"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

High Street

She wore a purple blouse and a blue sweater with no apparent care for color coordination. The sweater was missing a button and there was a coffee stain on her blouse. He’d studied her in the mirror of the backbar for a while and so had noticed all of this. It wasn’t often that he saw someone in the Short North as uninterested in physical appearance as she so obviously was. Short North people wore dark frames and artfully draped scarves and were concerned with nothing as much as their physical appearance.

She was engrossed in a book, and her legs stretched out across the adjacent stool in languid repose. He was attracted to the black tights that fit like a glove; her every curve spelled out in spandex like a rock star in a window poster at the now defunct Virgin Records store. Her sexuality was enhanced by her carelessness, by the threadbare sweater and the stained blouse and the hair that she hadn’t bothered to comb.

He shifted in his seat to adjust himself against the pull of the black tights. When was the last time he’d felt anything astir in the dead zone of his center? What was it that captured his curiosity like a prairie dog to the rising sun? He motioned to the bartender for another draft. Who reads books in a tavern on High Street? Even at the noon hour? She should be in the coffee shop across from campus with her coffee, writing in a journal or reading Atwood or Munroe. She looked Canadian. Something in the slouch of her figure and the way she caressed the cover of her book told him she wouldn’t be repelled by what he had become.

He picked up his glass and his cane and moved to the vacant stool beside her. She closed the book on her thumb and looked at him from behind a strand of hair. In contradiction to her appearance, she smelled like soap. Her one eye was blue and the other brown, a struggle against the dominant from the onset. She was younger than he, but not by much. In another time she would have been a protestor. In another time, but not this time, they would share a drink and then shack up together with their books and beaded curtains. She would hang posters and massage his wounds. In another time before the current time and the cane and the dreams, he would have struck up a conversation; he wouldn’t freeze in fear of the stammer he’d acquired. The short circuit in his brain would heal itself and the words would flow like the hair down her back.

He’d forgotten himself. There was no cure for the short circuit in his brain, no name for the whittler of his cane.

The art museum had an entire room devoted to the display of canes, works of art whittled from a single branch, but every whittler was named Unknown. They reminded him of soldiers minus their weapons and their boots, minus that which defined them, all those whittlers without a name. He went there on Mondays when it wasn’t crowded. There was a guest pass attached to his membership that he had never used. The add-on had been a waste of money.

She closed her book and curled her legs under her stool and looked at him with one blue eye and one brown. What was he waiting for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trampled

Blogger keeps asking me to put ads on my site. Gmail encroaches on the right hand side of the screen with their eerie fingering. Facebook now takes up a third of the page with advertising. Players on the football field stand idly by for the TV time-out. Stadiums are renamed for the highest bidder. The banner ads on the front pages of the newspaper creep up and up. Content is influenced by advertisers instead of by the newsworthiness of the story. Investigative reporting is going the way of the land line.

We time our arrival at the theatre to miss the yelling and screaming of the selling. The glossy magazines shout at you from newsstands, fat with advertising. If you took out every ad from the glossies, you would end up with a slim magazine fit for your back pocket, like The Sun, an advertisement- free magazine of stories, poems and essays. You pay for your subscription and you get what you pay for. They don’t try to sell you anything else. If I could get something published in The Sun it would feel better than a front page blurb in the Atlantic. Well…..almost.

I would no sooner put ads on my blog than cut off my right hand. I wish they would just leave me alone and cut out the crap. The amped-up scheming of the advertiser during the holiday season strips my spirit like turpentine. Thanksgiving is a time for contemplation and fortification, community and church, parades and musicals, nourishment for the creative soul and the inquisitive mind. Why did we let the frenzied retailer hijack Thanksgiving? Forget the family gatherings and the euchre games and the gathering of cousins into the wee hours to catch up. We all have to go to bed early so we can get up at three in the morning to shop.

Thanksgiving is no time for manic shopping in the predawn hours, yanked from store to store like puppets on a string by the geek of the advertiser. One Day Only! Limited Availability! First 100 shoppers! Free shipping! Bullshit.

Do they think us simpletons? They raise the price and then offer free shipping. They double the price, then offer you two for one. Why is it my patriotic duty to put myself in the red to put them in the black? This marketing of Thanksgiving to the highest bidder makes Clockwork Orange look like the Ed Sullivan Show.

I really meant to talk about food. Are you a foodie? If you're still reading, let’s sit down and talk about what's for dinner.

On our Thanksgiving menu: organic turkey, stuffing, butternut squash braised in maple syrup, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, salad greens dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and apple pie for dessert. All served up at my daughter's house (first time!). She doesn't have a dining room table but she's going to pull in her patio table and put a tablecloth on it.

We’ve opted for traditional, but we have our own turkeys so it’s hard not to go down that road. What about your road? Is anyone doing something extravagantly different, like roasted duck or pheasant? Oysters on the half shell or a standing rib roast? What’s for dessert?

On our weekend slate: the browsing of bookshelves and the stringing of lights around that patio minus its table, the Columbus Museum of Art to view the Caravaggio exhibit (the only U.S. venue), the living room and conversation, the Lions Thanksgiving Day football game because that's tradition (even with the TV time outs). Any extra money I have is going for wine, beer, and books. No shopping. What about you?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Keeping Things Pretty - Recommendations and Chaos

I have an award to accept and one to pass on, a couple of reading recommendations, and an observation from farm country on football Sunday.

Jon Paul at Where Sky Meets Ground recently gave me this blog award.


Thanks Jon Paul!

He is participating in NaNo and tearing it up. In fact his progress has been so remarkable he's inspired me to participate in this novel-writing month next year. Check him out and follow if you aren't already. I'm supposed to pass this award on to 15 other bloggers. At this time, I'm passing it on to five, because it takes a lot of thought and time to do awards. I do reserve the right to name my other ten at a later time. Some of these bloggers are new to me while I've been following others for a while, but they all have one thing in common: they've created blogs I return to again and again, which is my definition of a lovely blog.

Zev from Swords Into Plows is a man after my own heart. Check him out and you'll see why.

Jessica Bell at The Alliterative Allomorph is an amazing talent. Plus she sent me her CD all the way from Greece, which is better than a postcard. Thanks Jessica!

Anthony Duce draws and writes and does both exceptionally well. He strives to say a little, but not too much, and somehow he always says it just right. He gives life to the still life and still life to the living.

Ed Pilolla whose recent post "Clothesline" was absolutely brilliant, and I'm not given to gushing.

Pet at Pencil and Box who blogs about things like an amazing yet obscure animated movie based on a story by the late Ted Hughes and because he's well written and pops in on me from time to time. He's from Spain and I like to keep abreast of what's going on over there.

If you aren't already following these five, you're missing out on some worthwhile reading.

Now, for those recommendations: I just finished reading ORYX AND CRAKE" by Margaret Atwood. That novel will make you hate us. Would I recommend it? Well... I read it in just two days. Atwood knows how to grab you by the scruff of your neck, and she doesn’t let go until she’s finished with you. Is it farfetched in its look at the future? I sure hope so. Are there elements of truth already lurking on the horizon? Sure. Enough of them to make you shiver.

On my bed stand now is CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese. I was told by one of my most thorough readers that she thought it the best novel of 2010. She has her own lending library and has never steered me wrong so now I'm steering you. I knew from the first paragraph I would like it. Don't you just love it when that happens?

And, finally, an observation from where I live: It's dark now and the gunshots have receded. It's hunting season, and from dawn to dusk, shots echo through the woods and across the fields. This might strike you as harsh, but it's actually a good thing. The deer are a nuisance, causing numerous car accidents and destroying crops. So far, five have been taken out of the farm, and we're hoping for many more to be harvested. When they start cutting into your income and wrecking your vehicles, it's time for a cull. They have no natural predators as the coyote and cougar are rare and the wolf are gone. Man is their only predator, but fewer and fewer hunting licenses are issued as the younger generation has taken to video games rather than hunting and fishing and outdoor activities. Their interest is gaming indoors, not hunting game in the cold of November.

One more think before I say adieu, one more thing. It's another football Sunday and the NFL is playing patriotic. It seems to be a new theme in sports, hyping the flag and the soldier and the occupation (but not the one in NY). The God Bless Americas, the trumpets, flags, and fly-over formations, Man shed his waste on thee... but something strikes me as false because I can't forget the scene from Thursday playing across America for those who were paying attention. A woman dressed in an overcoat with long hair and a backpack was dragged down the street by police in riot gear. They lost their grip on the backpack and went for the hair. She was dragged away,kicking and screaming and nobody helped. Maybe they were all afraid, unlike the boy who stopped a tank in Tiananmen Square. Dragged through the roadblock, dragged through the cameramen, dragged out of sight. Syria? China? Greece? Some barbaric Third World country? Did you see it? Was it just my imagination?

It's dark and the shots have receded but not the memory.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hallway

Door one is for those with questions about their disability check.
Door two is for those who didn’t get their disability check.
Door three is for those who can’t find a doctor to treat their disability.
Door four is for those who have been denied their disability.
Door five is for those who were Sectioned Eight, no disability.
Door six is for those seeking legal advice.
Door seven is for those whose paperwork never not submitted, go back to door one.
Door eight is for those who got kicked out of the shelter for alcohol abuse, go back to door six.
Door nine is for those suffering hallucinations, go back to door three.
Door ten is for those deemed a danger to themselves by door three.
Door eleven with the red sign above it is for those who exhausted one through ten.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reader's Reports - An Agent-in-Waiting

I’ve finished my novel BLACK RIVER. It’s complete at 105,000, a word count I’m comfortable with. The genre is mainstream contemporary with cautionary undertones. (I know, I made that category up.) Now comes the spit and shine, and to help me see the gaps and inconsistencies, I’ve sent it over to Ethan Vaughan, an agent-in-waiting who blogs here.

Ethan interned at a literary agency over the summer and aspires to one day be a literary agent. Right now he's a college student who writes readers reports in his spare time, which is pretty cool. He has posted a sample reader's report which will give you a feel for how agents critique unpublished manuscripts.

He’s looking for manuscripts to read and critique on his blog. If you’re ready for a little exposure and an independent critique, you might want to check out his site, Searching For The Story.

What have I learned this time around? I found that I can write a novel under 140,000 words. With this one I have wiggle room. If something needs to be added, there's space. If something needs to be cut, I would still end up with a novel in the 90,000 to 100,000 word count which to me is a good range.

While this one is out with a couple of readers, I will compose my query letter, hopefully with help from Mindy McGinnis at Writer Writer Pants on Fire, one of my favorite people from Agent Query, the top spot for query assistance, and anyone else I can impose upon. Then I have a couple of short stories with a deadline fast approaching and then.....I concentrate on Will. Oh, I love the dark and desperate, the hurt and conflicted, those characters who love and lust and make mistakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anything For Will

She longed to feel him inside of her again but was beginning to wonder if she ever would. The memories were fading, like the pictures he sent. His helmet was etched with anti-war dogma, but he did what he was told. His letters filled a drawer but held nothing of what he was told, and he wasn’t sending pictures anymore.


Write a flash fiction piece in 55 words, post it, and then let the G-Man who is Mr. Knowitall know. It's easy, it's fun. It's Friday.

My 55 this week is a passage from a work-in-progress that is working it's way back up to the top of the stack. It's been bothering me. I can see it in the corner of my eye, getting dusty on the filing cabinet. Oh, the injustice! I had to bring Will back up on my screen this morning. I have to look him in the eye and decide what to do with him.

TGIF
Peace out

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unraveled

If the sky were any prettier it would kill me. My incapacity to process it would overwhelm and cripple. The sun colors the sky best just before it breaks the horizon. It turns each wisp of cloud into a trailing kite. It enhances the tree in the fence row clinging to its last wind-torn leaf. It’s bigger than a barn from afar, this tree, and I don’t even know its name. Bigger than the tool shed and the barn put together. How come I’ve never stood underneath that tree with the birds’ nests unraveling in the wind? I’m too lazy. I haven’t walked through an adjacent field to stand under a tree bigger than a barn and older than the farm. My capacity to feel small is undiminished in the light of day. As the sun travels its low arc across the southern sky, I finish out the day in a multitude of smallish ways.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Under Your Sink

I would like to share a post from Zev, an activist farmer that could enhance your life and your health, maybe even save it. As Zev shows us, everyone can be an activist. If you think you're too small to make a difference, you've never been bitten by a mosquito.

Hey....I just realized this is my 200th post!

Fitting it should be about something so important, something I would climb on the soapbox for.

Am I supposed to have a contest or a cyber cocktail party or something? No, I think I'll save that for when I reach 200 followers or nail an agent.

Like next year for sure!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Should You Have a Fever . . .(Teaser Tuesday)

This week I've decided to participate in Teaser Tuesday, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, wherein you open a book you're reading to a random page and post two teaser sentences.

So, here goes....

"My mother was too sleepy to take his temperature, but it's a fact that he had a fever, and that his fever led him to a night in my mother's bed-in her arms.

"My grandmother always claimed she could hear the electric meter counting each kilowatt; as soon as it was dark, she followed my mother through the house, turning off the lights that my mother had turned on."

Anyone know what novel these two sentences are from?

This is not a new release, and I know many of you have read it. I did when I was young and inmature. Something told me it deserved another go and I have not been disappointed. I missed so much the first time, like THE PLAGUE by Albert Camus, which I read as a young adult and didn't understand.

The rules say I must tell you, so without further ado,



the novel is A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, by John Irving, one of my favorite authors.

Click the link above if you want to share a couple of teaser sentences from a book you're reading and can recommend to a host of readers.

Thank you for reading mine!