Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where you plunk yourself matters

It is warm, breezy and sunny, the perfect recipe for me to sit outdoors and read. Today I bought myself a new office chair, padded better than my mattress, heavy duty, and it rocks. Literally, I can rock. It is exactly what I do when I am thinking. If I'm in public, I only move my foot, but when my brain is going, so is some other part of my body. This chair fits my contour, well, let's be honest, my wide behind. I am so happy.

After a month of rain and the longest Midwest winter, I have been dragging. Lately the only thing I've been moving is my foot, kicking my own butt for only sending out seven submissions this month. I told myself I was overworked at school, depressed because I lost formatting on my manuscript, received three rejections, and one thing after another has gone wrong with this computer. We are this close to getting another one.

Anyway, today I am warmed inside and out by the delightful weather and a message from someone who's advice was hinged on the bottom of her foot too. She gave me a swift kick, which I needed. I am back on track like The Little Engine That Could ... choo-choo! I'm in a comfortable chair and I am in my comfort zone. Sure there will be hills to climb and obstacles to cross, but I can do it.

I am a positive thinker, but negative messages fill my head at times. "I'll take a little break, a hiatus. I don't have time for Book Blurb Friday. Oops, I missed that deadline. The contracts aren't pouring in like in the past; it must be ME. I'll get back to serious writing in May." So much hooey.

If you are filling your own head with this stuff, stop! Pop some chocolate in your mouth, tell yourself what a great writer you are and get in gear. Write on and write from your heart.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On this day...

She gave me life, taught me right from wrong and how to be strong, laid my foundation, paved my path, taught me never to hold a grudge, how to hold onto my beliefs and God's hand. This is the day she died.

While others are celebrating the wedding of the century across the pond, today, I celebrate my mom. I was at her hospital bedside for five days, then I had to go home and plan her memorial, write her eulogy and relocate her husband of forty years, clean out their apartment and move on with my life. Stoically I did what had to be done.

Overwhelmed, with a heavy heart, I did my best. Her memorial service was held at her senior complex sanctuary. It was difficult to walk into her apartment to prepare the food. I turned on the TV for background noise and nearly choked on my own saliva when my mom's favorite televangelist spoke, "Today you have a tough task ahead of you. Lift your head and give it up to the Lord, and you will get through this." I know that a million viewers heard the same message, but it profoundly affected me.

My adult son, with an expectant wife and little boy, had been unemployed for six months. He had recently gotten a new job at half the salary. He wanted a new position which was opening up at work, but he didn't have enough seniority to apply. He relayed to me the message my mom had given to him the week before, "Grandma told me, 'In God's time, everything happens in God's time, not ours.'" I smiled and nodded. Mom was such a preacher. I used to kid her that I could take a spoonful of her daily sermons, but she tried to give me a shovelful each phone call.

"Okay, stop! Im a believer, Mom." We'd both laugh about it.

Her service was planned for 2:00 p.m. The chapel overflowed, and I sat in the vestibule greeting people. Someone came to get me. They said, "You're really late; it's 2:15."

I looked at my watch. It read 2:00 p.m. It had stopped at the exact moment her service was to begin, and I never replaced the battery. My daughter has that watch on display next to her grandma's photo.

As the service concluded, my son's cell phone rang. He stepped into the hall and his face drained of color. I walked to him with a questioning look. I couldn't handle any more bad news.

He said, "That was my work calling. They gave me the promotion." We rejoiced and hugged and thanked Mom and God for that gift.

Then, as I entered the elevator to take food to the luncheon, a woman exited. She looked exactly like my late grandmother, my mother's mother. I nearly dropped the casserole. I couldn't stop staring at her. That was confirmation enough to me that Mom was in the presence of other loved ones.

I spent the next entire week cleaning out her apartment. I had to return to school for a big event and a much anticipated tea party for Mother's Day. I did not know how I would make it through the day having to greet moms without breaking down, after just losing mine.

"Give me a sign to help get me through this day," I prayed silently.

Outside my classroom door I heard a mother say, "Come here and let me wipe your face. Nothing better than mama's spit to get you clean."

EXACTLY what my mom used to say and do to me. At that moment, I could smell her saliva and feel her touch. I was not the teacher, I was one of my five year olds. I made it through the day without shedding a tear.

Two months later, on the anniversary of her birthday, my step-brother called and said, "I am so sorry."

I said, "It's okay."

He said, "No, it's not. I am sorry to tell you Dad died."

This is the woman who used to be that woman's little girl, who grew up to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that there are unexplainable events and occurences that we should be open to and accept as gifts. I don't believe in coincidence.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Most people associate Hurricane Katrina with the people of New Orleans. It was an horrific natural disaster that affected many. It wiped out one of our favorite spots on earth, Ft. Pickens Campground in Pensacola, Florida.

Nearly one year after the hurricane, we drove to Florida to see how the area had changed. My son-in-law's family has a place on the beach just down the road from Ft. Pickens. When we turned to go down the familiar road, my heart hammered and it felt like I couldn't get my breath. The devastation was still apparent as homes and hotels STILL lay roadside in huge piles of rubble. The barrier island used to be at sea level. To our left was the Gulf and to our right was the bay, both a stone's throw away. But a year later they had bulldozed a twenty-foot high, debris filled sandwall in front of the Gulf, and the turqouise water was not visible at all. the narrow strip of road was washed out.

The family's condo was still intact, but the swimming pool was non-existent as it had filled with sand. The bay was debris strewn. I can't explain the pain and empathy I felt as we drove through what appeared to be a war zone. I cried. It hurt deeply to see the devastation. The area has since recovered; new high rise hotels are back and the road, though it floods, and the campground are open again.

That same elephant-sitting-on-my-chest feeling has returned this morning after watching the tornado devastation down South. Those poor people. My heart goes out to them, my prayers go heavenward. They will recover, but they will forever be changed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What do you think?

I snagged a quote off Facebook. I am unable to attribute it to a particular person. But I think it is worth reprinting. So many people harbor grudges and hold onto hurt feelings and suffer because of something that another person said or did. When we allow others to affect us in this way, we give them the power. This quote is the antidote. This is another way of saying, let it go.

"Resentment is allowing someone to live rent free in your head.
Forgiveness is handing that person an eviction notice."

Blog Treasure

Aggravated with myself for eating too much junk for two days: salty, white-chocolate covered mini pretzels with multi colored sprinkles, mini Butterfingers, too many mini cupcakes, mini amounts of fruit salad loaded with whipped cream, and then yesterday, a fish sandwich from McDonald's, and I hate to admit it, I swiped the grandbaby's french fries! How low can I go? I've been kidding myself with that one deceptive word, mini. It's over. I'm back to my oatmeal with honey and cinnamon breakfast. Now if I could get my body in gear and do a little exercise.

When I checked my latest blog follower's blog I felt like I had received a solid chocolate rabbit, a giant Butterfinger, a dozen delicious cupcakes. There is so much to devour on Angela Ackerman's blog. And talk about a following!

Please go to this site. Angela has a wealth of information and she generously shares with others.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Don't let your babies grow up to be texters

I know it is a sign of the times, but a texted Happy Easter message just isn't the same as hearing the voice of my first grandbunny who had to work on Easter and eventually called me :)

My Princess Grows Up
Linda O’Connell ©

Yesterday I tucked her in and read her bedtime stories.
Her toothpaste kiss lingered on my cheek
as I tiptoed around her slumber.

Her dress-ups dragged the ground,
she clomped around in too big shoes
and listened to spun gold fairy tales.

When she stumbled,
I kissed her boo-boos gone,
and held her close until she felt better.

Now, too big for her britches,
she tromps on my heart in high heeled shoes
and dances in formals fit for a queen.

As she weaves her own stories with real characters,
may all the portraits she paints, the chapters she writes
conclude with happily-ever-afters.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

All I need to know I learned from the Easter Bunny!

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There's no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans.

Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.

The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.

To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.

The best things in life are still sweet.

May the joy of the season fill your heart.


Happy Easter!

This email was sent to me by a friend. Blessings to all.

Awarded the gift of gab?

A belated thank you to Donna Volkenannt for the SISTERS OF THE QUILL blog award. Another thank you to Sioux for the STYLISH BLOGGER AWARD. Also thank you to Dianna Graveman for passing on the VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD.
I am instructed to share seven things with you. This list is, shall we say, comprehensive.

Seven things about me:
1. I saw Dr. Zhivago on the big screen at age sixteen, was so impressed, I came home and wrote the entire script in a notebook. American Bandstand and Elvis rocked my world. Dean Martin crooned to ME, not those Gold Diggers. The Beatles didn’t do a thing for me. Chad Everett was MY Dr. Dreamy.

2. I worked at a photo developing company in high school. I was quite dexterous, operated a huge IBM billing machine using both hands. I could bill faster than anyone in any of the plants across the US. They filmed my technique and used it as part of a training film. Then, I was promoted to the office where I did the daily bank deposits for fifteen branch stores. Imagine, seventeen, working part time and handling big money. I also operated an old fashioned plug in cord switchboard, and I loved it.

3. Nineteen, married a year and my ex was drafted and shipped to Alaska instead of Viet Nam. We lived in Delta Junction; population 500, in 1969-1970, where a herd of free roaming buffalo traversed our gravel road and shook the ground as they rumbled by each night. One night I came face to face with a massive female and her calf. I gasped and backed into my door. She snorted and moved into the woods across the road. Temperature was fifty below zero.

4. I developed a love of writing at eight years old when I learned to write essays in third grade. Word play has always been a delight, diagramming sentences a breeze, and book reports were fun. In high school my junior year, my English teacher would leave the room and put me in charge of her class. In college, the instructor wrote on my journal, “If I graded these on a competitive basis you would have the only A in this class and the next highest grade would be a C-.

5. A junior editor from Parents Magazine called to tell me he was unable to convince the editor-in-chief to publish my article. He said, “Don’t let this stop you from writing; you have a unique writing style.” Several male and a couple of female editors from magazines and newspapers have called to tell me my essays made them cry.

6. My dream as a young girl was to have four children, three girls and one boy. After having a daughter and a son, I quit. I remarried a man with two grown daughters. We now have three daughters and a son. I have always received what I’ve wished for in life, but seldom when I wanted it.

7. When I was married for the first time, and we had only one car, I coveted a little ranch house in the suburbs that I used to drive by when I took my ex to work. When my second husband and I were looking for a house, our realtor told us she had one more to show us, out of our price range, but … To say I was shocked when she pulled into the driveway of that house is an understatement. The elderly woman accepted our low bid, and I now live in the home I always wanted. I believe in God, positive energy, spirituality more than organized religions, and faith.

Now I pass these awards to Susan and Odie, the first to comment on my blog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blowing in the wind

Wow! There really wasn't a tornado or earthquake last night, and we didn't dream it. We were awakened by the sound of what could have been a military transport plane above our house, the ground rolling beneath our house, or an enormous thunder clap rattling the walls, but we were too tired to investigate.

This morning in front of our house, there is a slab of concrete that abutted the drain sewer, which has been flipped over and is in the street exposing a 4'x5' hole. So, a semi truck must have hit the curb and taken out the slab right at the entrance to our driveway.

It's still poetry month, so this poem, written after the New Year's Eve tornado, is for all the storm chasers out there.

Youthful Tornadic Energy
Linda O'Connell (c)

Wind whips, gusts howl, sirens shriek.
Thunderhead barrels up interstate,
swerves, drops down, streaks across prairies,
flattens flora and fauna, peels roofs like sunburned skin,
splinters treetops wishbone-fashion.

Strangles the river, relinguishes its bully grip, and scoots.
Reverberating trees and hearts still.
Night air thickens, blackness sizzles with electrified ions.
People search for their candles and wits, survey the damage,
contact loved ones.

My cell phone plinks a text received.
I read the message and gasp. My granddaughter
sends a just snapped image of the swirling
wide-mouthed monster bearing down,
chomping faster than her boyfriend can drive.

Her message, Isn’t ths a grt sht?
I climb the basement stairs
shake the wrinkles out of my wadded up nerves
pray, and think aloud, “I used to be young.”
I text, Silly ltl sht, gt home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Did I hear that?

Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge...

This morning, the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak. Hubby has hearing loss and I often have to repeat what I say. Sometimes I think he has selective hearing, but, no, the audiologist claims it's legit from years of working around loud machinery.

I have allergies and my head and ears are stuffy today. The phone rang. His daughter called him to say that the oldest grandson, a senior, made honor roll. After she hung up, Hubby relayed the conversation.

This is what I heard.

"Kyle made honor roll, straight A's. He made official business cards last night for his lawn care company. Tomorrow he's going bankrupt."

I gasped. "That certainly doesn't sound like you have much faith in the kid."

"I have a lot of faith in him. He'll be successful and save for college in the fall."

"How can he be successful in one day and then go bankrupt the next?"

"BANKRUPT? I said, banquet!"

Yep, the shoe was on the other foot. We got a good laugh out of it. He called me a big rabbit and I called him a big chicken. Then we headed to the store to buy dumb cluck and hippity hop supplies for Sunday when the house will overflow with our own big rabbits and little chicks.

I like being on spring break. All of you teachers and former teachers can relate. If you feel like staying in the education mode, there is a website to check out if you're interested in developing curriculum material.
Click here to see what they need.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Estate Sale Poem

We had to uninstall the new version of Internet Explorer in order to get back on my blog. It's now working!

I enjoy yard sales, but estate sales make me feel sad. They remind me of my own mortality. Rummaging in someone’s home through their closets or cabinets feels like pilfering, even though I pay for the items I purchase.

I was at an estate sale where adult grandchildren were selling off the contents of their grandma’s home. I didn’t ask if she had died or was in a nursing home. I listened to their chatter. Every item they sold had a price tag and a memory attached. A woman bought a set of Melamec plates, those old plastic dishes. The grandson and granddaughter said, “Aw, remember when we used to come over and Gram would serve us chili-mac on those dishes?” This poem evolved from that estate sale.

The Estate Sale

Buyer’s delight piled high on tables and counters,
crammed into kitchen cabinets,
sprawled across floors,
spread in every closet, nook and cranny.
Price tags stuck on priceless memories.

Stained chili-mac plates,
crystal vases that once held daisies and droopy dandelions,
mismatched jelly glasses with Nestle Quick stirrings,
silver spoons that soared applesauce airplane-fast into baby mouths,
cast iron skillets seasoned with a whiff of Sunday bacon.

Lavender-scented towels folded with tenderness,
aprons knotted with love, doilies crocheted by hand,
cross stitched hankies, patchwork quilts,
pillows stuffed with dreams.
For Sale: Grandma’s treasured things.

For Sale: grandkids’ memories
stored, floored, shelved, hung,
disposed of one at a time for a nickel or dime,
sold for a song, everything’s gone,
no more, close the door.

Nightmares of all kinds

I had a nightmare, even bigger than this dang computer headache. I dreamed I was accompanying my husband to a doctor's appointment. I saw the nurse weighing people on this big chair-like scale. I asked if I could sit on it. She read my weight aloud, THIRTY POUNDS heavier. Then she asked me how far along I was. Far along? I wanted to say 61, but then I touched my belly and said, "Nine months, I guess. Thirty pounds is about the right amount of weight gain." She rolled her eyes and walked away. This has to be because I heard on the news that Zsa Zsa Gabor, 94, is married to a man who wants her to be a new mom one more time. Insane!

Monday, April 18, 2011

blogger problems

I am unable to format anything with this new editor. Is anyone else having this problem? I haven't been able to post for two days; it just tries and tries to load. I tried to post a poem, but it won't take the line breaks or let me go back and edit anything I've written. Ideas or solutions, anyone?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Blurb Friday

I am joining Lisa at Writing in the Buff for Book Blurb Friday. Won't you join me? Visit her website and take a look at the picture prompt and some of the other best seller blurbs. Write a blurb in 150 words or less.

River Whispers meanders into uncharted territory, snakes down a winding river and plunges the reader into a deep abyss. Bounty hunter, Boone Slick, hot on the trail of machete wielding, Jack Slater, a survivalist, tracks him into Carmelina Canyon. Slick knows every corner and crevice of the canyon floor, and he knows exactly how Slater thinks. Their mother, who always made excuses for Jack is found murdered. She can’t play favorites anymore.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How close is heaven?

You Tube has a posting about a little boy who says he's been to heaven. Authors have written books about being in heaven. Who am I to scoff? I have never been to heaven, but I've been close. Holding my newborn babies felt like receiving a gift from God. I was euphoric.

Being with my mom, my best friend, my seven year old niece and years later, her mother when they died made me aware that there is a power far greater than mine.

Rushing to the hospital when my son was in a serious motorcycle accident was a nightmare. All those Sunday School prayers and church rituals were forgotten. I was instantly reduced to my earliest level of negotiation, a child pleading with a parent. I prayed from my heart and I begged.

A few years ago hubby and I were power of attorney for his elderly aunt who was in a nursing home. She developed sepsis and became seriously ill. She was hospitalized and comatose for awhile. She awoke lucid, anxious to tell me something. She said she had gone away and had been on a trip. I explained that she was in a hospital.

She insisted, "No, I went away on a trip."

I asked where she had gone on her trip.

"I went to Heaven, and the colors are so brilliant. You wouldn't believe all of the flowers, they're everywhere. Heaven is so colorful.(She could not find words to describe the bright colors, like the little boy on You Tube). And I saw God. I did! He's not white; he has light brown skin, and he's very good looking, not at all like those church pictures; he's younger."

Yes, I chuckled.

I wanted her to keep talking, but an attendant walked in and she lost her train of thought. I tried to get her to focus again on her trip. She was trying so hard to get back to that place, but she was also trying hard to please me. I asked if she could tell me one more thing. She said, "Oh yes, the food is realy good there, and tell your mom I can get her a lunch plate for $2.50."

It was like pricking a balloon with a needle. We both emotionally deflated rapidly.
We were never able to recapture the moment.

Who am I to doubt that she went to heaven?

Flowers? YES!

Unbelievably brilliant colors everywhere? YES!

Food for two and a half bucks a plate?
Naw, that was her concious thoughts surfacing through unconciousness.

Scientists have a theory about the physical things that occur in our brains as we die. Theologians have a theory; atheists and agnostics and religious people have their opinions and beliefs. I have mine.

When my mother was on her death bed, my son's wife was expecting a baby girl. She would have been my mom's fourth great-grandchild. I said, "Mom, if you and Jason's unborn baby pass one another in heaven, kiss her on her tummy."

Nicole was born with a birthmark on her belly in the shape of lips. I call it her Maw-maw kiss.

I've never been to heaven, but I've been close ...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knowledge is power; reading is fun

Check out Query Shark to get a good idea of what an agent does and doesn't want. There are examples of query letters and the dissection of them. This should not deter you from writing and submitting, it should help you write better. Not all agents are as tough as Judge Judy.

I don't know about you, but I would rather hear straight forward truth than sugar coated nonsense. False hope is not hope. I can deal with what I know, but if I don't know, then I'm making an educated guess.

On a lighter note, I received my Silver Boomer anthology titled, Flashlight Memories. My poem is on page 162.

A Classic Tome
Linda O'Connell 2011 (C)

The Poky Little Puppy, its dog-eared edges
and illustrations familiar as the word on the pages,
a book bequeathed to my children,
I've handed down through the ages.

Slow poke is covered with finger smudges
numerous spills, and now grandbaby stains.
A Little Golden Book it may be,
but a classic tale it remains.

In her two year old tag-along,
get-it-in-gear, hurry-up-world,
I reach for Poky, slow her down to a snuggle
and read my favorite classic to Nana's girl.

This book is packed with wonderful essays and poems about childhood reading memories. Perfect gift for a graduate of any age, a special person in your life, an upcoming holiday or just for yourself to leisurely enjoy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Contest, and quandries

At the conference this weekend I won honorable mention for a personal essay. The prompt was, What does it take to make you happy? My title, Happiness is All in My Mouth, made judges take note. Which is a reminder that the title is as important as content.

I also learned that agents are hungry for Young Adult with a boy as the main character. I don't write Y/A, but if you do, now you have the scoop.

I called home to ask hubby if I had received any mail, and he said, "Just junk."
That junk turned out to be an acceptance on a short piece that I had submitted along with a photo a couple months ago to Ideals, a division of Guide Posts. It was a timely piece about spring, and time was ticking. The editor asked for a rewrite without photo. I sent it off and it came back stamped, Address Unknown. So I tried again, wrote an apology. The grains of sand were rapidly trickling through the hour glass and I was afraid it was too late as spring had already sprung.

The manuscript was returned with a stamp of approval across it, ACCEPTED. It will be considered on a monthly basis now until it fits an issue, which means nearly a year from now, but I am happy and patient.

At the MO Writer's Guild Conference workshops the presenters spoke on the topic of social media, electronic connections to build your platform, get your name out there. There were a couple of instant success stories. For example, Amanda Hocking, twenty-six year old young woman from MN whose writing was far from polished but after so many rejections she got HERSELF out there, made her first million and now has been signed by an independent publisher and is making BIG bucks with her trylle series.

Justin, a teenager, signed onto twitter and tweeted, Sh*t My dad Says. It went viral,I think on You Tube too. An agent read/heard his stuff, signed this kid and now his blog has morphed into a TV series.

Okay, so I don't write vampire, try to keep it clean, but am not afraid of strong words or expressing opinions, and I'm not as computer savvy as I should be.

My question, should writers get on the bandwagon, compromise their principles and go with the flow of what is selling in our current youth-oriented, narcissistic culture? Is instant success fleeting like some of those million dollar lottery winners who whizz and burn? Is it a trend? Is there a place for personal essay, prose and poetry that will bring those writers success remotely comparable to that of these young people? Is it time to move over?

I have more questions than answers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I am enthused, enthralled, exhausted this morning after three days at the Missouri Writer's Guild Conference, JUST WRITE! I was C. Hope Clark's assistant when she presented at workshops. If you don't know who I am talking about, check out Funds for Writers. Hope is the founder; she puts out three newsletters packed chock full of information, call outs, contests etc.

I pitched my woman's ficton, The Hot Mess Chronicles, to two literary agents. One of them (a big name in the industry) asked me to send her the first thirty pages. I had a tear in my eye!

The other agent, who was closer to my age, asked, "Why would I want to read that? I lived in that era, I certainly don't want to relive it."

Obviously, we were not a good match. That's the way it goes; you can't take those comments to heart.

I am very realistic and know that chances are slim that my novel will be picked up. It is set in the 1980's but they want contemporary ficiton. I am hopeful that there might be a baby boomer market for it one day. I am patient.

I attended a workshop, An Agent Reads Aloud from the Slush Pile. The slush pile (stack of queries on an agent's desk) is where most work ends up if it survives the trash can. Writers submitted the first two pages of their work, (I did not) and as the work was read aloud, she dissected it, commented frankly why she would or would not read on. Few works made it past a few sentences. It's a brutal industry. But,in a very professional and friendly manner she made us aware of glaring errors that many writers make.

"She scurried down the hall." MICE SCURRY.
"Her ears pricked up." Did you really ever see ears prick up!
"His voice came through the wall." REALLY, let's rephrase that.

And so it went as she slashed flowery words; too many descriptors slows the story.

I met lots of nice people, and hugged presenter and inspirational writer, Linda Apple. She and I are running neck and neck with Chicken Soup books. Our stories are in many of the same books.

Elaine Viets, was keynopte banquet speaker. She has a fun, twisted sense of humor; she had us laughing out loud. She is St. Louis's hometown sweetheart, a former columnist for the local newspaper. She was fired from the Post-Dispatch for insubordination. Everyone knows that her humorous columns were the main reason why most people bought the newspaper. She's laughing in their faces, living in Florida in a beach condo, writing books.

Some day ...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Did you ever consider yourself an answer to a prayer?

When the elderly neighbors on either side of us passed away, I asked God to send me a good neighbor, a woman friend with whom I could share my joys and sorrows. He sent me two wonderful Bosnian speaking families, a couple our age to our left and a family with children on the other side. We smile and say hello, we in their language and they in English. Hubby is jovial and thinks the louder he talks the more they understand because the men laugh and gesture with him about their gardens and such. He is a talker and a joker. We share food with one another; it's a cultural experience and fun, but we have limited verbal exchanges.

Recently, I lamented the fact that I didn't get an answer to my prayers. If only I had a neighbor lady to talk to, like when my kids were young and my next door neighbor and I shared every detail of our lives.

If you are reading this, I consider you a coffe klatch 'neighbor' no matter how far away you are, whether you are male or female. Your supportive comments on my previous post demonstrated that God does answer prayers; he sent me each of you! I appreciate your friendship and was deeply touched by your positive comments.

Wish me luck as I head off to meet up with NY agents at the Mo. Writer's Conference. I am pitching my women's fiction novel, The Hot Mess Chronicles, or perhaps I should title it, One Hot Mess After Another. It is a not a genre romance, although there are elements of romance. It is a realistic, engaging tale of four women: next door neighbor housewives, Trish, a goody-two-shoes all of her life and Meg, a former go-go dancer/wild child, who has settled down and been a good wife. Sally her older sister is in a long-term, loveless marriage, and Racquel returns as a blast from Meg's past. Twenty years later she is wilder than she was when they were in school.

The four women experience simultaneous divorces, affairs, and conflict. Three of the women are married to jealous, cheating, controlling husbands. This novel details their playfulness, silliness, (think Lucy and Ethel escapades) their insecurities, imperfections and growth. There are elements of drama, suspense, conflict, humor, major twists and tragedy. The ending is inspirational and spiritual and has made some early readers cry. As a result of their friendships, these four women with distinctly different personalities are able to endure their unhealthy marriages, escape from them, and to evolve into emotionally healthy individuals.

Thanks again to all of you for your friendship. I'm off and running. Last night I had dinner with Hope Clark, Funds for Writers who is presenting at the conference. She is so down to earth and fun. I am quite blessed to be her go-fer, also known as writer's shepherd.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writing evocative poetry can be scary

Each year at this time, as I drive through a section of the park on my way to work, I remember an Easter Sunday long ago. Although my heart skips a beat at the sight of the new spring growth, the memories of that day also evoke sadness.

When writing for literary journals, I write with impact and use strong words, innuendo, and metaphor to express emotion. Authentic writing is evocative, the expressed emotions, raw. Some folks may think this is too personal, too revealing. My apologies. Those who have experienced an unhealthy, or unhappy relationship may be able to relate.

I assure you that I am mentally sound, emotionally well-balanced, and I have never stabbed anybody or snorted into the gravy :() I am also happily remarried, as is my ex, and we all get along.

Melancholy Bunny
Linda O’Connell (c) 4/11

There’s another frenetic eruption
of tiny pale wildflowers on that same slope where we posed
for a picture-perfect family photo more than three decades ago.
I, in my sky blue silky dress; he, cranky as usual in his tan suit;
our children happy and unaware of our mismatched misery.

That day, colored Easter eggs dropped and shattered.
I snapped the ears off a solid chocolate bunny,
crushed a marshmallow Peep in my fist,
punctured the ham with cloves,
stirred a tear into the pineapple glaze.

I fake-smiled at our guests, stared at my reflection
in the blade of a carving knife
and I pondered,
Do pigs have feelings?
Then, I bowed my head and prayed.

(Not everything I write is pretty or funny, because life isn't always that way. I am a multi-genre writer.)

Spring Poem

Spring Portrait
Linda O’Connell © April, 2011

Splash the barren earth with daffodils,
streak golden sunlight o’er the hills.

Smudge hedgerows purple, dark and light;
tint forsythia and azalea blossoms bright.

Swab ruby rouge on pansy cheeks,
daub dainty smiles that glow for weeks.

Smear winter’s lawn in sage and jade.
Paint spring on every stem, and branch, and blade.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Like baby-like Nana

I wrote this when my three year old granddaughter was born. Things have gotten a lot worse. In honor of poetry month ~

My little baby granddaughter sort of resembles me.
Her big blue eyes are sparkly; mine look tired as tired can be.

She has a double chin like mine. Hers you want to nibble.
Mine hangs loose and fleshy and catches all my dribble.

My little baby granddaughter has a roly-poly belly.
Hers is soft and solid, mine is just like jelly.

We both have many dimples. I love her baby sighs.
My dimples look like grapefruit peel up and down my thighs.

The baby has a bubble butt; her pampers fit her well.
My bubble must have popped; my hiney’s gone to, well…

My little baby granddaughter is as cute as cute can be.
When I look at her, I see a sort of replica of me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One sip at a time eventually equals a cupful

What a gorgeous day, 90 degrees, sunny and gusting wind. In four short hours the temperature is expected to drop fifty degrees. That sort of plummet reminds me of stormy writing moods.

We are ecstatic when we write an outstanding piece or receive an acceptance from an editor; our mooods soar and we are on an emotional high for awhile. A rejection can plunge us into despair.

The answer is to get up, not give up. Your determination will determine your success.

I witnessed determination in action at McDonald's today. The cutest two year old, saucer-faced boy with dark hair and bright red cheeks was overheated from heavy play at the park. He stood beside his grandma who was second in line behind a poky dad with three undecided kids. The little guy kept tugging on grandma saying, "I tursty."

She assured him she would get him a cup so he could get a drink. He waited and waited, then he walked over to the soda fountain, reached up and retrieved a teeny paper ketchup cup. Every time someone passed by or came to fill their cup, he handed his "cup" to them and said, "I tursty."

We laughed everytime he suckered someone into filling his mini paper cup with a sip of THEIR favorite soda. By the time Grandma came he had quenched his own thirst. That little tyke was determined, and you should be too.

Write a poem, perhaps about the weather. Don't write poetry, you say? Start by writing a 99 word essay. Faye Adams, Missouri's senior poet laureate, instructed us to do this at the St. Louis Writer's Guild meeting Saturday. You will be amazed at how 99 words can evolve into a poem if you do two things, go back and eliminate the unnecessary words and then put slashes in where you think line breaks should be. It is an amazing technique. It doesn't have to rhyme. In fact, prose poetry is in these days.

All of you out there saying, "I can't write poetry!" start with a sip, like the little guy did, and keep refilling your little cup until you have a fizzing full poem. April is poetry month. Are you up to the challenge? I will share a poem later in the week that I wrote and submitted for Father's Day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I am linking up with Lisa at Writing in the Buff for book blurb Friday. In 150 words or less, use the picture prompt to write an engaging back of the book blurb.

The Crook in the Tree harbors more than a lovely wild rose. When the Fifth First Bank on Fourth Avenue gets robbed, two armed guards give chase through the residential area. The wiry bandit avoids capture when he suddenly disappears, seemingly into thin air on Sixth Street.

His hideout happens to be the tree house of the ten year old, terrible Thomas triplets. The three boys’ shenanigans are decidedly worse than being captured. Will they spring the crook in the tree, or out of the tree?
86 words