Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gratitude #27

The world's full of glass-half-empty types, folks who drain the room of positivity like a vacuum sucks dust. Here's to those who persist in their vision, in refusing to let the dogs get them down, who BELIEVE in themselves and the goodness of humanity.

Got gratitude? Well there's just THREE -- count them -- THREE more days left in the 30 Days of Gratitude celebration.

Add a gratitude of your choice and up the size of the checks I write for hospice and the crisis center. And you might win a goodie basket full of wonderful readerly items, plus an interview with moi.


The Writing... it goes, it goes. Editing's so slow. Got a hundred pages of PURE to clean up, then I'll throw in a drawer until I start my next GOTHAM novel workshop in October. I'm still managing to eke out a shortie fiction piece every week for 52/250 and #fridayflash. Look for a funky collaborative story coming soon at The Bijou. A noirish piece, my friends will be so happy to see me stretching into other genre.

The Marketing... sigh. Sigh, sigh, sigh... I have sent out 17 submissions and am racking up rejections faster than a fly finds poop. Which makes me feel like poop.

The Reading... have I said how much I LOVED The Corrections? So much I've ordered Franzen's Freedom. Meanwhile, starting in on Tinkers, the thin volume which netted the big kahuna of writing prizes earlier this year, and am thick into Dave Carr's Night of the Gun, a fascinating memoir of a journalist's spiral into - and out -- of addiction, gifted to me by writing buddy and friend CHRYS (thank YOU!).

Peace, Linda

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gratitude #26

THE KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kind of bittersweet. My son started middle-school while my daughter entered the 3rd grade. Different schools, different buses, different schedules.

Peace, Linda

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gratitude #25

We always have a choice: to act in love, or react in fear.

It takes courage to take the positive road, to say no to naysayers, to give with an open heart. To care for every human no matter what his or her station in life. To stay true to your conscience. To act on behalf of the common public good, and not one's self.

Today I am grateful for Don Fedder, a colleague, a friend, a mentor. He always chose love. Thank you for shining a light on my little life, and on so many others. Rest in peace, friend...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gratitudes #23 and #24

Gratitude #23: I have time to sit down and think -- what am I grateful for?

Gratitude #24: I am thankful for my husband, who has surprised me in so many little ways this weekend. All good.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, August 26, 2010

SLEEP - #fridayflash

Sweet Jesus, what’s that boy doing in there – taking a bubble bath? This one’s weird, cleaning himself before and after, but now he’s gotta go, before Keshon comes for his money. I strap on my new shoes, all glittery red. They make my legs look real good. “A gift for my best sugar doll,” Keshon said. Well he better find himself another doll cuz I’m outta here, mama’s gonna take my sorry ass back. I rub the locket she gave me, for luck, my only goodness inside, and stretch on the mattress for a little shut-eye.

In between ambulances the medic mutters, “Worse than fucking Afghanistan.” I’ve no idea, all I know is I’m 36 hours straight running triage on gang-bangers ODing on whatever crap they shoot up their veins. I need some goddamn sleep, but gurneys line the hall from here to Timbuktu, this one with a ridiculous red shoe wedged between sheeted feet. Still conscious, brown eyes stare at me, wide, scared. I should pat her hand, comfort her but there’s no time, another ambulance pulled into the bay. Besides, with all those stab wounds no way I’m betting on her odds anyway.

He studies the body, measures the depth and width of each slash. The camera flashes. No ID, no clothes, clean tox screen, just like the other prostitutes in the mortuary. Only a single stiletto and a necklace. He photographs the infant smiling from the locket before pressing his hand over the dead girl’s open eyes.


Inspired by this week's 52-250 Flash A Year theme: sleep

Peace, Linda

Gratitude #22

Today I give thanks to my students -- they teach me more than they may ever realize.

I'm also grateful to all of you; every gratitude YOU express yields one more dollar to help others needing food and needing relief from pain. Want to join the celebration? Read the details HERE!

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gratitude #21

A hearty thanks to the teachers and mentors of the world. I am so blessed to have so many wise and kind individuals help me achieve my dreams -- personal, professional, and artistic.

I found myself grinning on the metro ride into work this morning when, flipping through my Poets and Writers, I saw this article -- Face the Fear -- by Rachel Kadish. You'll have to read the entire column in the paper version of P&W.

A faculty member of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University, Rachel is an amazing, moving writer who creates unforgettable characters (Read: Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story and From A Sealed Room). I'm the lucky one; she taught me much last summer when I attended a writing conference.

Who has influenced the way you live? Who has taken the time to teach you a skill or further your genius?

And don't forget to pay it forward every chance you have. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gratitude #20

Sometimes it's the smallest things that mean the most: the meetings that end on time, the rain that holds off until you get home, your youngest's idea to use flour tortillas for the hamburgers instead of the rolls not picked up. For these small events and non, I am grateful.

And thanks for this cool article about the utility of ketamine and other psychedelics to treat depression and other psychiatric ailments. Grateful because it's good info for my day job, and better, gives me an idea for joiperidone, aka JM-25, the mythical medication starring in PURE.

Compliments of Scientific American.

Peace, Linda

Monday, August 23, 2010

BluePrintReview - Gratitude #19

I am grateful today for editors who take passionate chances on new and emerging writers, who embrace their vision of art without compromise.

Dorothee Lang embodies this spirit bar none; she's aone-woman, non-stop writer, artist, editor, promoter and all around human being. Lots of reasons for my gratitude, starting with her championing of small and independent press at Daily s-Press, where she also serves up a health helping of the hippest literary happenings on the web.

Dorothee also edits the fine literary journal BluePrint Review. In keeping with the theme 'two-squared', Issue 25 reveals two poems or stories every two days, allowing readers to savor each artist. Today I am grateful and honored to have my story Second-Hand Video-Cam featured alongside contributions by respected writers and artists, including Michelle Elvy, Kirsty Logan, Rose Hunter, Sheldon Lee Compton, bl pawalek, Susan Gibb, and many others. Take a gander -- you will not be disappointed.

Peace, Linda

Peace, Linda

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gratitudes #17 and #18

Gratitude #17: I am so thankful to have a few days without the internet -- without the constant barrage of information, life feels deliciously slower.

Gratitude #18: I am grateful for the technology of the internet, of computers, of fiber-optics and wi-fi and cyberspace -- how else could I have possibly enjoyed all of YOU?


We traveled to North Carolina to visit family, and I left my laptop behind. On purpose. Just lovely. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend; I'll be catching up tonight with the last 48 hours.

Peace, Linda

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gratitude #16

Today I am thankful my husband and children are gathered in North Carolina with my mother and my sister and her family.

Nothing, I repeat nothing, is more important than family.

No matter how you define it or form it.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can't Wait

I can’t wait till I’ve saved enough money from this goddamn gig slinging tacos at the Tastee-Kone and can pay off my old man for the Chrysler cuz then I am so out of this numbfuck place, this tired valley full of dumbshit farmers and their almond trees, and me and Mariah will drive up the coast, past pussy Big Sur and Russian River and disappear into the woods, maybe Oregon, hell, who knows, just like all the hippies did thirty years ago, and she’ll grow organic shiitakes and reishi on moldy logs and I’ll farm sensi from the killer weed seeds hidden in the origami crane, the one the Japanese woman on the corner gave to me two years ago in the Haight when I was high as a fucking kite, my right eye bashed in because The Dude said I owed him money, but I needed to score, and this tiny Jap, lady really, though all her stuff was in plastic bags, was selling these folded-paper creatures on the corner, a buck each, and I looked at the money stashed in the cup between her knees, my hand fisted and spit gushed in my mouth just thinking of the baggie, but she looked up at me, her white-streaked hair tied into a tight little -- what do you call it, a chignon? – and anyway, she looked up at me and handed me this crane and said, “I will pray for you.”


Inspired by this week's 52/250 Flash a Year theme --> Waiting.

Peace, Linda

Gratitude #15

The sun is shining.

Half-way through
30 Days of Gratitude and we've raised over 75 buckolas for hospice and a crisis shelter. THANK YOU kind readers for your generosity and your amazing gratitudes.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gratitude #14

Some days it is enough to be grateful the day is over. Today is one of those days.


Freebie read ==> WONDERFUL essay by the fabulous Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried) on the characteristics of an unsuccessful story. The missing ingredient to what makes a story sing might surprise you. TELLING TALES, courtesy of The Atlantic.

Peace, Linda

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The BOFF is HERE! -- Gratitude #13

Today I am grateful for the #fridayflash community and its founder and fearless leader Jon Strother at Mad Utopia(@jmstro). Intrigued by the potential of social media, Jon singlehandedly created a virtual community of short story writers who tweet their wares around the globe every Friday. You can view the collected stories gathered in the Best of Friday Flash - Volume 1.

I am honored and humbled to be included in this anthology with folks I admire -- as writers and as exceptional people -- writers I admire, and for having a small part in the anthology's creation. BOFF is a labor of love, one which honors the spirit of #fridayflash. Most of all, I feel blessed to be part of a caring, compassionate, and generous community and lucky to call many of you friends.

Peace, Linda

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gratitude #12

Thanks for the rain, gentle drizzle and thunderous clouds; the raspberries and hardy kiwis fat for the picking.

My last day of staycation. The past week I did a lot of writing, jam making, and not much more. I had great plans -- go clothes shopping, coffee with friends, clean out my closet -- but in the end I enjoyed spending my days reading, writing, taking naps and walks, doing some yoga, and hanging out in my garden.

Next week, the students return, and my own children return to school at the end of this month. I smell autumn in the air, hear it in the long chirrup of the crickets finding their way into my basement, in the withering of the daylilies. Peace, Linda

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gratitude #11

A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others. (Wizard of Oz).

Today I give thanks for Frank Baum and his fantastical creation The Wizard of Oz. His story has so many layers, so many universals. Last night we watched the film in its wonderful Technicolor glory, and this afternoon we watched our talented friends play characters in the The Glyndon Area Players stage production. Bravo!

I find it fascinating that the two witches -- one good, the other evil -- are played by two Unitarian Universalists.

The weekend's winding down == what's your joy?

Peace, Linda

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gratitude #10

Nothing makes my family happier on the weekend than finding a great yard sale. Everyone wins -- the buyer snags a bargain, the seller cleans house and makes a few Uncle Sam-free bucks, and the neighbors all hang out together.

Today's finds include:
--Lea: Collectible barbies still in their boxes -- $2 for 3
--Will: lacrosse stick, ball, and extra shaft -- $5
--Henry: a huge art history book in pristine condition -- $1
--Me: William and Sonoma cookbooks -- $1 each -- and a sweet porcelain vase less than 2 inches tall handpainted with blueberries -- $2

Yard-saling means getting up early. We traveled from our home to historic Ellicott City and Sykesville, then into the Roland Park neighborhood of Baltimore. We splurged on brunch at Miss Shirley's, home of the most eclectic breakfast menu (Smores French toast, smoked salmon club sandwich, and polenta cake topped with wilted spinach, grilled portobella, and egg).

So what are YOU grateful for today? Joing 30 Days of Gratitude fray -- your gratitude, posted below in the comments, means I send another buck to hospice and the local crisis shelter. And you might win a prize yourself.

Peace, Linda

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gratitude #9

I give thanks for endings, my stubborness -- it keeps me moving forward -- and Zeke's coffee.

Got a lot done today, including a decent backside to PURE. Now, a full first draft. A REAL full first draft.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flying to the Moon - #fridayflash

There, behind the dusty heaps of crumpled doors and rusted engines, hidden from streetlights that banished the thin curve of the moon, they escaped. Below the hillock where they lay spread-eagled under Pegasus and Cassiopeia, the creek’s thin gurgle whispered through cracked earth. Grass poked spears into the girl’s thighs, and she momentarily worried about ticks and snakes, about today’s school suspension and her mother’s wrath still stinging her cheek. The boy reached for her hand, and squeezed. Night swaddled them.

“I always wanted to be an astronaut,” she murmured.

She closed her eyes and the sky opened. A star cascaded in rainbows, fireworks in reverse, scattering spent ash. The warmth sanctified her, a mother’s softer touch. Heaven tilted, the jinn spirits catapulted her higher faster towards the pock-marked orb, shining satin with benevolence. Asteroids showered silver rain as one horizon opened, then another, and another, galaxies bursting in an infinite slide-show of the absolute, and she reached up up up into blinding white to touch to hold to know to be.

“God?” she cried, and shuddered.

The boy leaned close, his breath golden clouds. “Fly, baby, fly,” he said. “Fly to the moon.”

Dew-wet fingers traced her lips, pushed in another bit of fleshy mushroom. The universe expanded, taking her with it.


Inspired by the 52-250 Flash a Year Challenge theme: space camp. <<< Take a gander -- lots of gorgeous work. And aren't the summer skies amazing?

Peace, Linda

Gratitude #8

I give thanks for all the jerks, idiots, and general a-holes: one, they make the rest of us look like gold, and two, they remind us how not to behave.

(And no, nothing in particular triggered this gratitude -- just thinking why heterogeneity is good, even bad difference).

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gratitude #7

Today I am grateful for the honesty of colleagues, friends, and family, for entrusting me with your innermost fears and joys. I also am grateful for change and the opportunities it harbingers.

I spent the day on a boat on the Severn River with colleagues from work, celebrating the end of a leadership training class. A gorgeous day, a slight haze on the river, but the breeze burnt off summer's swelter. We tooled around Annapolis, the Naval Academy, past the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and built deeper relationship. For it is the personal bonds in work that make work worthwhile.

One week into the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. So far, $31 dollars raised for hospice and my local crisis center. So keep posting your daily gratitude in the comments section -- I only count gratitudes, not general comments, because articulating a joy is half the fun. And sorta like laughing -- good for your health. Plus, three lucky 'grates' will receive a goody basket of hand-picked books and other treasures, plus a feature on my blog. Think quirky, think mushy, think gen-u-ine.

Peace, Linda

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gratitude #6

Thank Goddess for the Muse, who often crashes the party unannounced, but leaves with deliciousky unexpected results.

Peace, Linda

Monday, August 09, 2010

Gratitude #5

I give thanks for the 10 furlough days granted me by the State; they are allowing me to 'escape' to my 'mountain' and work on PURE for a few blessed and uninterrupted days -- sans guilt.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Gratitude #4

Today I give thanks to the humble peach, whose pink-tinged insides provided indelectable joy.

DO try this at home

PEACH GELATO (The Cheater's Version)

3 pounds freshest peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/2 cup mascarpone

Peel and dice the peaches. Lay on cookie sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours. Remove frozen peaches and pulse with sugar and vanilla. Add mascarpone and puree until smooth. Transfer to container and freeze for 20 minutes before serving.


I've made a lot of ice creams this summer and this recipe, adapted from one I found in the Los Angeles Times, and this ranks. The first time I made it I accidentally added the entire container of mascarpone (oops!) and it was still heavenly (more like cream and peaches than peaches and cream). If the ice cream gets too hard in the freezing, let it sit out for 5-10 minutes. You also can chip it back into the food processor and blend it again.

Tonight we dribbled warm homemade peach jam over the gelato. Amazing.

Anyway, lots to be grateful for today. And you?

Add a gratitude below and join the 30 Days of Gratitude fray -- prizes, fame, and all that jazz! Plus every gratitude adds a buck to my charity coffers for hospice and my town's crisis center.

Peace, Linda

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Gratitude #3

I love my son and his funny little sayings. He told me today I was shaped like 'a tastykake with all the cream squeezed out.'


Celebrate 30 Days of Gratitudes by leaving a gratitude for the rest of us to appreciate. Every posted gratitude means one more dollar for hospice or my town's crisis shelter.

What made you shimmy with joy today?

Peace, Linda

Friday, August 06, 2010

Gratitude #2

I am grateful for my eye infection because it reminds me of the importance of sight, and to never take my eyes -- and my contacts -- for granted.

What are you grateful for TODAY? Tell me below, and help yourself and others needing shelter, food, and nursing care. See how HERE in my 30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE CONTEST.


Got allergies? Read Damn headache and a slew of other stories at 52/250 A YEAR OF FLASH. And this week's #fridayflash is HERE.

Happy weekend. Peace, Linda

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bucking Orders - #fridayflash

Tien watched me over the rim of her tea cup. Stan peeled layers from a croissant, slathering each piece with raspberry jam from one of the tiny jars spread before him on the linen table cloth, his earlier disapproval seemingly vanquished with the formal offer. My foot tapped while he decanted a daunting list of to-dos for me: pack glassware, measure the new labs, order furniture and equipment, crate the micro-PET machine, scout out neighborhoods, archive and box up our files.

“Shall I finish your holiday shopping, too?” I asked.

Stan’s lips pursed. Tien rubbed her calf against mine, warning me.

“We all have a lot to do over the next two months,” he said. “The trials need setting up, grant proposals and manuscripts need writing. The move’s a necessary pain in the ass. So prioritize. We'll pack up the Boston lab after the New Year. Now, focus on outfitting the new labs and lining up condos for Tien and I to look at when we return. The weekend was a bust, there’s crap in Mount Vernon. Look into Fells Point, Federal Hill. Maybe Canton. You writing all this down?”

I tapped my forehead. Stan looked dubious.

“Anyway, two days gives you plenty of time to scout out suitable townhouses.”

“Row houses,” Tien said. “That’s what they call them here.”

“Whatever, just find me one with ceilings taller than me and under 500k.” He pushed the basket of pastries across the table. “You’re looking too skinny these days. Eat.”

I poured another coffee from the carafe and disregarded the basket. They babbled about Chicago, Tien nodding at his every word. They were babysitting me; I knew it, they knew it. The whole weekend Tien hadn’t let me out of her sight. I pulled the Sunday paper towards me and pretended to read the sports section.

Stan insisted I accompany them to the airport. The ride was quiet.

We approached departures. Tien patted my knee, then gathered the purse and laptop cluttered at her feet. The cab pulled curbside.

“See you in two days,” Tien said and opened her door.

Two days. The cab rocked as the trunk emptied. No kiss goodbye, Tien was already walking towards the terminal. Outside, Stan peeled off several bills and handed them to the cabbie.

Gone, they’re almost gone. The driver settled into the front seat. My body unfurled in relief. The side front door opened.

Stan leaned into the open window. “Take him back to the Marriott," he said to the driver. "I gave you double fare plus tip.”

The door slammed. Stan wheeled his suitcase, flipped his cell phone. The cab pulled from the curb. I dug into my backpack for my wallet and fluttered a twenty over the seatback.

“Penn Station,” I said.

Once on the train, I crashed, hard. When I woke two hours later, I texted Dinesh again. The train barreled past New Rochester and momentary guilt panged -- I should help my sister pack up my Mother's belongings. But I didn’t have time. It seemed I never had time for the important things.


Excerpted from PURE, a novel under cosmetic surgery. I love this scene because it's the first time Ben rebels against his colleagues.

And while you're here -- CHECK OUT THE THIRTY DAYS OF GRATITUDE CONTEST. Help yourself, and help others in need, too. Peace, Linda

30 Days of Gratitude

Good things come in packets of threes. This week celebrates leftbrainwrite's 3rd Blogiversary!!!! And... today's verbage celebrates my 300th pontification!!! So, let's have a contest!!!

These days I am so grateful -- for many things -- but mostly for you. Dear readers, writers, friends, fellow journeyers... you give so much through your words and actions. I cannot imagine my life without your company, cyber or otherwise, and would find it infinitely less full.

To celebrate YOU I am launching 30 Days of Gratitude and I want YOU to join in the party. EVERY DAY for the next 30 days I will post one reason I am grateful. Add yours in the comments. From the total number of comments I will choose THREE gratitudes:
--The Most Heartfelt
--The Quirkiest
--The Most Random (hey, gotta let Lady Luck play, too)

What's in it for you? PRIZES!!!

Each winner will receive: 1/ A handful of books chosen FOR YOU from my collection, plus other custom tokens of my appreciation; 2/ Publication of the winning gratitude on my blog, accompanied by 3/ an interview of all things that make you grateful.

BUT... everyone is a winner. Because for every gratitude left in the comment section I will contribute a dollar to two do-gooder organizations -- HOSPICE and my local COMMUNITY CRISIS CENTER. Hospice because I have such deep gratitude for the humanity they granted my father and our family in his last days, the RCCC because they have an arrangement with the Maryland Food Bank where 7 cents will buy a pound of food. There's a lot of hungry folks in my neck of the foods. I'll also will add a buck for every new tribe member (I have 113 today). That's one smackeroo for every comment and/or new follower, up to $300 total. How can you NOT play?

--Post as often as you wish, but only one gratitude per day.
--Each gratitude must be 300 characters or less, including spaces. I want short. I want pithy. Think two tweets worth.
--Get your gratitudes in by midnight Friday September 3.

Gratitude #1: For all the helpers in the world – nurses, teachers, ministers, counselors, volunteers – who listen and give a damn.

Peace, Linda

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Gratitude #25

THE KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace, Linda

Monday, August 02, 2010

Muddling through Monday

>>Attended my first-ever high school class reunion, technically an all-class reunion as the official event cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Interesting. Two-hundred folks crammed into the 42nd Street Oyster Bar and Grill in Raleigh, everyone staring at boobs at chests to read the name tags. Hard to catch up over the din, but a lot of fun quaffing Carolina Nut Brown Ale, chitting the chat, and wondering where the hell 30 years have gone.

>>Returning to North Carolina always makes me musive. My own word.

>>My mom is tough; broken hip, lousy lungs, yet she still gets excited in a fabric store when she's designing her quilts.

>>I've decided gratitude is under-rated. I've also determined that every asshole has an angel twin. To you angels -- the strangers who help my mother, the clerks who grace the world with smiles, to all those who remember and use the 'polite' words and mean them -- thank you.

The Reading... Oh what a disappointment in Anne Lamott's IMPERFECT BIRDS. Does it seem lately so many bona fide proven authors rush their endings? Like they're thinking, damn, I am so sick of this story, these characters? Felt the same way when I finished Niffenegger's latest... Reading some non-fiction for a change, plus several novular WIPs.

The Writing... Finishing up lots of little projects before I head back to the mountain in a week or so. Marketing-wise, sent out 8 pieces, gotten 2 rejects, no wins.

The Contest... a contest you say? Stay tuned, next post. Promise.

For my friends... a candle for all of you having tough times, for those of you who have lost friends and family. I am thinking of you.

Peace, Linda