Taking a Break, Need Time to Focus. Back Soon

I began this blog as a way to inspire more writing.  It has, it does.  The problem; not the right/write kind.  Thank you to those who have elected to follow, comment and inspire.  I have a goal to have a working manuscript done by end of 2011 for my non-fiction/memoir, yet I have found the blog to be.... well-a distraction.  I must however pat myself on the back for the determination to "blog regularly" as evidenced by my archive. (I honestly did not think I could do it)

So, I will temporarily sign off.  Some call it 'blogging without obligation' or just plain, "Got too much stuff going on and my priorities are a bit eschew." 

I will check in later but for now will focus on filling the pages of my well worn journal, filling another journal or two, transcribing complete chapters to the computer, revising and revising---(raising my two boys, tending to a busy husband, working full-time, taking care of our youngest son's health and being a hockey/music lesson mom.. oh, and finishing my Master's).  Of course, I will continue reading as inspiration.  I will push forward with my story I so want to tell.  Parenting, indifference, sacrifice, selfish human nature and of course, hope.  "A Mother's Purpose" (or TBD)

Bye for now.

Yes it is Friday but Don't Forget the Rest

Once in a while it hits me.  We are all here only for so long and damnit, you better enjoy every minute of it.  I think anyone who knows me would agree, I am a relatively happy, upbeat person.  I rarely am as you say, down in the dumps, sullen, blue or long suffering.  I believe my children are a big part of this and especially my youngest who has by far seen far too much "unhappiness" is his seven years. 

I must remain light on my feet.  I must be the one who "brings the party", the one who gives in to Top Ramen and cake for dinner, the one who reads just one more chapter of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the one who is the first to know exactly when Cars 2 and Zookeeper are in the theaters.  My husband, is a great daddy.  He is ultimately the party in the pool where I usually am off in the play area or swimming around while he initiates his own game of "wrecking ball" with the boys- a rather fantastic sport where he dons goggles and slinks under water waiting for the perfect moment to catapult forward toward both screaming boys, their legs splashing with explosive energy.  He finds an ankle, a leg, an arm of a boy and drags him back where the wriggly victim is quickly consumed in belly farts and finished off with a toss in the air only to return for more.  What fun. 

I love every day.  Every moment and just this week as one of the employees in my building sighed, "Just tell me when its Friday", I stopped him and said, "Now what about the rest?  What about Tuesday at 1:26 p.m. and Thursday at 7:13 a.m. Remember, you don't know how many Fridays or Mondays or even Wednesdays you have left.  Don't forget.  Every day is Friday to me.  They're all good." 

He nodded and agreed I was right.  Our youngest son has taught us that every day.  Every day I line up his meds on the counter, one colored syringe after another.  The injections we give him weekly are expedited with a combination of a tactical stealth approach by my husband while he holds him down and I prep the spot, quickly sinking the needle into his soft skin.  This brief but traumatic event is followed up each time with much hugging and tears and "mommy is so sorry but we have to.."

And like today.  We will drop our oldest; his sensitive, attentive older champion brother, off at day camp and then head to the Phoenix Children's Hospital for an echocardiogram.  We need to check his heart.  His blood pressure has been creeping up. 

So enjoy your Friday, enjoy your days as they lay out ahead of you like balanced domino soldiers and appreciate every day you get.  Be happy  and above all love every damn minute of it. 

Laundry to Brownies

I am in between books right now and have decided that although I ordered THREE more, I owe it to myself to postpone the dive into another memoir and focus on writing.  I am reading through "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg.  I am certain many of you have heard of or have already read this inspirational and helpful book on writing.  

I have had this book a while and am determined to begin working on writing more seriously.  Enough wasted time, enough wishful thinking about empty pens or forgetting my journal at home.  It is true; writing is a painful, laborious and gut wrenching process.  My husband cannot comprehend how after all this time, I have produced little more than a few short stories.  Amazing, I SAY!!

Goldberg covers one particular lesson I am determined to focus on over the next several months; Writing as Practice.  Write whatever is working through you.  Write in the margins, back of pages, what you see, the smells, a thought, a memory.  You never know, that thought or sight may turn into a whole chapter leading from the load of laundry you just folded, full of little baby boy clothes to the first time you made brownies with your grandma. 

I owe it to myself to stop being so hard on myself.  I am so particular about every line, word or thought, I don't actually relax and just write freely.  I find that when I actually tell myself, "Okay, lets work on the next chapter..." I never even get to it.  Again, too much pressure!

So, I will relax.  I will work on just writing.  I will not put restrictions on what I write and will not write myself into a corner. 

We owe it to ourselves. 

Anything to get me to brownies....

My Pen, My Friend and a Bit of Rambling on Writing

Feeling a bit punchy, chatty and aimless-

I actually have a quiet house.  I am alone.  The house is cooling off, dinner has been made and served.......I have one child at a play date, the other with dad at hockey.... I should be writing.  I am writing right?  I am writing right now.  Okay, so yea it's not "my book" I am working on (can I even say that with a straight face?).  Am I working "on a book?" I read somewhere once (when I wasn't writing) where you should never say you are "working on a book" if you are in fact just "thinking about working on a book".  

Ohhh, semantics.  Good news! I did start my prologue.  Yes, a prologue.  This book needs it and I just learned to spell prologue.  No, not an introduction.... I researched both.  I definitely need a prologue

Pretty Butterfly

I am just rambling here; whispering to a few friends (your little pictures are to the right), my dilemma or maybe just filling space to give you all something to read, a little escape from your day as you cruise through your blog list.  Maybe you found me via She Writes, or happened across this blog via another blog you were more interested in.  You were curious maybe.  Either way thank you.  Well my friend, I am having what is called a fight with my pen.  It is my friend most days, others not so much. 
If only those "most days" were "more often". 
I am done with " " for now.  My time is up. 

A Take on Mid Life Journey

I have had too many friends close to our family suffer the consequences of a mid life turned "crisis".  So, I had to write about it:

I equate life to a ship at sea.  We start out on our journey, a discovery of fascinating people, nature, experiences keen to our specific interests and desires.  Along the way this self induced current pulls us in our own un-charted direction.  The trials, tribulations and memorable encounters log into our psyche and build our own internal infrastructure along the way.  We become who we were meant to be; our character defined.

Somewhere along that self discovery, we enter the parallel of "mid-life".  I admit I have entered that point in my life at forty-five.  And that is perfectly okay with me.  In fact it gives me standing, a badge of recognition and a mentorship card for others who have yet to paddle these waters.  My friends, it will come. 

But.  And this is one big but.  You must use caution to catch the signs of this mid-life becoming a crisis.  A "crisis" is a very personal, internal and sometimes in some rare incidents, a vain thing.  Of course the "vain" part of this may be the perception of others who with some reasonable assessment of the problem, discover a lot of the panic, turmoil and chaos is the result of some very selfish desires and typical self discoveries. 

Your vessel in mid-life strains a bit in the hull but the masts broaden and fill, carrying you along.  Management of your vessel is necessary so as not to strain it along the way.  It becomes necessary to lighten the load, exchange your parcels along the way for items more easily carried on your journey.  A mid-life "crisis" results when you insist on carrying or in some cases returning to items you once had on your journey.  Stubbornly, you drag them along with you.  Eventually masts strain, the bones of the ship weaken even crack and the ocean begins to eat you up.  You drop anchor and watch in disbelief as others sail effortlessly past.  Sometimes, those passing ships are spouses, friends, children, family.  You are left with your very full ship, cargo up to your neck, dead in the water.  (and I mean that figuratively). 

So, my friends if this crisis is not caught in time, if our fruitless desires become our burdens and weigh down our ship, the seasons of our lives wilt on the branch.

Monitor your changes, they have not discovered the eternal life pool yet.  Assess your needs but do not forget your treasures.  Love your family, your spouse if you have one, your animals if you have niether and by all means, love yourself and your future.  Sail your ship to a wonderful life with only a thimble full of regret. 

Stinging, Sticky, Sweet

Under the shade of a tan umbrella I part the pages of my book, pull the spare chair under my feet and call to the boys as they begin an underwater treasure hunt.

"Don't run and jump out far from the step!"  I say with a big grin as they dive underwater for treasures valued with assigned points.  Sounds clearly tinny and crisp to them above waterline are muffled to a dull silence as their little streamline bodies swirl and kick just below the surface. 

This time of year the sun screams from a cloudless sky and stings your skin awake.  A cool splash in the water is a blanket of relief and the time between wet slick skin and dry is only moments as the moisture is pulled back into the air.  It has a way of tingling the hairs on your arms back to attention. 

The rule; no water guns are to be discharchged at mom.  She has a book in her hands. 

Other than that simple rule, there are none.  Jumping is allowed, screaming most definitely, laughing without abandon of course and watermelon eaten in the pool is the only way to eat it.  The sticky juice pours down chin, across faces and down elbows.  The rind is tossed to the side and a dive down under and back up washes a boy better than any bath I know. 

The song of the cicada arrives in Arizona just after June 21.  Their song is a sweet reminder of the mesquite smell of the BBQ, the friends poolside and music filling the afternoon.  In the early evening once the quiet comes upon us and the sun has taken a break from its day, we sit still and hear the cicada song, its buzzing a cue to my boys to announce officially; "Mom, the cicadas!  Summer is here!" 

"Yes it is.  Summer is here in Arizona, in all its stinging, sticky, sweet glory." 

What An Appreciation!!

Why the title?  Well, go tour the Air Force Academy and then the US Olympic Training Facility and you will  know what I mean. 

I honestly asked myself, "What have I done?  Anything?  If only I was 20 years younger." (okay, 25 years younger......)

So, since I dont want to depress you, I will post some pictures of Breckenridge and Leadville CO:

Thank you to our olympians and to our armed services. 

The Garden of the Gods.  Beautiful!!  There were people carefully climbing the precarious cliffs believe it or not!!  I read this was donated by the property owner to the City of Colorado Springs in the 1900's by his family at no cost so everyone could enjoy the rock formations freely.  Very nice. 

A beautiful Edison phonograph in Leadville CO.  We toured a historic home built in the mid 1800's.  This phonograph was in the room of the third floor and she played it for us.  We actually have a gramaphone, which is a variation of this; enclosed in a furniture like piece and played with the horn in the interior.  What a wonderful sound.  I absolutely loved it.  This was primarily a boarding house.  At the peak Leadville was home to 30K people.  Now, 3K tops.  That was during the lead/gold rush. 

Thanks for hanging in there.  Off to Taos NM tomorrow!!

Where Have I Been?

It seems my promise to "take a hit at travel writing" while on vacation in Colorado has taken a swift dump however, I do have some beautiful photos to display.  These were taken in Vail, Colorado a couple of days ago.  Just to catch up, we are now in Colorado Springs!  We plan on sending the older boy off to hockey camp at the Air Force Academy tomorrow.  Now that we have internet, I may be able to offer more insight into our travels over the next few days.  Until now; enjoy these:

A beautiful, very large flower taken just at the steps of the visitor center in Vail CO.  Wish I knew the name!  I had to take my turn capturing this beauty!!

Outside the Rock Garden also in Vail CO.  Gorgeous.  Several in shades of petal pink, white and purple. 

Thank you for hanging in there with me while on the road.  It is a bit challenging to travel/vacation with the family and keep up with a blog!  Time to hit the hay!

Think "Outside Inspiration" in your Writing this Week!!

I was INspired today to write about what is OUTside in our backyard.  Please share your blog, post your take on everything glorious about the out-of-doors. 

The backyard is alive.  I am inspired with a newness brought on by springtime and the tsktsktsk of hummingbirds as they ward off enemies from the liquid sweetness in the feeder.  Each evening, we head out after a day tied to emails, attending meetings, finalizing plans, to our glorious backyard here in the Sonora Desert.  One would think springtime in Arizona would be a hop skip and a jump from a mildly chilly winter to a dreadful dry heat but oh, my friends it is glorious. 
This is our entertainment this year and a cause for a writing prompt; “OUTside INspiration”.  Our Arizona retreat is dappled with purple leaf plum, ficus trees, milkweed and Bermuda.  In between all that is a pebble tec play pool with a rock waterfall.  Surrounding the curved edges is a tropical array of palm trees in various sizes.  In all its glory, this lends too much pruning and care tending by my wonderful husband but on evenings such as this, it is breathtaking and resort-like. 

We have been enjoying a family of red capped finches who after three years, have been first to take ownership of a Cub Scout constructed bird house by yours truly painted in an inviting emerald green and harvest red.   A note on the sign welcomes them to their “home tweet home” and we have been pleasantly greeted by at least two babies if not more, chirping gaily from deep within.  I am anticipating through my latest observations of both mum and dad the fledglings are about ready for their first solo flight. 

As the Wallow Fire establishes its rightful passage in the northern part of the state and thousands of heroes battle the flames in an effort to chase it down, I am thankful at least that this fierce act of nature has not taken any lives and has limited its destruction of residential homesteads for those sharing just a piece of the glorious ponderosa pine area.  I am saddened and tremendously heartbroken by all the wildlife left defeated in its path.  The life so consumed with making its place here in my backyard, so intent on starting a new, are to only be silenced up north by yet another act of nature; fire. 

So take in nature.  Write about it.  I will be travelling with my family beginning Sunday on a road trip to Colorado where with any luck I plan to take a hit at some travel writing.  I will post our adventures, give my take on our experiences and try to put into words my soaking up of everything outside. 

Step away from the computer, leave your pen and pad behind.  Let your eyes and ears take it in, talk about it with your kids, watch the “show” and most of all, take care of it. 

The Struggles of Writing. My Personal Thoughts

Many of the authors I have read on the subject of writing say the same thing that I say now in my own words, “Writing is the torrid wrath of an internal voice soothing me from just under my skin.”  I cannot begin to explain just how annoying yet at the same time consoling my internal muse has become over the years.  She was born several years ago when I was very young and then slept quietly as external influences silenced her growth. 


Those external distractions including my own youthful exploration of friends, boys, hobbies, love, school, fear, children, work and family were then replaced with this unrelenting voice within continually telling me to: “describe the woman seated across from you, tell me what you see in the couple on the bench, what are the eyes of that child there telling you, "how do you write your life?”  Every day, each moment from the time I wake to the moment I close my eyes, she speaks to me.


Contemplative thought.  I read. I think a lot.  I think about writing every day.  I work, struggle and fight to put those words on paper in any shape or form.  I will some day explain to a crowd of at least 3 during my book tour how my path to publication began with thinking long and hard about writing, how I studied the works of others, some well known, some just starting and took from each a lesson.  Finally, I set forth, forged ahead on my own path to tell a story, a story worth telling, a story designed to move a person. 


The Great Recovery!!

I checked in early this morning to The Mother Centurion and lo-and-behold my Followers have returned! 

I will be spending the day just relaxing with my boys.  Their choice for today includes taking on the role of "Mall Rat" and then some swimming later.  I will revise "Hands on Fire" and get it finished for submission tomorrow. 

If you are still interested, do not delay!!  You can still enter, late fees are waived.  The Writer's Digest 80th Annual Writing Competition. 

The latest books I have read:

Townie                                          by Andre Dubus
Reading My Father                       by Alexandra Styron

Both memoir and absolutely wonderful!!

Some Changes and Some Problems

Well, I am not sure what is going on with Blogger or my blog but I have some how managed to lose all my followers.  They are MIA from my page and I am heartbroken.  I love opening my page (which also has become difficult for some unknown reason) to the glowing icons of my followers.  Anyone else having this issue?  I have posted this problem to Blogger and so far no luck. 

On another note, the Writers Digest 80th Annual Writers Competition deadline has been extended.... again.. I have been working on several drafts and revisions of Hands on Fire and have decided to submit electronically.  I found some glaring errors and problems with the original drafts and believe with some TLC and a long Memorial Day weekend, plus an extra day off on Tuesday, I should be able to get it in via their electronic posting option. 

Hope all is well this weekend and again, if anyone is having some problems with their blog, please share!  I was worried I may have had a virus at first but it is on every computer I check.  I also noticed other blogs I visited were also missing their followers. 

More later! 

Hide and Seek and the On-Line Writing Course Discussion

I cannot believe it has been over a week since I last blogged.  I have been so disciplined the first of this year.  Hopefully I am not wasting your time. 

I took a bit of a break after the short story submission to the Writer's Digest Contest. On top of that I had a final paper and a final exam to complete for school.  If that is not enough, I had a sick child on Monday and after a quick trip to the E.R. because of his 102.8 fever, we learned we had a very typical case of Strep.  We have to be very cautious of high fevers with a transplant.  We always worry about rejection or something else sinister lurking within.  So when the quick swab down the throat resulted in a positive for Strep, I let out a little yelp of relief and applauded openly. 

Mother's Day was a "mama's choice" which involved taking 4 children (two mine) to see Rio in 3D.  I love the movies.  Then my hubbie made stacked enchiladas complimented by cocktails by the pool with friends.  Very nice. 

I continue to read aggressively and am writing journal-style with a particular sway toward the continuation of my memoir.  Now that I am done with school for this semester (only 2 more to go), I have the summer off.  We have a trip to Colorado planned in about 4 weeks, so I am focusing on my writing. 

I am debating on signing up for an on-line writing course.  I just do not have time to go to "school" so I must explore the virtual world. 

How about some discussion on On-Line Writing Courses?  Let us educate ourselves and discuss. 

I will report what I learn in a few days.  Check back!! Give me some insight, ask questions, offer suggestions!

Kiss it Goodbye

On Monday I had the perfect opportunity to get my final draft done.  I had the cable guy coming....

Dun da da daaaa..

You know... the "We'll be there between 0800-1200" thing.  I figured this was the perfect opportunity to have the house and computer to myself and get it all done before I had to get to work. (I found myself hoping he would actually be late..)  I could even do a "reading" in the living room.  Well, I did.  The reading however took place in the office....

I stored my story, "A Moment for Rosalie" (3,242 words) along with the cover page away on my thumb drive.  I paper clipped my postcard, check and entry form together then headed to the Kinko's to get it printed.  (yes, I am out of ink). 

Once I had my envelope, double checked the contents and printed the address neatly, I headed for the post office. 

"This just needs to be postmarked today.  When will it arrive?"  I asked the nice woman behind the counter.  I felt like a little kid picking out my favorite baseball glove on the season before tryouts. 
"Does this one break in pretty good?  How's the leather? I gotta make sure I get the right one." 

"This will arrive regular delivery by Friday."  She said.

"That will work, as long as it is postmarked today."  I said, leaning over slightly checking the postmark ever so nervously and a bit "micromanagerially".   Is that even a word?  I highly doubt it. 

I had to chuckle to myself as I left.  Much like after cramming for finals week and walking out of your final class on Thursday afternoon after it is all over.

"Well that's that!" 

Now on to another project.  The memoir.  Enough procrastinating.  I live vicariously through others but every once in a while it is nice to actually accomplish something.  What happens now?  Who cares!!  The act of writing, revising, revising some more then letting it go is enough!!  

Remember the lovely green path from the other day?  This is what I came across.  (In my dreams)

The Night Before the Deadline

So, it is the night before May 2, 2011.  I have a third and a half revision done (does that even make sense?).  A lot of penciled and penned X's and slashes; blood on the page.  I have my entry form filled out, my check carefully attached and my SASP (postcard) all packaged and ready to go (I want confirmation it arrived). 

I have a scheduled appointment for the cable guy to be here between 8-10 tomorrow.  I have texted my boss and let him know I need a couple of hours in the morning.  I plan on going for a 20 minute run, home to get my lovely kids ready for the bus, walking my wonderful dog, then working on my final draft while I wait for the cable guy.  I have new ink cartridges so I can print from home (yes, I am sending hard copy.  Call me old fashioned) and then head to the post office for mailing.  Postmarked May 2, so the rules state. 

Are you ready??  I am a mess and a firm believer no work of writing is ever done, only abandoned.

Sweet Dreams..  This is where I want to be......

Flat on My Back at the Rail Platform

Journal Enty: April 28, 2011

I took the freeway to save time.  The call was simply; "A guy passed out at the rail platform, 44th Street and Washington.  Any unit to assist?" 

"Phoenix PD to OCC, I can respond."  (the OCC is the control center for rail operations.  This was not a dispatch call but rather an administrative call for assistance.)

I had to pull my car up a few hundred yards past the east end of the platform to stay out of traffic.  Kept my lights on, engine running.  A far distance, little farther than I would like but I could keep an eye on it. 

I found him at the far east end.  Slumped over in a half sitting, half prone position.  His head was wrapped with what looked to be a blue pillow case, another around his waist.  He had on a button up shirt, striped with red and white.  Something any business type would wear.  His jeans were tied with a belt, the holes worn out or not enough to cinch tight around his trim waist. 

I kicked at his feet lightly at first then a bit harder when just for a moment I thought he may not actually be breathing.  My brief confirmation that he may quite possibly have left the living, was a fly that sat stationary on his lower lip.  Something about flies, they send a message of end of life, dead things and non-movement.  When things cease to move, flies find safe refuge.
 I have to admit, I had a little adrenalin rush for just a moment.

He finally stirred a few good kicks to his feet later.  His eyes peeled open, light brown and seriously captivating.  Not eyes I would predict for a person of his condition but rather beautiful. 

A stash of folded papers peeked from his shirt pocket and every first form of business for police work is to "know who I am talking to." 

I searched through worn citations from Tempe, court orders, plea agreements and found one I could read with his name.  Theodore, maybe Ted as I would imagine but I referred to him as Theodore. 

"Theodore! Hey partner.  Wake up.  You can't lay here.  Wanna go to LARC? (a rehab clinic for drunkards.)

He mumble something or other. 

He was directly in the sun, heating up with the day and that happens quickly in Arizona. As I filtered through the paperwork and cleared for a wagon to pick him up, I was approached by several rail passengers.

This particular platform is one visited regularly by riders to and from the airport.  Phoenix Sky Harbor is a short few miles from downtown.  One of the few cities with an airport so close to downtown and on this particular day at this particular time, I became not only the "rounder up of homeless intoxicated citizens but also the information police." 

"Is this the way to Phoenix?"  One particularly nicely dressed couple asked.  They appeared to be fresh off of a flight. 

"We have some time to kill before we head to our hotel and we were looking for the Body Works Event at the Museum" 

"Absolutely.  I would love to go to that myself."  I turned from my friend Theodore who reclined silently snoozing in the heat, while I addressed new visitors to the area on the whereabouts to the science museum.

"Yes, take the train and get off at 3rd Street and Washington.  You will then need to double back east to around 7th Street to the museum." 

Another group of about 5 women stood patiently waiting their turn.

"Is this the way to Central and Indian School?"  One woman asked in a bedazzeled denim jacket. 

"Yes, it is and the next train should be here in about 10 minutes."

"See, I told you!!" One of the women announced to the group.  They all had a good chuckle over that and Theodore shifted his weight at the disturbance. 

I had about another 10 minutes to wait for the wagon.  One of my sergeants showed up to keep me company and Theodore decided at that time to relieve himself.  A small circle in the front of his well worn jeans expanded into a flowing pattern of dark blue reaching from front to back.  He asked at that point as he stirred if he could have a seat on the chair at the platform.  I will never sit on another platform seat again..

He proceded to blow excrement from his nose, spit and make any number of gutteral sounds until I finally advised him to save it until he was picked up.  He was polite, repeated he was not violent continually and all in all was cooperative.  His one profound statement as he cleared a brief window of haze and re-entered the land of the living ;

"I've been homeless for 12 years." 

He was a 46 year old male, homeless for 12 years and only recently, so he says, began drinking. 

The wagon showed up shortly after. 

"Teddy!  Hey, how you doin'?"  One of the employees said.  She was a very petite woman, short blonde bob cut who recognized Theodore immediately. 

"Regular, huh?" I said. 

"Oh, yea." 

Teddy had been saying some good things about the people at the drunk tank, how well they took care of him, gave him clothes and so on. 

Too bad Teddy could not accept the one thing that would really help him.


I have my draft done.  Working on revision #2 and will be dropping it off at the post office on Monday.

A Street Conversation

Journal Entry: April 20, 2011

I parked my patrol car, an unmarked Crown Victoria, just north of the corner store.  Another officer had just gone in before me and was roaming the small, cluttered interior for the suspect.  The store owner gave us a brief glance oblivious to the intrusion of two officers canvasing his shop. 

On the corner, just south of the store, two officers were out with a young black female, a phone pushed flat on her ear.  Her voice was raised and stitched together a tapestry of street profanity. 

"Okay, turn around." The officer said as he reached for his cuffs tucked back on the rear of his gunbelt.  She dropped her purse to the ground and let the phone fall.  Perspiration covered her forehead and between the tightly woven braids in her hair.  Her earings hung heavy and smacked her face as she twisted and turned upset at having to put her hands behind her.  Her agitated state had become her downfall and it was best to control her movements by instituting a detention until we knew what we had. 

"Is he down the street?  Are they out with him?"  I asked the other officer who appeared in a hurry to go assist others out with our suspect.  A black male with a white tank top who was walking with our young female had apparently flashed a gun to another black male walking on the sidewalk.  The victim assumed it was because he "just looked at him wrong".  That was what it was like south of the freeway. 

"You mind staying here with her lieutenant?  I'm just gonna go down there and see what they got."  He said as he sat the girl down. 

"Absolutely.  I'll move her over here."  I made sure her feet were out of the street and his partner and I began questioning her.

We proceded to ask this young lady how it came to be she was with a young man who chose to flash a gun at another man.  We wanted to know what she knew.  What is his name?  How do you know him?  Where does he live?  Where were the two of you going?

"His name is D.C."  She said.

"What's that stand for?"

"I just know D.C. That his name.  I don't know but I tell you, I can't believe he got me mixed up in this!" 

She then continued to tell us that D.C. was her boyfriend, a fiance and they had been dating two months.  She was 19 and he is "around 40." 

"You only know him as D.C., he's "around 40" and you two are engaged?"  I asked clearly bewildered but not surprised.


"You been arrested before?" The officer asked now seated in the car running her information. 


"Let me guess, aggravated assault?  Against..... D.C.?"


"Whadyou use?"  I asked since aggravated usually involves a weapon or serious injury.

"A knife."

"So, you are with a man, twice your age, who you know only as D.C. who you have actually stabbed and been to jail for fighting with?  And you're still with him?"

"You have any kids?" I continued.

"No. I go to church, I go to school, I stay out of trouble!  I live with my mom!"  She said elevating her voice clearly attempting to make herself believe her own words.

"Time for you to make a change.."  I hesitated for a bit.  "Why aren't you in school now?"  I asked since it was about 1030 in the morning. 

No answer. 


So, this was just a small snipit of a conversation I had a week ago on the street with some folks in south Phoenix.  I typed this real fast with no real intent on making it "story worthy" but more of a journal entry.  I plan on putting more journal type entries here as a quick writing exercise and as a street lesson, study in human nature.  Hope you check back for more. 

I am still working on my short story, titled "A Moment for Rosalie".  I will have it done and ready to submit by Monday.  May 2 is the deadline!!!

First Draft Deadline Writer's Contest

Have you completed the first draft?  Just two days ago, I sat in a rather uncomfortable metal chair outside of Subway and penned out in longhand the final few pages of my short story.  I dare not read it yet since I have some homework to do this weekend and I know I will just get frustrated as the clock ticks away.  I did pass out the first 4 or so pages to a few people to read however I have since revised those pages and doubt I will have time to get the final out for review. 

So, if you have your story done by today and if you have had someone read even a portion by today, good for you!!!  Now our final deadline for entry is May 2. We are in the final stretch and if there is any part of your story you wish to share, go right ahead! 

After this weekend and a review of the draft plus revisions, I will post an excerpt to share.  I welcome comments! 

Have a wonderful Easter! 

Bloggy Award!!

I got The Versatile Blogger Award from my blogging friend Dawn at
http://dawnbrazil.blogspot.com/  I am still trying to work my way around the hyperlinks to blog sites and struggle at times to get it just right.  I am now to provide a few things about myself and then share this wonderful award with some other great bloggers!

Some things about me:

1. I am sometimes refered by my friends as an "animal whisperer".  From bugs, to dogs, to lizards.... and I agree with this assumption.  I have a connection and so do my boys.
2. I believe I am living in reverse.  I am not getting older.  I feel younger (minus a few times where my back cannot keep up with me) each day and understand life much more than say my 20 or 30 something counterparts.
3. I am a student in the study of human nature... aka a police officer.
4. I would have 10 kids if I could.  All boys..
5. The funniest person I know is my husband.  The funniest people I know under 10 are my boys.
6. I thought I was pretty good with electronics until I tried connecting our new TV, Receiver, DVD/Blue Ray and cable yesterday..... but no fear... give me about 8 hours alone and without interruption and I will get it.
7. I want to be a writer.  I know.. go figure. 

Now it is time to return the favor and share this award with more of my favorite blogs and friends:


The Craft of Reading-On Our Way to Submission

In our mission to get to our deadline, it is important to never forget the craft of "reading".  I took some time today to read and write and had an opportunity to read some old material I wrote a few years ago.  I can personally say (and I am my own worst critic....you really cannot hurt me since I find error and fault in just about everything I put on paper), I believe I am a better writer because I read. 

I read primarily non-fiction/memoir since that is my central focus for a larger work but I also dive into fiction once in a while.  I also find enjoyment in writing short stories.  I began re-reading (yes, re-reading and I never thought I would do that), Flannery O'Connor and I can say now I really love this author. 

Along with re-engaging with Flannery and some of my favorite shorts, River and A Good Man is Hard to Find, I also found through my latest subscription of Writer, a book called Unless it Moves the Human Heart by Roger Rosenblatt.  This is a quick read and a must have.  I highly suggest it as part of your toolkit, a workshop in words study on the art and craft on writing.  I love the way it is set up.  Roger, the author and instructor in writing classes takes the reader through a selection of writing exercises in a narrative, dialouge format with students he has had over the years.  Wonderful.  Buckle in, get comfy, pick up this book.  You can knock it out in a night or two and really grasp something from it to take into your own work. 

Remember, April 22, 2011.  I plan on getting my first draft done and printed to take to my writers group, Promise of the Pen on Monday night.  Then make some revisions to get it ready for submission!!

Get Writing! Contest Deadline Looming!

I have a major case of "writus interuptus" plus a laundry list (dirty one, of course) of "to dos" including working, helping with homework, cleaning, attending writer's clubs, doing my own homework, music lessons, house projects, hockey tournaments, making dinner and yadda yadda yadda. 

Sooooo.. with that and to keep you smiling and motivated to relax and find your groove, I have included a picture of my dog. 

Aint she sweet?

Next deadline:  April 22, 2011 to have your first full draft complete and reviewed by at least one person of your choosing. 

Phase I to Short Story Submission

As our first deadline approached and minutes clicked away to April 8, I luckily was sucked up into a whirlwind of inspirational story spinning.  I spent approximately 3 or 4 days absorbed and consumed and as a result placed several black letters on ivory paper.  Life of course caused a major “writus interuptus” and it has been several days since I was in that zone.  My piece has sat but I made the Phase I of our joint deadline submission to have;  plot, character, POV.   
Big breath in ………. And out………. So here it goes;
The story takes place in a stairwell in a 12 story tenement in Redding, a small town, in 1958.  The main character, Rosalie is 47 years old in search of her first son, Jack, whom she has traced to an apartment on the 8th floor.  Rosalie is a very strong woman in spirit and will and has survived a hard life on a rural farm, raising 7 other children.   Widowed in the last several years, she took on a career as an in-home nurse in her rural community to support her family and farm.  She was raised by an indifferent father and an abusive mother, Ruth, who made Rosalie give up her first son.   Another supplemental character to Rosalie is her Aunt Addie, who gives Rosalie hope and survival skills to handle an abusive mother intent on “ridding” Rosalie of her first son. 
In Rosalie’s climb to meet her adult son for the first time, she encounters a man who provides for her the will to continue and see the hope in her conquest; one she takes with much anxiety and fear. 
A conquest that will reunite mother and son for the first time in 32 years. 

The POV is third person omniscient. 
Now, if I can get the story to pull together!!! 
If you have your idea drafted, please share here! 

The Part-Time Writer with Full-Time Obligations (and Material)

I seriously thought about retirement last year and anticipated, envisioned even planned for September 2012.  My husband and I had lengthy discussions, even announced the news to the boys and family.  Well, things change. 

I read an article today in the April edition of "The Writer" magazine; "Why I don't want to quit my day job" by Jacob M. Appel, an instructor at Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York City.  He also happens to be a full-time practicing physician at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

This article parallels many of my thoughts as I second guess my decision to leave my career as a police lieutenant and possibly teach, workout, finish various home projects, WRITE and be there for my kids at every turn.  Then I honestly began thinking, when I am done with those projects, tired of teaching, waiting for my kids to get off the bus (and quite possibly heading directly to their friend's house down the street leaving me standing waving "see ya"), I would WRITE!!! Of course!!! 

About------  well, house projects I have completed, the various aerobics classes I have taken, teaching security-police-rules of evidence type classes and saying hello and then goodbye to my boys as they head off to spend time with someone besides mom.  Not very interesting material to form and mold into a readable much less enjoyable story. 

I have a very vivid imagination however science fiction is not my cup of tea.  Therefore I get most of my material from actual events (non-fiction) experienced or witnessed in police work or stories I fictionalize from real life.  That is also why I believe in the position taken in this literary article by Jacob Appel where he states, "A writer's non-writing professional life often provides an excellent source of material that she knows well....."  I also believe life experience can also parlay into great "story".  So for those without a saucy work life to draw ideas, at least with a tenured life (notice the carefully chosen word, tenured) on this earth you would have experienced ample amount of "life" and relationships to garner worthwhile story telling. 

So, for now there are no plans to retire.  Those plans have been tabled for several reasons, writing being only a personal one. 

So to all those Part-Time Writers with Full-Time Obligations (ahem.....) Material,

April 8: Our deadline to have character, plot, POV anything you wish to share for the competition!! 

Writer Groups, Meet Ups, Connections, Writer Web Sites (and submission check-in)

Are you a member of a writer's group, meet up or on-line writer support?  If you are not already a member of She Writes (http://www.shewrites.com/), join now! (say The Mother Centurion referred you!) I found SW through the Writer's Digest magazine and joined last summer.  At about the same time, my friend and I began our own writer's club, The Promise of the Pen (http://promisepen.webs.com/) I then transitioned to workshops at our locally operated bookstore, Changing Hands Bookstore and the ASU Virginia Piper's Writers Studio and Conference.  Then...... in January 2011, I started The Mother Centurion. 

Wow... how do we then find the time to write? 

If you have a great "connection story" to share about how you got into the writing community, tell it here!

80th Annual Writers Digest Competition-We have 6 days:  Character(s), main story proposal due April 8!! (share here if you wish or just let us know how it is going)

Are you going to submit hard copy or electronically?


A Warm Up Writing Exercise! Get Ready for Submission!

In preparation for the contest or just an exercise in writing, a fun time-out or a chance to capture some observations; I took it upon myself to pen out a few pages in my journal yesterday.  What a beautiful day and the setting was primed for people watching.

Reflections in a Park

Activity and conversations peppered the downtown city park today and offered rare encounters in "people study".  On my trek to mark my territory, great book in hand, I passed by a photo shoot.  An impressively pretty man in designer sweat pants, flip-flops and a peacock blue tee stood model still, being fondled over by a young female assistant.  The photographer, in some hint of an accent I could not immediately identify, gave directions to two or three others from behind a high class lens longer than my arm.  The bustling staff wrestled with two very large white boards and reflective photo gear designed to cast the most perfect light on his yes, freakishly handsome face.

I found my seat on a shady bench, uncomfortable as it was; hard metal with an unnatural curve but in a perfect location to catch whispers of a breeze and dappled sunlight.  I sat facing an odd couple both in appearance and state of emotion.  A rotund, gray haired man with a very mature beard, sat with legs splayed open, sobbing.  He was clearly recounting some highly emotional, stressful event with brief breaks of face wiping and fist to open hand slapping designed to emphasize certain points in his monologue.  I am a bit distracted even with this by the rather young (I'm talking 15-17 year old young) looking girl seated next to him making small comfort circles with her hand on his broad back.  This activity is a carnival ride of back circles, wiping, sobbing, hand slapping then hugging. Repeat.  I am only able to pick up bits and pieces of conversation and a few words here and there; "mother, Jewish, okay, problem, cigarette". 

Hey I'm trying to read here. 

A guy then walked up to my bench from my left , a stack of pamphlets in hand,

"Read more about the bible today?"

"Uh, no." I said just before he got "bible" out.  I honestly had no idea what he was hawking, I just knew my time in the shade was limited and I was not in the mood to be hit up to read something not selected by me. 

As I watched him walk away I caught a glimpse of the back of his t-shirt:
"The End of the World is Coming Starting, May 21, 2011".
And surprisingly, there was a web-site, designed I assume to give you helpful details of how to prepare.  I could not help but think as most would, "The end of the world is starting on May 21, but the Internet will be up and running!!  Sweet!"  So, you say. 

Well, my preacher friend with a stack of pamphlets in hand, found a listener in the form of a severely toothless woman with an unlit cigarette hanging from her mouth.  Her body language and brief conversation registered curiosity in what "pamphlet guy" had to say and the talk was on.  She was joined by another rather unsightly fellow, clearly not coming from a recent photo shoot, to discuss this end of the world and now that it has an actual start date, what to do next and where can I sign? 

What a beautiful day. 

I surely hope the beautiful boy model had a great shoot.  That his pictures render high sales for the Nike, Adidas or Hurley garb gracing his frame.  To my odd couple across from me, who still are registering much shoulder slouching with face in hands and hugging, I hope it works out.  And to my "pamphlet guy", how about some good news for a change?  How about:

"Read about how you're positive spirit and good deeds are saving the world!  And because of all you do, Armageddon is not upon us!"

Enjoy the day - and you in it


All in fun my friends.  I figure any writing is a good exercise.  Be it a journal entry with no point other than to plot observations of real life in your own words, a dream recounted in rhythmic prose or a memory of a wonderful time or place plotted on paper. 

Just think, the "odd couple" could become a story.  Why is he crying?  Who is this girl?  Is he about to cop a field? Do they know each other or did they just meet? 

Oh you know I stayed to see what would happen.  She finally left.  She was college age but not a day over 19.  He clearly did not want her to leave.  She scribbled something on the inside flap of a book, tucked $30 inside and put it in his backpack.  Then she stood up, pulled her shorts out of her "business" (they had crawled up her whoo-ha rather completely while she sat on the grass), then told him, "And you tell them to mind their fucking business!" 

There is a story.. Fill in the blanks.  Oh yea, she kissed him on the cheek too which kinda weirded me out. 

Our Journey to Writerly Submission; The 80th Annual Writer's Digest Competition

So what to do first?  If you are interested in submitting, let me suggest we begin sharing here.  When I say sharing, I mean sharing of the process, the craft of writing and getting to the final "send".  We have until May 2, 2011 to submit to this competition.  I belive that is enough time to do a few things:

1. Generate some ideas; rough sketches of a short story.  If you are submitting a non-fiction, be sure to read all information of word count as it will be slushed/eliminated if over the maximum amount. 

2. Where do I find story ideas (if submitting fiction)?  I love to look at everyday life.  A 5 minute car ride with my kids where a unique question is asked, stirs the juices and immediately takes me back in time.  Ahhhaaa!  An idea! 
Like today for example when my oldest asked me the following, "Mom, remember when you told us about that mean guy you met in the 1900's?" 
I almost blew McDonald's Iced Coffee through my nose at that one.   

3. Keep paper/journal/notepad with you at ALL times!!  We all probably do this already but it does not hurt to keep just one more somewhere close by.  I think I have about 12 hidden in various places..  

4. Mark some milestone dates on a calendar just for yourself.  Not on the family calendar where the dentist appointments, hockey practice, guitar lessons, shower, do taxes, take the dog to the vet stuff is engraved in your busy future but a calendar just FOR THIS>  Write, read, get to draft #1, review, revise, draft #2, review, revise, draft #3, review, revise...... SUBMIT.

Let us all make this one promise to ourselves to have by April 8, a rough story outline, a character sketch with at least your main character (protagonist) and one antagonist identified (If non fiction, then you are the "I" and what is the particular moment in time you wish to parlay into a riveting submission? The "I" is so intriguing!!!). 

Check back in and I would love (as would the rest of us) to see how we are all progressing.  Share it here.. OR, give us a link to your blog/website and post your sketch there!! 

Word of the day: Arouse

A "sexy" word for motivate!!! 

Enter a Writer's Competition With Me!!

Here is a challenge:  Enter a writing competition!!  In our writer's club, The Promise of the Pen, we announced on Monday the Writer's Digest 80th Annual Writer's Competition. 

Details are listed in the link below;


There are numerous genres to choose from.  The entry fee is minimal and the opportunity to potentially "place" in the competition is.... well.... we can dream right?

I would like to know WHO would like to join me?  Please share with your friends, have them join the blog discussion and follow.  Let us take this journey together! 

Think of it this way; consider it an exercise in "the craft".  I thoroughly believe in entering contests, submitting to literary magazines and writing short.  In my opinion writing "short" is work shopping for larger work.  The short story can be very challenging to write, I completely agree.  It also sets before you an opportunity to work on a great idea, revise, share and submit.  The "process" from short to longer pieces of work is still the same;  Write, revise, write some more, share, revise, share, revise, submit..

Let it go, kiss it goodbye, wish it farewell and you have done what you set out to do. 

You are a WRITER!! 

Deadline: May 2

Trapped in Analytical Mind-Numbing Dialouge!!! Please Help

Well, I am in a 3 1/2 day All Hazards Operations Sections Chief class.  Oh yea.. you say?  What is this?  It enables participants, upon successful completion to eventually be signed off as part of an All Hazards Incident Response Team.  The kind that work incidents such as floods, earthquakes, catastrophes and other major events and incidents that overwhelm local resources and require assistance.  I am finding the comparison to a writer's conference mind numbing and suppressing, to the creative mind that is.  

I am having to mentally turn off my intuitive and creative brain and seek out my analytical side in order to decipher the inner perimeter, identify resources, establish objectives and implement strategies.  AAAHHHHhhhgggggg...... don't get me wrong, it is very interesting and I do enjoy this part of my job. 

Well, now that I am home, cooked dinner, family has eaten, dishes done, dog fed, medicine dispensed, guitar and drum lessons completed, phone calls and emails returned... well then I get 5 minutes to jot down a quick post and then sign on to my Master's class and do some homework. 

I did, thankfully and to my surprise, worked out the first few sentences to Chapter 2.  I have a start and I actually pulled it out of my sneaky little left brain as it tapped on my shoulder during break. 

Thank you!!

Have You Ever Written Something and Thought.......????

My question is possibly a question writers ask themselves each day, week, month, year;
 "What the heck is this garbage?" 

I find myself getting into the groove, writing something my inner self says is "profound, multi-dimensional, gripping, moving!" And then I put it away, happy with myself.  (You know where I am going with this). 

I return to it to savor the tasty words that put into perspective a moving moment in my life that is to become the building block of my memoir and I am disgusted. 

Okay, maybe disgusted is too strong a word.  Maybe jaded and then disappointed.  That is what first, second, third and eleventh drafts are for. 

So, my writer friends, do not dispair.  Do not feel you are alone and of course share your insight into the turmoil of writer challenges. 

When all else fails, a little Pinot usually helps.

Writerly Inspiration-Where Do You Get Yours?

I was toiling with a new post topic today and after I spent some time reading the writings of several of my Writer's Club friends, I wanted to take a moment to ask the question; Where do you get your inspiration?  Not to necessarily come up with plots or story ideas but your inspiration to "Write". 

Do you seek a comfortable spot in your bedroom, living room, office?  Front yard under a shady tree?  Does a particular song track inspire you, a favorite book, a moment in life? 

I find reading and a particularly nice day like today, inspirational beyond words.  I have begun my first real chapter of my memoir and I can actually say, "Yes, I am working on my book"..  That seems so strange but REAL.  Also a bit scary and over-my-head... 

I can also say a big inspiration for me was the writer's conference.  Workshopping with all those writerly minds and intuitive thinkers as well as "prose prone pronouncers", was extremely profound.. If I do say so myself.  I absolutely felt a fire kindled inside as I sat surrounded by so many creative thoughts and authors.

I honestly believe, the true key to writing is reading.  If you find yourself struggling with plot, prose, character development and setting, pick up an author you admire in the genre you habitat and READ.  By reading others' work, you will find the method to kill cliches, build and develop your characters, fine tune your setting and build tension. 

I would like to end this post with an invitation to those reading to leave behind for others your inspiration.  I would also like to quote a favorite author, Frank Conroy from his book StopTime (1967).  There are two paragraphs in his memoir where he is describing his parents as he views them just before they take a journey across country in the family car.  First, his mother:

"In front, my mother, rather tall for a woman, with an abundance of blond hair and wide, cleanly cut features.  She radiated the robust freshness of a farm girl-her forebears were, in fact, Danish country people-missing ideal Scandinavian beauty only because her face lacked suggestiveness.  Studying it you noticed that things were a little too big.  She was handsome rather than beautiful, but for all that men's heads never failed to turn."

And his stepfather:

"Next to her, in the driver's seat, was Jean, a man of almost impossible Gallic good looks.  The ne'er-do-well son of a collapsed aristocratic New Orleans family, he had been around for years, seeing my mother while my father was away.  He was six feet tall, slim, and sported a black mustache.  The bones of his face and head were extraordinarily delicate and well proportioned, just slightly smaller than life size, accentuating their fineness.  A perfect Greek head, but without the Greek effeminacy.  His features were French and masculine.  Dark, almost black eyes, a thin humourous mouth.  He smoked cigarettes through an F.D. R. holder but affected the mannerisms of the proletariat.  I rather liked him, which was lucky.  From this trip on, for the next eight years, he was my stepfather".

Although in cases of character description, these may be lengthy in some scenarios but to Frank Conroy at this time in his life, these were the two most important people in his young life, who would forever shape his next few critical years.  It was clearly important for him to give a personal account of their features, mannerisms and also how he may have "felt" about them. 

Reading inspires me. 

Spread the Joy of a Bloggy!

I have been awarded a Bloggy from my blogger friend Laura at http://literarylegs.blogspot.com/

Thank you Laura!!  Now, from what I have read, the way this goes is once received, you pass on the sweetness to 5 others after first revealing 5 interesting facts about yourself!!  Fun!

1. I am a Living Kidney Donor

I donated a kidney to our son three years ago and am now working on becoming a mentor for others who are in need of a kidney or wanting to learn more about living donation. 

2. I take my boys "bug hunting"

No,this is not my hand or our bug... But he's COOL huh??!!  We would totally dig finding this guy!!

3. I worked as an extra in the movie Fire Birds (1990) with Nicolas Cage.

I am the blonde bar tender in the "bar scene".. and they also used me in a basketball scene where I shot some hoops for Sean Young (in her place).. but it was not used.  Apparently she can dribble too.  I wore a wig and went to "make up".. pretty cool.  Was paid $150.00 for two days of "work". 

4. I was on a dance team for a local radio station when I was 25.

And no.. that is not me.  I unfortunately have no photos of any of my dancing however we also filmed a late night "dance party" show (which was actually filmed on Saturdays at 10 am) and friends saw it.  Came on later that night at 11:00

5. I am an only child.
Who not so secretly wishes she had at least 2 brothers and a couple of sisters.  I also would have loved to have had at least 4 boys and even adopted some.  I do have two half-brothers but unfortunately we are more like distant cousins. 

My sweet blogger friends I wish to share with are:

1. Laura who creatively blogs at http://literarylegs.blogspot.com/
2. Dawn who dazzles at http://dawnbrazil.blogspot.com/
3. Meryl who captivates at http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/
4. Alex who wows at http://alexhagen1.blogspot.com/
5. Julie who inspires at http://julieflanders.blogspot.com/

Go visit these wonderful ladies and send a bloggy to someone who motivates/inspires you!!

World News and Part III Final of Conference

First let me say that I, like most of the world, have been tied to the news as we read of the tragic events in Japan.  I feel one-minded and a bit "closed" writing about writing instead of really taking a moment to reflect on what is happening in the bigger world around us.  This will land at least 3 pages in my journal and be something my boys will most likely not remember but I will.  Protected in a clear bubble but just how fragile is that bubble? 

I will just briefly mention my Part III of the conference.  I took part on day three in a workshop designed to discuss emotions with Josh Rathcamp.  He discussed how you can intergrate emotion into a piece without "saying a character is angry, happy, mad, dispondent, depressed, lost, unfocused..." We looked at a few pieces of short work and then were given an exercise.  We unfortunately did not have time to share but what he had to offer was very valuable.   Think of your character acting out during a time of tension and instead of saying they were in dispair, show us.  Great lesson.  The day concluded with a wonderful brunch and with quick, fluid discussion, emails and business cards were exchanged. 

I have since gained another group of writers to work with and will find the time to fit it all in. 

I have to tell all of you one thing.  Maybe you can relate or maybe you're one of the few (and those I envy) who can push out 3 chapters in one sitting... but my hubby said after the conference, "well, lets go... get writing!"  One of the more insightful closing remarks by one author on the final day, was "we are all going back to our lives, and eventually the question will come up, what's taking you so long?  Why does this writing thing take so damn long??"  Good question and the answer I gave my husband tonight as we watched the sun turn the sky a crimson shade of pretty, was it takes so damn long because it is soooo hard."   I think more than that is: because it is so..... me..

Ahhhh the love of writing.............. and remember to hug your family and be grateful. 

Part II of the ASU Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference

Welcome to Part II: 

On Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to hear from Victor LaValle.  I will summarize this course, "Got Plot" with some great tips and notes.  (My black journal is covered with 35 more pages of ink because of this conference....)

You can sway a reader if you state it with confidence. 
We used the story excerpt from The Deadly Circle by Samuel Fuller and San Francisco by Amy Hempel.  Two very different plots and one was much easier to decipher than the other.  But once we were shown how the writer was guiding us, this reading opened up opportunities for us in our own writing. 

He finished with another statement:  The writer should be calm and assertive.  I will take those words with me, for sure!!

Later that afternoon and before closing, I along with others attended two more discussions.  The next was with Naeem Murr, Meeting the Stranger.  He used a great analogy of dreams and how there are no uncesssary 'inputs' in dreams... everything is there for a reason in our dreams!!  So do the same thing in your writing.  If it really is not necessary, if you cannot explain the significance, and if your reader cannot understand it.. well then kill your little darling.  Convince the reader.  We discussed Flannery O'Conner, A Good Man is Hard to Find and I have actually been reading her stories before the conference.  There was not much discussion but rather a lot of speaking by Naeem.  He has a lot of great information. 

I finished the day with Submitting to Literary Journals!!!  I was pleasantly surprised to hear them say, they typically skip cover letters and in most cases, most journals don't even ask for a cover letter.. They get right to the work.  I agree!!  The "Hook" was a topic and of course when you are reading thousands of submissions and will only publish a handful, you need a hook.  Make the writing stand up on its own and lesson learned; don't try to be cute, just write well!!  Finally, do not put any work in its full form on a blog or website if you plan on submitting it for publication consideration.  If you do so, well guess what?  By putting it out there, you have published it.  You would think this would be obvious but the editors explained they have had this happen. 

Some great places suggested for Literary Journal submissions- Duotrope.com   New Pages   Luna Park   Lit List Review and cwrwopps plus the Million Writers Award.  I have yet to go to any of these, so I hope they are correct if you go looking.  If not, please comment if you have the correct site!!

Thank you for reading and check back on Friday for the Final Part III

ASU Writers Conference Lessons Learned; Part I of a Part Three III Series

What else is there to say?  I have had the wonderful opportunity to dive headfirst into the writing community and experience, for at least three days, a constant surge of living, breathing and writing about the craft.  I absolutely loved it.  I want to first give a big wonderful hug to the ladies who have supported, read, shared, friended, commented.  Check these out;

http://j.mp/gwCQZ7  to read Meg Waite Clayton's article just published on the Huffington Post!!! Her next novel out very soon; The Four Ms. Bradwells. 
Shewrites.com and my page followers

Check them all out!! If I forgot anyone please send!  I also met some wonderful people at the conference and along with my on-line friends, I look forward to connecting with others locally! 

Today was back to the grind, literally.  My creative flow came to a screeching halt as quickly as I turned on the computer at work and saw 167 emails waiting.  I digress.

The Conference Lessons Learned Part I:
I arrived home on Sunday after a wonderful brunch and some "Words to Write By" at the conference.  I actually had the house all to myself after my kids and husband had left Saturday morning for a hockey tournament in Prescott.  Imagine that, 9 years it has been since I have been in the house alone.  Believe, me I am not rushing that.  I missed the comotion but I had the TV to myself!  Yes, I should have been writing but my God, I had written all day and again, the Doritos and Three Stooges just sounded really good at about 6:30 Saturday night. 

After K.L Cook's class ( I blogged about that previously and again, what a class!  Entitled, "Let's Misbehave"), I elected to sit in with Renee Simms who would discuss "Flair in Fiction; What Poets and Stylists Teach Us".  We discussed prose (which is anything not poetry) and how writers of prose can extract lessons from poetry to increase the readability and flow of the work.  I completely agree with this.  As mentioned earlier I have discovered a new dimension to my writing and reading by examining poetry. 

We were given a black and white photo of a Brookly family from 1966 taken by Diane Arbus. 

We were then asked to describe the photo in the manner of C.K. Williams.  We were given two C.K. Williams poems, The Dance and Shame.  It would be beneficial to google these two works to get a sense of the exercise.  Very challenging task.  She wanted us to use more complicated language, that did not rely too much on direct information but rather a more intuitive method to interpret our perception of the photo. 

Although I read my interpretation I have included a variation of the first sentence here.  I did not care much for the ending and we had a whole 5 minutes to do this:

Joleen and Tony are the nucleus that link Anna and Leo to life.  A thin life hanging by a gossamer thread of bare cabinets, Lucky Strikes and brawling fights when mommy and daddy disagree about green money, yellow beer and fancy girls with red lips....

My voice on this began more as a 3rd person omniscient then trasitioned to the children.  At least that was my attempt.  Difficult!!!

Our next exercise in the same class was now to identify a "Group" that a person could belong to.  Using the "we", we were directed to give an opening to a story.  Our samples included, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Karen Russell,) Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston).  Here was my take, again I read aloud;

We sidled in tight formation through the alley.  The moon hung full and heavy above and with our heads cantered to the side, we filtered the night noise.  The third guy back stumbled and hit a trash can, temporarily halting our prosession against the wall.  Gunshots slapped the curtain of night hard and forceful.  I curled my finger around the trigger and all at once we ran forward and fast whooping our own variations of "gonna get those fuckers, show 'em they aint takin us down like that!"

We were Superman.   Our chests like iron but skin bare and not quite man-like, arms sinuey and gangly as we ran wildy, a blur of feet and gravel.  Every muscle engaged as the bullets found their mark, leaving each of us to stop short, life at fourteen. 

Again, sometimes in workshop-my experiences as a cop play out on paper.  This was a great exercise.  I recommend the readings prior to show why I wrote it this way.

Part II will be Wednesday and I will share my notes on "Got Plot" with Victor LaValle and "Meeting the Stranger" with Naeem Murr.  Great day!!

Thanks for Reading!!  Keep Writing!!

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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.