Summer Time Hiatus

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I’m taking a short hiatus from writing-related matters to concentrate on writing for a couple of months. I’ll be back, refreshed and reinvigorated, as of October 1.

I hope you have a wonderful summer and enjoy the rest of the long days leading up to Labor Day. For me, as I suspect is true for most of us, September feels like the beginning of the year and I’m looking forward to that transition and looking forward to getting organized for the fall – and a whole new year!

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Writing? What’s That? The Magic Garden, Sue

For the past four months I’ve been busy doing everything except writing. I’ve moved – twice – one apartment, one office. I’ve had a concussion. I’ve been working 70-80 hour weeks at my other office. So, as you can imagine, I’ve not had time for writing, but also haven’t had any energy for it.

But I’m getting antsy about it, so this morning, on my very rainy walk to work, I decided I would get back into writing by actually doing some writing. So here you go, flash fiction – a story in 500 words or less.

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The Magic Garden, Sue

The rain sparkled annoyingly on the equally annoying blooms. They were beautiful, she supposed. Just not today. Or, more accurately, just not this year.

It had taken a single year for Sue’s life to fall apart. Everything that could go wrong, had done so, in spectacular fashion. Her lovely apartment had been flooded because some drunken idiot had gone into the hallway and turned on the water, the run-off turning her space into the equivalent of a bog.

The money she’d spent replacing clothes, rugs, furniture was money she’d put aside for the perfect vacation. Six months away from work in southern France perfecting her French so she could get a better job. No French, same old lousy job.

Her mother fell in love (lust, really) with yet another loser. Peter fucked her silly, then stole her diamond watch and the cash she kept in her bedside drawer, leaving her sobbing all over her daughter. Not because of the watch or the money, but because the love of her life was gone forever. Sue knew that love would be gone for a month or maybe two. Her mother would quickly find Peter #27 (maybe #28 as Sue had lost count a few years ago).

Sue lived her life in a way that was exactly the opposite to that of her mother. She had a rule about dating. She didn’t do it. Not any more. She’d dated a bit in high school, nothing serious. Sue’s money was her money, what little she had left of it.

So, instead of France, she wandered the neighborhood garden which had sprung up out full-blown over the past few weeks. The scent of the lavender transported her to France and she sat on the bench next to it and closed her eyes, lifting her face to the sun.

France. France. France.

Something tickled her nose, another aroma she associated with France. Cologne, she thought. Jean Paul Gaultier. Refusing to look, she just breathed in and remembered the beautiful men of the south of France.

A hand touched her cheek so softly she couldn’t help but smile. “Mademoiselle,” whispered a voice as rich, as warm as the breeze off the Mediterranean. “I couldn’t resist,” he said. “You looked so beautiful surrounded by flowers, as if you were sitting in a garden in Provence. You took me home.”

Throwing away all caution, she stood from the bench, their bodies inches apart, and raised her hand to his cheek, matching the one that remained on hers. “May I buy you a glass of wine?” she asked. He nodded, turning his face until his lips touched the palm of her hand. “Oui, mademoiselle. There is nothing I would like better.”

 

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My favorite toy store

20130608_174035Two blocks up from my place is a street that is chock-a-block full of toy stores. And I’m not talking about Barbie dolls or toy trucks, I’m talking about toys. Sex toys. They’re not like the toy stores you see in the tough part of town, the ones that offer you films for a quarter. These toy stores – especially Love’s Touch – are upscale, well run and entertaining. Maybe that’s because they’re mostly run by women?

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My current favorite of the toy stores in my neighborhood is Ultra Love. First, I like the name. It’s obviously meant to appeal to women – because we tend mostly, though not always, to equate sex with love. Or at least affection.

It’s nicely laid out. It’s not crowded. And each time I’ve been there I’ve had terrific service and, to make matters even better, entertaining conversations.

They have a vast assortment of every kind of sex toy, including those that are made only for parties. Last night, one of the things I heard about was a vibrator shaped like a cupcake. Now, that doesn’t tempt me, but I bet a whole lot of women who are looking for something interesting for a pre-wedding party would love the idea of it.

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Did I buy anything? Oh, yeah, and I’m hoping to use some of it in my next book. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, keep reading.

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Light and Shadow, Up and Down

This photo – which I love – was one I took on one of my trips through the city this week.

June 8 photo 1

I’m fascinated by light and shadow and I seem to take a whole lot of photographs about it. And today, for some reason, I’m thinking about how the world works, how we think about things, how things happen to us or because of us. I often think of Alice Munro (great Canadian short story writer), when I’m contemplating life.

Why?

Because life is so different from story and so much of my life is wound up in creating story. Alice (if I may call her that) says that when you’re writing, what you want to do is create a story that has a whole lot of ups and downs, light and shadow – see my diagram below:

June 8 photo 3

But I suspect that almost all of us would prefer to have a life like this:

June 8 photo 2

Right now, perhaps because I’m subconsciously focusing on my writing rather than my life, I seem to be living some version of photo #3 and it’s exhausting. Up and down, light and shadow. But now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to see if I can change things a little bit so that I can shift slowly to the slightly less volatile version of life as seen in photo #2.

Wish me luck.

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Impending Doom, Anyone?

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Okay, that might be a little extreme – but it’s sort of how I feel this week. I’m the person who always remembers everything, the person who is never late, who has her entire pretty darn complicated schedule in her head.

Not anymore.

Twice this week I’ve forgotten appointments – one social, one dental. I should have remembered both of them, especially the social one as it was with an old friend (in both senses of the word) and we seldom see each other. We booked the dinner engagement weeks in advance and when I arrived home at 7:30 on Saturday evening after a long and tiring day, I checked my voicemail and it was Rosemary asking me where I was.

I was appalled because I missed the dinner engagement, but even more appalled that I had forgotten it. I should have taken it as a sign.

Because yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from my dentist’s assistant to remind me of my appointment for today. I had rescheduled the appointment four times – always unable to fit it into my more-than-usually-complicated schedule. And yet, despite the rescheduling, I still forgot it.

I feel even worse because I have – thanks to my more-than-usually-complicated schedule – started writing things down. What I’m forgetting to do, what I forgot to do this week, was to switch my calendar to June.

I’m waiting now for the third thing I’ve forgotten – it’s sure to be just as important as my dentist’s appointment and my dinner with Rosemary, and I guess that’s the sense of impending doom. What can it be?

Image courtesy of manostphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Ahead of the curve – The Rijksmuseum

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I’m addicted to visual art of all kinds. On any given day I might be wandering the galleries, or surfing the web, or skimming an art book, or checking out the art on the street, from graffiti to carvers to painters and photographers.

One of my favorite museums in the whole world is the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, finally reopened after a ten year renovation. Why, you ask, did it take ten years? Because when it was built in the 1880s it was on the outskirts of the city and they basically built it over one of the main roads into the city. The original plan for the renovation was to change the location of the road but the outcry was tremendous and they had to renovate their renovation plans to include the road, which once again runs right through the museum.

The road, though, isn’t what I’m talking about when I’m talking about ahead of the curve, it’s basically a return to what used to be.

What I am talking about is this. The Rijksmuseum has decided that it will allow free downloads  of all of its art – now, that’s partly because much of its collection precedes the copyright laws, but I don’t see the Mona Lisa up for free download from the Louvre. The director of the museum, Taco Dibbits, sums it up when he says “If they want to have a Vermeer on their toilet paper, I’d rather have a very high-quality image of Vermeer on toilet paper than a very bad reproduction.”

So I’m delighted to show you some of my favorite paintings and images from the Rijksmuseum and I’m doing it legally!

The Jewish Bride detail

And if you’re interested in seeing what else you can download, here’s the link:

http://www.googleartproject.com/#collection/rijksmuseum/

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Dazed and confused

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I’ve spent the last three or four weeks in a state of complete confusion – no, not because I’ve been ill or partying or any of the other things that generally lead to this state, but because I’ve been so busy.

It hasn’t been the physical part of being busy that’s discombobulated me, rather, it’s been the mental part. Yes, I have been frantically busy running from place to place, trying to finish up organizing and unpacking at home, but that’s mostly entertaining.

What has got me frazzled is the sheer number of thinking things I have on my plate. I like being busy. I like having lots of different things going on. I’m an Aries, so I’m easily bored. I also had a period in my life where I said no to practically everything and wound up being a hermit. I chose, at that time, to generally say yes. And I still do that.

The trouble with that habit is this…

I say yes to two or three or four things, a number I feel I can handle comfortably. And then along comes something (or in this case, many somethings) that I can’t (and some I don’t want to) avoid – it might be social, a visit to an old friend who is losing her sight or a birthday dinner with a date that can’t be changed. It might be work, someone is ill or on vacation and I have to fill in, or an office that’s closing up and needs to be done by a particular date.

These past couple of months has been a perfect storm of all sorts of things I can’t avoid.

Work was perhaps the biggest component of that – it’s heading into summer and people are taking vacation and my second (very small) office is closing up for the end of May. Many, many extra hours required in both cases.

But then add in the social. Friends I haven’t seen in months, birthdays, family events I need to attend. I love them all but…

And my word for the year was diversification – which is what I’m doing. So I have a couple of new projects on the go and those take more time.

So here I am – dazed and confused and feeling that I need, more than anything else, to get organized. Get control. Get some time to do absolutely nothing.

This is where I want to be.

Image courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Rejections We Wish We Had Received

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Getting rejected is a big part of being a writer. If you’re serious about a career in writing, you send your work out. If you send your work out, you’re going to get rejected. The thing is, no matter how careful the editors are to point out the good things about your writing, no matter how positive the rejection is, we remember the fact of the rejection. And rejection hurts.

So I’ve created a short list of rejections that might just work to make us feel better.

5.         I love your book, and if it weren’t that we have a full slate of books set out for the next fifty years (we’re a house that likes to play ahead, way, way ahead), we’d definitely buy this one.

4.         I feel like I know your characters intimately. They’re well-rounded (in more ways than one J) and, while I personally love voluptuous women, our readers tend to be more interested in stick figures. Sorry. They’re wrong, not you.

3.         This book is way too well written for our publishing house. We tend to publish books that are quickly written and it’s obvious to us that you’ve spent years crafting the perfection that is this book.

2.         Our lead author has just submitted a book that is very similar in theme to yours, though yours is a much better story. We have, however, already given him an advance for this book and, sadly, must publish his rather than yours.

1.         Your book, which I loved, spawned a battle royale in our submission meeting last month. I championed your book because it’s probably the best thing I’ve read in years but it is not going to be published by us. Not in years, but in decades. In fact, it’s the best book I’ve ever read. I no longer have a job, but it was worth it to have read your story.

 

Photo Credit:By Stuart Miles, published on 11 April 2012
Stock Image – image ID: 10079675

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Talking to Pigeons

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I don’t know about you, but I talk to myself. And not under my breath either. I talk right out loud – at home, at the office, on the street. It’s as if I’m narrating the most boring details of my life as I’m doing them.

And perhaps that’s the key. Narrating those boring details somehow makes them less boring. Or maybe the key is that I like the sound of my own voice?

Anyway, that’s what I do. A whole lot. So much that most of the time I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. Except for yesterday. I definitely noticed.

I’m walking down the street at lunch time, running errands as I usually do. I stop and give the man playing the pan flute and guitar (at the same time) some money because he made me smile. I notice that the giant businessman on the autopsy table

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has been replaced by much less interesting silhouettes of flying birds (crows, I think, though they might be pigeons). Then I walk through the hordes of pigeons that, appropriately, fill the street outside the bird silhouettes. And I talk to them.

I say you’re so fat to a lovely plump grey, blue and white pigeon – definitely female, I think. I say you gotta watch your cholesterol to another fat brownish pigeon – a male is my guess. Then I ask why are you so skinny? of a slim black pigeon – adolescent girl for sure. Then I think, if I’m talking to pigeons, I should also take their photographs. So I whip out my cellphone and start snapping pictures – not very good ones, because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s tough to get pigeons to stay still. You walk toward them and they move away.

This is all very well and good, part of my usual routine, until a hand touches my shoulder. Talking to pigeons? a voice asks and I turn to find one of the men I work with looking at me dubiously and I can’t blame him. Not only am I talking to pigeons, I’m doing portraits.

Will this change my penchant for talking to myself? Nope. Will it make me more careful about when and where I do it? Perhaps for a short time. But, in the end, I will continue to entertain myself – and, obviously, those around me – by narrating the boring details of my life.

 

 

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A Morning List

It’s not a long walk to work in the morning, but it chock-a-block full of color and light and gardens.

This wouldn’t be a surprise if I lived in the suburbs, but I live right in the middle of the city, in fact, I walk to work along three of the busiest streets in the downtown core, yet this is what is see.

My morning list goes something like this:

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