- If you have a bunch of books to sell to Half-price or another such place, take them in installments. They will give you the exact same amount for two boxes (at least around here) as they will one.
- Double-check the donation box for things you actually want to keep before handing it over. It’s really embarrassing to say, oh, actually, can I have that one dress back?
- The unpacked boxes from the last move probably don’t need to move with you because they’ll probably remain unpacked. Unload the unneeded.
- Try to get a lot done on the weekends and not continuously ask your boss to leave early during lay-off season.
- Research the best set-top boxes and streaming for Internet and cable (there’s a lot of value variance).
- If you write, still make time to write, even though you have less than half of half of the time you used to.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
I returned from Nebraska after a brief but great visit with my father and step-mom, and I feel renewed. To be completely honest, I didn't feel so great before I left. I felt numb a lot of the time, going through the motions. Not depressed, not sad. Just not much of anything. I explained this to a few folks, and they said it was likely burnout. Judging from the fact that the trip helped so much, I think they were on to something. I came back to some tough news, potentially scary news, but instead of feeling panic and instead of feeling nothing, I just felt okay. Some time to write: that's the cure.
Below is a poem I wrote for and in honor of the Art Farm, a residency like no other. I recommend it to the hardest-core of hardcore writers (badasses only). Below that is some lit news and a short prompt. I wish you all a wonderful week.
Here is a prompt based on my time at the Art Farm:
Write about excess. A character whose life is over-filled with stuff is forced to live without. How does s/he change? There is a lot of potential here to use humor.
Literary news: New fiction is forthcoming in Per Contra (read the current issue for some great work!) and elsewhere. More soon...
Sunday, July 27, 2014
I am in my last week at the Art Farm residency, and it's finally a nice, cool day. We had some days so humid they seemed to squeeze you like a lemon while multiplying the already-prevalent bugs and insects that seem to dive-bomb here.
I wanted to share a writing prompt because it seems something that could cross over to other aspects of life and, more, it seems to be my first no-fail method to get something meaningful on the page. Of course it is simple:
Sit down with computer or pen and pad and cellphone. Set the alarm for 10 minutes. Open an old piece (something in-progress or old; or, if you have nothing, read a short story and pick up where the writer left off, keep going with the characters). The prompt is only this: write for the full 10 minutes. Nonstop. Set the alarm and don't allow yourself to move or stop. Then, if on a roll, reset after the alarm sounds. Simple. Works miracles.
I'm up to page 60 on the new novel, and I attribute this largely to this method because, oddly, I can feel very busy at Art Farm and get distracted. I have had work here and an odd allergic reaction to something that has given me bad hives... all these things could be excuses, but no. I wrote. And I did not make it negotiable. Here are a few more images from Nebraska...
Back to the fun stuff for now... I visited Aurora for the first time yesterday and helped an artist friend set up at the farmer's market. There seems a dynamic community here, with a strong motorcycle culture, which is great for my character Rattle (who can plan these things?!).
Other interesting new facts about Nebraska:
- There is a town called Worms, which contains a bar called Nightcrawlers and a church.
- Most of the corn around me is ethanol corn.
- It seems, everyone loves the Cornhuskers.
- North Platte has a rich history and a book about it, and I have met a lot of folks with colorful stories about it (too bad I won't get a chance to visit).
- Marilyn Monroe and butter is all over everything at LuLu's Steakhouse in Chapman, NE, where the chicken friend steak is as big as the plate and a single waitress runs the joint on a Saturday night.
- There is every type of tick known to man here.
- Raccoons should not be out in daylight.
Have a great week, and I wish you phenomenal weather where you are.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
who was planning to pick up two bison skulls that play some role in a traditional Native American sun dance, which, she says, she’s done ten years running. She invited me, but I don’t want to commit myself for so many days of my residency. That said, I was tempted and I was glad to spend a day with her to pick her brain a little. Experience is everything, and mine has been so limited in general.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Thursday, July 10, 2014
I will either have a lot to say next post, or I'll be in the zone, pounding away at the NEXT GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. A tad dramatic? Well, I can't help it. I'm thrilled. I have a lot to work on, and I plan to post more soon. In the meantime, here's a quick update.
I have two new stories out! They both appear in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. One story is about a nudist (based on the big naked guy in my neighborhood, whom I've had the experience of seeing three times now, at least I think it was the same guy each time), another is about a girl who is looking to meet her father. Both stories are well under 1,000 words. They were fun to write.
Also notable this week is a strange a very appropriate book for me to read right now. The author is David S. Atkinson, and the book is titled The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes. I thought I'd share my review here because the book is just so interesting (this can also be read on Goodreads):
if space time folded us into an event or place, why not a diner with a nice breakfast menu?
Just as anyone working a long-hour cubicle or factory job that requires repetition and, therefore, the ability to find stories and humor and purpose despite lack of diversity and minimal setting change, so this novel finds depth despite somewhat limited dimension. As fun and innovative as this book is, it is also fiction that examines what we don’t have time to think about.
Here, we have the Village Inn, which I imagine two parts Waffle House, one part White Castle. And our characters are seemingly indefinitely at this diner, so there’s the problem how to adapt and what to do? The narrator and her two friends begin their theosophical journey with philosophy and the breakfast menu. They define and analyze food and its worth in relation to other food. Then, they make table sculptures. Then, they play games, grow bored, wonder at the whys and hows. Their own stories are revealed in pieces, which add dimension that the reader so craves. We are what we’ve done, where we’ve been, what we think as much as where we are. We are also imagination. Time no longer matters and stories spiral outward and in, and the whole thing is damn interesting.
I really enjoyed the book. Check it out!
Saturday, July 5, 2014
"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." — J.K. Rowling
Tell it, J.K.
|Image from the San Antonio Express News|
I started writing this blog on the 4th of July. I started by saying: Break out the grill and loud colors and raise your flag. Enjoy your day off. Then I got distracted by other things, so here I am on the 5th of July. Happy belated Independence day!
I rarely read front page news because a. the stories are usually depressing and b. I usually don't have time. But, I had an extra day off yesterday, and I kicked it off by reading news. the top five stories were about Putin's kind words to Obama, a father who was sexting six women while his son died from heat exhaustion in the back of his car, F-35 war planes grounded for technical check-ups, and a mother and son who were trapped in a sinkhole. There's a little balance there, but I was quickly reminded why I don't make it a priority to read the news.
Next, I started writing this blog. Cue distraction: Homemade kimchi and a small cookout. Our veggie skewers tasted like lighter fluid but a series of successful food items followed, including veggie burgers for me (which could have been redundant) and a giant steak (see below) for my husband, along with a few gluttonously stuffed shitake mushrooms. We ate, we watched some fireworks on TV, we walked a block to watch fireworks in person and the rain tapped us on the shoulders until, finally, we turned back around and went home to watch more fireworks on TV. I consider that a successful holiday. Also, I came up with a writing prompt:
|My husband's meal |
before attempted theft.
(Note puppy face lower right.)
That's all I have for today, folks. If you write to any of my prompts, feel free to share the writings below. Or email them to me. I might love it an want to post it on my blog.
Speaking of which, I have a new story out that will be posted soon. Make that two, but I'll link them up later in the week. One's about a nudist who defines freedom a little differently than you and I (presumably); the other is about a dreamer who is disappointed in her dreams but realizes the reality she has is pretty good. I'll post these soon.