Just Reminiscing, Poem: Summer

I love this time of year, and I couldn’t resist sharing this poem I wrote a few years ago. I love this poem. 

Summer is like magic. Summer is the part of yourself that is happy when the sky is blue and the days are longer. Summer is about childhood memories, fireworks and sticky marshmallow fingers sitting around a campfire. Summer is about reminiscing. It’s about dreaming.

Source: fstoppers.com

Source: fstoppers.com

Summer

 

People say there is something

about the way light shines across crystal

across diamonds, too

 

But there is really something to be said

about thousands of lightning bugs

on a warm June night

that makes the world glitter and take a deep breath

 

These are the diamonds of the mid-night summer

these gems of remembrance

these flashes of yesterday.

Our Vacation Out West Part 1: The Rocky Mountains

I haven’t been MIA on purpose…this month has been crazy. Started a new job that has a lot more responsibility than I’m used to and just yesterday, Mike and I just got back from a beautiful, ten-day vacation.

This year, we camped and went to Zion National park and then, the Grand Canyon. Our trip started in New York and then we cut across country; through a small bit of Pennsylvania, then Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and then down into Utah.

The first night, we stayed over in a hotel in Morris, Illinois. That first day of driving was stressful. Between tolls and getting stuck in traffic in Columbus,Ohio, and the insane traffic in Chicago; we were ready for bed.

The next day, it was endless cornfields in Iowa. How many times a day did I say: “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa!”

Too many times!

If there is a purgatory, I imagine it looks something like Iowa. Flat, and sunny and endless. Miles and miles of cornfields with puffy white clouds and blue skies, and a road that cuts through it that goes straight and never ends. It is beautiful, and timeless and repetitive.

That second night was another rough one. This is only because it was pride weekend in Denver, Colorado, which was a bit of bad luck on our part, as many of the hotels we tried to get rooms in were sold out. Finally, we found one and spent too much money in a Comfort Inn and Suites.

(Note the blurry squished bugs on the windshield, bahaha. We hit a ton of them!)

The view the next morning, however, more than made up for it. We woke up and headed down the highway, and I got my first view of the Rocky Mountains.

They quite frankly, took my breath away. And I know that’s cliché, but I’m totally going with it. I probably took about two-hundred pictures of these mountains alone.

I grew up in upstate, New York, but our mountains are hills in comparison. In the Colorado Rockies, there isn’t just one shade of green. The mountains are capped with snow and then there’s the smell of pine trees and a sky so blue, it could be a mountain lake.

Barreling down a mountain at seventy-five miles per hour surrounded by traffic is both exhilarating and terrifying; and Colorado is such a strange combination of tree-hugging hippies and republicans.

Note how you can see my reflection in the side mirror taking the picture, as I bravely put the window down to get at least one glare-less photo.

I fell in love completely and would go back in a heartbeat. But this was only just the beginning of our vacation!

Spring Writes! Literary Festival: What I Learned this Weekend

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a literary festival in the new town that we live in! What is a literary festival you ask?

From Thursday to Sunday, writers, readers or literary-lovers of all sorts were able to attend workshops, panels and readings from a collaboration of local writers. These writers are all supported by donations, and a $5 dollar entry fee which purchased the cute pin featured above and was my pass to all the events this weekend.

On Saturday I attended: Workshop: Research Secrets, How to Write What You Don’t Know by and Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, Targeted Writing and Publishing.

What I learned from the Workshop: Research Secrets, is that there is never just one source of finding information out there – the internet is a great tool to finding what you need, but also don’t forget the value of your local library and historic museums, if applicable.

Don’t rule out YouTube and Google Maps as excellent how-to resources when it comes to story research and world-building. Also, remember to validate the credibility of your online sources! (Not everything you read or hear on the internet is true.)

And the instructor also pointed out the value of a good interview. Sometimes the best place to get information is from the person who wrote the book in the first place. Remember to be courteous, prepare your questions and always follow-up.

At the Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, the instructor emphasized that getting your work published is more of a science rather than an art and he pointed out some great strategies that writers can use to get your work out there.

Don’t forget the benefit of submitting stories to Contests. Contests have lower pool of submissions, are judged blindly and carry a lot of weight in a future cover letter if you can brag later on down the road and be like: I am also the first prize winner to XYZ magazine…

He says that contests which feature a specific theme also have a lower pool of submissions, and always remember to ask for feedback when you are submitting something. Most editors will probably not offer feedback, but sometimes someone will.

Focus on the number of submissions that you have out there…it is better to have so many balls in the air that after one rejection, it might not sting as much because you have all those other submissions to look forward to!

The more book reviews you write, the more submissions you submit and the more you get out there and talk to other writers, the more you are building up your social network and other opportunities might present themselves.

Today I attended: Panel: “World Building: If you Build It, They Will Come” and Panel: “Intimate Communities, Starting and Sustaining a Writing Group That Works”

In the world building panel, a group of women spoke about their different processes of world building and their favorite part of the process. Each of their approaches to world building was different.

Some of them approached a world as having a central conflict. What makes parts of the world clash? While answering these questions you get an idea of the different cultures, and the holidays and the food that the characters might eat.

A few of the women started with a character first, and then they built the world around the characters.

They talked about the differences of world building for short stories, versus a novel, and how for some stories you don’t have to know everything, because you will also discover a lot of the world in the writing process.

To organize their notes, one of the women uses the software Evernote, which is what I use! And then another, keeps a notebook with character details.

The best part of world building according to the panel of ladies, is living in another time period, and the power trip: you are basically God.

In the panel, for Sustaining a Writer Group, I learned about the importance of knowing what you want personally from a writer’s group, and remembering to have Guidelines in your group.

Establish those Guidelines from the get-go and you’ll need someone to be the leader, to enforce those guidelines and to keep everyone on task.

I learned so much this weekend, and have some great reference points for finding a writing group in our area that might suit what I am looking for; I am so excited to move on to the next step of the process!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and Happy Writing!

Writing is Like a Marriage

 

I started going to therapy about two months ago now. It was a hard thing for me at first…I’m not used to baring my soul to a stranger, but I can see the benefits of getting some things out there in the open.

Being a writer has become a big topic of my therapy sessions. My therapist seems to notice how often I talk about writing, how important it is to me, and how frustrated I’ve become with it sometimes.

It is funny, we talk about how writing is sometimes like a marriage; you have your ups and downs and you have to work hard sometimes to keep re-establishing that relationship.

Writing used to be such a big comfort in my life, especially in college. I would take my pen to the blank page and it was like all the cares and worries of the day would fall away as long as I could keep creating, as long as I could keep writing.

Now that magic seems to happen less and less. I don’t always write with the freedom that I used to. It is a rare moment when the words come like a free-flow of consciousness.

It is a work in progress. I blog. I write poetry. I try to work on my novels-in-progress. I try to write at least once a day, but sometimes it is more like a few times a week…

I find myself breaking up with writing and then coming back like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, can we start over?”

I sometimes find myself wondering: Am I still a writer? And seriously, if I still was, then how come I struggle so much? A person who calls herself a writer doesn’t struggle so much, does she?

Coming back to that same thought process over and over is exhausting and not at all productive. I don’t need to keep trying to convince myself that I am still a writer.

I need to remind myself that writing is a process and no one does it the right way, and no one does it the wrong way. You can read all the self-help books in the world…but remember, what works for someone, might not work for you.

I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to realize that…that there was no wrong way to approach writing. And a lot of published authors now express some of the same sentiments.

How do they go about writing? Where does the magic come from? Most answers: Who the heck knows?!

What do you guys think?

Happy writing!

It’s Okay to Admit You Need Help

Things have been a little quiet here on the blogging front. Not intentionally. This week I’ve been sick with a lovely head cold and I have some new things going on in my life and thought I would take some time to chat about it.

It’s not easy…admitting that you need help. Help comes in many different forms. Emotional…educational…physical.

You might have heard me mention it a time or two: depression and anxiety.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective disorder, which is basically depression that one gets based on the lack of sunlight in the winter months. It’s no fun when a chemical in your brain stops working properly and tells you not to be happy anymore.

I’ve…managed with that the last several years. But lately, it seems like the older I get the worse my anxiety is. I have always been a classified “worry-wort,” but there comes a time, where it’s not just worry. Where anxiety becomes something more than just double checking that your doors are locked after you locked them. Twice. And after you already check again for the third time.

The older I get, it seems like the more I don’t function properly. I’ve been debating back and forth why I don’t see myself as “normal” anymore. Why, I think that’s something I ought to be, and why normal isn’t really the same for anyone. What’s normal? And why is it something anyone wants to be, anyway?

But anyway, I digress. The point…I’ve started going to therapy.

Some people might think, so? I’ve gone to therapy, what’s the big deal? But this is a big deal for me. I’m not used to telling my life problems to people, and it’s not always easy admitting that you need help.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need help, and there’s no shame in getting that help. Depression and anxiety are not easy things, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

We all react to our life struggles in different ways, and we all have to find our own ways to encounter such challenges. I am not afraid to talk about my depression and anxiety, but I was afraid to get help. And I’m still afraid in some ways…do people look at me differently? Do I look different?

Does anyone judge me? But…I have to press on.

When I started this blog, I wanted to make sure it was a place that I could always come to, to make sure I was still writing. Now, I also want it to be a place where I can talk freely about my problems with depression and anxiety.

It’s something that needs to be talked about, and seeing as writers and creative sorts always seem to be the ones who struggle with depression and anxiety…we should all do a lot of talking about it.

Anyway, I hope you guys are having a great night, and I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Happy writing!

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Myself

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I don’t normally do these lists, but well, I wanted to this year. Besides, if I don’t write things down lately, I will never remember them. And this is for me after all…Plus, it gives me a chance to actually think of my New Year’s resolutions as I haven’t really thought of them yet, heh heh.

Anyway here goes…

1. Love More

Love my family more, love my boyfriend more, love my friends; show compassion to others who don’t necessarily see it on a day-to-day basis. More hugs and cuddles!

2. Be a better Writer

Okay, confession: I am a terrible speller, and I could be better when it comes to grammar. Sure I know the difference between my there, their, and they’res, but there are certain grammatical rules I should probably know better. Like does that comma go there, does that semi-colon go there, etc. Sometimes I feel ashamed of myself. Oh, and I need to actually Write More this year!

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3. Eat Healthier

Now that the holidays are over, enough with the sweets already! We are having a nice meal tonight (courtesy of the gift cards we got for Christmas) but this is our last hurrah. But what a way to break into the new year with filet mignon and scallops, eh?

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4. Travel More

Was playing a drinking game last night, and it became clear to me that a lot of us hadn’t been out and done anything. I felt kind of pathetic. Enough of that! It’s time to see the world and experience new things. You only live once.

5. Volunteer

This Christmas, I felt the need to give back more than ever. It has been hard with my Grandma gone around the holidays, but this year felt just a little bit easier.  I felt like it was time to show the love to everyone that she has been known for.

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6. Exercise

I hate going outside during the winter months sometimes. It’s so cold! But on the sunny not-windy days, I need to bundle up and get moving! Motivate myself with a new book, etc.

7. Treat Myself Better

This goes along with taking time for myself. Sleep more, give yourself time for light therapy in the mornings, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect and there will be bad days and good days. I have to remember that when you are upset you make it ten times worse to make yourself feel bad about it.

8. Be Open-minded

If there is anything to take away from this disastrous election year here in the US, it’s to be more open-minded. Not everyone is going to agree on everything, but we should listen and chat openly about the issues we are facing in our country. Only by educating ourselves can we truly understand the problems at hand.

9. Save Money

We are terrible at saving money. It’s not that we spend it on useless things, and it’s not that we ever go without – we just see a little extra money in the bank, and it’s a hey! Off to a great place on the weekend or a new restaurant! Self, it’s time to BE BETTER at this.

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10. Love Animals

My boyfriend’s dog, (aka our fur baby) lives at my mother’s house as a country dog, which he loves very much. But being with him this holiday season reminds me of the powerful therapeutic connection we share with our four-legged friends and how important it is to continue to support our animals…domestic or otherwise.

And that’s it really. What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Fantastic Beasts Post: What would you have in your suitcase?

wp-image-726289597jpg.jpgSo, I was having a thought the other day about the new movie by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, Fantastic Beasts is about Newt Scamander, a self-proclaimed Magizoologist, or a person who loves and is enthusiastic about the care and protection of magical creatures.

Awkward Newt Scamander seems to get a long with creatures better than with people, and on a trip to New York City to help one of said creatures, he finds himself on an adventure of a life time.

During his trip, he carries a suitcase, but he doesn’t have clothes in his suitcase like every other no-mag (American term for a person who doesn’t have magic), instead, his suitcase acts as his own work space, and is where he keeps the rare creatures that he cares for.

Step into Newt’s suitcase and you’ll descend stairs and find yourself in a work-shop of sorts; full of what Newt needs to care for his creatures: extra boots and gloves, medicine for ailments, food for the animals, etc. And beyond that…his suitcase is basically a zoo, really, complete with climate and wide open plains for various creatures. Because, you know, why not?

Anything is possible with magic!

My question is this: If you could have your own suitcase like Newt’s magical suitcase, what would be in yours?

Mine would hold my office, a library, a reader’s nook, kitchenette and bathroom complete with Jacuzzi tub.

Beyond that, you would find yourself on a beach, where the air is warm and the sound of waves wash over you as you step along in the soft, soft, sand.

Follow the boardwalk and you’ll find yourself in a park, which leads to a huge, green forest with miles of walking trails, up and over hills and ravines and to a lake.

Back on the beach if you walk the other way down the boardwalk, you’ll find yourself in a food court with the option to try all different types of foods of the world.

Maybe tucked in somewhere, there will be a pool next to the office and a great patio, etc.

A dream place to go, to relax, to create and to be myself.

I’ve told you mine, now its your turn! What would you have in your suitcase?

NaNoWriMo: How’d you guys do? Finish a novel?

writing-828911_1920Well, my NaNoWriMo month wasn’t very successful. I honestly didn’t have the time.

Buut…wanted to ask everyone: How did it go?

Since it is no longer November, don’t you think we should have a December novel writing month?  DeCeMoWriMo?

Wait, that doesn’t make much sense…December NaNoWriMo?

Anywho…did you guys get a lot done? Create awesome characters? Type out about 50,000 words of trash? (Hehe!) Trash is still good!

The important thing is, is that you are writing and no one can take that away from you.

Something I ‘scribbled’ in my phone today on the way home from the library tonight:

 

for what I have are words

life’s love song

I hold them like a talisman

close to my heart

 

Hope everyone is having a great night! Happy writing!

Cleaning; and Editing My Story

img_20161120_130352703_hdr.jpgObserve the picture at right…my stack of books piled next to my bed.

This happens every once in a while; the books pile up and it is time to do some cleaning. This goes along with the vacuuming, and laundry and yes, being an adult is waay over-rated sometimes.

Along with cleaning, though, I’ve been trying to edit one of my stories today and this becomes its own sort of cleaning…

You have to clean the sentences; trim down the wording until you have clear, precise language and what you are trying to say isn’t bogged down by excessive adjectives or adverbs.

Oh, beware of the too many adverbs! These are the ones that you have to watch out for.

What I’ve learned, though, is that I am terrible at editing my own work! I know that many authors have expressed that it is a major suck-fest to edit and I would have to agree.

It is fun sometimes when you can see the clear direction that a story is supposed to go on the page. Sometimes you know know how things are meant to be…and sometimes not.

This is when the frustration comes in.

I’ve gotten into the habit of jumping around and then going back to the point in a story that I find particularly irksome at a later date. This helps because then you come back to the page with a fresh mind and sometimes new ideas.

What about you guys? Got any great editing techniques out there?

Poem: In The End; thoughts on a nation divided

In the end

the pain you feel

isn’t real

feel part of

the machine

and die

Eh, not really in the heart of poem writing tonight. The other half, Mike, told me today, “All the hateful comments online…it’s bad. I feel ashamed to be an American today.”

And I’ve felt the same way too.

The day was appropriately miserable, too, I thought; spitting rain and windy-cold, and slippery leaves all sopping wet.

I woke up to the election results this morning, and felt like I was going to puke. There are always unhappy parties on both sides, but all day, I felt sad in my soul, heartbroken that the majority of America wants to live small-mindedly.

In a way, I understand why some people chose the person that they did. I can see why they think he might be the better option, but I don’t understand how someone can ignore the facts.

This is who my country, the US of A, land of the free, home of the brave, blah, blah, blah…has chosen for their president? 

As a nation, we want someone who disrespect women, veterans, Muslims, those with disabilities, and gay and lesbians?
A person who hasn’t even held a political office? A person who has no experience in the political world?

I feel like we’ve just asked the bus driver to perform open heart surgery on us. Sure, go ahead. It’s okay if you mess up.

I feel like today was a day of mourning. All day I’ve silently mourned the America that we’ve lost. I have no respect for this man, this person who is supposed to be president?

#MakeAmericaGreatAgain? More like:

#YouDoneFuckedUp  #MillenialsAreFuckedForGoodNow  #ThankYouBabyBoomers  #WelcomeToThe1950s

I am so upset and sad for my generation…if things weren’t hard for us now, what does our future look like now with this man in charge?? Do people seriously think a man who has gone bankrupt four times before, has scammed people, and doesn’t pay taxes is going to make any good changes? Like, WTF, people?

ARE YOU REALLY THAT STUPID?

(Eh, I feel better now. But totally believe that my generation is fucked now. Why did we ever believe anyone was going to change anything for us? I’m going to bed, but needed to get this off my chest. Things are all messed up now. Is it too late to move to Canada?  😦