Showing posts from 2013

Another Feather in my Writer's Cap

I am literally sliding out of the year 2013. Today began with some feathery snow that turned to rain. On the drive home from work the rain mixed with ice and walking up the driveway to the house was like walking on shattered glass. As the precipitation dwindles the temperature drops and I am not looking forward to an icy morning. Black ice is predicted. That means a long slow drive back to work tomorrow and some treacherous walking. I will take tiny steps from the car to the school.

But I am taking big solid steps into the new year!

On January 22 I begin a 6 month long course on writing memoir. I've mentioned this before, but we've had the orientation and I am outlining the book now so this is really going to happen soon. I am very excited to get my story down on paper and with the help of Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers, getting it to a publishable stage.

I will also be taking an online course through Story Circle Network with Amber Lea Starfire that will teach me how to pu…


Six or seven years I ago I read a lot of memoirs since I was writing my own childhood memoir and studying the genre. Then I went back to reading more fiction and poetry. Now, in preparation for writing this new memoir and taking the memoir course in January, I've picked up a few more to read and study. This evening I opened up my kindle, downloaded the memoir "Split" by Suzanne Finnamore, and found a big surprise.

I had been playing around with some different formulaic structures for my memoir and came up with the idea to break it into five sections based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief. I thought that was a good idea for a novel about divorce. But Ms. Finnamore beat me to it. Lo and behold, right in the table of contents, I discovered my idea for structuring my own memoir wasn't original after all. Now it's back to brainstorming some other structure ideas.

She also begins her story with a scene that shows her husband downing martinis. Well I …


With Thanksgiving over, leftovers packed in the fridge and freezer, and turkey soup simmering on the stove, it is time to get back to business.

After 5 days of family, fun and food I need to tuck back into reality. That means going back to Weight Watcher meetings and tracking my food again. It means getting back to a routine of working out 4 to 5 times a week no matter how tired I am, or how late it is, when I get home from work. And it means setting myself up to begin the new year in writing stride. I can't believe it will be 2014 in just a few weeks. Busy weeks at that. With the new year will come the start of my "Write Your Memoir in Six Months" course. I've already set up a binder for the course materials and I've begun making some notes about how I want to write this book. A couple steps in the way of launching this journey are easy to take care of.

Number one-- I just received the edits of my poetry manuscript "I am My Mother's Only Poem," fro…


As usual I read a lot of how-to books. How to write novels, how to write poetry, how to write short fiction and now how to write memoir. Memoir is a touchy topic and most books will ask this question first:

Why do you want to write your memoir?

So after years of deliberation these are the answers I have come up with:

I have a story I need to tell. It is curled into my heart and I want to expunge it.I believe my story can help other women who are in bad relationships as well as women who have lived with an alcoholic.I love to write.I've written about my happy childhood and I want to balance that with this more disturbing tale.I want to be a published writer.The story tells a transformational tale from my life.It will be therapeutic to write this.I want to share my truth. I'm sure there are many more reasons. Up front though is the fact that I am a writer and I must write. What better story to tell than my own?


There is a book titled "The Art of Time in Memoir" by Sven Birkerts. In this book he takes several published memoirs and discusses how the writers pull together events in a period of time in their lives and create a rich tale from which we can learn about life.

In writing memoir time stands out as a scaffold for the narrative scenes. The writer must choose the time period she wishes to portray in the book. She must give the reader a sense of the time in history during which these scenes play out. And the pacing of the tale requires a sense of time from the eye of the reader who will either enjoy a nicely paced narrative or feel bogged down with a slow moving story. the writer needs a sense of when to speed the pace to keep the reader reading, and when to slow it down within a scene to create a deeper impact.

That said, this is not the concept of time I wish to rant about today.

When I speak of time in memoir I am talking about the time a writer needs in order to craft a rea…


What is the fear of memoir?

It's a horned beast with a trident tail that threatens to stop the writer in the pursuit of her own truth. We all experience each life story we live in our own way. Why then is it so difficult to commit that truth to paper? Why do we struggle and procrastinate in starting our memoir? Why do we give up after ten pages of truth telling? What is it that we fear?

Some memoirists fear writing stories that in some way degrade, insult, expose, or diminish family members or friends. They are afraid what they write will be disputed, or worse, that they will be sued for writing it. Other writers fear exposing their own faults, sins and misdemeanors.

Each time we sit at our desks, pens in hand, to scribe the truth, that horned beast raises his head and swings a webbed hand that wipes the pen right out of our hands. He noodles into our minds and attempts to erase from memory the very stories that make us who we have become. The very stories that might help us to l…


A worthwhile piece of advice given to all writers is to read profusely. It's particularly suggested that you read books in the genre in which you are writing. Perhaps reading is the best teacher of how to write, far outweighing how-to books and writing classes and workshops. Critique groups are great and so are editors, but in the end it's your choice and every comment is just one reader's opinion. So in order to prepare myself better to write my memoir I am starting to read published memoirs again. (Of course I'm still taking classes too!)

I just rejoined the internet reading circle at It's fantastic group of women who read and write memoir! I look forward to reading their monthly book choices and engaging in thought provoking and interesting discussions about the books.

At the moment I am reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. It's the story of a woman who sets off alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Her experiences, both inner an…


In preparation for the memoir course that begins in January I am making lists of turning points, themes, take-aways for the book. It's a long process. Picking out the exact time period to put into the book. Reliving difficult times. Making lists of characters to include and wondering how they would react if the book ever gets published. So much to consider.

In the meantime the weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter and I am hunkering in for the long winter to come. Not happy about the short days or cold, but looking forward to long weekends tucked inside, fingers on the keyboard, finally getting my story down on paper with the help of two great mentors.

I'll be posting here about the writing journey and also sharing bits of the book as they get written.


This weekend two of my writing critique friends and I attended the New England Crime Bake, a writers' conference for mystery and suspense fiction authors. Although I don't write in those genres it was an amazing weekend!

We drove to Orient Point at the tip of Long Island and took the ferry to Connecticut, then drove to Nedham, Massachusetts for the conference. We attended informational sessions, author interviews and several panels on writing and publishing. The collective energy in the hotel was like lifeblood to writers. While there I felt I was among my people--my writer friends. I knew with every part of me that I belong with writers and I am meant to be a writer. Though it was a different genre there was much to be learned. I even received a great critique on the first 15 pages of a novel from author Lea Wait. It is always encouraging to have people commend your writing skills and helpful to get some critical feedback to make the writing stronger.

I now have writers' …


Greetings to my blog friends and readers
It's time for me to fess up and stop confusing you all. National Nonfiction Writing Month is turning into something different than I planned. I am NOT writing my teachers' book. I am focusing on my memoir.

Last night I viewed the first of four webinars presented by Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner. The topic is various aspects of writing craft using the book "Eat Pray Love" as an example. I've also enrolled in their online course "Write Your Memoir in Six Months." With that in mind I want to focus on memoir writing.

Between now and January when the course begins I hope to develop a list of the turning points of my memoir, write a loose chapter outline and make a list of memories/flashbacks that will help to explain events that occurred during the period of the memoir. I am very excited about writing this memoir as it's taken me many years to muster the courage to write it. It involves exposing my own difficu…


November is nonfiction writing month--a response to NANoWriMo where writers can sign up to write a novel first draft in one month. I did sign up for the nonfiction writing challenge and had the idea to do a first draft of the memoir. But since I will be taking a 6 month memoir course starting in January I had a different idea for this November challenge.

I've always wanted to write a book for teachers to help them through their first year in the classroom. I targeted preschool special education teachers since that has been my field for over 20 years. It seemed a daunting task but this might be a good way to begin.

It doesn't have to be a long, in depth look at a first year teacher, but rather a simple book with some time tested strategies to make things go easily and to make teaching as effective as it can be. Perhaps ten chapters, one for each month, with suggestions. I have to take this opportunity to try it out. And if it goes well I will put together a proposal and start s…


The webinar last night was very informative. It looked at the structure of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" and offered advice and suggestions on how we can structure our own memoirs to make them more cohesive and marketable. The webinar was offered through Write Your Memoir in Six Months and was presented by Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner--two awesome and accessible teachers.

I've put off writing this memoir for a long time despite knowing it's something I need to do. Putting my emotional truth and my past in writing for the world is a scary thing to do but I have to do it. I've written some short essays about events during that time frame and even written a very fictionalized version of my story. After viewing the webinar last night I became motivated to sit down and get this done. Here's what I'm doing in order to reach that goal.

1-- I signed up for Write Nonfiction in November. It's a group like NaNoWriMo but for nonfiction. Ta…


With daylight savings time coming to an end this weekend winter cannot be far away. As the browned leaves float and dance to the ground they remind me of the rhythm and swirl of poetry. My poetry collection is coming along. Just typed up the complete first draft and will go home tonight to proofread and then send off to Lorraine Mejia who is my gentle guide along this journey. May add a few more new poems before it's completely done but very close now.

I'm homing in on some writing focus, finding that poetry is my heart and soul so I need to do more of that and keeping distractions that lead me toward novel writing to a minimum. The lessons in this course --Your Life in Poems-- keeps me focused on this writing that feeds my soul.

I've already written a poetry collection as memoir and will shop it around, hopefully to be published as a chapbook. That said, it may be time to finally write my memoir of divorce and the alcoholism that lead up to it. (his, not mine) Toward that…


Today is a bit cloudy but still a beautiful fall day. There is a chill in the air, but when the sun sneaks out from behind the clouds the warmth is like a kiss. I'm looking forward to taking off for a weekend in Pennsylvania to see family and have a little calm serenity in natural surroundings. Maybe some poems will emerge over the next few days.

Still working on the poetry collection I'm leaning toward making all the poems rather short and with echoes of tanka and tanka prose. Just sent this week's batch off too my instructor and the rest of the group.

I have the afternoon free and will make some art pieces for the book. Not sure how much art to include but for sure a title page and then lead pages for each of four sections. I haven't painted in a long time so let's see how this goes. I'm a bit rusty but curious to get back to a visual art.

Hope you all have a nice fall. Go pick some apples and bake a pie.


Okay, so I've been remiss in posting on my blog. Busy with work and writing, and life in general. Now it's September (well it's almost over) and I always find fall, the start of a new school year, and the end of summer heat to be a chance for a new beginning. So here comes mine.

Presently I am still in the middle of that poetry course, working toward a final book manuscript of 40 poems divided into four sections, one for each season of the year to correspond with seasons of my life. I've decided I really want some of my art in the book but so as not to overwhelm myself I will include 4 art pieces as the intro sheets to each section of the book.

This month I also begin 2 short story online classes and hope to work toward creating fiction chapbooks to submit to contests and/or for publication. I'm considering CreateSpace for one of them and taking the plunge into self-online-publishing. Wouldn't do it for a novel but perhaps it's okay for poetry and short fic…


Today I begin a new writing adventure. I am taking a 5 month long online course with Lorraine Mejia Green called "Your Life in Poems."

Each week for 20 weeks we get a new lesson with model poems and exercises to write from. We are writing poems that tell our own stories so our families and future generations will know what we are all about.

Along the way we will post our poems and get feedback from Lorraine as well as other class members. I have been in online poetry classes with many of these poets before so I am guaranteed a wonderful and enlightening experience.

At the end of the course we work with a book designer to create our own poetry collection that is the story of our life.

I'm still deciding whether or not I want to include art work in the book. I'm thinking I might as it's a chance to incorporate my art and poetry and have it in solid form to share with friends and family.

I will post my progress along the way to document this adventure. So looking forward…

National Poetry Month Day Thirty

word group: voices--ancestors--wind chimes--stone

ancestors voices--
wind chimes
in the stones

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-nine

word group:


A stranger in this world
the child does not understand
love is a gift.
He believes it is a birthright
all children possess.
So, in the only language he knows,
he sends out a cry
that beckons warmth and sustenance.
All of us
must answer the calls
of all children
so the light of nurture
can lead us
through these black tunnels
of violence.


A writing workshop leader once told me that in order to succeed as a writer you had to have "singleness of purpose." Over the 30 plus years since then I have come to see how true that is. I learned the hard way because I had no focus, but things are becoming less blurry lately.

Yesterday I heard that my short story "Rose" has been accepted for publication this year by persimmontree. I am proud of this accomplishment and happy to say this makes my fifth short story to get published. I know I've written here about my genre jumping but yesterday's good news helps me see where I need to concentrate my writing. It's a sign! It shows that through my concentration in the past when I took online flash fiction classes I was able to produce a number of solid stories over the weeks of those classes. And now the payoff is coming in more publications. I also received a "not quite for us" rejection this week but with a request to send more work in the futur…

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-eight

word group: wings--rustle--echo--sky

Echoes across thousands
    of countries
the rustle of  bird wings
   sing secrets
we must comprehend.
A pewter sky
   cries polluted tears
filling the oceans
   with unwritten questions.
The silence
   echoes the barrenness
      of answers.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-seven

word group: insomnia--cargo--struggle--sleep

I need sleep
the elixir
for tired bones
a weary heart
the burdened cargo
of too many ideas
I struggle
to find that peace
that eludes me
it's like
trying to catch fireflies.
Yet other days
I pray for insomnia
so I'll have more hours
     to write
         to read
             to just be.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-six

word group: relentless--questions--imminent--brave

On this partly cloudy day
when everything is washed
in gray shadows
the destruction
of our world
is imminent.
The proof lies
     in detonated bombs
     gun slinging teens
     babies shaken
     not stirred with love.
to find solutions
I ask brave questions
but the scarcity
of answers
is a deafening silence
and the afternoon
cloud my brain.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-five

word group: past--magnolia--marble--wind


late afternoon sky
is mauve and blue marble
as I stroll the forest
wind is a mourning song
magnolia petals
coat the path
with each step
I come closer
to the past
till I'm buried
in its ghosts
and demons
so deep into the forest
I believe
I can never come out.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-four

word group: garden--voices--silver--leaves

The midnight garden
drenched in silver light
is home to ghosts
thin as tissue paper
but their voices
bounce off the leaves
echo against tree trunks
or stretched across the path
barricading the way.
You climb over
the cylinders of rough bark
trying to grasp
the ghosts-
like old love
they slip away
quicksilver and without substance.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-three

word group: divorce--dormant--weed--blooms

She strokes the white pages
of the divorce decree
as if touching the words
can make her understand.
Denial is not a dormant
creature-- it lives
powerful in the heart.
The weed-like character
of lies, deceit, absence
take hold in
and don't let go.
Until she releases them
of her own will
and hope blooms
like April daffodils.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-two

word group: cat--purr--winter--lap

Winter ice
sheets the windows
blocking light
and memory.
on her lap
a black and white cat
purrs so loud
white lace curtains shift
and her whole body
vibrates like a harp.
She strokes the thick fur
and gazes
into almond shaped
green eyes.
But there's no entrance
to memories she seeks.
Only her own reflection

National Poetry Month Day Twenty-one

word group: chaos--senses--dissolve--change

The 6 Senses

She had a vision
     of chaos that raged
        inside her heart.
She heard the throaty
     songs of nightingales
        as they vanished from her garden.
She tasted the salt
     of desire on her tongue
        as it dissolved in time.
She smelled the scent
     of lavender
        and nights of lucid dreams.
She felt the kiss
     of midnight dew
        on her naked skin.
And sensed the winds
     of change
        just before they blew the world away.

National Poetry Month Day Twenty

word group: red--sky--ember--ash

Beneath the umbrella
of a red sky
and the full yellow
ball of the sun
the Indian woman
danced around the fire
her arms arced
toward heaven
her bare feet
thumping on dry earth.
She danced in circles
as embers burned
to cold ash
and her cries
lifted like a prayer
in curlicues
of silver smoke.

National Poetry Month Day Nineteen

word group: attend--nurture--bowl--cup


The Queen of Avedon
attended the birth
and was surprised
to see a faerie emerge--
tiny, delicate
with wings like lace.
As the mother slept
the Queen took the fairy child,
suckled and nurtured her
and kept her in a cave
in the dark woods
to raise as her own.
At the age of one
the faerie child fit in a teacup.
At five in a wooden bowl
carved of beech wood
and used for collecting
exotic herbs.
When the faerie child
was sixteen
her true mother
came upon her in the woods
and recognized the faerie
as the baby that disappeared
from the palace--
the baby whose mother
had searched for her
for sixteen years.
She picked her up
no bigger than a chipmunk
and carried her home
in the perfect bowl
of her trembling hands.

National Poetry Month Day Eighteen

word group: chalk--rainbow--sidewalk--fade

The girl with blonde pigtails
greets early summer morning
in sneakered feet
shorts and sun blouse.
She hauls a bucket
of sidewalk chalk
to the corner
beneath the dappled shade
of a maple tree.
Amid the caws of crows
and sweet songs of sparrows
she draws a giant rainbow
on the concrete squares.
She stands back
hands braced on slender hips
and admires the bold colors
of her masterpiece.
The next day
a hundred footprints
and midnight rain
have faded her rainbow
even before
she finds
her pot of gold.

National Poetry Month Day Seventeen

word group: humbled--face--cry--laugh

the string of lies
humbled her
sunlight touched her face
but she didn't feel
the heat
she heard it laugh
at her
that yellow globe
in the crystal sky
she walked inside
closed the door
and pretended
it was midnight

National Poetry Month Day Sixteen

word group: wall--ancient--dawn--dusk

In ancient days
from dawn to dusk
she walked
tracing the stones
of the high wall
with a trembling finger.
She dreamed of what
was behind those walls
that trapped her
like secret sins.
One morning
beneath a mauve
streaked winter sky
she found
a fingerhold
and ascended.
She smiled
like the old moon
and escaped
into the delirium
of the unknown.

National Poetry Month Day Fifteen

word group: archway--silence--pause--return/go

Through the stone archway
     pocked with age
She wanders silently
     beneath the gaze of a full moon.
She enters a courtyard
     paved with ancient rocks
between them grow rigid grass
     and a history of stories.
Each footfall in the silence
     echoes against the stories
as if those long gone
     sing into the night.
In the center she stills
     listens and feels sweet air
as the cries of those long gone
     have returned home.
She waits till silence settles
     and the secrets return to the cracks
in the stone walls
     where no one ventures.

National Poetry Month Day Fourteen

word group: children--beach--moonlight--whale

heels press into damp sand
breakers grasp my ankles
with frozen brine
moonlight sashays on the waves
I squint
at the horizon
and pull into focus
a blue whale
its blowhole
spouts a shower
of hope
spraying life into the ocean
I pray this life will go on

National Poetry Month Day Thirteen

word group: land--heartland--music--heart

In the heartland
     wind plays music
          through wheat fields.

Crows explode
     into summer sky
          too blue to look at
          with bare eyes.

But if I close my eyes
     and let the music fill me
          allow the wind to kiss my skin
like fingers on a harp strings.

This land beneath my feet
     becomes my soul
          and my heart is free.

National Poetry Month Day Twelve

word group: loon-silhouette-guest-lake

Against the tissue paper moon
the loon's silhouette floats
on the lake.
Her cry is solemn,
She's an unhappy guest
on this winter night--
her babies
have moved on.

National Poetry Month Day Eleven

word group:  barefoot--evening--shadows--king

evening shadows
blend with barefoot prints
hiding them from the stalker
who seeks to cut out
her cold heart
with sinful words
sharper than the knife
she holds in both hands
slipping into the shadows
of her shame

National Poetry Month--Day Ten

word group: snow--mountains--trails--tears


along mountain trails
she walks alone
hunched into the raw wind
arms braced at her chest
bare feet leave love notes
in new fallen snow
her tears freeze on ivory cheeks
so she never forgets
what happened last summer
when this mountain
wore a lush blanket
of green
and the sky shouted
like the lone wolf
who watches her
his teeth bared

National Poetry Month --Day Nine

word group: autumn--skeletal--ballroom--frost

Late autumn
skeletal trees dance toward winter.
The ballroom floor is strewn
with pine needles
and leaves
that crunch like old paper--
the words of lovers
faded, erased.
Morning frost
dresses the limbs of the dancers
in bridal lace
their innocent arms
hold up gray cloud curtains.
I hunker under white fleece
not wanting to face
the crisp messages
of death in this dawn air.

National Poetry Month--Day Eight

word group: women--market--sky--spring


The woman with corn silk hair
strolls the aisles
choosing tulips, carnations and lilies.
She plucks exquisite sapphire
and palms ruby apples
like a lover's cheek.
Sniffs melons
inhaling love.
She wanders the market
beneath a steely winter sky
buying spring.

National Poetry Month glitch

Okay-internet down so I've lost 4 days of posting poems. But I have been writing them in my purple covered journal and will now share them with you. Here's hoping the internet stays steady and I can keep up. Technology is a wonderful thing, until it's not, like this weekend. It's why I love my spiral notebooks and purple pens so much.

word group: father--distant--noble--heart


The hayseed farmer
      with noble heart
who kissed my cheek
      rubbed my feet--
is gone
      into the distant
Netherlands that house
      dead souls.
I cannot touch him
      but across the distant breach
      I feel his heart
beat inside of mine
      and he is still here.

word group: rough--sanded--amazement--years


Along the craggy shoreline
      torn by winds
      sanded by time
the ocean foams in
      a frothy veil.
Bubbles hold onto life
      the way we capture
days in a diary
      as if we could keep them.
Years from today
      when another wo…

National Poetry Day --Day Three

word group: gulps--thirst--permissions--streams

I first read the word "permissions" as "persimmons" so I ran with that. Such is the link between eyes and mind at 5:00am


In the desert of her soul
     she feels a painful thirst
every tissue in her body
     shrivels from want
though life streams around her
     an unending river
She cannot stretch long
     to gulp its energy.
Plucking persimmons
     from lush trees
the red flesh disintegrates
     on her palm
She has committed a sin
     and has no permission
     to quench her thirst
          in this life.

National Poetry Month-Day Two

word group-- public--private--hidden--shared


She wears a public mask
     of shared smiles
     eyes like towering beacons
          a heart open like a palm
                    always giving

Inside are private thoughts
     heart closed like a fist
     bruised secrets
               tears of burnt offerings    
                         always hidden

National Poetry Month-Day One

April is National Poetry Month. I have their 2013 poster in my office at work. I have a purple covered journal waiting to accept my morning musings that will spiral into poems as the smoke rises from my creative fires.

At the moment I have two serious, long term writing projects moving along like bullet trains. The first is the novel I've been working on for two years. It is still very much in draft form with new story lines and character changes emerging from various writing exercises and lots of brainstorming. The second is a memoir that I am writing in the form of a poetry collection. These are big projects and I plan and commit to completing them both this year. I have come to the conclusion that if I focus on these two projects, make time to write every day, and keep the goals in mind I can do this. I accept that I have to have a variety of writing to do and that I can alternate between these two projects as long as I don't let anything else get in the way.

So for Nationa…

New Goals

The holidays are over and a new year spreads out ahead of me. Where am I going at this moment in time with my writing. Where do I want to land and how will I get there? I want a career in writing. With less than three years left before I retire I want to start planning now to have writing novels a major part of my life once all that open time comes into my life. That means I have to write more this year. I have to hone in on a genre and on a brand so I can get some novels out in the marketplace. I have to join some writing organizations and network with other writers. I have to hunker down and get busy.

No more procrastination and avoidance. No more meandering down more attractive shady lanes. No more making excuses of not time, motivation or energy. Last year I made a commitment to lose weight. I did the work, kept the discipline and exercised my little tushy off and reached my goal weight. It was easier than I thought it would be. I'm hoping getting a novel done, marketing it th…