Thursday, July 29, 2010

Damn Headache

Annoying little dog, yipping next door all night. I lug the pseudoephedrine and stew-meat from the grocery bag. There. That should fix it.


Inspired by true life and the theme for this week's 52/250 challenge -- allergic reactions. Lots of things can cause hives and headaches, and one over-looked trigger is noise. At least for me.

I'm also trying my hand at mini-micro-teensy-weensy fiction. This is a hint fiction piece of 23 words (not including title). Fun for a change.

Live hard, write harder. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday Mutterings on Tuesday

>>Looking for homes for shorts and poems is like Thanksgiving dinner -- all that time researching markets, crafting the letter, the bio, formatting just so per specs -- then gobbled, barely digested with a loud 'sorry, not for us' burp. Grumble, grumble...

>>After all that hooplah last week about prescription drug deals going down in Lexington Market, police ended up busting folks for 85 pounds of mojo. Hmmmm. But the Market is eerily quiet these days.

>>I'm starting to think medications are making us sick. In Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker tackles this hypothesis, among others, in detailing the rise of mental illness in America.

>>Trying to decide whether gratitude is over- or under-rated -- whatchya think?

The Reading... Two-thirds through Lamott's Imperfect Birds and wanting to shake the mother and scream, "Get your head out of the sand already and act like a goddamn parent!" Reading three colleagues novular WIPs, which is a lot more fun and considerably lighter than Lamott's story.

The Writing... Ennui galore. Me, not the words.

The Contests... @ the Not proprietor Michael Solender is sponsoring some summer shenanigans ==> The Dog Days of Summer Writing Contest. That's 101 words (drabble plus?) using the words summer and heat. Due August 15, and the competiton's gonna be fearsome.

And since all good things come in threes, it's almost time to party. More later, but think 300 characters, three things to be grateful for, and three good deeds. Stay tuned...

Peace, Linda

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lotta Loving Going 'Round

The past week or so there's been a flurry of paying good karma forward, and now it's my turn. First, the ever-prolific and lovely Paige passed along The Blog of Substance. Paige's blog PARADISE VALLEY 2 was honored, and indeed it is a blog full of important stuff -- gorgeous poems and photographs, tips on writing and living, updates on her projects du jour, and everything having to do with boobs. thank you my dear friend, and the rest of you.

Customary rules require me to: 1) describe my blogging philosophy in 5 words; and 2) pass along to another deserving blogger. So here goes...


Okay, so that's 6 words. I like to break rules. And now, for the most important part (drum roll, please)... of course, everyone who follows this blog is deserving, but I would like to honor one blogger in particular, a woman whose every post rocks me with realization. She blogs on creativity, on writing, on balancing it all in one crazy world, and even offers coffee, chai, and cyber-made goodies on Tuesdays at her Kaffee Klatch:

ANNE TYLER LORD, who struts her stuff at DON'T FENCE ME IN

Not only is she smart, she gives a damn, she writes really, really wonderful stuff, and she creates energy wherever she goes.

Life keeps getting better! The amazing MARK KERSTETTER, who uses words rather than bricks to build stories, essays, and poetry over at THE BRICOLEUR, honored me with the Lovely Blog Award. Lovely, huh, all pink and sweet, reminding me to adhere to my true nature. he says he is not a philosopher; methinks he protests too much. I'll let you be the judge.

I'm passing this award along to three folks:

PAIGE VON LIEBER, who poems and essays and creates cool tangible stuff PARADISE VALLEY 2. Why? For all the reasons noted above, and because her blog truly is lovely.

JAI JOSHI, whose blog the TULSI TREE provides true escape as she churns fabulistic stories and poems of hope and positivity.

MELISSA, also known as WINDSPIRIT GIRL, produces the most gorgeous yet provocative VISPO (visual poetry). Each one a perfect petit four of art.

Good things come in threes (so do bad things, but today we're focusing on happy stuff). PEGJET (aka Peggy Macfarland) lauded me with the Fabulous Flash award which, coming from her, is a true honor. Peggy weaves some seriously scary stuff, but her stories have elegance, nuanced layers of emotional depth and character that smack, some might say, of 'literary'. Ah-hem. In other words, the girl can write. Although we officially met through Harbinger*33, I lurked around her writing for years through the Six Sentences community. Thank you Peggy - I am humbled by the honor.

But first, before I hand out my four roses, I'd like to thank JON STROTHER of Mad Utopia, founder of #fridayflash, perhaps one of the most dynamic communities of short fiction writers on the web. Over a year strong, the number of weekly participants fast approaches 100. To you, I hand a pen (a van Cleef Montblanc no less) to honor your leadership, word-smithing, and passion. Thank you.

And now, the next four honorees...

@MichelledEvans. I've followed Michelle for some weeks now, and she gets better and better and better. Her flash 83 -- a stunner. She writes tight and taut, a lesson for us all.

@DeannaSchrayer. Supposedly she doesn't write fiction ;^) Could've fooled me. She spins fictive and non-fictive words into lovely pieces, and she's a damn nice community-builder, too.

@Christianbell37. Brilliant. 'nuf said.

@ExisleMoll. The boy can write, and he uses big words -- better than the NYT crossword puzzle.

And that's it, folks. Keep the good stuff flowing. Peace, Linda

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hunter

Even at night the desert swelters. Sweat drips from my forehead, fogging the scope, veneering the sparse mustache tracing my lip. Perched in the granite outcropping and hidden behind camel thorn, I wait for dawn, when animals venture forth for food, for water and mating, before the sun sends them back to shadows.

“Do it for honor,” the elders said. “Do it for your manhood.”

I am blessed with a sharp eye, a steady hand, and do not yet taste fear. The elders chose me for this hunt, for of all our clansmen, I have the greatest accuracy. With one shot I can kill a hare from a stone’s throw or fell a bat in flight. This week I killed the leopard preying on our goats after other men had failed.

But I am a poet, not a hunter; even as I crouch amidst the rocks I weave words in my head.

Listen to the sand, to the tale it tells,
the spirits of the prophets joined with the One.

Gold silhouettes the distant ridge. My arms tremble, from the heat, from the weight of the Kalashnikov, from the exhaustion of anticipation. Below, a pale rectangle of light spills from the hut onto the scorched poppy field. My finger curls around the trigger, and I pray for the animal souls I’ve taken – panther, gazelle, hyena, vulture.

“It is only meat,” I murmur as the Commander greets the day.


My take on the 52/250 theme 'red meat'.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Walk To My Office...

This just out from CNN ==> Prescription Drug Abuse in Lexington Market.

Duh. I see at least one deal every day I walk through the parking lot.

Seriously, though, prescription drug abuse is third only to the alcohol and marijuana abuse. The number of individuals abusing prescription pain killers, anxiety agents, stimulants, and sedatives is greater than the combined number of folks with a heroin, cocaine, crack, or crank problem.

There's lots of reasons why, but one of the biggest reasons is availability. Think about it -- last time you had a wisdom tooth extraction or root canel, or fractured a bone, or had any other minor procedure -- what did you get for pain relief, and how many days supply?

All I can suggest is lock your leftovers away, especially if you have kids, have parties, have hired help, or have real estate agents traipsing potential buyers through your house.

Peace, Linda

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Mullings

>>The world would be an infinitely better place if everyone stayed to the right.

>>Wouldn't it be super if everyone remembered -- and honored -- the fact that we all came from the same gene pool?

>>My solution to the economic downturn? SPread the joy by reducing the workload of the employed by 20% (or more) and give the work to the un- and under-employed (because I don't know ANYONE who says the amount of time they work is 'just right').


The Writing... Lots of news, all good. UNCTION, a poem I wrote during the April poem-writing frenzy, was selected by Robert Brewer at Poetic Asides as one of Top 50 poems that month.

>>>>The complete first draft of PURE clocked in at 99,700 words as of Sunday morning. Yay! Now I can work on new stff. Double yay!<<<<<

The Reading... Finishing The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen) and deep into Annie Lamott's Imperfect Birds. Both fabulous. Other good reads, all shorts, include this week's 52/250 collection of flashes gathered round the theme of 'union of opposites'.

Enjoy your Monday -- may it soon be closer to Friday! Peace, Linda

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A ∩ B

I think of us as a Venn diagram, two ovals making
union, my yin seeking optimal overlap with your yang.
But north-facing magnets perpetually polarize our
perimeters, every minor interaction implodes into
a push-me-pull-me tug-o-drama – the toothpaste cap
rolling in the bathroom sink, the crusted cans
cluttering the recycle bin, the maxed-out (again)
Visa. Tits-for-tats, our minefields of petty
disgruntlements escalate, words carelessly
scattershot – always, never, fault, hate – leaving
behind crumb trails of unarticulated ultimatums.

But then, we sleep or, perhaps, make love – no,
it’s fucking pure and simple – and we lose ourselves
in the animal noises, the words peel away, and our
amalgamations circle to their singular intersection.


Inspired the 52/250 prompt "union of opposites".

This 'story' a bit of an experiment for me -- I was trying for a 'concrete' prose poem using half or fewer words of the allotted 250 words. I dislike google's limited formatting options -- imagine this perfectly justified in Verdana 12 pitch font.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brain Farts or Heart Attacks?

Apples or pears? You pick.

This just in from Scientific American.

So damn depressing.

Peace, Linda

I Write Like Chuck Palahniuk!!!!!

Check this out ==>>> HERE.

I thrive on positive reinforcement -- don't you? And we all need to have a little fun, agreed?

Who do you write like?

Peace, Linda

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Morsels: Summer, and the Reading is Easy...

JMWW Summer Issue 2010 is UP!!!! Mmm, mmm, mmm... what a smorgasbord of delights. Where to start? Always a fan of the word-weavings of Tim Horvath, he doesn't disappoint with SECTIONS, a chilling love told through sharing the newspaper. For seconds, check out Andrew Borgstrom's deliciously circular 525 POINTS, chased with Jane Hammons' moving PLEIKU JACKET. And more, so much more,... stories and poems by Sean Lovelace, Tersea Svoboda, J.A Tyler, Lily Hoang, Kim Chinquee, Jeremy M. Davies, Rae Spencer, and many more, including a treat by Robert Coover. Indulge in the reading... and send your best stuff our way.

The Daily s-Press features near-daily reviews on the best of independent press -- publishers, novellas, chapbooks, and litzines. Today proprietress Dorothee Lang features 52/250, a zine of stories and poems by a collective of writers gathered under a common weekly theme. This week, the theme 'cigarette smoke in the window' garnered 19 stories by such diverse authors as Susan Teppper, Darryl Price, Marcus Speh, and Kevin Myrick. 52/250 was founded by Michelle Elvy, Walter Bjorkman, and John Wentworth Chapin.

In the garden... the heat's wilted much of our flowers and fruits; this weekend's rain more a teaser than sustenance. Yellow plums are sweet this year, their sugars concentrated in the drought, and the hardy kiwis are starting to soften. The skins of the Asian pears are almost gilded. Currants finished their crimson show and I extracted six cups of juice for jelly and sorbet. The first tomatoes made their way into our salads, and I prepared a rhubard crisp last night, the last of the season. Soon, the raspberries will set their fruit. The daylilies are peaking, vibrant hues of gold and orange, lime and pink, ochre and lavender. Gorgeous.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Winter I hated the most. Winter, and days when rain pelted the ground in sheets too thick for space. Smoke curled, a yellow tsunami steam-rolling from the front seat towards the back where I sat with my sister. I made myself tiny as I could, imagining I was Houdini shackled underwater, holding my nose and practicing my escape. An hour into the drive I’d crack my window and sit on my knees to suck the moist air trickling in like a thief. Mother would turn around, the Pall Mall a fiery sixth finger. “Shut the goddamn window, Missy. It’s cold outside.” The smoke never bothered my sister; she wallowed in the fumes, a gill-breathing dragon. When we arrived at our destination, I’d tumble from the car, refilling myself with pure oxygen for the return trip.

Later, my sister and Mother shared a special intimacy, talking on the patio and tapping ashes into coffee cans. I’d sit inside the cool kitchen and watch from the window. When Mother died last year, felled by a stroke induced by her pack-a-day habit, my sister kept smoking and started running charity 5ks. In her last race, the contestants lined up, waiting for the gun; I watched from the sidelines. The air smelled electric, reminding me of riding with rolled-down windows, the shimmering wind pummeling us in a furnace blast. I remembered those summer months and wondered if they saved me from worse -- though what could be crappier than living life tethered to an oxygen concentrator?


Inspired by the 52/250 A Year of Flash theme -- cigarette smoke in the car.

A little too close to home.

Peace, Linda

Monday, July 05, 2010

#11 - Control the Back-story

"Back-story consists of events that occurred prior to the start of a film: childhood traumas, recent crises, longstanding grudges, the history of the physical setting, and much more. Back-story should be revealed obliquely through casual, but efficient, cues. A woman seen in a Chanel suit at the unemployment office will quickly bring the viewer up to date on a life that recently underwent dramatic change... A man storms out on his wife in the midst of an argument, and she hurls a high-heeled shoe at him. The shoe hits the door, and a dozen heel marks are seen on the door as it slams shut." (101 Things I Learned in Film School; Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick)

This past week I've pondered back-story -- a lot -- as I commence the next step of parsing PURE to its essentials. Yes, I completed the first draft of PURE this past week (it clocks in at a pithy -- for me -- 95,000 words), but even as I penned the two ultimate words -- the end -- I knew where my manuscript needed massive liposuction, as well as the flimsier sections requiring a boob job.

In my gigs as beta-reader and editor, I've read a lot of stories. Those which don't make the cut usually fail in their ability to find the story quickly. Not wallowing in back-story is important in novels, but especially important in flashes, where one hundred words -- the typical length of an opening paragraph -- describing setting, a divorce, a sibling rivalry, the day job fritters away TEN PERCENT of the story.

Ten percent.

So think economy. Think parachute drop. Think getting in as soon as you can. When in doubt, Start Late.


Reading... THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen. Wickedly funny and poignant all at once. How can he know my family so well?

Peace, Linda

Sunday, July 04, 2010


To think. To write. To love. To live.

Happy Birthday, America!

Peace, Linda

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Stars pepper the sky. The solemn swells of the orchestra fuse with the crowd’s low drone and the gentle slap of water against the boats. A breeze passes over the darkened river and stirs in the flaccid sails. I lace my fingers through Phoebe’s, and wait.

A light flickers on the picnic table and levitates towards us. Althea cradles the sparkling cupcake, singing “happy birthday” in her breathy voice. She totters over the boat, holding the cake for Phoebe.

“Make a wish, girlfriend!”

Phoebe concentrates, and blows; the flame splutters out.

“Happy birthday, Phoebe.” Althea weaves on the dock’s edge. “I’m glad you’re with Ben, he’s good folk, deserves the best. And you’re the best too, girl, cuz you make him happy, keep him outta trouble. He’s one crazy guy, but good as gold as long as he takes his lith--”

“Shut up, Al.” The boat pitches when I stand. My hands draw into tight fists. “Just shut the fuck up. You’re drunk.”

“Oh shit.” She covers her face, her giggles. “So sorry.”

A low whistle screams overhead. The sky erupts in red and orange, incandescent streamers shower into the river, fizzing into smoke. In the light-splattered night, Phoebe’s eyes glitter, questioning me.

“She’s toasted,” I say. Her fingers squeeze mine, seeking more, but I look away, into the shivering sky, and breathe, just breathe, until the only noise is my pulse thumping through my brain and all I see are smoky-white trails of spent fireworks echoing against my closed eyelids.


This week's theme from 52/250 -- corrected vision. Spent Fireworks launches off a scene from my novel BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. Here, I intend to show how one word almost uttered with carelessness -- lithium -- can change one's view of another, indeed, can shift an entire world, when saying it reveals harbored secrets.

And hey, I had to work in the Fourth of July somehow! It's Phoebe's birthday, after all, and both my real kids are born this week. Happy 4th! Peace, Linda