Saturday, December 29, 2012

This List Goes to Eleven: A Look Back at 2012

            2012 is winding down and I felt like I didn’t do as much writing as I would have liked. Then I tried to compile a list of my favorite blog posts of the year, I couldn’t whittle it down to only ten. So I guess I did more writing than I realized. Without further ado, here is my top ten eleven of 2013.

It takes a lot of effort to get this sparkly.
January 24, 2012 The Box
            In 2012 I got back on stage for the first time in years. It was exhilarating and terrifying. I didn’t have much luck trying to write down how I felt about it until I let my makeup box do the talking.

            The second of my children experienced the Sacrement of Reconciliation in our church. Participating in it was an eye-opening moment for me.

            My husband and I always tell my children they can tell or ask us anything. Sometimes they take me up on it.

            Helping my son deal with the disappointment of not making the team.

            In which my son learns about the life cycle of fish and shows me what real devotion is.

            One of my favorite installment of my storyline about Karen.

            I had the opportunity to see Kristen Chenoweth in concert and wrote about it. Kristen read it! And tweeted about it!


            A Father’s Day post about teaching my kids to do things for themselves.

            A bit of nostalgia.


            One of my favorite pieces of fiction this year. 

            A post about healing after the loss of a pet.


Mama’s Losin’ It

Friday, December 28, 2012

100 Word Song: O Holy Night

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog
  
            While going over my posts of the last year, I realized it’s been far too long since we took a glimpse into Karen’s world. So this week, I’m linking up late (sorry Leroy!) with 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This week’s musical inspiration was a song I’d never heard before by a band I’ve never heard of, “Carry Me Home” by Hey Rosetta! Give it a listen if you haven’t already heard it. You can download it for free from their website.


O Holy Night
            Edmond sat on the edge of the bed in the cheap motel room. He should have been grateful the manager had taken pity on him, but he felt empty. Across the country, Karen was standing on the kneeler at St. Coleman’s, singing along with the choir. Peggy would have dressed Karen in green velvet and put her raven hair in ringlets. Christmas Eve had always been his favorite night of the year—a night of magic and possibilities. This year, it smelled of stale smoke and regret. The gin bottle slipped from his hands as tears rolled down his face. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012


Cheers! Hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Christmas and New Years!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday


                    Since my children got off the bus Friday afternoon I have tried to shield my boys  from the news of Newtown. Like every parent I know, I was particularly anxious to see their faces that day. When they got home we drank hot cocoa with peppermint marshmallows and sang silly songs while we worked together in the kitchen. Saturday night we watched Mr. Popper's Penguins together. I thought I might use the opportunity to wrap some Christmas presents while the movie played, but I found myself unwilling to disentangle myself from their snuggles.
                   Now it's Monday and I suspect there will be discussion at school. We've already gotten a “robo-call” from the Superintendent about security measures. As much as I'd like to continue to shield this news from them, I'd like to be in control of how they get it.
                   I suspect that somehow Owen has gotten wind of the story. He asked me why they don't have police in school. I assured him that our city has police officers at the high school and I often see police cars patrolling near his school. I also told him they always have a detail officer assigned to events such as his band and chorus concerts. One of the benefits of living in an urban area is the presence of law enforcement.
                   It's a little after seven and the boys are still in bed. That's unusual for them. Normally, they're up at the crack of dawn to try to get some play time in before school. But it's dark and rainy and I'm sure their beds seem even more cozy than usual. Soon I'll have to wake them or we'll be late. I wonder what we'll talk about at breakfast this morning. Will you be talking to your children about Newtown this morning?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Precipice Interview

      Something really exciting happened this fall. My writing was published for the first time. Precipice is a wonderful anthology of memoirs and short fiction from the editors at Write On Edge.


     As a part of her series of interviews of Precipice writers, the fabulous blogger/writer AmyBeth Inverness interviewed yours truly! You can check it out here.
     You can buy Precipice in paperback or Kindle versions at Amazon. It is also available in nearly every other electronic format from Smashwords. Precipice would be a great holiday gift for the reader in your life!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Adventures in Pink



                   I went to Target's toy department on a strange and difficult mission. I strode past the action figures and the Matchbox cars. I ignored the Pokemon cards and the latest version of Battleship. I didn't even slow down at the Legos. After ten years of buying toys for male children, I found myself amid the Pepto-Bismol pink display of Barbie dolls.
                   Every year, my husband's employer sponsors a giving tree and we always take a tag or two. I'm the one who does most of the gift shopping and Dan thought it might be fun for me to pick out a toy for a girl for a change. Dan was right. It was a nice change to pick out a gift for a girl. I just wish she hadn't requested Barbie with her perfect shiny blond hair and impossibly small waist and perky boobs. And then I saw this...

This Barbie doesn't fit in a binder!
 
                   Here was a choice I could live with! Barbie running for office. Barbie with a career and a business suit. She doesn't wait for Ken to bring home the bacon; she goes out and gets it herself! This was a Barbie I could give with a clear conscience. There was only one problem... the gift tag specified a Princess Barbie. I fought off the twinge in my neck when I thought of little girls growing up to expect Prince Charming to save the day.
                   But I thought about the little girl who would open this present—perhaps the only present she'll get this year. She just wants a Barbie doll, because little girls want Barbie dolls. Just like my little boys want Nerf guns, no matter how much I hate them. Picking out this present isn't about my politics—it isn't about me at all. It's simply about making a little girl smile on Christmas. So I picked up that sparkly pink Barbie and an even pinker car to go with it—I just hope she doesn't let Ken drive.

Friday, November 30, 2012

100 Word Song: Something New

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog
  
                   My fiction writing has been put on hold lately because of the wonderful craziness in my life these days. But I couldn't resist linking up with the 100 Word Song this week. Lance has offered us Jimi Hendrix's “Are You Experienced” for inspiration. Mr. Hendrix would have been 70 years old this week. I give you 100 words of Fiction on Friday.

Something New
                   The hike had been a mistake.  She thought she was in shape. But the miles on the elliptical machine had not prepared her for the rocky terrain, the steepness of the trail or the thin air.
                   “It's only a few steps more,” he assured her, pausing as she gasped and stumbled.
                   “There,” he whispered as she reached the summit. “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”
                   She drank in the world below and forgot about her blisters and bruises and remembered the meaning of the word breathtaking.
                   “No Sheriff. I've never seen anything at all before.” 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Where's Vic?


        It's been a while since I've posted anything. Post ideas have flitted in and out of my head: posts about gratitude, posts about my distain for Black Friday, posts about wanting to give Thanksgiving its due before we steamroller it with the Christmas machine. Alas, I haven't worked up the motivation to write. I'd love to tell you that I've just been too wrapped up with writing or editing a novel to write. Alas, there has been very little writing that has made the journey from my brain to my finger tips lately. So if you're still out there and reading this post. Thanks for sticking with me.
        I woke up this morning and wrote in my journal. It was little more than a detailed “to do” list. But it had been a while since I did that. It felt good to be writing again. My life is only going to get busier in the weeks ahead. I've begun a new chapter in my creative life. Last week I had auditions for a new play. The turn out was beyond my expectations. I can't wait to start rehearsing this fantastic cast.
        But I really don't want to stop writing. I love the connections I've made with this blog. Two years ago I had never shared a piece of my fiction with anyone. Because of the this blog I began showing that side of myself to the world. The response was so encouraging and I have not intention of letting that slip away. So watch this space. I've slowed down in the blogging world. But I have no plans to stop.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Lesson Learned

 
                   Many years ago, I walked into a yoga class and met a woman I had lived next door to as a child. I was new to the class and she assured me it was wonderful. “It really relaxes you and makes you feel at peace,” she said. “Not that you need that. You always seem so calm.”  It was then I knew that people who don't know me well, have no idea what I'm really like. Apparently I project a very calm exterior. My close friends and family will find that laughable. I am like a bundle of springs compressed in a tiny body. I throw myself into tasks and take the outcome to heart.  Most of the time it's fine. Tension fuels my crazy calendar of work, children's activities, theatre, writing and family life. But I do occasionally pay a price.
                   I've always considered myself politically moderate. But I've begun to realize that  I'm only a moderate by Massachusetts' standards. Compared other parts of the country I'm a bleeding heart liberal.  Four years ago on election night, I felt like a rubber band that had been stretched and stretched as I watched the returns. It looked like Obama would probably win, but I was afraid of being too cocky. I went to bed before the results were finalized and somehow managed to sleep.
                   By morning, it was clear that Obama would be our next president. It was also clear that I hadn't slept peacefully. I had clenched my jaw so hard in my sleep that I broke my tooth. It was the second of the four crowns I now have in my mouth—all from internalizing stress. I now carry an extra dental insurance policy, just for me. So, yes I need all the yoga I can get.
                   Last night a relative of mine wrote on her Facebook wall that she was, “Doing yoga, drinking wine, and making a care package for my sister at college. Sending donations to Red Cross Hurricane Relief and Planned Parenthood. Controlling the things I can control.” Clearly, at half my age, she is  twice as smart. Today I'm going make pumpkin pancakes, go to the chiropractor, walk to the polls with my kids in the autumn sunshine, and do some work for my upcoming show. If there's time, I may get out my yoga mat. Controlling the things we can control. Brilliant.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election Season Pride

 
                   We were driving to school earlier this week when we heard on the radio that Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren would be appearing in our hometown that day.
                   “Mom! Did you hear that? Elizabeth Warren is going to be in Brockton today!”
                   My ten-year-old son Owen has been fascinated by the elections this year.
                   “Want me to find out where she's going to be?”
                   “Could we go?”
                   “Sure. As long as it isn't during school. I'll check her website for information.”
                   Owen slumped back in his seat pretending to faint from excitement.
                   The appearance was right after school at a local Greek restaurant. Owen was enraptured by Ms. Warren's stump speech. He waited patiently for our chance to speak to her. She was very gracious and shook both of my boys hands and addressed them each by name.
James, Elizabeth Warren and Owen.
                   I'm excited that my son has shown so much interest in the elections. But the vitriol he's exposed to bothers me. He's completely given up his morning diet of PBS Kids shows for the local news and “Good Morning America”. He hears the attack ads and asks, “Is that true?” Well yes. And no. At ten years old the truth is black and white. He doesn't understand the gray areas. He doesn't understand what happens when quotes are taken out of context or statistics are manipulated. And I doubt I do a very good job of explaining it between tasks during our early morning rush. I've cautioned him about making snap decisions about people who support different candidates than he does. 
The boys with their autograph.
                   For now, I'm proud that he's interested. He isn't old enough to vote yet, but he's smart enough to know that whoever is elected will have an impact on his world. He cares about who is going to be shaping our country. When I vote on Tuesday, I'll be taking my kids with me. I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trifecta: Heart of Gold


                   Smith studied the call girl.  She was perfect for the job. Her wavy bronze hair flirted with her bare shoulders. Her emerald eyes glowed in contrast to her perfect olive skin.
                   “Why did you bring me here?” she asked.
                   “Why do men usually bring you to hotel rooms Angelica,” he answered holding back a sneer.
                   “Most men just want someone who doesn't ask for anything more complicated than money. Tell me why I'm here tonight.  It's still early. I can find a John that who won't play games. A girl has to make a living.”
                   He tossed her heavy bundle of twenty dollar bills.
                   “Something tells me you aren't here for a straight lay.”
                   “Smart and sexy.” He handed her a photograph. “Do you know who this is?”
                   She shook her head.
                   “That's Judge Lawrence Steele. A rising star in the judicial sky. My associates want to make sure he doesn't rise any higher. We want you to seduce His Honor.”
                   She raised her eyebrows and handed him back the picture.
                   “I think you have the wrong girl Mr. Smith.”
                   “You're perfect for this Angelica. Judge Larry was head over heels for a girl who looked like you back in college. It didn't work out and he ended up marrying a blond homecoming queen from Oklahoma.”
                   “If you think he'd be that easily seduced, he's probably cheated already. Why fake it?”
                   “We've looked. He's as faithful as a dog, loves his kids, pays his taxes. The bastard doesn't even cheat at golf. So I'm offering you fifty thousand up front and fifty thousand after.”
                   She was silent for a moment as she let the idea of one hundred thousand dollars roll around her brain.
                   “No.”
                   “No? What kind of a whore turns down a hundred grand?”
                   “Mr. Smith, you're the only whore in this room. I'm an honest hooker.”

I'm linking up this week with Trifecta. Here's this week's challenge:
WHORE
1: a woman who engages in sexual acts for money: prostitute; also: a promiscuous or immoral woman
2: a male who engages in sexual acts for money
3: a venal or unscrupulous person

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above. 
  • Only one entry per writer.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down


      I have been a neglectful blogger lately. Life has seemed busier than usual this fall. So today I'm feeling grateful for Hurricane Sandy for forcing me to slow down for a bit. The boys are home from school and we're all cramming in some extra time on our favorite electronic gadgets before the inevitable power outages. So I thought I'd catch you up a bit on what my little clan has been up to lately.
      Saturday was the last soccer game of the season. It was a picture perfect New England autumn day and I was feeling a little sentimental. I even wrote a poem on my Iphone while I was watching the game. I'm not much of a poet so here goes...

Words

I wish I was a photographer.

I could capture the last of the crimson leaves clinging to oak and maple.

I could capture the way the dew looks like diamonds as it springs off a swiftly kicked soccer ball.

I could capture how the players' breath steams in the cool October air.

I could capture the rainbow of players united in love for the game.

Alas, I am a writer.






      But clearly, I am not a poet. Anyway, both boys won their last games. It was particularly nice for Owen since it was the first game his team won this season. The players were pretty good as individuals, but it took them a while to get the hang of playing as a team. Every kid gets a medal for participation (go ahead and make your commentaries about that), but there are two additional awards that are given to specific kids—one for “most improved” and one for “good sportsmanship”. Guess who's a good sport? I'm really proud of this:
My good sport.
      Fall also means that Cub Scouts are in full swing. Our local Boy Scout Council organized a huge event along the Charles River. There was CPR training, snow shoe relay races, shelter building, a zombie themed obstacle course, a ropes course, and so much more. But the highlight of the day was the world record breaking longest derby car track in the world. It was built to look like one of our favorite Boston landmarks, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

Pretty cool, eh?

      As you know, Halloween is fast approaching. Owen told me he wanted to be a knight so we Googled some images to get ideas for his costume. He found this drawing....

No pressure. Really.




        I had a bolt of inspiration one day in Walmart (now that's a phrase you don't hear every day!)  when I came upon this solar auto-shade in a bin of random clearance merchandise.
       With the help of some florist wire, a paper plate and some duct tape, I turned it into a helmet, bracers, and boot covers. I made his cloak, tabard and scabbard from leftover curtain fabric and some scraps of felt. An old belt of mine and Owen's wooden sword completed his ensemble. This project made me feel like the McGyver of costuming. 

Not bad, eh?



      Finally, our theatrical world has been indirectly taking up my time. Hubby and I have to take turns doing shows so the kids will be properly fed and cared for. He just wrapped up an excellent production of Deathtrap. A local review called him “hunky”. Who am I to argue? So next is my turn for something theatrical. In a couple of weeks, auditions begin for a production of Moon Over Buffalo that I'm directing. It's a madcap farce about a troupe of actors.
       Meanwhile we're all hunkering down waiting for Sandy. We're ready though. We've put away or secured everything outside. We all took nice long hot showers this morning in case we don't have hot water. We've stocked up on batteries, flashlights, candles, and non-perishable food. Most importantly, we have enough red wine and Halloween candy to last for a week. See you soon Sandy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Broken but Getting Better


            I finished the chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince we were reading and said goodnight to my eight-year-old son James. We hugged a little longer than usual. Our fifteen year-old cat Sammy died in his sleep the day before. It wasn’t unexpected, but we were all feeling a little extra emotional.
            A few minutes later while I was trolling Facebook and Twitter working in my office I heard him crying quietly. Of all of us, James took Sammy’s death the hardest. At first, I decided to let him try to work it through on his own. But after a few minutes his cries only became louder. I went into his room, crawled into his bed and held him tightly. Sobs shook his little body as he clutched a picture of Sammy to his heart. “I would do anything to have him back! Why did he have to die?” he cried.
            I had no words to mend his broken heart. For years, James brought Sammy with him when it was time for bed. Unusually patient for a cat, Sammy would purr while James brushed his teeth, clutching Sammy his shoulder like a baby. I held James tightly and rubbed his back. I started to cry, not from grief but from feeling helpless to make James feel better. He continued to keen until it was time for his older brother to get ready for bed. I called down the stairs and told Owen brush his teeth.
            He came into the bedroom and looked at James.
            “Did one of his fish die?” Owen asked.
We have a tankful of guppies that multiply and die pretty regularly.
            “No. He’s still sad about Sammy.”
            “Oh,” he said looking thoughtful. “James, would you like me to say a prayer?”
            His question didn’t take me by surprise nearly as much as the slowing of James’ sobs and his nod of ascent.
            Owen knelt upon the bed. In one hand was the Celtic cross I gave him for his first communion. In the other hand, he held a sword-shaped “amulet of protection” he bought at a renaissance festival.
            “Dear Lord,” he began, his head raised up toward the heavens. “Please watch over Sammy and Rusty in Heaven. Please watch over Grampy and Aunt Donna. Please watch over Thor and Rust and...”
            “Darth,” James added thinking of another citizen of his fish tank whose life was cut short.
            “Yeah, Darth,” Owen said. “And please watch over all the fish we never named. Especially the babies that got eaten by their moms...”
            Owen looked at me to see if he had said the wrong thing. I couldn’t hold it in. I laughed out loud. Then he and James joined me. In the space of a moment we went from heartbreaking sobs to an uncontrollable giggles. In this life there is good stuff and bad stuff. If you can find a way to laugh in the face of the bad stuff, you won’t stay broken for long.

Mama’s Losin’ It

            I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop. This week’s prompt was to answer the question, "What's broken?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trifecta Challenge: Death Takes a Nap

  
            This may have been one of the most fun I’ve ever had writing a story.  This week’s Trifecta challenge was to write in 33-333 words about the personification of Death. The idea came to me while lying on the chiropractor's table staring at a model of a human spine. It is the first story I’ve ever written that casts my real self in a fictional situation at my real life job selling mattresses. Everyone needs a comfy place to sleep. Everyone.

Death Takes a Nap

            Gooseflesh rippled across my skin at the sight of the tall black figure
            “Oh God. Not yet,” I whispered.
            “Don’t worry Victoria. It isn’t your time,” he said. “I’m here for a new mattress.”
            I expected his voice to be a raspy baritone like Clint Eastwood. Instead, Death sounded a little like Elton John.
            “A what?” I asked stupidly.
            “A mattress. I’m not sleeping well lately.”
            “Work stress?”
            “No my dear. I am content with my occupation. I would sleep, ‘the sleep of the just’ as they say if only I had a decent mattress. I’ve been sleeping on a pallet of straw. It’s probably a hundred years old.”
            “You’re probably the first customer to tell me that and mean it literally.”
            “I always speak literally. Occupational hazard.”
There was an awkward silence and I forced myself to think of him as just another customer.
            “Do you sleep on your back or your side?’
            “Side.”
            “Do you get hot or cold at night?”
            “I’m always cold,” he said sounding weary.
            “Give this a try. It’s a plush memory foam pillowtop.”
            “Wouldn’t firm be better for my back?”
            “Not necessarily. A heavier person who sleeps on his back would need something firm. But since you sleep on your side and you’re...” I paused to think of the right word. “Slim. A softer mattress will offer you better support.”
            “Fascinating. Would you mind?” he asked, handing me his scythe and climbing onto the bed.
I looked around and realized the mattress department was deserted
            “There is an energy keeping everyone out of this area while I’m here.”
            “Will I remember this happening?”
            “I’m sure you’ll never forget it. You know, I’ve never laid on something so comfortable. You have done me a great service Victoria.”
            “Maybe you’ll return the favor some day,” I said handing him back his scythe.
            “I do believe it will be quite some time before I see you again,” he said with what might have been a smile.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

100 Word Song: Lying

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog




            I’m linking up this week with 100 Word Song. This week’s inspirational tune was “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. I’m picking up with the story of Henry and Karen. You can check out their previous moment here and the rest of their story here.



Lying
            Henry stared at the ceiling, knowing  this mistake would haunt him forever. This internship was a bribe from his father. It was too good to pass up. Now loneliness was the price of this privilege.
            “Maybe we dodged a bullet,” he told her. “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
            He tried not to see her touching her now empty abdomen. She was so good at being strong, but her hope had bled away.
            He’d be back from Chicago, he had said. But it wasn’t the truth. Tears streamed down his face as he dreamed of babies with her violet eyes.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Caught and Bought


            “Not everyone can be bought,”  she said.
            “Aw honey, I don’t want to buy you. I just want to rent you for a while.”
            He caught her arm as she raised it to slap him. They stared at each other for a moment and she lowered her hand to her lap. He signaled to the waitress for another round.
            “Just listen to what I have to say. You’ve been on the run for months. I know you didn’t empty his account. You must be short of cash.”
            “What do you want Manny?”
            “Believe it or not, I need your help sweetheart. I’m in a fix. The IRS wants to put me away, but they’re willing to cut me a deal if I reel in a bigger fish.”
            “You’re going to rat out Joey? Do you have a death wish?”
            He shrugged and tossed back the rest of his drink as the waitress set down their replacements.
            “I figure I’ll be okay if he goes away for long enough. Besides, it’s rat him out or go to jail. Loyalty has its limits.”
            “Okay, fine. You made a deal. What does that have to do with me? I don’t know anything about Joey’s business. I figured he was into something shady, but I kept my head in the sand. I don’t know a damn thing.”
            “You know who he was hanging out with. You know where he spent his time. All you have to do is give them something to work off of and they’ll do the rest.”
            She rubbed her face with her hands, feeling defeated. Manny had found her after being on the run for three months. She had gotten lazy—stayed too long in one place. It could have been worse though. If it Joey had found her, she’d probably be a Jane Doe in a morgue somewhere.
            “And what do I get out of it?” she asked.
            “You get enough cash to stay out of sight for a while—at least until he goes away. You could settle down somewhere and use your real name. Maybe go back to being a blond. Come on honey, how much money do you have left? How much jewelry could you possibly have had to pawn?”
            “You’d be surprised,” she said, gazing into her glass. “Joey thought he could buy me too.”
            “Sounds like it worked.”
            “No Manny. Like you said, he was just renting me for a while.”
            “Think about it.  My new friends at the IRS could make life on the run a little more comfortable.”
            Manny finished his second drink in one swallow and stood up. He let the money fall onto the table and walked out.


           I’m linking up with this week's Write on Edge’s prompt. We were challenged to write a piece that begins with the line, “’Not everyone can be bought,’  she said.” and ends with the line, “He let the money fall onto the table and walked out.”  This piece continues a thread I started with the short story “Circling the Drain”. Check out the much expanded version of "Circling the Drain", which will be included in the upcoming collection "Precipice" from Write on Edge.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Trifecta: Uneasy


            “It’s only an hour,” she told the reflection in the bathroom mirror. “You can do anything for an hour.”
            She made a mental checklist of everything she’d need and forced herself to take slow, deep breaths. But nothing could loosen the tightness in her chest and stop her shaking hands. She knew that stepping outside her comfort zone was supposed to be good for her, but she still felt  uneasy.
            “Are you almost ready to go?” he asked, tapping on the bathroom door.
            “Yeah. I guess,” she said opening the door.
            “You look terrified.”
            “Just a little. You promise me there will be a nice glass of bourbon waiting for me when I get home.”
            “No problem. Why did you volunteer for this when it scares you so much?"
            She shrugged, thinking back to the meeting where they called for volunteers.
            “Nobody else came forward.”
            “Honey, you’re going to be great. Besides, it’s just a handful of Cub Scouts. How bad could it be?”

           
            I’m linking up with Trifecta this week. This is a piece of highly realistic fiction. This week’s word is “uneasy".

UNEASY
1: causing physical or mental discomfort
2: not easy : difficult
3: marked by lack of ease : awkward, embarrassed <gave an uneasy laugh>

Please remember:

    Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.

    You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.

    The word itself needs to be included in your response.

    You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Where's Michaela?

 
            Yesterday was "39 For the First Time’s" second blogiversary. I started blogging for a few reasons—to force myself to write on a regular basis, to record the journey into my forties, and to tell stories of my kids. I didn’t plan on posting fiction. These days though, I post fiction more than anything else.
            Last year I heard of this crazy project called NaNoWriMo. People all around the world pledge to write a complete novel in the month of November. I decided that setting an insane goal like that was just the kick in the pants my writing needed. By the last day of November I had finished a 51,000-word novel about a character named Michaela. It had a beginning, middle and end. It had likable characters and a complicated but happy ending. When finished, I had the most peculiar feeling. It was like the aceing the hardest exam of your life combined with watching your child walk into kindergarten for the first time. Pride. Elation. And a profound sense of “now what”?
            I had it printed out  and put it into a giant blue binder. But I decided to let it settle for a month so I could tackled it with a clearer mind. But while it rested, I started writing about a new character. Her name was Karen and she was infinitely more interesting than Michaela. Michaela’s story began to fade into the background.
If fiction writing was a dance, Michaela was the girl who brought me and I ought to be dancing with her. I learned so much about writing while I created Michaela. It’s time to give her story some attention. So I declare October NaNoEdMo—National Novel Editing Month. It’s time to take that big blue binder and turn it into a novel.

This week’s prompt from Write on Edge was to take break from fiction and spend some time exploring our writing ambitions and goals.

Friday, September 28, 2012

100 Word Song: Wait

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog
            I'm linking up with the 100 Word Song challenge over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. Each week we're given a song to inspire a story told in exactly 100 words. This week's song choice was "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons. The gorgeous lyrics that caught my attention were:

Now I'll be bold, as well as strong
And use my head along side my heart
So tame my flesh and fix my eyes
a tethered mind freed from the lies

            They made me think of my character Karen. If you'd like to read more of her story, click here.

Wait


            Karen watched Henry’s car pull away. He had held her in his arms and wiped her tears away as he tried not to cry.

It isn’t the end.

It’s only an internship.

Chicago isn’t that far away.

            But she knew.

            Chicago could be next door or on the other side of the world. More than miles separated them now. She could pretend he’d be back for her. But that wasn’t her way. She stared the truth in the eye as she always had. Lying to herself would keep her tied to the ground. Knowing the truth would cut the tethers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I Like About You

...An Ode to Fall
 
            I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s writing workshop this week. She asks the timeless question, “What do you like best about fall?” So here are ten of my favorite things about my favorite season.

            1.) Apples Apple picking, apple crisp, apple pie, caramel apples, apple cake, apple cider, apple crisp. Did I mention apple crisp? It’s my favorite dessert on earth. Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have heaven in a bowl.

            2.) New Beginnings Fall is the ultimate time of renewal. Forget about making resolutions in January. January is cold and dark. It's a time for bulky sweaters and hot chocolate. From the time we let go of our parents’ hand and walk into school for the first time, our new beginnings happen in September. Even though it’s been years since I sat in a classroom, I still feel like fall is the time to make new things happen.

            3.) Pretty Colors I would be remiss as a New Englander if I didn’t mention the fall foliage. I can’t imagine living any place where the leaves don’t make their dramatic costume change before taking their final exit every fall. What’s fall without pictures of kids jumping into a giant pile of leaves?

            4.) Halloween The truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with this holiday. As a person with a deep theatrical bent, I feel the desire to go above and beyond with costuming and decorating. But as a working mom, I just don’t have the time or the desire to turn into a giant stress ball over a holiday that neither celebrates my religion nor my country. And, for which I do not get the day off. On the other hand, the kids look so cute and I love those little “fun-sized” Snickers bars...

            5.) Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. You can check out the recipe here where they're called Pilgrim Pies. Even though I can buy Pumpkin year-round, I only make these treasures in the fall. Maybe they're more special because you can't get them any time of the year, like those pumpkin spice lattes everyone is so crazy about. Not me though. I like pumpkin in may baked goods—muffins, breads, pies. Keep it out of my coffee and out of my beer. And that goes double for blueberry.

            6.) Apple Crisp What do you mean I already said that? Well, it bears repeating.

            7.) Soccer No, I’m not a raging sports fan and my kids aren’t hard-core athletes. I may whine about dragging my butt out of bed early on the weekends, but I adore Saturday morning soccer in my hometown.

            8.) Sleeping The air is cool enough to stop using the air conditioner and warm enough you don’t need to turn on the heat. The only hard part is getting out of the cozy warm nest and facing the cool air. I’m writing this right now at 6:00 am and it’s still pitch black outside and the perfect temperature for sleeping.

            9.) Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Now if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may be aware of the fact that I am Catholic. So why are these Jewish holy days my favorite things about fall? The first is purely superficial. Schools are closed in this city for both holidays. So my kids and I have the day off with no obligations at all. Last week we had a long visit to my parents and picked apples in New Hampshire. On a more meaningful level, I have long thought of September as the real start of the new year (see number two). As far as Yom Kippur goes, I love the idea of practicing a day of atonement. I think society as a whole would be much better off if we all spent more time reflecting on our own shortcomings and less time judging those of others. Besides, Jesus was Jewish!

            10.) Apple Crisp Well, I was going to say watching football. But we all now how that’s going so far this year.

Nothing says autumn like New Hampshire. For your amusement I present "Granite State of Mind".
 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Perfect Gift

 

            Karen logged onto EBay on the library computer. The pawn dealer had offered her fifty dollars for the teapot Henry gave her mother thirty years ago. She though she could get a better price selling it on-line.
            As Karen entered her password, she recalled the night Henry had given the teapot to Peggy. He had been desperate to think of the perfect gift—an engraved cigarette case, a silver candlestick, a fur stole. But he knew nothing would ease Peggy’s mistrust of Henry.
            Karen held her breath when Henry handed Peggy the scarlet gift box on Christmas Eve.
            “Romm’s, eh?” Peggy said seeing the gold foil seal on the box. “You can’t buy me Henry.”
            “Mum!” Karen whispered.
            “It’s okay Karen. No Mrs. O’Brien It isn’t a bribe. The gift isn’t even from Romm’s. The box was just the right size.”
            Peggy pried the lid off the box and looked inside. Her face was emotionless for a moment, then her eyes became glassy.
            “How? Where did you find this?”
            “Karen told me she broke your teapot when she was a little girl. She described it so vividly that when I saw this one in a shop on the Cape I thought it must be similar.”
            “It looks just like the one my mother brought with her from Ireland. It was the only thing she had besides the clothes on her back. It’s perfect Henry. Thank you.”
            Karen shut down the computer. There were other ways to pay the rent.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
            I’m linking up with Write on Edge this week to continue Karen’s story. In homage to the classic game “Clue”, we were challenged to use the words candlestick, library and scarlet in a piece of fiction or non-fiction in 250 words or less. If you like this, read more about Karen here.