the moon and sent it to The editors, Robert Miltner and Lisa Vargas are seeking 30 lines or less, about the moon. There is no entry fee; don't know if this pays. I had the perfect story which I condensed into a poem. Talk about tight writing! Try to compress one of your essays into a one page poem. That is so hard to do for flowery, descriptive writers like myself who want to help the reader see the details of the entire picture. Think of this exercise as a snapshot rather than a huge portrait. Crop the minor stuff and watch your poem come into focus.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finding your balance~

Some days it is difficult to find a balance between the things I must do and the things I want to do. Writing on deadline and revising to suit editorial needs are neccesary, time consuming evils. I've spent the past couple of days so focused on that, I see that I have neglected my blog and my family. I've sat at this keyboard too long. I need to go drink morning coffee with my husband and enjoy the warm spring breeze blowing through the screen door.

The topic of the story I'm working on is "becoming independent." In my life I have struggled with finding a balance between doing it my way and pleasing others. I think that I am an independent thinker, yet I sometimes fall into the trap of self-doubt. The conclusion of my assigned story is that in our quest for independence, we all seek freedom from the influence and control of others. In reality, we are never totally independent because we are all interconnected. We have to find our balance.

Now, I am going to go conect with my hubby, locate my inner balance and start my day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Good things just keep happening. Channel 5 requested a live interview with me on Mother's Day during the 9:00 a.m. news. I will discuss the story about my mom that was published in The Ultimate Mom.

Tonight was Open Mike at the Mac, very fun, good food, good people, and Matt Freeman and Tom Cunningham played music during the break. It was very enjoyable.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blast from the Past

I wrote a memoir for my high school web site. Boy was that a blast from the past. The webmaster said she liked it so much, she hoped to post it on line as well as in the newsletter.

We girls used to buy those cheap Hill Brother's shoes. Their slogan was plastered across the front window: Man Alive, Two for Five! We sure got what we paid for; they didn't last a month, but those flats came in every color back then...okay,if you must know,the mid '60s. In those days we cashed in glass soda bottles for 2 cents and nickel deposits - spending money for Savor-ite Restaurant, the Gravois Show or Schmeimeyer's Drugstore on Jefferson & Gravois. Many of us alumni are sliding down the slippery slope of 60 this year. Unbelievable!


Last night we watched a movie, The Temptations on VH1. Let me tell you, I was rocking and rolling to those 60's golden oldies. When they sang, The Way You do The Things You Do, I got up off the couch and sang it to Bill. "You're so bright, you should have been a candle...if good looks were a minute, then you would be an hour.."
Twenty Valentine's Days ago, he knew that I was disappointed because he had to work nights and all of our friends were going to a dance. We were in National Supermarket that Valentine's day when this song came on through the overhead speakers. He grabbed my hand and danced the Imperial with me, spun me around, embarrased me, made me laugh; right there in the cookie aisle we jitterbugged. A lady pushed her cart around the corner, saw us, then backed away. It has always been my favorite dance in the spotlight, albeit flourescent store light. Years ago, I wrote about this incident. My story won second place in a contest and was published in Suburban Journals.

You have your own stories simmering; reach into that stew pot of memories and write about something unexpected that happened to you. You don't have to write for publication; write for posterity. Your grandchildren will appreciate reading your 'stories' someday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Black and Blue Saturday~

St. Louis is hours away from warm and sunny weather, which means I will be in my glory. Yesterday was the St. Louis Writer's Guild Poetry Throwdown. Catherine Rankovic judged the contest. She wore a suit and heels -way overdressed for our blue collar, blue-jeaned crowd of poets and writers, sometimes blue comic and our black belt martial artist. Compared to Ms. R. we looked like we were ready for a hoedown. Wish someone would have told us she was judging US on appearance and not just our writing. But it was fun. Lots of good poetry and wonderful friends. A way to support the guild on a rainy afternoon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The phone rang today, and WOW what a surprise!

Bill called me at school. I thought sure he was inviting me to lunch, but it was even better! He said there was a message on the answering machine that he thought I'd be interested in when I got in from work. I startled him when I darted home at 11:30 on my lunch break. It was well worth the frantic double zip to and from school. The president/editor-in-chief of a publication left a comment about my recent submission. "I love your work; you write beautifully. I would like to speak with you about being a commissioned writer for my publication." I spoke with her this afternoon, and she asked me to consider being an ongoing contributing writer. Details to follow. I certainly know about deadlines; I write a bi-weekly column for Hockey Stop. My head is spinning with story possibilities. And tomorrow is the poetry throwdown. Hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reading your work in front of others...

I remember when I was nervous reading in front of others. Last evening, I read three pieces at SLWG open mike. They were well-received. Personal essay is expository; it reveals the many phases and facets of the writer. My worst fear is that others will judge ME instead of my writing.If you haven't read at an open mike, you should challenge yourself to do so.

I hit a gold mine this evening at my little neighborhood thrift store. I bought two books for $2.50,Creative Writing Exercises and Writer's Market Guide for On Line Submissions. Both books originally cost $22.00.

I submitted five essays to higher paying markets, and will wait patiently for a response. Like most writer's, I like instant gratification, but I can wait! I once heard a speaker say, "If you had a dress boutique, you wouldn't expect to sell all the dresses in one week; likewise, you can't expect all of your stories to be accepted." I believe that is good advice. Write on~

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's up with junk mail?

When I see that I have a dozen emails in junk mail, I fly high clinging to hope like a bouquet of helium filled balloons. One email might be from an editor! My luck: VA Benefits won't benefit me; Madame So & So, late wife of the King of Somewhere can't even plead her case in a sentence. I didn't play the foreign lottery, so how can I possibly be a big winner? And why would I send you money to claim my prize? No! I don't want to cruise the Horn of Africa for $399. I HAVE found the man of my dreams, so I don't need Meet Your Love Match. He doesn't need male enhancement products, and I don't want to see one more diet ad. I am aware that I ate too much Easter junk.

As I check out each email, one by one my dreams and hopes are punctured, and I'm as deflated as my bouquet of imaginary balloons. What is it with all this junk mail! Oh well, the day is young. I can only hope that the universe will toss me a good piece of junk mail today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Recovering from Easter

If chocolate has mood altering chemicals, then that's why I'm still hopping happy!
As everyone was leaving our house yesterday, my 7 year old grandson Nicholas, said with a smile on his face "Nana, I LOVE it here at your house." I asked what he loved and he threw his arms wide and said, "EVERYTHING!" He's a charmer.

I donned my fuzzy pink bunny suit and paraded around the front lawn while the kids hunted eggs. We live on a busy street. Drivers passing by honked; I had as much fun with little kids in cars as I did with our grandchildren. The baby slept through most of the activities. She woke in time to let the giant pink bunny hold her.

I feel nostalgic on holidays when the family is gathered together. Our oldest grandchild is 19; I remember all of Ashley's firsts and can't believe she's an adult. Each of our nine grandkids have given me so many fond memories.

I really missed my mom this year. Every holiday she used to pace and look at her watch thirty minutes after she arrived, or she'd 'sneak' outside to smoke. My favorite Easter memory of her: 1981, it's a warm, breezy, sunny day; she's strolling in Carondelet Park, hand in hand with my step dad, her hair dyed reddish-brown, her dark green silky dress flowing in the breeze, a big smile on her face as my little girl and boy run ahead clutching their stuffed bunnies. That image of her is so comforting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One person's 'bliss'~

What a gorgeous Saturday. We went to Route 66 State Park to ride bikes. It is the site of the former town of Times Beach, MO. Many years ago, Russell Bliss dumped dioxin-tainted oil on the roads. The soil was eventually removed and the houses and buildings razed. It is a happy-sad place. I love the open space along the river, and I enjoy seeing the deer and wildlife. I can almost hear whispers of the past in the wind whipping at my face: childrens' voices as they romped and played and grew up there; adults tending gardens, snapping fresh green beans, slicing home grown tomatoes which grew from that toxic soil. Now there is just green space, no building foundations, no signs of what used to be. Just memories and illness for some of the former residents.

As we rode our bikes, I spied a thick row of daffodils sticking up out of a field of short grass, like a little boy with a fresh Mohawk. It made me smile. I wondered if that was a patch of earth they'd forgotten to remove -the bulbs lovingly buried in the ground, like some of the former residents. As I stopped my bike to watch those yellow flowers nod, a poem wrote itself.

Dioxin-tainted daffodils,
Bliss for today's viewer.
Bliss, a different meaning
for yesterday's planter.

Happy Easter and happy spring to everyone. I see the Lord's hand in nature's rebirth. I am grateful. Blessings to all!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My day~

I went to the gym and did water aerobics, then went out to lunch. I bought a book titled, My Husband's Sweethearts. A wife discovers her husband has a terminal illness and she also finds out he has had several affairs. She reasons that if the women were there for the good times, they might as well be there for the crap too. Sounded cute.

An example of show don't tell...

Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck was a boring read for my granddaughter. I had read it in high school, but I had forgotten most of it. I picked up a copy at a thrift store and am actually enjoying rereading it. Forty years later, I hear an echo from the past. Some of my deceased father's stories lie between the covers of this book. He too drove a Model T in reverse uphill when he was in his youth.

I came across a line I wish I had written. "Lee's mind nosed over the proposition like a mouse in a cheese cupboard."

Oh to have the ability to paint a word portrait. That is what I strive for. I have a long ways to go, but these little 'brain sparks' excite me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Writer's have blankies too!

It's my first day of spring break, and I've been productive. I am nearly finished with an article for my column, As They Grow, in Hockey Stop, a local newspaper which can be found in hockey rinks around St. Louis. I'm writing about preschooler's objects of affection. You know, those nasty, dirty blankies that kids drag around; those much loved, thread-bare, snot-covered stuffed animals that they refuse to part with. Research indicates that these attachment objects provide security. Think fictional television character, Radar on M.A.S.H. Even on a battlefield he needed his Teddy bear.

I'll bet you have a favorite writer's object of affection too. It may not be a writing instrument. In my case, it is a miniature mantle clock with an inscription -a Christmas gift from Jason and Jackie, my son and daughter-in-law. It sits on a shelf on my computer desk. Not only does it help me keep track of time when I write; it reminds me of times past, when he was a little boy, and even when I was a little girl and my parents had a full-sized mantle clock.

I am proud of the numerous books, anthologies and magazines on my bookshelf which include my published works. But it is the framed photos of me and my three Chicken Soup for the Soul writer friends at book signings, and also one of us when we appeared on Channel 4 Great Day St. Louis that really trips my trigger. These photos sit front and center on my tall bookcase. Gazing at these objects of affection gives me the same warm fuzzy kind of feeling that little kids get when they drag around their beloved blankie or cozy.

What is your favorite writer's object of affection?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A writer's metaphor~

It's supposed to be spring, and I'm supposed to be a writer. It snowed, and you know what I did? I curled up and snoozed early instead of writing an article that's near deadline.

The flowering trees survived the freeze, although a few blossoms didn't make it. A tree is a metaphor for the writer's life. We are the trunk, and the branches represent the ideas that slowly emerge, twist, poke up, out, this way and that and evolve from our thoughts, scribblings, writings. The leaves are the submissions we send out, and the blossoms are our publication credits. How does your tree bloom on this spring day? If yours is more trunk than branches, fertilize your thoughts until they blossom; get writing; get growing! If your branches are more leaves than blossoms, start submitting. And when a flower withers on the stem, try again. The tree doesn't stop growing just because it loses a few blossoms, and you shouldn't let anything stop you, not rejection letters, not time constraints. No excuses. Vow to write and submit at least one thing this week.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The rule of three...

Sunday, what a day! I received so much good news it made me believe in the superstitous rule of three. Usually it's deaths; negative events, or appliances that "kaput" in triplicate, but not this time. I was notified that I won first place in the St. Louis Writer's Guild non-fiction contest at the MO Writer's Guild Conference. Then I received an acceptance from a prestigious West coast literary magazine. And best of all, I received an invitation from a former preschool student who nominated me as her most influential teacher. She will be attending a three week class at Mizzou this summer as one of St. Louis's brightest high school juniors. I was this delightful young lady's preschool teacher, and she also attended my summer program (K-6th grades) until she was in middle school. I will be attending an awards ceremony at Mizzou this summer because of the positive impact I have made on her life.

Some people go through life never knowing how their actions create a ripple effect. Many of you have impacted my life with a nice gesture, a kind word, shared information or good advice. Thank you. If someone has made a difference in YOUR life, tell them today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patience pays off.

I received an invitation from the editor of a Chicken Soup book to read my story at a launch party in California. Ha! Nice gesture, but no way. I was ready to hit the delete button when I saw a blurb she'd written about an agent friend seeking fiction manuscripts. I checked it out. She is looking for quirky midlife womens' stories. The other day I was upset because the agency to which I was prepared to send my quirky, midlife womens' manuscript was no longer seeking that genre.

One door closes; another opens. It's more than a cliche`. I've learned that if I wait, it comes to me. In retrospect, I realize that I have gotten everything I've ever wanted, just never WHEN I wanted it. Patience pays.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring is in the air!

Today Bill and I went to Bee Tree Park in far South St. Louis County. I am in my element when I am on a nature hike or walking on the beach. We hoofed it about three miles up and down trails, around the entire park and lake. We stood on the platform of a covered pavillion overlooking the Mississippi River bluffs and watched a tiny tug boat nudge 32 barges upstream. The sounds of the engine straining blended with the birds' chatter and childrens' laughter. Tiny blue bell flowers nodded in the breeze; clumps of daffodils cropped up everywhere; the lake surface rippled gently, and a zillion red bud trees in shades of purple made my heart skip a beat. The sun baked a smile on my face. Today was like a poem writing itself. That little tug boat reminds me of me, plodding along; no matter how difficult the writing task, I give it my all. I am grateful for my eyes, my health and my hubby.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The many moods of a writer...

Last night my face looked like a page of punctuation marks: pursed lips with a string of exclamation point puckers, eyebrows separated by a deep-frown comma, pair of parentheses on my cheeks, blood boiling, mind roiling with questions. Now what do I do? I'm ready to submit a synopsis for my novel, and the publisher's guidelines states, Only accepting CONTEMPORARY women's fiction. Last time I looked they were seeking period fiction for the mature woman. I tell myself that everything happens for a reason; I do believe this!

So,I peruse the blogs I follow. Becky's pops up with music. The song is Virginia, my deceased mother's name. I try deep breathing and visualize her telling me to calm down. Just as I enter my zone, the phone startles the crap out of me. It's a small press publisher who wants an interview and photo for a feature on ME. Then the mail arrives. I rub the envelope on my cheek. It's my check from HCI,Inc. I rip it open, and it is double the amount. Now what? I look at the invoice; they've bought two stories, woo-hoo! In a matter of minutes, my facial expression returns to normal crinkles and wrinkles; I'm so happy I do the victory dance.

It's that way with writers; we rev up and wind down in a flash. My best news came later when Tammy, who is an early reader of my novel, wrote that she loves what she's read so far. I slept well.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When fear knocks, let faith answer.

Sometimes after I've written a poem or prose, and I've tweaked it to the max,I feel proud of my work. Then, fear creeps in like a twinge in my side from walking too fast. Right before I hit the send button, I begin to doubt my worth; I wonder how or if my work will impact others. In the big literary world, my piddly stuff seems to pale. Even when I'm being validated with publication, I feel humble, grateful and insignificant.

Last night we went to see a movie, Disney Earth. It made me realize how, in the big scheme of things, each of us is as insignificant as we are important. Two tiny polar bear cubs exited their den and saw the light of day for the first time. They followed their mother on wobbly legs right to the edge of the mountain. Whoa! The sight of the huge, snowpacked cliff stopped them in their tracks. Those little cuties bawled in fear and backtracked. Their mother, intent on leading them to the sea for food, waited and encouraged.

We writers sometimes plod right to the edge of that proverbial cliff, and then fear takes over, tugs us back, makes us reconsider. Whether you fear failure, the unknown, or even success, have faith. Take baby steps, but don't stop moving forward. We must encourage one another on this journey.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

When it feels right, write it!

We attended a granddaughter's school concert last night which centered around folk songs. Got me to thinking about how at her age I sang the same songs in 5th grade: Old Dan Tucker, what a crazy guy!

In those days, we didn't go to music class. We simply closed our science books and got out our music books; the teacher moved from the desk chair to the piano bench. I couldn't sing worth a hoot, but I sang those folk songs, military ballads, and negro spirituals with gusto. Then one day, somebody declared that much of what we sang in the '60s was gender, ethnic and/or religiously offensive. There went my favorite songs: Battle Hymn of the Republic, Sawannee River, The Air Force Theme Song, not to mention my beloved Christmas carols.

Of course we write FOR our readers, but first and foremost we must write what our heart dictates. If an "offensive" word slips into your writing, don't be too quick to edit. It may be necessary for impact; it might hold more weight than ten softer words. I say, let the offended close the book! Bah humbug,censorship!