Six Degrees of Thankfulness…

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Image courtesy of © mch67 – Fotolia.com

Another Thanksgiving has come and it’s time to evaluate the months gone by and give credit where it’s due.

It’s been a year of triumph and failings…I’m equally grateful for the failings because they’ve helped me to learn and grow.

Here’s my list of thankfulness:

  1. My friends. Especially you, Kathy, who helped me transition in my move from my old decrepit mobile home to my  chic antique apartment closer to school. You not only helped me to move, you provided me with lodgings at your place before the move, when I lost my AC in the trailer and was too hot to study and read material for my classes. Also, my former boss at St. Petersburg College and friend, Jessica, who helped in the move and provided me with a great reference so I could get re-hired at the college in my current position as writing tutor. My friend John, for walking me home from my night classes. Linda, former co-worker, for encouragement and coffee. My online friends, those of you I have not met, you are the best friends in the world for encouraging me. You don’t know what your support means to me. You keep me going.
  2. Chance encounters with friendly strangers. As an introvert (Jungian type INFJ, I just discovered), I don’t find talking to strangers to be that pleasurable, but I find myself doing it more often than you’d think for an introvert. I remarked to a lady at the store while picking up my pre-cooked turkey breast that I was up to my eyeballs in work for school and I could kick myself in the ass sometimes for going back to college at my age. She said “I did it, too. You can do it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep moving forward.” I don’t know who she was, but I needed to hear those words just then. So, thank you, Kind Lady.
  3. My health. Rotten as it is, I’m still alive. And there’s cause to believe it is getting better. I moved downtown not just to get closer to school, but also to get closer to shopping and all the other great things downtown has to offer. Downtown St. Petersburg is a very walkable city. I gave up my car and moved here in order to get into better shape. It’s working. Just two days ago I wore a pair of jeans that would not fit me three months ago. So yes, body, thank you for being patient with the abuse. I promise to do what I can to make it even better.
  4. My education. I know I’ll be paying for it eventually in student loan payments, but I am thankful to be learning more and more each day. I’m thankful to have the open and free use of my mind and imagination. Sadly, we have seen just this past year that there are unfortunately places still on this earth in 2013 where a woman can’t receive an education. As troublesome as America can be sometimes politically, I’m still glad I’m here. I earned my associate’s degree this year and am now working on the bachelor’s. Upward and onward. Keep moving forward. That’s the plan.
  5. Family. I know I don’t see them a lot, but I’m still glad they are there. Soon the Xmas cards will start coming and I’ll be reminded of them. I’m friends with my Aunt Leona on Facebook, so I keep in touch with her rather closer than anyone else. They are on my mind all the time and I miss them, the ones still here and the ones departed. I love and miss them all.
  6. Writing. I haven’t been writing a lot of stories lately, but boy, I’ve been writing academic papers every week. I’ve had to begin to comprise a portfolio for some of my academic work, which I may share with the online world once it’s all set up. I’ve gotten some inspiration from the Muse for some poem and short story ideas,so maybe I’ll try penning one when this  term is over.

I know there are other things I must be thankful for, but it’s going on noon on this chilly Thanksgiving day, and I have essays to write and a meal to cook and enjoy.

I wish all my friends and readers out there a very Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays ahead in December!

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About Time…and the lack thereof…

cropped-blue-keyboard-lrg.jpgIt’s been a good long while since I’ve written a blog post. I wanted to maintain regular posts after graduation from SPC, but then life started throwing me lemons and rather than make lemonade, I decided to become even more gloomy and depressed than I had been already. I lost my air conditioning during the hottest part of the summer in my little mobile home. I began my first semester at the University of South Florida by taking two long bus-rides to the St. Petersburg campus and then home again, leaving in the morning to get to an early afternoon class and night when I arrived back home—me being too tired to do much of anything. My old Macbook died before I could transfer over files and documents from it, so I lost a lot of writing I’d done. I managed to have most of my “Quellseek” novel on flash drive, so a major crisis was diverted there. All-in-all, when I should have been celebrating after getting my AA degree, crap started hitting the fan as they say, and I didn’t enjoy either the summer I had off, nor the thrill of starting a new university. School has also been a challenge. I’m either reading or writing (academic papers). I haven’t written a poem or a creative piece, or a blog post—not counting the editorials I do for the issues of The Were-Traveler—in a long time now.

Sorry to contradict you, Stones, but Time has not been On My Side lately.

I put some of my saved cash aside and managed to get into a nice little apartment three blocks from both campus and the local grocery chain store. I have my own little den, where I study and do my academic writing. I got rid of the car that was costing me too much time and money, and moved to walker’s paradise of Downtown St. Petersburg. I’m already losing weight from all the walking I’m doing.

School is still an enormous pressure, but I already feel better…less depressed and more energized and focused.

Even better news is that the Muse has been visiting me with ideas again. I’ve started no new stories or worked on any older stuff (rescued from the flash drive) as yet, but I feel confident that I will soon. I’ve downloaded some images to start doing writing prompts on this blog again, and I will post one very soon.  Also, there may be another cause for celebration here very soon, but I can’t spill the beans on that yet…not until it’s official. I anticipate that news to come within the next week or two.

While the struggle to manage what little time I have for my own pursuits continues, I have been setting new goals with plans for life and writing. They are:

  1. To continue working on “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.” I was lucky that I only lost one chapter when my old computer died. And I remember much about the chapter I lost, so rewriting shouldn’t be too hard. But, I need to DO IT!
  2. Two ideas involving the future of animal intelligence have shaped themselves (sort of) into story plots. One will be called Eros and Mathilda and will focus on two couples: one human, the other chimpanzee. The primate cousins have had their intelligence raised, at a cost. NOTE: this is not Planet of the Apes type story. The other story also involves a primate, but it’s not the focus of the story. This story, untitled as yet, is a futuristic carnival in which the animals are more intelligent than the humans. The primate in question, for example, is a 2nd half of a hurdy-gurdy duo who has just joined an animal performers union. Yeah, it will be just a little bizarre.
  3. Poetry. In one of my upcoming terms, I hope to take a poetry writing class. I would like to improve my skills in writing poetry.
  4. Get my literary short story, Parker’s Pygmalion, up on Smashwords or Amazon. Somewhere. Anywhere.
  5. I need to submit some stuff. Somewhere. Anywhere. I’ve focused the last year on publishing and editing The Were-Traveler. I need to spend the coming year getting my own work back out in the markets. In order to do that, I need to…
  6. Write. WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Then write some more.
  7. Get through my first term at USF. Survive. After term, go to Sake Bomb and have a sake or two. Or three.

I have other goals, pertaining to my new apartment and new life in the downtown. The ones above are what I need to work on to get the creative juices flowing again.

Look for more posts soon. I will try to avoid long disappearing acts. I promise, I will try.

 

Writing Prompt #56: On the Rooftop

Image by © Aaron Kohr - Fotolia.com

Image by © Aaron Kohr – Fotolia.com

Author confession time.

I’m not crazy about heights. This sort of view would  freak me the hell out. Just looking at this image makes me uncomfortable.

This week I’m offering up my acrophobia for your writing pleasure.

Come up with a tale or poem about this view…what is going on here? A jumper? Lovers enjoying a balcony scene a la Romeo and Juliet? It’s up to you.

Happy writing!

“The Apprentice’s Mother” Published in Sunday Snaps Anthology

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Sunday Snaps front cover via Chuffed Buff Books.

My latest short story “The Apprentices Mother” appears in the anthology “Sunday Snaps” published by Chuffed Buff Books. Sales from the book will go to benefit the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

Susan May James of Chuffed Buff Books is the creative force behind the inspiration for “Sunday Snaps.” It got started when she started posting photos on her website as writing prompts. The image below served as the Muse for my story.

door knocker

Image courtesy of Susan May James.

Here’s the cover blurb for the project:

“This colourful and quirky collection contains short stories, flash fiction, vignettes and poetry of various styles and genres. It developed over the course of 52 weeks in 2010/2011 whereby a series of ‘Sunday Snaps’ were posted online as a creative writing exercise. Writers were invited to use the snapshots as inspirational writing prompts. The result: an eclectic assortment of light-hearted comedy, romance, dark tales, tragedy, slice-of-life stories and expressive verse. While the spires of Milan Cathedral and a café in Toronto provide the backdrop to romance, elsewhere a marriage is arranged, children grapple with loss, and a woman rushes to the side of a life-long friend. With a bit of French cuisine, a spiteful kitty, a mother’s pact with the devil, a birthday kiss and a dash of supernatural revenge, this unique collection offers a tale for all! Stories and poetry by: Sam Adamson, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Dominique Boller, Juliet Boyd, Jodi Cleghorn, Sandra Davies, Miriam Dunn, Rebecca Emin, Annie Evett, Stacey Faulkner, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, D A Volpe Herskowitz, Stephen Hewitt, A J Humpage, Steve Isaak, Mandy K James, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Mari Lee Kozlowski, Lisamarie Lamb, Shannon Lawrence, Tyrean Martinson, Tony Noland, Linda Olson, Roslyn Ross, Tony Schumacher, and Ren Thompson. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services. For details on the Canadian Red Cross, or to donate without purchasing a book, please click: Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.”

You can order the print edition from Amazon.com at:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Snaps-Susan-May-James/dp/190885801X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1368636263&sr=8-3&keywords=Sunday+Snaps.

And you can get it from Amazon.ca at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/190885801X/sr=8-1/qid=1368636517/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1368636517&seller=&sr=8-1

If you’re in the UK, it can be found at Book Depository…they offer FREE WORLDWIDE delivery: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Sunday-Snaps-Stories-Susan-May-James/9781908858016

Also for readers living in the UK, it can also be ordered online at Foyles for in-store pickup or for delivery: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/sunday-snaps-the-stories,james-susan-may-9781908858016

And, of course, It can be ordered from the Chuffed Buff Books website – http://www.chuffedbuffbooks.com/bookshop/sunday-snaps-the-stories/.

Susan May James from Chuffed Buff Books has said that the kindle edition is in progress and will be available in the future.

Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

megrad2

Graduation from SPC on May 4, 2013

I have not made a post in quite some time. I apologize. When you’re a college student/author/publisher/editor/part-time employee it’s hard to find time to blog.  I am enjoying a nice summer break, though, so I hope to be able to catch up on my posts.

First, let me catch you up on the recent past. After a grueling spring term, I graduated from St. Petersburg College with my Associates of Arts degree on May 4th. It may not seem like a very significant accomplishment to some folks, but it means the world to me. I am an older student (47…not afraid to say it) who was told in high school by a guidance counselor not to waste my time with college. I wish he could have been there as I not only proved that it wasn’t a waste, I did so by graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. and by being a finalist for one of SPC’s most prestigious academic honors, the Apollo Award. I didn’t win, and that doesn’t matter. Just to be considered for it is a huge accomplishment that will no doubt have a lasting effect on my life.

Ahead lies my goal for a BA in English Literature. I’ve chosen to remain in this area and transfer to the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg campus. I’m not quite ready to move out of Tampa Bay or Florida yet. The St. Pete campus of USF is gorgeous. It sits right on Tampa Bay with lovely water views from nearly every building. I’m looking forward to starting my classes in the fall…one of which includes a literature class on the occult. Hell yes!

Now for the present and future of other aspects of my life.

This summer while I am off I have many goals. Here are a few.

  • Employment. I lost my student job at SPC, so I’ve been working on updating the resume and creating a portfolio. I hope to use it to land my next job.
  • Writing. I have lots of writing goals for this summer.
    • More Blog Posts. That’s a priority. Need to get back into writing more frequent updates and doing the writing prompts again.
    • Parker’s Pygmalion. I’ve decided to upload my Phi Theta Kappa award-winning short story to Smashwords as a free e-book. I have to start doing this indie thing soon anyway, and this is a good story to start with. If it works out, I will likely add it to Kindle on Amazon as well.
    • Kill the Crow. I’ve begun putting the stories into one document. I still need to finish writing and editing a few of the tales for the book, and get it formatted for publishing. Once  that’s done, I will upload it to Amazon…maybe Smashwords again, too.
    • Quellseek: Army of Empaths. I have people who will murder me if I don’t finish this novel,  so I’m working on it. The biggest problem I’m encountering is that the plot bunnies have tortured me with another great idea, one which I’ve started the research on already.
    • The Dragon Siblings. See above. I’ve got Phandara and T’kanyae (a.k.a. Kane Anthony) Morphyrades story starting in my head and I’ve begun a research project on it involving (fictional and real) sorcery and alchemy.  I don’t even have a title for this yet and have no clue about the scope of it, because Quellseek and that series MUST come first. The tale of Rafael Errick, Emory Atarem, Marta Sanis, Alverin Ness, and Wellynd Niles/Well-and-Truly must be brought to a close and that could take 2-3 years to tell it all. The Dragons will happen at some point, though. They’ve sort of already happened in some pre-cursor/same multiverse short stories.
  • Publishing and Editing. 
    • The Were-Traveler. Yes, I also edit and publish a speculative fiction magazine. It’s a rewarding venture I dove into like a madwoman and for the moment I’m enjoying it. Not quite ready to give it up yet. I recently posted the descriptions for up-and-coming issue themes. I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming themes. I may have to pen something myself for the Lovecraft/Poe issue. So tempting.

Life is going to be a challenge for me once school starts again in August. I have decided to attend USF full-time, which means I will have even less time for the other parts of my life than I do now.

Going to do as much this summer as possible…got to get it while the gettin’s good.

Post It Note Poetry—Final Week

The final week of Post It Note Poetry month came and went and I was unable to put this blog post up until now because I went out of town to a convention with my honor’s society chapter. It was a great convention; our chapter won some awards as a whole, and my short story, Parker’s Pygmalion, took the first place award for Short Story, Fiction.

For the final four days of the Post It Note Poetry event, I wrote three poems. Here they are:

Monday, February 25, 2013

No Clowns

No Clowns

No Clowns

I can not abide a clown,

I do not like a painted frown,

I do not like their scary eyes.

Clowns are what I despise!

I might be a little un-P.C.

But at the circus, you won’t find me!

When I see one, I run and hide.

A clown I can not abide.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

this is no dream

this is no dream

this is no dream

merchant

& politician

counting coins

bought

& borrowed

they have to

wipe away

dirt

& blood…

 

abundance

overflows

the granaries…

& still

the people starve.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

For Rosa

For Rosa

For Rosa

She would not get up.

She would not move.

She grew tired of getting up,

just so someone else could keep her down.

And she grew tired of moving,

in a country that tried

to make time stand still.

 

I ended the poetry challenge with 20 poems written, which is twenty more than I had at the start. Some of them are pretty good, some of them…meh, not so much. The point of the month-long event was to write poetry and to free yourself to write it, even if it was bad.

The following links are for the previous Post It Note Poetry weekly blogs:

Post It Note Poetry—Week 1

Post It Note Poetry—Week 2

Post It Note Poetry—Week 3

Post It Note Poetry—Week 3

We’re coming down to the final week of our Post It Note Poetry challenge. This was a bad week for me, as you’ll see when you read some of the poems. Still, I managed to sling a few words on post-its, and in one case, my Mac’s Sticky App.

Monday, February 18, 2013

joy dance

joy dance

joy dance

who dances

for joy

dances

with joy

and joy

moves through

every step

of the dance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

archiving heresy

archiving heresy

archiving heresy

if it isn’t alphabetical

it’s considered heretical

—filing.

(after much introspection, it occurred to me that the poem would have worked much better as a solage if the the first two lines had been reversed…hindsight…)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

i cried when i found out stars die

i cried when i found out stars die

i cried when i found out stars die

stars carry in their shine

touches of ephemeral time

for though we see them

there on high

that’s only their souls

only their souls burning

ghosts sparkling on

a funereal will

and testament

to the firmament.

Friday, February 22, 2013–Bad Blood Day

bad blood day

bad blood day

bad blood day

nurses

beat, slap my hands

put on heat packs

drink an ocean of water

all for four

pricks.

(I hate giving blood…it’s always an adventure. You can tell I wasn’t much into poetry that day, or making the whole thing look nice by lightening the post it note. It was a bad day. Blood work and had to study for Spanish exam. Saturday would be no better. I got a lousy D on my exam and had other homework to attend…so no poetry got written or posted on Saturday.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Walking Away

Walking Away

Walking Away

“My feet are on the floor,”

I said,

in response to my lover’s

random complaint.

He shook his head,

as lovers in the wilted afterbirth

of love are wont to do

when finding fault

with their loves.

“Your head is in the clouds,”

he said,

again, as if I didn’t hear it

the first time.

“Yes,” I agreed,

since I knew

it was true.

“But…

my feet are on the floor.”

That one was probably the best poem I wrote all week.

There are only four more days left in the Post It Note Poetry challenge…I hope I can write a few more verses during those days, and I hope wherever you are, you’re enjoying poetry.