Showing posts from March, 2009


Writing as a career can be discouraging. You’d better love to write, because if your goal is to become rich and famous…well, excuse me while I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Most days are solitary and fraught with rejection. Whenever I recognize one of my sase’s in my mailbox, I generally assume it contains a rejection letter. More often than not, I’m right. Of course, there are occasion pleasant surprises. We writers make big deals about the acceptances, email our friends, do the Snoopy dance, etc, because we need to suck every bit of joy from those rare moments that we can. Tomorrow, we’ll be receiving more rejections.

So it is with great happiness and fanfare that I announcement the publication of my latest short story, “An Assassin in the Family” at Mysterical-e. Click here to read it.

I have to say, this is an exceptionally good issue because my friend and fellow Working Stiff, Joyce Tremel, also has a story in it. You click here to read hers.

The More the Merrier

The other day someone asked if I thought you could have too many critiquers checking over your work. Personally, my answer is “NO.”

Of course, writing is a private endeavor and everyone has their own ways of doing things. Some folks don’t want anyone seeing their work until it’s done. But for me, where constructive criticism is concerned, I figure the more the merrier.

Recently, at an agent’s workshop, I learned that one of the difficulties in getting published right now is the limited number of editors. A publishing house at one time might have had five editors, each with five projects. Now, four of those editors have been fired and the one remaining is stuck with all 25 projects. So in order for him to be at all interested in taking on your manuscript, it has to be PERFECT. He no longer has the time to work with you to make it shine. It has to be ready to go when it first hits his desk.

This is a terrifying prospect! I can have twenty critiquers and first readers go over my manuscript …

Working Stiffs at the Races

Last night I went to Mountaineer to watch a friend's horse (trained by another friend) race. We all had high hopes. The horse, however, had plans to simply go for a leisurely lope around the track and finished last.

Ah, well, it was a nice evening out anyway.

I had also gone to the track on Saturday and blog about my Mental Health Day over at Working Stiffs. The piece is actually about coping mechanisms, but I had these horse pictures I wanted to use...

Back to Work

It’s been two weeks since I taught my last class at the yoga studio. Most of that time has been spent on two things: the Pennwriters Conference (58 more days as conference coordinator, but who’s counting?) and taxes.

Between Mom’s long recovery from multiple surgeries and the whole conference coordinator gig, I fell behind on keeping my records current. Oh, I had all the numbers and receipts. They just weren’t in any kind of form that my accountant would want to decipher.

I may have mentioned it once or twice (or twenty or thirty times) before, but I much prefer words to numbers.

However, it’s done. My records are organized. My Excel spreadsheets have been printed out. And I survived my appointment with my accountant. If there is a good thing about making very little money, it’s that you do get a refund. Of course we have plans for every cent of it and nothing frivolous this year, either.

Now, it’s time to write. At last I can really turn my attention back to the novel in progress. I open…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Today over at Working Stiffs, I share my experience with parking lot rage. You can't make this stuff up.

Moving Day

We’ve been waiting for this day since last summer. Remember last summer? Gas prices were skyrocketing and we decided we couldn’t afford to haul the camper all over the countryside any longer. So instead of investing in tanks of gasoline for our aging truck, we invested in a seasonal camp site for 2009.

And yesterday was moving day.

The trip into the Laurel Highlands about killed our old truck. Less than halfway there, it developed some rather disturbing new sound effects: a kind of metallic whispery whine. While climbing the Summit (a locally famous mountain near Uniontown), the old Chevy slowed to a crawl even with the gas pedal pressed to the floor. The temperature gauge crept dangerously close to the red zone and the motor roared. We pleaded and coaxed and encouraged. And we made it over the top.

We stopped in Chalk Hill. Hubby and I ate an early lunch at Subway. The old truck caught her breath in the parking lot.

But the Summit was nothing. We still had several more mountains to tackl…

Signs of Spring

I have evidence that spring is at hand. The season’s first calf has presented itself in the pasture beside my house. Soon it will have company as fat mama cows waddle around the field, ready to pop.

Robins have become plentiful and squawk from my trees when I’m out in the yard. I love birdsongs.

And there are buds. My maple trees and lilacs are ready to burst at the seams.

Daffodils and tulip greens rise from the earth, pushing up through last fall’s leaf mulch.

And my snow drops, which I’d about given up on, have finally bloomed.

Other signs of spring: grackles and red-winged blackbirds have laid siege to my feeders. Unfortunately, the juncos (AKA snow birds) haven’t moved on yet. So winter may not be done with us.

Working Stiffs Wednesday

If it's Wednesday, I must be blogging over at Working Stiffs. Today, I'm doing an update on the Pennwriters Conference and how I'm surviving my final two months as conference coordinator.

Writing, Rewriting, and Unwriting

I’ve been writing just about every day. And yet, I haven’t produced a single new page in well over a month. Writing involves more than…well…WRITING. There’s rewriting, also known as revising. And there’s what I’ve starting calling UNwriting.

I’ve been doing a LOT of UNwriting lately.

You may recall the short story I created early in the year. It was supposed to be no more than 4,000 words, but finished out at 9,000. After much toiling and cutting and slashing, I succeeded in unwriting over 5,000 words to make the word count. Next, I took on the task of entering one of my completed (but so far unsold) manuscripts in the Daphne Du Maurier contest held by the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America. They require a 675-word synopsis and the first 5,000 words of the novel, preferably ending on a “hook.”

I had a one paragraph synopsis and I had a 1,600 word synopsis. The first was too condensed. The second? Well, I was already warmed up, so I unwrote 925 words to bring the long ver…

Yoga Tears

I’ve just about made it through my overbooked week. Last night was touch-and-go for a while, but I survived. My students surprised me with lots of cool cards and gifts. I didn’t open them until after I returned home because I was already struggling to keep my contacts from washing out of my eyes in the flood. Colleen even brought her sister in to act as photographer before class. The pictures were ready by the end of class.

That’s Janet and Nancy at the bottom. Alice, Colleen, me, and Amy across the top.

They made me promise to come back and join them as a student. I definitely will do that.

But for now, I’m coming to grips with the whole “what now?” thing. For starters, I think I’m going to hit the mat and practice some yoga FOR ME. For the last ten years, almost all of my home yoga has revolved around what I was planning to teach that week. Or working out bugs in a particular sequence that didn’t flow the way it should. Or figuring out how to modify a pose to make it accessible to ever…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm back at Working Stiffs today. This time I'm sharing my past experiences with pet sitting and contemplating a potential new career.

Or not.

Come over and offer your suggestions.

Day Trip

Hubby and I managed to sneak away on Saturday. We drove out to Ohio’s Amish country. Most years we make this trip two, maybe three times. Last year, we didn’t get there at all. So although the weather was a tad cold and there were some pesky snowflakes in the air, off we went.

I had my camera with me and intended to take pictures. But the Amish are a little (actually a LOT) shy about being photographed. Therefore, the camera stayed in my purse. Also, I admit…I was lazy about the photography thing.

We made the rounds. Brunch at the Dutch Valley Restaurant, a stop in Sugarcreek at the clock shop, and our regular stop at a non-touristy leather shop where I bought new gloves, a cute (and hopefully effective) little “bat” to use on Admiral when he starts flinging his head in my face (provided the weather ever allows us to go riding again!) and a little gift for my friend, Sara, for letting me lay claim to Admiral. (Don’t get too excited, Sara. It’s not that much).

Our next stop was Lehman’s H…