Nostalgia: For Things that Never Change by Brooklyn based writer Gus Iversen. (Find his work at http://www.iloanbooks.com/) Gus utilizes “found photos” and creates short sketches (flash fiction) for each separate photo/page. He uses time (some pieces are set in 1744, or 1361) in a seemingly random fashion, and yet is it? How does time or a date inform our conscious life? Highly creative and thought provoking. Well done, Gus! Lately I have been exploring more short, short pieces. So, sometimes, within our ‘ten minute per prompt’ limit, I have time to blast off one, two, or even three different pieces. That is what happened with these two fictional sketches from a photograph in New Yorker magazine, April 19: Terminal: Take One The attic stored her trunk,with endless photographs, every job she’d shot since the early 80s, each publication catelogued. “I want to leave this all to you,” she said. The sun streamed onto her head, lighting it like a Mexican postcard of Christ. One glance and you’d never know it was terminal. Terminal: Take Two “We could shoot you like this,” she said, pointing to the Balanchine book. Photos from my younger days. Leaping. Twirling. Defecting. It seemed a mirage now. “Anything but the sausage,” I said. I dodged as she snorted, her nose flew across the room in a flourish. ************************************************************************ I also wanted to mention that gracious editor Joseph Quintela selected “Gone Before Dawn” for his Issue #20, posted 4/25 at Short, Fast, and Deadly. (http://www.shortfastanddeadly.com/) Thanks, again, to Joseph and to those editors who support writers on the new frontier. (He is also a grand writer, too). Enjoy the season! Get outdoors at least once (and no- the walk from car to building does not count!) per day. Focus on gratitude. Count your blessings. And, oh yeah: thanks for reading.]]>

Happy Earth Day 2010

Adbusters, The Ecopsychology issue. Without giving too much away, this issue’s table of contents contains five sections: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Sound familiar? It would seem so. But what I love about this provocative and stimulating magazine is it causes me to look, feel and consider different perspectives on such things as the EARTH. Such things as humanity, politics, government, nature, beauty, money or death. Another thing I did was devote more time to my latest favorite reads: Lydia Davis’s Collected Stories, Kim Chinquee’s new release Pretty, Dan Chaon’s Among the Missing. I adore stories, love to read them, yearn to write them. And speaking of writing, I have been submitting. And submitting. I use an online resource called duotrope’s digest. It’s like having a personal assistant without the hassle of sharing one’s office. Duotrope serves as a research prompt, a file to save your online and print submissions, a way to find out which magazines are “Slothful, Swift, Challenging, or Approachable.” Of course, it is reliant on each writer to enter your own “data.” There is another category I like to watch called “Fledgling markets.” Like anything new in life, there is a learning curve to duotrope. It takes some time and patience to learn more about duotrope, but I feel as if I am on a ride, and I approach the writing market as I would any part of my “job” as a writer. At latest count (as of January 1, 2010), I have over 50 different pieces in circulation (being considered). Some  are called “simultaneous submissions,” meaning I’ve sent the same piece to more than one magazine (only certain magazines allow this). And I have had some success, as many of you know! Three of my shorter short stories have been published. If you would like to read them, I will post the links here: “Double Barrel” published at 50 to 1: http://50-to-1.blogspot.com/ “Gingko” published at Postcard Shorts: http://www.postcardshorts.com/ On April 25th, “Gone Before Dawn” published at Short, Fast, and Deadly: http://www.shortfastanddeadly.com/ I am exceeding grateful to these editors for selecting my work for their online magazines. Last weekend I had the great fortune to be in the company of Karen McQuestion. She taught a workshop at Redbird- Redoak Studio called Self- Publishing. Admittedly not an expert, Karen’s insight and sharing her success through Amazon and the Kindle market was astounding. I have known Karen for several years, and at times, we’ve worked closely together on certain writing projects. She had excellent handouts, full of information about any question one might have about getting your work into the hands of others. As some of you know, I write frequently with a small group and we do “prompt” writing. We pick a line, create a word bank, pick something in the room, use a quote. Whatever the “prompt,” we write for ten minutes. Then, we take turns reading them aloud. Many of my previous blogs came from these prompt sessions. Since all of my writing buddies are attending a WOMEN’S ONLY retreat (discrimination? LOL) this weekend, one shared some prompt ideas with me. Thanks, Sheila! So, I will do the same: here are some prompts for you to consider writing this weekend: 1) “This year, we doubled our stock of grandchildren, from two to four.” (from Robert Knisely, ’62 from Harvard Magazine) 2) ‘Clarity, clarity, clarity.’ (from The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White) 3) ‘The history of paper is complex.’ (from Great Ancient China: Projects You Can Build Yourself) Lastly, on this great EARTH DAY, I want to leave you with a message from Thoreau: “Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives,” Thoreau began one of his essays, noting that since time was short, he would “Leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism,” as was his way. “What is it to be born free and not to live free?” he asked his fellow citizens. “Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast?” (from Adbusters, May/June) In that classic song Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…” So, what am I holding on to? What’s keeping me from being free?]]>

The Comet Train

The Comet Train

The train that transports us to Ubud is called Comet. I see the name listed in our itinerary after selecting my seat. That’s odd, I think, since this is Bali. I see Bernie board, the solo British fellow on our tour. He’s a lawyer, a little overly groomed. Nails with clear polish, daily reading glasses that match certain starched shirts. Is he gay, I wondered. Probably would be in America. He chooses the vacant seat next to me. “Good breakfast,” he says, referring to our earlier buffet at the Westin. “You think so?” I ask. Decide I don’t want to sound so cynical. “Yes, it was.” Bernie settles in, switches sunglasses to tortoise-shell readers. I notice how they pair nicely his chocolate Izod shirt. He smells clean, an Aveda pomade scent. “Don’t you think it’s odd that we’re on a train called Comet?” I ask. Point to our itinerary sheet. “Funny, I never read mine,” Bernie says. He pauses for a long time. The train starts moving slowly from the station. It’s as if I’d asked him the meaning of life. “I find,” he finally says, “that every aspect of this trip has been unusual.” “Really? How so? Can you think of another example?” “Well, those dancers we saw last evening in Benoa? The ones doing the traditional dance, the sang hyang dedari?” I nod. “Yes, they were amazing.” I lied, they’d haunted me, and when we’d returned to the Westin I couldn’t sleep. I decided to walk the beaches of Kuta, despite warnings against doing so in my Lonely Planet guidebook. “Indeed, and many of the dancers were men.” Bernie waits for my reaction. “Are you serious?” “Yes, I asked our guide.” Ravindranat, is an Indian who lives in Nusa Dua. He prefers to be called Gusti Agung which roughly translates to Great Leader. Says a lot about him. He’s another odd bird, in fact, the whole tour has a sickeningly strange pallor. Bernie retrieves a magazine from his man bag, the cover article reads “Relationships: Take Them or Leave Them.” I’d travelled over 10,000 miles to get away from mine. My all-knowing yoga teacher recommends a country halfway around the world, purported to be over-the-top exotic, fascinating. No shopping, a place to get healthy. Take a break. Sounds like just the ticket I crave. But here, every Bali moment I miss him, more and more. With each spectacular sunrise I think, what’s he doing? I re-play the tapes in my mind, those arguments where I had to be right, had to press my point. For what? I hate myself for it, way more than I can hate him. I glance out the train window at the neon green latticed landscape, the rice paddies strewn between forest groves with tall trees that remind me of the eucalyptus trees back home. “I’m homesick,” I say aloud, not expecting anyone to hear. Bernie pats my knee, nods. “Hang in there mate,” he says. “There’s a nice spot in Ubud called Fly Cafe. How about you and I ditch the next tour. We’ll sit in the café, enjoy a nice meal with some local Bintang beer?” I smile. “Okay, Bernie, Bintang it is.”]]>