Tag Archives: Bittersweet Manor

Malls, Shopping and Saving the World

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8604It’s a long story. Or not really. Maybe it is just a short one that’s been going on for months. But months ago, a friend asked if I’d like to join her at the ARIA Author Expo in December. In April, that sounded fun. And good for business. Then my friend got an offer not to be refused and told me she couldn’t do it. I had the option of opting out. I opted out but the guy running this ARIA event is convincing. So I stayed in.

IMG_2900Three or four other opportunities have come up in the past months for me to opt out. Each time, I have opted out, only to be convinced by friends or fellow writers that, really, I should do this. It’ll be great, right? Meeting people. In a mall. During holiday season. Maybe selling a book.

Being at a six foot long table, all by myself, while people wander past, smiling brightly, trying not to look self-conscious, resisting the attempt to run as far away as possible. But I can’t. Because I am to stay there until 5. It will be dark then. I have a one hour and forty minute drive back to Jaffrey. I don’t like to drive. Especially at night.

 

So this is going out to all my connections. If, by happenstance, you are out and about and near the Lincoln Mall in Rhode Island, please do stop by. I’d love to see you. But, if you are like me and don’t like malls. Or shopping. Or crowds. Please go to a small local, independent bookstore and buy a book to give someone for the holidays. Supporting local bookstores is cool. Books are cool. You will be really cool buying a book a an independent bookstore. And then drop me a line or a facebook message telling me you did that. Because then, as I sit at the mall, I can have something to do, like read my email. And the Scrooge in me will be happy to think that a small business, rather than a chain store, will have been supported. Because it’s not bigger is better but local and small that is the future. And that, my friends, is doable.

And so is getting myself to the mall Saturday morning. Right? I can do this! Wahoo!

 

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NANO & Big Red!

NANO & BIG RED

Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.
Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.

I have come up with an idea to combat my writer’s block: NaNoWriMo! November is National Novel Writing Month and I have taken the past three weeks off from my nonfiction book on . . . . well, I don’t know what it’s about. That’s what I’ve been seeking: the story. And, after three plus months of flailing about for said story without success, I thought I’d veer off back to fiction and work on the novel that has been percolating in the background for three years: Mother Daze. It is the story of Eloise Fletcher (what do you think of the name?) and her hopes to save the world and her sick mother (Victoria Forrester, widow of Graham Forrester. Why are surname different? Eloise married Arthur Fletcher. I know this because I wrote a story in my twenties called “Love Chapel”. Although her name was Cody in that story, it was/is Eloise’s story. At least it is today. Who knows what will happen in the next weeks. . . .)

All to say, I have spent my days outlining Mother Daze. What fun! To make things up. Trying to braid the different threads—all three, maybe four, of them — together and ever aware of how much I like to complicate things. The book takes place in 2012-2013. In Providence. I get to remember the blizzards called Juno and Nemo. That warm December 22nd in New York City when the temperature reached seventy degrees. All and none of which might be relevant but it’s fun to toss the information into the puzzle.

I only mention any of this because I need encouragement. To write 50,000 words in one month is a snap. To have them tell a story isn’t so easy. And to write that 50,000 word story in the month of November which, in case you have forgotten, includes the lift off of the holiday season?IMG_8604 It will be a challenge and one I do not take lightly. I am going to do this. Carl has been warned: I’m upping my hours in the office. I will rise at 6AM at the latest every morning. . . .

I practiced today. 4:10AM and I was up and at ’em. Streeeeeeetching. Petting Nick while he enjoyed his early morning nip of butter. I enjoyed my morning cafe latte . . . and a sweet treat called a Dirt Bomb, what I have always known as Frenchies, which are mini-muffins drenched in butter and rolled in sugar; truth be told, mine are better than the ones I bought yesterday but who has time to make Frenchies when she has a novel to prepare?

Up at 6AM. I will not answer the phone. Unless it looks important. The cats will be banned from my office. Unless they meow too persistently. I will be focussed. Heartless with my time as I attempt to write my heartbreak.

Ironic, isn’t it? Both my books hold the same theme: to save the world from its budding hell of mass species extinctions, arctic cold in all the wrong places, deathly heat and no rain, and pending winter winds that will likely give both our roos frostbite.

IMG_4040YES! We have two cocks here at Darwin’s View: Big Red yet lives and Little Big Man is strutting about, if with a piece of hay caught unceremoniously in his throat. I actually had a moment with him last night. He looked so ridiculous, shaking his head in an attempt to get the dratted eight-inch piece of hay to come out of his mouth. It was dusk. For his entire two months of life here, I have respected his boundaries and not tried to catch him. Last night, I made an exception, with the result being he raced out of the coop, crowing unmentionable insults at me. With all the compassion I could muster for the little guy, I followed him in a loop around the chicken area and back into the coop where I eventually caught him. The hay remained. I pulled. It lengthened, then caught. Past memories: if a thread is stuck in a cat’s mouth and has trouble being pulled out, do not pull! It will rip out the intestines.

Unhappy thought. I got a pair of scissors out and clipped.  Hopefully, he will manage to digest the rest today.

But I digress. “Big Red yet lives,” I said. What!? you might ask. Was he in danger?

A long and weary story but yes. He is not the Big Red of yore. A skinny runt of a roo he is these days. He crows two or three times in the morning and is done for the day, leaving the yeoman’s task of threats to the wind and rain to the pathetic, cartoon character crow of Little Big Man. Big Red, meantime, lies in the coop. Occasionally, he gets up to limp his way to the door and look out over his hens who maybe aren’t his hens anymore. They keep him company. There is always at least one hen hanging out with him. Bu,t though I have seen the hens practically beg for him to jump aboard, squatting down in front of him, he sighs and looks away. Faces the wall. Squats, too.

Impossible thought, isn’t it? The tough, randy roo begging off his duties. How could it be true?

Worms. After a trip to the vet, and two weeks of Vitamin Drench, I finally got a sample —trust me, egg collection is far more enjoyable than matters fecal—to the vet who found worm eggs. And this morning, Carl found some really skinny worms on the poop board. Two conclusions: one, Big Red has gape worm, thus he has been opening his mouth and bending back his head, trying to swallow past those nasty bastards in his throat. And two, all of the hens need to be treated.

Natural treatments? Cayenne pepper has been suggested. Chickens don’t mind it and the worms go out the back way. The vet sounded dubious. Use the real stuff. Go for the gusto. Wazine.

The problem being, google says Wazine doesn’t kill gape worm–assuming I have prognosticated him correctly. In any case, de-worming is a priority here at Darwin’s View if Big Red is going to make it through the winter; he needs to gain some weight.

Some might suggest this would be an auspicious outcome, given I have spent the last almost three years whining about how it is Big Red’s fault that we are up here at Darwin’s View, he being banned from Providence. But in the past month, as he has become an old man limping across the driveway, getting thinner and more gaunt, unable to crow, I realize what a wonderful rooster he has been. A boisterous crow. And he is, relatively, a very nice rooster. If he has chased you, it’s only because he had a job to do—and who knows what kind of roo Little Big Man is going to become. A beauty, yes but will he be nice?

For the record, the above is 1,168 words. That is six hundred words short of what I have to write every day of November to reach the 50,000 word goal. It is doable but I wonder: I will be posting on facebook and here on my blog my daily word count. Because at some level, it is about accountability and knowing that others are out there, rooting me on. Will you? I hope so. Because both Eloise and I have a great task ahead of us this next month: to save the world, her mother . . . and, in the end, herself; and to write a great story.

Meantime, come to a reading of the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age and Attitude Book Tour”! We are at The Toadstool Bookshop this Saturday, October 31—Halloween!—at 2PM. And at Books on the Square in Providence November 7th at 4PM.

Toot!  Toot!

 

Bittersweet Manor’s First Anniversary and an Award!

ImageJust back from the happy, morning task of cleaning the chickens’ poop deck, I am here to announce that Bittersweet Manor is one year old! In celebration, and most conveniently, on May 27th, my novel will be awarded a Silver medal, an IPPY Award for Contemporary Fiction, from Independent Book Publishers. I ask: What could be a better birthday present?

Now, a few people have commented, “too bad you Continue reading Bittersweet Manor’s First Anniversary and an Award!

Mud Season 101

MUD SEASON 101

IMG_2633_2Saturday was a spectacular day. It was spring like they write about.

Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.
Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.

I had planned to go to the Monadnock Writers Meeting to hear the New Hampshire Poet Laureate but at home, I dawdled. By the time I left, I had missed the meet and greet part of the meeting but was determined to follow through with my plan-for-the-day: Attend the talk and discussion, then go off to buy organic shrubberies, wherever I might find them. A happy balance of intellectual stimulation and interaction with people, and gardening prep.

IMG_2610_2. . . Determined might be too strong a word. Ambivalent. Continue reading Mud Season 101

Blog Reset?

Did you know that Key West is an island? Well! I know that. And you (now) know that. But apparently too many who live on Key West—or is it those nasty Too Big to Fail companies again—don’t.

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Are you lost? Then make this Exhibit One, proof of the road-to-hell-is-paved thang. I have every intention of writing a regular post . . . and then life happens. Or Continue reading Blog Reset?

A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

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I was in a dark mood yesterday. The winter solstice had come and gone, officiating the onset of winter, (even if it was raining) and the start of the days lengthening. The rotation of the seasons. Hope. Spring will, perhaps, arrive and spring brings to (my) mind chicks. A happy thought. Until, when caroling at the farm, I heard a story. Continue reading A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

Writing, Indiesfirst, Time and Patience

IMG_1878As to the writing process, it never ceases to amaze me how easily off kilter and out of a routine I get. If I leave on a trip, which I seem always to be doing, for a day, it takes me two to get back in the groove. Or, if I leave for three weeks . . . well, here I am and still not in a groove. Only just barely seeing the outline of getting back in to work.

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BLUEBIRD!

Happily, I just finished reading May Sarton’s Journal of  Solitude. I began it five or ten years ago and never got past page twelve. This time, I picked it up on a whim and was rapt. It spoke to me. She experienced life as I experience it. I see that is okay to prefer to be alone.

Well. Not prefer exactly. It is more I need that solitude to get my thoughts in order. I go skeetering through life and think I am on top of things when, in sorry fact, I have pieces of hay hanging off my coat, a hole in my shirt, and/or my eyebrow is wildly skewed up in a remarkably devil-like way; people have actually reached over to smooth it.

And so, whereas usually, I Continue reading Writing, Indiesfirst, Time and Patience

Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Do independent bookstores matter? Hmmm.

Have you seen the Monty Python skit in which a medieval monk is staring, with much frustration, at a book on his desk? A knock at the door. “Tech support!” With relief, the monk ushers in the tech support fellow. He points to the book, saying something to the effect of, “I can’t open this thing. Scrolls made so much more sense.”

I use this skit to show how far technology has come, and to point out that, what we consider old hat used to be new, and hard to understand and use. Regarding books (and clocks with hands, not digits) the upcoming generation might be reaching a point that they don’t know how to use such archaic technologies. But Continue reading Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Reposting my She Writes posts on cross-country, whistle-stop book tour with flash readings!

Home sweet home. I posted a few thoughts on the trip in three posts at She Writes. I’ll link them here for the record and so I have a record of them here.

Pre-departure:

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/my-cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings

During the trip (which I posted at this site as well.)

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings-part-two

And the final post, back home.

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings-part

I’ll leave it at this for this point. But will upload my thoughts on independent bookstores and public transportation in the next two posts.

See you then!

Toot!  Toot!