Sunday, October 31, 2010

NoNo NaNo

No NaNo for me this year.

This would be my fourth NaNoWriMo. I feel sad not partaking of this annual gluttony of words, this month of the inner critic taking a long cruise. But my editor's taken up residence, stubborn as she sits on my shoulder, assisting me with hack-saws and fettling knives, polish cloths and a bit of spit for shine.

With two novels lingering somewhere between second draft and final, I don't feel entitled -- or compelled -- to tackle a new story. Not that they're not lingering in the background -- I have at least three, including two YAs, itching for birth.

Alas, not this month. Not even this year, and perhaps not even next. My one luxury while in major edit mode is penning my weekly 52/250/#fridayflash shorty. And sometimes even writing 250 words seems Herculean.

So to all my friends doing the NaNo -- write forth! Write unencumbered! Write for sheer joy! I'll cheer you from the sidelines, a little envious of your free writing. But perhaps seeing sprint towards the 50K finish line will motivate me to really finish CLOSER TO NORMAL (yep, new title) and PURE by October 31, 2011.

Live hard, write harder, love hardest.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Every day Man shuffles through Land of Stones hunched over his stick. Bright-Eyes chitters loud and scrambles down Oak. My tail twitches, alert. Hungry. Sun scared away Rainclouds and the acorns are small and hard. Bright-Eyes hides them in our secret nooks anyway, for the kits who will come after Snow.

Bright-Eyes looks thin perched on top of Stone. Man hobbles slowly. He looks thin, too. When he arrives, Bright-Eyes scampers behind the tree, waiting. Man stops, leans on his stick, and sighs. He stares at Stone. He waters Earth with his eyes.

“Carol,” he says. “I miss you.”

His hand plunges into his skin, grey like Sky. Seeds shower the yellowed grass. Bright-Eyes dashes out, filling his cheeks with corn and nuts. Blue Jay swoops down from the branch for his share. Man watches with sad eyes, then leaves.

Every morning Man sprinkles his Water and Seed before Stone. Bright-Eyes lines our nest with fallen leaves. Sky turns black and blows cold. Bright-Eyes brings me acorns but does not eat. My belly swells.

White arrives. Man does not visit. We wait and wait. Still Man does not come. White piles higher than Stone. Bright-Eyes returns with the last acorn. He gives it to me.

One morning, White goes away. Yellow Bird rumbles beside Oak and digs through White and Earth with his beak. Men circle around the hole, but not our Man. They fill the hole and right another Stone.

White returns. Bright-Eyes does not wake. I wait.


A departure of sorts for me -- I've never written from a critter's POV, though I have written from a tree's. Inspired by the 52-250 Flash a Year Challenge theme: tombstones.

Redoing BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. It's kind of fun. I even have a new title.

Peace, Linda

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good Things In Life Take a Long Time

Patience. Persistence. Perspiration.

Sometimes I'm not sure I have what it takes to keep on keeping on. With my writing. With my work. With people who inadvertently hurt me and the ones I love.

I'm tired.

But then a few things happen and I get pumped again. People are reading my stories. Not writers, but readers. I found out today a student in a New England college, tasked with finding a story on-line, chose one of mine posted at fictionaut. They discussed it in class. My words had utility and, I hope, resonated.

This moves me.

A friend is sharing several of my stories and poems with her book club.

This also moves me.

A pharmacy student comes by with chocolate she brought back from an internship in Geneva.

This moves me, and makes my taste buds sing.

And then, after a less-than-optimal weekend, I hear this song and am reminded that there are good things, always, in life, if you hang in there long enough...

Peace, Linda

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Wind slams the trailer. Dolores and Marty cook through the Nor’easter. JJ’s late.

“He ain’t coming,” Marty says. “Time to sample the goods.”

The blade slices the white mound, tap-tap-tapping crystalline lines on glass.

“JJ’s gonna be pissed.” Dolores malt-liquored breath scatters the powder.

Marty shrugs, rolls the twenty. Saliva gushes.

The door blows open.


Inspired by the 52-250 Flash A Year Challenge theme: long lines.

Of course, my head always goes to drugs. Also inspired the oddly satisfying challenge of writing 55-word stories. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Am Grateful For ===> Cathy Olliffe Webster!

Who busts up the murk of Monday with her pos-i-ti-vee-tee? Who can make me laugh and cry in the same post? Who always has a kind word and a generous heart?

My favorite newly-wed Cathy Olliffe Webster!

This third Canadian, whose gratitudes graced my blog nearly every day last month, is a dynamo of energy, compassion, and grace. She blogs from MUSKOKA RIVER, a place somewhere north I'd never heard of until I 'met' Cathy. We caught up in between stops on her whirlwind honeymoon with Dave. Their adventures included meeting up Laurita Miller, fellow writer and gratitude ‘winner’ (and please go vote for round II for her BRAIN DROPPINGS, Canadian Blog Awards nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards).

Here's Cathy waxing on the important things in life...

What three things are you most grateful for today?
Today is rather spectacular, not my average day at all. First of all, it's Monday and I'm not at work (I'm grateful for that, who wouldn't be?). I'm on my honeymoon with an incredible man who loves me no matter what.(So grateful for that.) And I'm staying in one of the world's most beautiful places, Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you can imagine a place where mountains covered with craggy rock and autumn leaves reach out to touch the Atlantic Ocean; a place dotted with charming fishing villages; a place where people are warm and wonderful – that's where I am today. And inside that beautiful place I am in a gorgeous boutique hotel, in the honeymoon suite, with a jacuzzi and a fireplace and wireless internet!! (Yay!) I'm grateful for all of it, today. I do believe it's the best Monday I've ever had in my whole life.

What gives you the most joy?
My family. My new husband, Dave, my children Angus and Sam. My wonderful mother, Dorothy. Writing also gives me joy, makes me feel whole. Gives me a reason to exist.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where when 10 is as blissed out as one could be, where would you rate your mean happiness?
I live life on an emotional rollercoaster sometimes, seeming to roll from highs to lows in a heartbeat. But, on average, I would say I'm a happy, positive person. Mark me in at seven.

What impedes your ability to attaining joy?
I'm my own worst enemy. I think I'm a very sensitive person, sensitive to the feelings and emotions of those around me, so it doesn't take much negativity to bring me down. I used to try to please everybody. But at this stage of my life I try to surround myself with people who are positive. It makes me positive, it makes me happy. And I love feeling that way.

I'm also prone to depression but I'm looking after myself as best I can. Here's my advice: see a doctor. Get some exercise. Get some sleep. Break away from people who drag you down. Surround yourself with loving, happy people. Do things that make you happy.

Wise words, Cathy -- giving love to those you love begats love back.

She emailed me today. Despite work stress and returning to oodles of stuff to do, not to mention cranky novel critique-ers, she remains pretty dang happy.

“Married life is awesome. Funny thing - it all felt weird until we got home from the honeymoon. Then I settled down and realized, hey, it's Dave, we're the same. We're fine! And now it's all good.”

THANK YOU Cathy for spreading your enthusiasm and good cheer across the cyberverse. Most of all, thank you for extending your friendship to me, a thousand miles away.

Peace, Linda

Monday, October 18, 2010

Doppelgangers and Other Detritus

Isn't it funny how, when you're in the thick of a story, you see your characters everywhere? When I was in DC a week ago, one of the speakers at the mental health conference was a shoo-in for my Ben. Same name, same field, same physique, same hair, same age, even the same damn Ivy League institution. Freaky. And then, this weekend in Mount Washington the waitress was a clone of Althea. Pinch me...


Work is a lot like Survivor these days. Lots of whispering, behind-closed-doors-crud, alliances formed and broken. I just wish I could find the damn immunity idol.


This weekend my kids and I took a clay class together. I had more fun than the kiddos, and twisting coils and cutting slabs made me realize how much I missed working in this medium. Clay will be part of my 5-year plan.


I found out I 'won' a beautiful native American flute. Gorgeous creature, made of cedar and walnut. Birthed into this world by KEN LIGHT, a master flute maker. Now I need to learn how to play it. Also part of the 5-year plan.


I'm assembling a chapbook of short stories and prose poems. Not sure what I'll do with it, but it is mighty satisfying to see the words I've created assembled into a manuscript.


The Reading... Mary Gaitskill's BAD BEHAVIOR. Deliciously decadent. A slew of books winging my way NOW -- Tim Horvath, Matt Bell, Hint Fiction. Yum.

The Writing... A flash a week is about all I can eke out for new stuff. Otherwise, editing and revising through to the end of Brighter than Bright. I am in turns amazed at how good and horrified at how awful various sections read.

MUST READ ==> The chilling story CHARCOAL/VANILLA by Spencer Dew. While you're at the NEW Fall Issue of JMWW, mosey around and read Tim Horvath, Terese Svoboda, Ken Sparling, and all the other great stuff.

MUST RETURN ==> Here. Wednesday. To read about my gratitude for Cathy (Ouliffe) Webster.

MUST RELAX ==> Monday is over. Please, sit down and pour yourself a Drambuie.

Love. Live. Laugh. And don't sweat the small stuff. Peace, Linda

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Comfort of Friends

She sat with me in the white bathroom, holding my hair while I upchucked in the once-pristine commode. When there was nothing left to hold, she rubbed small circles between my shoulder blades. At the wig shop, she held up a red bob.

“Spunky,” she said. “And sexy.”

She drove me to radiation, to acupuncture and support group. She brewed herbal concoctions that smelled of twigs and dirt. She brought casseroles and cookies, and later, applesauce and other soft sick-foods. She painted yellow happy faces on my toe nails, upside-down so my piggies smiled up at me during infusions.

After I survived the treatment, I weighed the possibility of reconstruction. She came with me for the fitting. I cried at the scars cratering my chest, mourning how my husband once caressed the soft fullness of my breasts, kissed my rosebud nipples. She squeezed my hand the way only a best friend could reassure.

“He loves all of you, not just your body parts.” She held up a C-cup mastectomy bra, a full size bigger than what I’d lost. “So let’s go, Dolly,” she said, and we both laughed.

Turns out she brought more than food for comfort. Now my husband begs me to take him back, but I don’t return his phone calls, or hers. Nights I climb the stairs to the empty bedroom, rubbing the stubble growing newly black on my head, the prosthesis stashed deep in his underwear drawer.


Inspired by the 52-250 Flash a Year Challenge theme: the brutality of friends. Inspired also by true circumstances, thankfully not my own. Be careful who you trust with your heart.

Peace, Linda

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Grateful for ==> Laurita Miller

Lovely Laurita.

When I think of Laurita, I think of sunshine. Of grace and generosity. At least that's her internet 'personality', though I hear first-hand that Laurita's the real deal. I'll have to head north someday to find out for myself.

Laurita weaves words from air, makes the prosaic into poetry. If you doubt me, please check out ESCAPE INTO LIFE, featuring 4 of her micro-stories, each an elegant literary truffle. Whenever I pop by her blog I never know what to expect -- a poem, a horror story, a love story, a description of her day -- but know it will be time best spent.

During the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge, Laurita expressed the most heartfelt gratitudes. On the first day, she left a gorgeous gratitude: I am grateful for those people who take just one quick moment to point out the good in someone else. That one moment can make a world of difference.

I've thought often about this particular gratitude -- it's like a mantra of sorts when someone angers or disappoints me. It reminds me to make change through kindness rather than force of personality or power or strength.

Laurita had a few more things to say about the power of thanks. Here, in her own words...

What three things are you most grateful for TODAY?

Today, I am grateful that I live where I do. Clean air, clean water, and an abundance of beauty. I truly believe I live in the best place in the world.

Today I am also grateful for sunshine. And for my family. Always for family.

What brings you the most joy?

The easy thing is to say my family, but that’s true. I have a large extended family and we’re all close. They’re a bunch of silly loons and I love them all. Throw an hour or two of writing time into the mix and I am one happy woman.

If there was a general happiness scale ranging from 1-10, where 1 is absolutely-the-most-miserable-a-body-can-be and 10 is blissed out to the max, where would you fall?

On average, I’d be about an 8. I’m pretty happy most of the time. Disgustingly so really.

What are your greatest obstacles to achieving happiness, however you define it?

Worry. I try not to, but it’s hard when you’re a mother. Worry about the kids is the biggest obstacle to happiness, for me. Most of it is unfounded, and worry is a useless thing anyway, but it’s tough when little pieces of your heart are running around out in the big world.

Thank you Laurita for gracing my blog and gracing our world.

Peace, Linda

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hint Fiction @ Nanoism

A very small story of mine is up today at NANOISM, the premier twitter-fic zine.

This is the story (PINK SLIP) that garnered an honorable mention in Robert Swartwood's last Hint Fiction contest, judged by James Frey.

A hearty thanks to editor Ben White for sharing my little treatise on the economic downturn with the whole dang world!

Peace, Linda

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rules for Surviving Eighth Grade

Rule #1) Never hurry home. After soccer, hang out at the library. Try to get invited to Marcy’s house for dinner. Just don’t act too desperate.

Rule #2) Don’t have friends over. If they ask why, say, “My mom works nights and sleeps in the afternoon.”

Rule #3) When you do come home, don’t change the TV channel or mute the volume, even if she’s sleeping on the couch. It’s not worth the fight.

Rule #4) Go to bed early. Wake up early.

Rule #5) Never talk about it, even with Nana on the phone. Never, ever with teachers or the counselor. Better here than with your dad.

Rule #6) Never water down the Stoli. Then you’ll have to explain the bruises.

Rule #7) Keep the babysitting money in your locker for lunch and tampons.

Rule #8) Don’t sign up for band because you’ll need a ride to the concerts and she’s always losing her license.

Rule #9) Always listen when she says she loves you, even when she’s too drunk to remember the next day. Tell her you love her too, even if it’s a lie, and hope Jesus understands.

Rule #10) Hide your journal in the cellar behind the dryer – she never washes clothes and besides, she’s afraid of spiders and falling down the stairs. But don’t stash it under the same loose tile as the pot, just in case.


Trying out YA voices, so had some fun with this story, inspired by the 52-250 Flash a Year Challenge theme: unseen.

On the writing front, I'm workshopping BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT (remember that novel?) through the end of the year in hopes of purtying it up for marketing. So I may be scarcer than usual. PURE is marinating until after the holidays, preparing for another skirmish with moi.

Live hard, write harder, love hardest. Peace...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CPR on Tuesday

Not the mouth-to-mouth variety. Rather, Camroc Press Review has two of my poems on tap -- A ∩ B and THE LAST TIME.

Which makes me very happy!

While there, scroll down for a peek at Dawn West's THE FUNERAL -- gorgeous sad piece of writing.

Thank you BARRY BASDEN for featuring my words!

Peace, Linda

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I Am Grateful for... UMBRELLALADY!

Who is this mysterious Umbrellalady, who pops by blogs and leaves marvelous comments full of wisdom and kindness? This is the question I wondered myself, especially when I ran my 30 Days of Gratitude challenge and she offered up a gratitude nearly every single day.

I envisioned a kindly Mary Poppins, surrounded by children and animals, leaping through the air with a smile on her face. I found Kathy Bruederlin at her blog QUILT SEAMS JUST RIGHT, rambling about quilting, cooking, creating, maing wine, and life in general. Sounds good to me!

Kathy was the most prolific of gratitude commenters and found gratitude in many small things we take for granted. Now a chance for you meet this most wonderful woman from the North. In her own words...

What three things are you most grateful for today?
1) Just being, because I almost wasn't and that is pretty scary. I know I say this frequently but it is because I truly am grateful for being here every day and consider myself one of the luckiest persons in the world.

2) The cold rain finally quit. I hate getting rained on and we had a fire drill yesterday in the pouring rain. I guess the principal forgot to tell the new vice-principal that fire drills are supposed to only fall on dry days and she scheduled this one without this rather important tidbit of information. We had a few hundred teenagers and many very cold, soaking wet staff who were definitely not very impressed. (I am not called umbrellalady without a reason - my umbrella was quite happily in my bag that was with me!! I shared...)

3) Kiwi the dog. She always greets me at the door with a happy heart that she shares freely, which speaks for itself.

What gives you the most joy?
The fact that I am here and enjoy life, not only the good times but those lousy, rotten times as well. How else would you know if you were happy if you weren't ever sad? The other thing that gives me a lot of joy is sharing with and giving to others - sometimes to people who are close to me and other times just because I can help someone out.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where when 10 is as blissed out as one could be, where would you rate your mean happiness?
I would say that on average I am a pretty solid 7/8 (7.5?) on the happiness scale. I have a wonderful, somewhat quirky husband and two beautiful daughters who make my life so happy. I am a person who finds joy in the little things in life (like baking bread, doggy and kitty kisses - sort of, lack of mosquitoes), and in the big things are like winning a lottery, like a new fancy-schmancy sidewalk and small patio in the back yard coming up at the end of this month!

My mother used to say to tell me when I was a child, I was so happy I always woke up with a huge smile on my face. I actually remember this because I used to love waking up nice and cozy under my ballerina quilt and see the sunlight shining in. It always felt so darn good.

What impedes your ability to attaining joy?
My greatest obstacle to achieving happiness is myself - I am my biggest critic and am way, way too empathetic to other people's problems. However, if I got any happier, I would be more obnoxious than I already am, lol!

I can always tell when I am super happy because I start singing to myself. The odd thing is that I don't even realize I am doing it until someone asks me why I am singing. I guess it just feels good and it just spills out of me. Corny - eh?

Thank you for sharing yourself with me and the rest of the blogging community. Keep on spreading your cheer. And here's one for you...

louis armstrong "what a wonderful world"
Uploaded by GO-GO-STALIN. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Peace, Linda