That Weird Writer Friend

I am that weird writer friend, the one who sends out cards (and will even to people they don’t know!). Recently, I leveled up my game.

In my defense., I’d been thinking about it for a minute or two. And I did message her before doing it. Essentially, I created a character to write a letter… to a character that entrances and bedevils my sister from another mother. If you’d like to see what they’re up to, Rie posted about it on her blog which you can find here:

If you’d like to learn more about Jo and her companions, you can find them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name a few (I originally had links but spaced and lost them! Oh no! Look up Rie Sheridan Rose, you’ll thank me? She has lots of different types of stories, including Jo’s escapades. Want poetry? She writes it. Horror? Yup. Fantasy? She has you covered!)

If I had a nickle for every card I wrote, it’d be a lot of Nickles! This one was different– Ive written poems in cards, or short short stories for kids. But creating a character to write to another character was a new one for me. Not sure what made me do it, bit I’m glad I did.

And extra happy that I have writer friends who roll with it!

Book Review: Creatures: A Novel

Hello my lovelies! Today I thought I’d talk to you about Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter. It’s the first physical book I’ve read in a while. I’ve read on my Nook, and physical magazines… but books? For enjoyment? Not so much.

On that last trip to Barnes & Noble, I found a couple of tables with “Buy 2 Get 1 Free!” Normally, I just walk on by. I enjoy reading on my Nook. It’s convenient. I can adjust the font size. But there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and smelling the pages as you read.

I picked up this one in particular because of the little sea creatures on the cover, and the setting being close to the sea (an island, so. Yah). The voice captured me, drew me in and held me even through the parts I hate.

And yes, there are things in this book I normally skip right out of. Drugs—especially parents using a lot of drugs. Van Meter handles it in a variety of ways. Time flows like the ocean, back and forward. The academic questions and answers regarding whales that explore Evangeline’s relationship with her dead father, who looms just as surely as the dead whale out on the beach. The innovation in the way the story is told, including an insert of the very far future (and only one! I wanted more!), is beautifully done. It comes organically from the story– which we all know means that Van Meter put a lot of effort into it. It was worth it.

Overall, the character’s voice drew me in and kept me, even past the time where I knew the subject matter wasn’t what I normally read. I was engrossed. I was rooting for Evangeline. Creatures is the perfect example of why it’s so important to find the right voice for our stories. Because that voice will carry even the most reluctant reader through.

En Bloc: Magazine Review

Hello! Welcome back, my lovelies! It’s Magazine Monday… a day early LOL

I really enjoy literary magazines—although the price can be off putting, getting the right one can feel like you’ve found a magical unicorn. When I go to Barnes & Noble, I generally only buy my magazines there. I mostly read on my Nook. Once upon a time, the selection at any given B&N would be relatively the same. Not so this last time. I don’t know if they are selling out, or if the different stores carry different magazines. Also, sometimes the publish date seems like it was a long time ago, but with the ramifications of Covid across so many industries, I’m willing to hold my piece on this.  However, this is an interesting conundrum: I have one near my work and one closer to my home.  If they carry differing magazines, I need to figure out when the ones I like come in at each one. If they are the same and just selling out quick, well. That makes life So. Much. Easier.

I am not going to subscribe. I don’t like reading magazines on my Nook, and the US Post Office has dropped the ball. When Covid hit, I subscribed to 2 magazines. One of them I didn’t get 3 issues of. And  it’s bi-monthly! So half the issues! Yes, they sent them out to me, but really? Once things started opening up… I want to go and browse.

Today I want to talk to you about one of those browsing finds. This is from the Momcation trip to B&N. I found a little imported Literary Zine called En Bloc. It is imported from the UK, and so is one of the ones in the US that has a little bit of a hefty price tag.

The cover is eye catching and fun, a mustachioed popsicle sticking out its tongue. I am happy to say that the insides are also eye catching. The Letter from the Editor(Samuel Leach) has a large chunk of it that has a line drawn through it, and then he begins. Again. Kind of like the last bit of life has been for us.  This magazine has photography, an interview with Bill Plympton, poetry and of course the fiction that I loved. Both the for the enjoyment of reading the story, and for the techniques.

Because I write too. It’s always awesome to find writer’s excelling at telling stories in a different way. “Baby Brownie” by Ian Cowmeadow tells the story both in the past and future. It is handled really well, with the reader (me) never getting lost, and still engrossed in the story and not just geeking out over the writing. “Elanor’s Party” by Dave Gerow is one of the few stories I’ve read in Second Person perspective that really does grab you into the story and not let go.

The issue I found at B&N was the first issue. The second issue looks like it is out, based on their website (link below). I can’t wait to find it in the store.

The stories caught my eye, kept me interested. As I am a fickle, picky reader this is a great feeling! While I did read every story (I skipped most in other magazines—which will remain nameless), however there were 2 that stayed with me.

Overall verdict, not only will I buy again, it is the sort of magazine I want to share with my friends so we can talk about the stories.

En Bloc

https://enbloc.co.uk/shop/

Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

By India Holton

For Social Media fix, I’ve been going to Redditt lately. I started when I realized that all the articles/stories I was reading on Facebook started over on the other platform. One of the things I discovered, much to my delight, is all of the different types of readers and writers over there. (I don’t know what it’s called—community? Thread?) And people who love books tend to share the love with other people.

I am finding that I love, love LOVE lighthearted  Fantasy-Romance mashups currently. It started with Gail Carringer and Rie Sheridan Rose. (Go check out their books. I’ll still be here when you come back!)

I’m here to share with you one of the books I found through Redditt: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton.

This story is a mad-cap romp. Celia is awaiting being called up to the high tea table with the lady pirates. Ned is… a many named, mysterious figure who has been contracted to kidnap, maim, kill or harass Celia. At least one. Possibly all three. And then there’s her dreadfully evil father, who writes (badly) and wants to subjugate women.

This has a lot of hilariously mangled literary references, and the writing sometimes delivers a heart-wrenching comment just as the laughter has escaped. I will admit that I might have enjoyed it more if I had read the Bronte sisters. But, Alas, I have not. I have read enough of Austen and others that I see the nods to comedy of manners, with a side eye to the skimming of the romance.  The pacing felt a bit off for me—too rushed and then too slow, until at the very end it settled back down again.

It’s a perfect book to settle down at the beach, or curl up in the air conditioning with a nice cuppa (iced) tea.

Oh Reader Magazine Issue 4

Hello, my lovelies!

As promised, I am going to start being on here more often. I am going to get to cracking with a review of a sweet little magazine I stumbled on at Barnes & Nobel during my Momcation: Oh Reader, Issue 4. I will admit, I kind of shrugged when I first saw it. I wasn’t sure what it was about, and I am such a picky reader that I was a little hesitant. It was displayed on a rack before you arrived at the magazine aisle, and has a picture of a woman reading on a pier with her feet in the water. I wasn’t sure what it was so I passed it by. Coming back from the magazine aisle, I picked it up, flipped through, and added it to my haul.

I am so glad I did. This magazine is like a warm hug for readers.

At the top of the magazine, it says “For the Love of Reading” and this magazine does not disappoint. It is not full or book reviews or recommendations (although there are a few). Instead, it has thoughtful essays on reading, on the love of books and how they can change our lives.

I read Every. Single. Essay. In “The Books we Carry,” by Drew Broussard, I saw a bit of my own book hoarding ways. How do we choose which to keep and which to carry with us? “Running to Somewhere” by Susanne Reece was a surprise, in that it is illustrated and I generally don’t like them quite that way. Sometimes it can feel like a comic (which I have no problem with, just not my cuppa), however this essay leaned into the words. The illustrations helped—oh yes, they enriched the story—added details to help the words sing. There are so many more articles—make sure to check out “Thirty Years of Friday Night Reading”—and fun takes on things too. “A Bookworm’s Guide to Reading Maladies” is super fun. Steven Stampone hits the nail on the head with his definition of Bookmarks “may be caused by reading “just one more chapter” until you pass out a 3 A.M. and wake up with page lines indented on your cheek.”

Oh Reader is a quirky, fun magazine that I will definitely be on the hunt for.

Oh Reader

http://www.ohreader.com

Summer 2021

8.99 US / 9.99 Canada

Momcation

I haven’t been by myself in a house for an extended amount of time in… Years. I always have my son (15) or my dad (95) around or coming back. It’s wonderful. I love my family. But….

I used to love living by myself too. I’ve always kept myself occupied– readings writing, television. I’m not one that gets bored and stays bored. The quiet is a friend of mine- it allows a moment of reflection, a deep sigh.

Thanks to Caltrans and my Best friend I just had that. A glorious Sunday through Thursday morning where I stayed in a house all by my lonesome. Caltrans closed the freeway that I need to get to work. (Not a work vacation, alas). My BF is travelling, and offered her house. I have to tell you….

It. Was. Glorious.

I wrote and sent out cards. I didn’t cook ANYTHING. Frozen all the way. And after work, I went to the real happiest place on earth, Barnes and Noble, and bought many wonderful magazines. One was brand new to me, called Oh, Reader and I read every single article in it. Which has inspired me– to do magazine reviews. Share what I’m loving. Maybe a few book reviews in there too.

The fact is that I miss blogging. I miss sharing the things I love, and boy do I love books and magazines!

I love my family. Of course I do.

But I missed myself, and didn’t even realize what had been missing in my life was ME.

Poem A Day

Is not going well
I’m sorry to say

The pen dried up
The paper burned
in an imaginary fire
My chisel for the tablet
Cracked in half

Or maybe

My imagination failed
I didn’t get the memo
The kid ate my poem
(The dog turned up it’s nose)

Or maybe

New habits take time
A little grace extended
To self is rare indeed
And it’s time to

Begin again

January 2021

So January was a good one for the writing. Maybe — Maybe not.

I have a story being held for consideration (fingers crossed and good vibes). Which in terms of goals means that I am actually submitting my work.

My writing sister from another mother (hi Rie!) Challenged me to a poem a day for the year. I am missing few days, but I have been doing it. Which is funny because I don’t identify as a poet but….

But when I was pigtails young, I did. I wrote a little chapbook for the school book project. At some point I stopped– lack of confidence, one too many insults? No clue. But I did, and now I am flexing those creaking poetry muscles and it feels good.

And then the cards! I did another batch on cards for the retirement home, which is still on lockdown. 70 this time. I was only able to do it because my bff Linda came over and we cracked them off. AT the beginning of the pandemic lots of people did lots of things for those that were shut in. We need to remember them. So I did– we did.

Happy New Year-ish

So i have made lots of goals for 2021. Not resolutions, just a nod to things I want to do differently. I started most of them in December, at the very end. I just couldn’t wait.

One thing I’m trying to do is submit my work, my writing more. I enjoy writing, and I have several stories that need homes. I wrote 4 or 5 last year and while not a huge amount– it is still an accomplishment I am proud of. I’ve sent 2 stories out, hopefully to find a home.

I’ve started journalling creatively for 10 minutes before going to bed. It helps with story generation, and also working things out. A fire kitten may be making an appearance in a story soon.

One of my dear friends, my sister from another mother, challenged me to a poem a day writing challenge for the year. I don’t consider myself a poet, but it doesnt say anything about GOOD poetry LOL.

I bought an undated planner and am using it to tey and work out a story I am working on. The story has a lot going on and will probably be longer than most of my writing. I tend to do short and sweet, this needs room to breathe.

So that’s what I’m getting into for 2021. How about you? Any wild crazy plans? Or slow and steady wins the race?

Memory Tree

How do you decorte your Christmas tree? Some do designer level decorating, all gorgeous and color coordinated. Others do theme trees, and they make you go WOW!

I know you know that’s not me. I appreciate a gorgeous tree, but the one I do is not perhaps gorgeous to anyone else. It doesnt have the same meaning for them though….

Because I have a memory tree.

First, a side bar. Be careful about your attitude when ecorating with your kiddos. It always made me anxious when the Princeling was younger– 5 ornaments clumped together? This whole section bare? He is 14 now and wants nothing to do with decorating the tree. Was it me, or was it being 14 and a boy and all the other stuff?

So I had Pops, 94, sitting next to the tree and was showing and talking and having fun while the boy child was xboxing. (NOTE: WE DID NOT BREAK QUARANTINE. WE LIVE TOGETHER. )

And we talked about all the decorations. Some are mine from being a teen, bought either by my mom or my sister. Theyve been mine for years. And there are 3 family ones, from before i was born, bought in Trinadad when Dad was stationed there.

A cable car from a trip to San Francisco with Regina. A modern, weird Mickey one from our second trip to Disney- one ear broken off during the flight home. A metal version, with jingle bells, that one of my besties bought me because mine broke. A star fish from Monterey, an abolone from Fort Bragg. And one and on and on. Small little beaded ornaments handmade by (the boychilds daycare/other mother) Miss Dawns Grandma, both of whom have since passed.

I have a memory tree.

And it is gorgeous.

What about your tree?