Dec 20, 2009

Winter Faeries

Whirl, twirl
Spin and dance
Sprinkled frost drops
Land by chance

On petal, on twig
On blade, on leaf
Kissing each surface
With crackled motif

Moonlight glints
On lithe little shapes
Flitting about
The cold nightscape

Dawn creeps in
A glow in the East
Wings tire
Festivities cease

Weak light reveals
Lines icy pale
From frolic under
The inky veil

Dec 14, 2009

Chairman of the Abhorred

     Mick was pleased with himself. Citizen of the year. Exploiting sick children opened most doors.
     He'd sit at the head table and the local social climbers would flirt and fawn. He'd mention his Mother, God rest her gin-sodden soul.
     He chuckled. It was all falling neatly into place.
     He looked around the room, making certain he had everything. He paused to appraise himself in the mirror and sucked in his gut. The lighting in the motel room was bad - surely he wasn't that flushed and florid. No, he was ruddy. Hearty. The years of wind and sun still concealed the years of Scotch. Of course they did.
     He glanced at the hooker sleeping on the bed. She might have been ugly but she was smart enough to get the most out of the room he'd paid for. Had to respect that.
     His phone beeped as he hurried out he door and he glanced at the display. His lawyer. Damn. Another billable hour. The SOB had quite the scam going on, but it was a necessary evil when one made one's money fleecing people.
     Which is what Mick did. Every day. And he'd gotten rich doing it. Every so often a naive but outraged victim thought they would expose him. Not gonna happen. Mick owned this goddamned town. He'd simply donate some coin to another local non-profit and while his lawyer fended them off he'd be asked to sit on another board. He'd humbly accept. If the lawyer got his jollies antagonizing the schmucks and ran up larger bills, so be it. Everyone was a winner. Well, almost everyone.
     He started humming the Stones tune "Tiiiiiimmmme is my side" and climbed into his pick-up. He threw a cup of cold coffee out the window and started the truck, revving the engine because it was fun and made him feel like a big shot.
     If he'd spared a glance at the homeless man leaning against the motel wall as he wheeled out of the parking lot, he might have noticed the camera.

Chairman of the Abhorred II
Chairman of the Abhorred III
Chairman of the Abhorred IV

Dec 2, 2009

A Sign of Things to Come...

...or perhaps my writing hasn't evolved as much as I would like to think it has. This was my submission in a writing contest for the Providence Journal when I was 10 (?) - my submission was chosen as a winner. 30 years have come and gone, but I am seeing similarities, and it's funny.

While bobbing their furry little heads in the grass they give you a look of total amusement and placidity. While squawking and waddling around they tell you they are Darby and Joan and we are their people. They rule our yard with firm webbed feet and give us enough amusement to hope they will be here for a long time. They are geese.

Nov 17, 2009


She stood frozen in the ring of lamp light, heart pounding, looking into the darkness.

Something malevolent watched. Hatred swamped her, surrounding her so completely it masked the direction of its origin. Somewhere out there in the darkness, veiled by the shadows, it stalked her. Assessing her coldly, contemptuous of its prey.

The thought lingered that it wasn't too late to return to the safety of the house, but the house was only a temporary refuge. Sooner or later she would have to venture into the night. It knew this and waited. It had time on its side, and she did not. Still, her hand clutched the knob, locked rigidly in place by her terror.

The night aligned itself with the the monster. The wind picked up, masking the noise of the unnatural with the sounds of nature. The moonlight and clouds played tricks on her, moving shadows before she could tell if they held any substance.

Anger replaced fear. It was time to even the odds. The surge of rebellious anger propelled her hand from the doorknob to the knife handle on her hip, and she stepped from the porch.

to be continued......

Nov 14, 2009

Cool Little Gadget

I have an(other) unhealthy relationship in my life: my label maker. It's a new relationship - we only just met - but it's already obvious we were meant to be together forever. This is the real thing - the one.

We went to my office to tackle the neglected business on my desk. It might be important to explain here why there is neglected business on my desk. I don't want to deal with it.

So here's what we did: We made labels for folders so I can dispose of these papers forever. We assured a guilt-free future of non-productivity, and we felt very productive doing it (I might've been humming). Furthermore, it was aesthetically pleasing - all official and tidy on its way to the purgatory of my file cabinet.

Deception is a vital component in achieving satisfaction in an endeavor such as this. If I acknowledged what I was really doing (nothing) I would have cheated myself of the satisfaction one enjoys when an unpleasant task is completed. You must be equal parts dishonest and gullible if you are going to be lazy without guilt. I am a master, and flexible. My methodology can handily be applied to most situations, and in a moment's notice. Carpe Lazem.

Some other variations/applications of this methodology (dishonesty) which have served me well.

* If it is 50% off you can by two. If it is 10% off it is on sale (and you can buy two)

* Lists are enormously helpful to stay on task - don't make them.

* If it has half the calories you can eat twice as much.

* Lack of preparation is the key to flexibility.

Fear not. Indulgence is easily justifiable.
I am pleased to be hosting the first meeting of Procrastinators Anonymous - date to be announced.

Nov 11, 2009

It's 10:00 p.m. - Do You Know Where Your Author Is?

I am happy to support and promote the first-ever She Writes Day of Action this Friday, November 13th.

This day of action was inspired by the exclusion of women (yep - read zero) from Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list. I am urging every member of our community to buy a book published by a woman in 2009. Buy it. Read it. Celebrate it.

More information on this campaign is available at

She Writes * She Tours * She Reads * She Markets * She Promotes * She Posts * She Coaches * She Networks * She Invents * She Creates * She Obsesses * She Sells * She Signs * She Strives * She Needs Help * (sw)

addendum - more of the same foolishness:

I am buying 10 books today to support this day of action.

Nov 5, 2009

The Maine Literary Festival

And the anticipation builds....

Last year I spent an evening out in the cold with my nose pressed to the glass. This year I will be attending, and I am so excited I can’t even write. The irony is not lost on me.

I recently completed my first young adult manuscript. Writing it was much more fun than thinking about what to do with once it was completed. I had to screw up the courage to tell someone. Fortunately, that someone was a past MLF attendee, and knew just what to do.

She recognized the symptoms immediately: lack of sunlight, too much coffee, interrupted sleep patterns, and periods of elation and panic: Post Traumatic Manuscript Disorder. Confident in her diagnosis, she drafted and implemented a treatment plan. As I was in a weakened condition, she immediately organized a rejuvenating elixir. She invited me to a Writer’s Block Party at her home. We gathered around her rugged iron garden table which was substantial enough to support all of the baggage a writer drags around – swirling thoughts, concerns, doubts, stumbling blocks – and talked. It was a delightful evening sharing ideas, and support and encouragement, and I left with a fresh eye and new purpose.

But she was not done. The block party was where she handed me the prescription with the best prognosis for my ailment. The Festival and Workshop. After meeting and speaking with past attendees, all of whom were eagerly anticipating this year’s exciting programs, I concurred and scheduled my appointment.

We are fortunate to have this opportunity in Camden, and I am so pleased to be attending this year. I look forward to seeing those I met at the Block Party, and meeting new friends and professionals as well. I am happy to report that my condition continues to improve.

Oct 29, 2009

Poor Mr. Webster

The computer age is an amazing time to live, especially if you are a writer. You have everything you could possibly need at your finger tips. You can research. You can thesaur. You can define. You can even have some human contact on social networking sites.

But, one can become too dependent on one's computer, and someone obviously has.

Which leads to the purpose of this post.

I was working - I really was - but I had another window open. And in the loafing window I used the word Viagra (the details are not pertinent to this discussion) and my browser (which has a spell check feature) highlightedViagra in red.

I right-clicked. I don't know why - I did automatically, but while I was clicking it was registering that it would be highlighted because it's not a word.

I am so naive.

Not only was it there, my spell check was chastising me for not capitalizing it.

There is a joke here. It escapes me, but there is definitely a joke here.

In any case, I cannot help but wonder what poor old Mr. Webster would have to say.

addendum - I am aware thesaur is not a word - if you want to get technical about it. Any writer, however, will tell you it is an action (and it is unfortunate that there are no cardiovascular benefits). So if Pfizer can make up a word and it ends up on my browser's spell check, I feel comfortable taking some artistic license.

Oct 26, 2009

Nothing To Eat or Drink After Midnight


     Excuse me - yes, hi. May I have another johnnie, please? No thank you, you needn't hold it.
     Two things going on here:

     1. The hospitals have been hiring military personnel (who specialize in the mental preparation policies employed at boot camp) to consult on hospital atmosphere and its influence on patient cooperation.
     2. "Going Green" - If Al Gore were in front of me right now I'd slap him so hard Tipper would fall down.

     Then it was lunchtime. Preface. I cannot abide dairy, anything white, or covered in a sauce in a hospital. It's just wrong, and I think --maybe I'm just paranoid--but I think this has been included on my health records to empower health care providers in their psychological warfare.
    So, enter the tray-bearing orderly. Smiling. Not at me, I discover, but in the anticipatory excitement which thrills deviants. He sets the domed tray down, adjusts my bed, he even plumps my pillows (I realize now this is part of his ritual and each step in said ritual brings climactic delight and must be adhered to precisely).
    Finally ready, and watching my face carefully, he whips the dome off with a dramatic flourish.
    He is rewarded. My plate bears an unidentified meat (undoubtedly from OR) congealing in a white sauce (similar in appearance to a sebaceous body fluid).
     I slam the dome back down, my mouth filling with sweet saliva that's unswallowable. Not if I were 8 days into a hunger strike.
     Did I mention the tapioca? Again, looks like drainage. And, all heart healthy, of course. Little hearts dance perversely all over the menu.
     The orderly, sated and smiling, backs out the door.

Oct 24, 2009

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

I feed the birds and Thomas kills them. I have some guilt about this.

A therapist would diagnose our relationship as unhealthy. Pathological, even. There are control issues and periods of violence.

We have a game he plays. When he's bored, he twangs the screen with a blood-stained claw. I drop everything and rush open it in a pathetic attempt to spare the screen. He waits for me to open the door, and then gives me a disdainful look indicating I took too long and now he doesn't want to come in after all.  He turns his back and saunters away. We both know he'll wait until my hands are wet or otherwise engaged to do it again.  We both know that's a dead screen standing.  

He's a bastard and he has been since the day I brought him home. I said I "found" him. And I did - in a litter of kittens that was advertised in Uncle Henry's weekly periodical classified section of Free for the Taking. Thomas delights in lording this dark secret over my head.

I'd envisioned taking home a sweet little kitten to cuddle but that was not meant to be. His own mother was frightened of him. He's that mean. Even as a baby he had little use for those that serve him.

I'm looking at him even as I write this. He's asleep on the back of  a chair. I long to go over and squeeeeeze him but know better. I take a photograph instead, and the flash disturbs his postprandial slumber (some poor creature, identifiable only by its gallbladder, has recently suffered a torturous death). He opens one eye, sees me, and then closes it, dismissing me.
No one likes to be dismissed.  I get his cat carrier from the garage and set it on the kitchen floor with purposeful clamor. I open the wire door slowly, working the creaky hinges much like a musician caresses her instrument. It achieves the desired effect. He opens both eyes, gets to his feet in spritely fashion and makes a hasty retreat upstairs -all the while maintaining eye contact in manufactured bravado.

Victory is mine. Paige 1 Thomas 0

Two can play at this game, old man.

Oct 4, 2009

The Clarity of Childhood

     Jimmies, dropped in wanton abandon, stick to the knob of my car stereo. Evidence of debauchery, discovered by one of my discerning and disapproving children. From the backseat.
     I am amused (and envious) of the ability of children to quickly assess their surroundings, process small details, and reach concrete, confident conclusions.
     You, the reader, will wonder at my grudging admiration. You, the reader, are unable to appreciate the distracting and complex environment this child mentally waded through before discerning the minute difference of her surroundings.
     Said evidence was present in a very large vehicle that has been neglected for at least a month.
     Said evidence, in the front seats alone, shared space with a colorful array of mail on the dashboard, a console full of grubby change, lipstick, pens, ferry tickets, keys, iPod buds with tangled cords, sunglasses, a pair of earrings, an emery board, USB storage, a mouth guard, phone and charging cord, and garden clippers.
     Said evidence had been present for less than 24 hours.
     Simply amazing.
     In the process of reaching our maturity, adults develop a significant survival skill. We shut things out. We become adept at dismissing unnecessary details in our immediate environment. Much like a computer, our brains have many programs running, and some must run in the background in a limited capacity. Subconsciously, the user relies upon a system admin. This admin arbitrarily culls out unnecessary information that would slow down necessary processes.
     Children enjoy a freedom from the restraints of the system admin. The clarity, the razor-sharp senses aiding their abilities to assess their environment - it's a wondrous ability.  On  occasion I mourn its passing.
     Yet, life is a trade-off, and one certainty assuages my envy of their mental clarity and capacity. Children cannot stop for an ice cream *just because they feel like it*.
For my darling daughters. Mummy loves you.

Oct 1, 2009

Happy October 1rst

Fall isn't really my favorite season. I think it would be if I lived somewhere warmer, but in Maine the overwhelming feeling is one of dread. Winter is coming, days are shorter, colder, and muddy.

That being said, there are things I love about Autumn in New England. The crisp cleanliness in the air, apples, storms, fires, and Halloween.

I adore Halloween, and I got my first feel of it last night. I happened to be out at dusk, and it was magical. The sky was gray and ominous, a few of the first leaves to fall were swirling through the air, and a lone crow watched me balefully from the top of a dead tree - it was good.

I almost thought I caught a glimpse of a cloaked figure disappearing into the darkness.

Cracked headstones, flitting shadows, creaking stairs, dead flowers, sputtering enjoy the magic of this season. Play some creepy organ music (I like Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor), go for a walk at night, use candles, and tell ghost stories. Happy Halloween.

Sep 29, 2009

Picking agents to query...........

Hmmm. Here's one. Seeking dystopian fiction? Really?

Nope. No dystopia here. Decidedly all about the utopian fictional environment. Dystopian fiction is like tossing out the travel brochures and picking a refugee camp for February break. Dystopian fiction is like having omega-3 fish oil for dessert. Dystopian fiction is exactly like scheduling your gingival graft the day before Thanksgiving.

Nope, I am all about Utopian fiction. I'll admit it. I hated Lord of the Flies. Hated it. It disturbed me on many levels for a long time, and I am still annoyed at the teacher - who passed it out after Christmas hols (January!) with a malicious smile. I have always suspected she secretly strove to single-handedly impact teen suicide rates. (she sells seashells)

Non-fiction dystopia? Rolling up the sleeves. That is history, and fascinating. I'll study anything - it just isn't where I want to go when I crack the spine of a novel.

Like the fish oil. I'll take it - with fiber, even - just don't call it dessert.

However, de gustibus non est disputandum.


What to write.....what to write.....think....thinkthinkthink....think....think

I had been asking myself that for years.  I mean, it is like trying to decide where to eat on Federal Hill.  You could starve to death trying to choose.  Limitless options.  Likely satisfaction around every corner.

Finally, the voice said "For God's sake, just write something!"

"Yeah, but what is the most marketable......... how do I want to define myself.....what do I want to be remembered for?"  Quandary quandary quandary.

"WHO CARES?!"  The voice stormed off, totally exasperated with my waffling.

Once that mean voice left, and I could think, I asked myself what I loved about books.  The answer was easy.  It was that feeling of gleeful delinquency I had as a kid, reading under the covers with a flashlight, past my bedtime,  because I just could NOT put it down. (it never occurred to me that someone was putting the batteries in my flashlight - thanks, Mummy)

So, while there may be other genres to explore in the future, I am stepping out of the closet with juvenile fiction.   I hope I can pay it forward, aiding and abetting the next generation of kids reading under the covers with flashlights.

I tip my hat in reverence and gratitude to Mary O'Hara, E.L. Konisberg, Marguerite Henry, Ruth Christoffer Carlsen, Madeline L'engle, Norman Thelwell, Thornton W. Burgess, Ellen Raskin, Keith Robertson, Joan Aiken, Robert McCloskey, Robert C. O'Brien, E.B. White, George Thompson, C.S. Lewis, Betty MacDonald, it is just endless........salute!

Sep 28, 2009

Welcome to The Realm

Excerpt from The Keeper and the Rune Stone

Two combined and consumed

In the creation of the Beast

Exact an Accord sworn freely

By five in the light

The very congregation

Eases three that suffer

And rends one from the darkness

Partially mending the fractured soul

With thick coarse scars

Alliances renewed

Grief assuaged

Hunger allayed

Serve the collective fare

Of the Realm