Archive for March, 2014

It’s always good to start your Friday off with a bang. The following post is brought to you by a true texting typo, courtesy of my ever optimistic husband…




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Can I just say that I love Ellen? I rarely catch her because I don’t have the luxury of sitting around to watch daytime television but, while I was in the massage chair getting my toenails polished yesterday, ahem, Ellen happened to be on.


She was visiting with Mark Whalberg and Taylor Kitsch, discussing their movie Lone Survivor. The two actors were reliving the training they endured to pull off a convincingly realistic Navy Seal facade.


During the interview, Ellen proceeds to give credit to the Seals, by recounting a story of a hike she took the day after seeing the movie. She tells of how she developed a blister on her foot while walking, but felt she had to trudge on because of all the selfless work the Seals do. And as a result, she managed to push through it.


The humor was there, but it was clear she was serious. Their nobility and valor had inspired her to realize she was capable of completing the hike despite a little pain.


Only Ellen can get away with equating something as trivial as a blister with the work of Navy Seals and not be offensive.


Now, believe me when I tell you that all I ever do is clean, work and write, but the other night, while my daughter and I sat on the couch, listening to the pouring rain, eating bon bons and talking about how I was about to start the laundry, we happened to come across the movie One Chance.


It’s about a bloke from South Whales who loved to sing. Maybe you’ve also happened upon it while couch surfing, popping bon bons and counting raindrops.


It turns out the movie did not get good reviews, but you may or may not know, I’m a sucker for singing and an eternally easy mark for an optimistic underdog so I handcuffed my daughter to a Mars bar and…we watched.


Paul Potts endured a lifetime of physical and mental abuse from neighborhood bullies, not to mention an unsupportive father. He withstood personal and potentially dream-dashing dogging from Pavarotti himself, plus extreme health and financial challenges, but, like Ellen and the Navy Seals, he kept on climbing.


Paul went on to win Britain’s Got Talent in 2007 and is now a successful multimillionaire.


Yesterday marked my second wordpress anniversary and the start of my blogging in general, so I wanted to celebrate with a taste of inspiration. It’s easy to let things get under our skin, stop us from chasing what it is we want most…our passions, our dreams and our quests.


But when that happens, we need to remember we’re no different than Ellen, Paul and the Navy Seals.

Listen, I got a paper cut on my tongue yesterday, but no way was that stopping me from posting today!

We know we’re also equipped with tenacity, training and a voice. We’re just waiting for the world to know it too.

keep going

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My wordpress popularity really seems to fluctuate somewhere in between that was a fair Idol audition and good God, get off the stage.


And that’s okay. I appreciate that certain posts just don’t resonate, but I’d really like to understand the formula. I know there are probably prime times to publish, not to mention better days of the week. Appealing eye-candy for the more visual and just the right tags can also make all the difference.


I try to post fairly regularly and of course I always attempt to be fresh and witty…can’t you tell? Yes, I have a facebook page (which you are of course, more than free to share and like) and I do boast my posts through various other forms of social media. However, I’ve never topped thirty-five likes on a wordpress post.


I’m pleased with my progress to date, but it confuses me to see bloggers just starting out, that have already garnered thousands of views and the same in followers. I find posts that consist simply of a quote, one photo or a half-cocked thought, with hundreds of likes.


Don’t get me wrong – more power to these fellow floggers. I’m just dying to know err, interested in how this comes about.


On a more personal, specific level – I wrote a short story a few posts back, called Helena. It received twenty-five likes. Clearly, one of my more popular posts. The next, a continuation of Helena, only got thirteen.


Now, Gladys is written in the same style as Helena and continues the storyline from the original. The third installation, Mrs. Statton, is more of the same and hit fifteen likes. A little better, but still nowhere near the first twenty-five for Helena. Eat Crow, the fourth piece…eight whopping likes.


Whonh, whonh, whonh.


What I’d like to know is – did I post at a bad time, on the wrong day? Did my writing change from audition-acceptable to incapable of carrying a tune? Or, is it that you believe Helena should have remained where I left her?


Besides helping motivate continued writing, a writer’s hope is that blogging will bring the crucial feedback needed to sharpen and buff their trusted sword. So, it stands to reason, that in a perfect world, readers will be the worn grit paper and soft polishing cloth at the end of every post.







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Part One, Helena, is HERE

Part Two, Gladys, is HERE

Part Three, Mrs. Statton, is HERE

It’s just like any other day, Gladys decides as she applies her mascara, lifting each lash to its fullest extent. She fills the arch of her brow and shimmers her cheekbones before taking another sip of her lukewarm coffee.

Except it isn’t really. Today, she won’t be there to pick Helena up from school. She won’t be home to make dinner. And she may not even be back to watch the season finale of True Detective.

Her tummy does a bit of a flip. She smooths down the front of her blouse, smacks her lips and heads for the kitchen. After chucking her half full mug in the sink, she rummages through her purse and manages to round up sixteen dollars. Quickly scrawling something to the effect of get whatever this will buy you for dinner on a piece of scrap paper, Gladys takes one swig from the flask tucked behind the empty fridge and heads for the door.

Lying at the bottom of a stack of paperwork that’s taken me through ‘til nearly lunchtime, I come across a cluster of pages stapled together, sporting a hot pink Post-it. It’s covered with Mr. Crawford’s loosely looped handwriting – Stephanie, You need to read this, he advises. It’s a doozy.

I glance wistfully at the clock on the wall across from my desk. As tempted as I am to dive into the text, I know I don’t have time. I scan my calendar for a prompt on my lunch appointment and am reminded of what an unfortunate name Mr. Anass is for a high school Principal.

As the school Counselor, I’ve seen my fair share of varied troubling data, but have never been passed a student essay before. I sigh. It’ll have to wait. I tuck it into my briefcase, take a sip from my water bottle and set out to Manger Corbeau, where Anass will be waiting. During the drive I muse over the possible scenarios that could have led to naming the restaurant Eat Crow, but fail to come up with anything plausible.

It makes sense that it’s Anass’ favorite place to eat.

Eat Crow

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Part One, Helena, is HERE

Part Two, Gladys, is HERE

“We got a new girl today.” My blade presses through the taught, red skin. “She’s a bit tragic, I think.”

“And what makes you think that?” Rick asks, sipping his wine, eyes widening over the rim of the glass.

“Well, I’m not sure, really. She just seems so…independent.”

“And independent translates to tragic for you?” His eyes get even bigger.

“Okay, maybe she’s not tragic. Maybe her situation is tragic.”

“So, what’s her situation, exactly?”

Juice mists my fingers as the red pepper splits into halves and falls open on the cutting board.

“God, I don’t really know that either, I guess. Her mother didn’t tell us much.”

“Well, I think one of us is drunk, Steph cuz I don’t get it.” He grins and pours himself another.

Stephanie contemplates the thinning hair and mangle of bracelets, the easy blush and her eagerness to get the usually dreaded classroom antics out of the way.

“Honestly, there isn’t an issue to speak of. I just felt this, I dunno, gap between her and her mother. And Helena, well, she’s…ugh, okay I’m going back to my first thing – tragic.”

“But, is she hip?” Rick asks, swirling his wine.

I begin to answer before I realize he’s taking a stab, slipping in a joke about his once favorite band.

“Ha ha. You’re just hilarious.”

Rick circles the granite island and wraps his arms around her from behind.

“Steph, like you said, this Helena is…what was it? Independent? I’m pretty sure she’d want for you to enjoy your Friday night. Not to be thinking about her. I can guarantee she’s not thinking about you right now. Besides, your man here is gettin’ All Tore Up over the smell of that sauce.” He squeezes her a little tighter.

She pretends not to notice his second ‘Hip’ reference

Helena lies on the floor of her room, the pile of hair growing beside her, and wonders if Mrs. Statton will notice she’s added two new bracelets to her wrist.

Halved Red Pepper

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Although laundry as whole has not been a favorite pastime of mine, it has its rewards. Sure, I dread the collecting and sorting, but I don’t mind the washing and the folding quite as much. I despise the putting away, but love the fresh scent that I get to place in the drawers as a result of a task I saw through to completion.

However, I do find that things never quite look the same once they’ve been hung out to dry. That white shirt is never just as crisp and that black sweater always ends up a shade lighter than it once was.

It’s somewhat the same for me, when it comes to writing. I adore the process, but there are things about it that leave me feeling faded and worn.

That story that creeps in and convinces me it’s good, those lines, those words that shout, “I’m the one!” The subject that feels interesting and unique, the characters that promise to slay souls and sink ships.

They are silenced when suspended on the line to be judged. They become meek and mild when unpegged and pulled in. They stop clamoring for first and many times, let themselves fall down into the dirt below.

Luckily though, passion is persuasive and begs to be picked up, shaken out and washed again, as a clean slate offers endless possibilities.

You can read my (yet again) RUNNER UP short story HERE.

Fall 2013 Wow Contest Photo

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If you’d like to read Helena first, click here.

– – –

Ms. Harris perches at a small table, rolling melting ice cubes around in her short glass, vacantly staring in the direction of the empty chair across. Her lips purse as she surrenders to the realization he isn’t going to show…again.

“One more round, Gladys?”

It’s why she comes here. They know she’s not done, but are polite enough to ask as though she might be.

“Absolutely, Damien. Just one more.”

“Food today?”

“I’ve decided I won’t be here long.”

He gives the empty seat the same look she had, nods and heads to the bar.

Gladys. She’s never loved her name. Never understood how someone could look into a tiny newborn’s face and choose Gladys, but still, she prefers it to Ms. Harris. She’d been tempted many times over the years to return to her maiden name, but couldn’t bear to be separated from Helena, even if only by title.

She adjusts her blouse and crosses her legs.


They certainly did not need to add different surnames to the long list of things they didn’t have in common. Besides, it would seem their name is all that held them together at times and Gladys never took that for granted.

She picks up her phone. No messages. She’s not surprised. He’s never had any respect.

Tempted to text her daughter, she puts the phone in her bag. The last thing Helena had said to her before entering the school this morning was; ‘I’m fine. Stay out of it.”

And, she’d tried. All these years she had tried to stay out of it, but had never quite managed. Had never had a choice. He’d made sure of that.

Damien returns with a whiskey on the rocks. Her second. And her last for today. Despite being unwanted, she’d be there waiting for Helena to emerge once the school day was done.

Eyeing up the shot, she waits for the ice to weaken the sting.

ice cubes 3

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If you’d like to read Gladys, which could be considered part two of Helena, click here after reading below:

– – –

It’s a small smile, but enough to show me that her two front teeth overlap. She stands a distance from her mother’s side, trying desperately not to look at either of us.

“I’m sure Helena will be welcomed with open arms, Ms. Harris. In fact, I’ll see to it that she is.”

I smile warmly, but the girl blushes from head to toe and moves farther away. She absently pulls her hair, strand by stand, dropping each one to the floor as it comes out at the root and it’s suddenly clear why there are sparse patches scattered across her scalp.

“Helena, stop.” Her mother’s whisper is sharp. “Remember what I said.”

I didn’t think it was possible, but the girl turns a deeper shade of red and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be alright here.

“Nothing to worry about.” I reassure her. “You’ll be fine.”

Ms. Harris’ lips tighten. She turns to Helena and brushes roughly at her blazer, pulls on her tie.

“Well Helena, I’m off. And for heaven’s sake, keep your hands out of your hair.” With that she walks away, leaving the girl gaping after her. No hug. Not so much as a good-bye.

“You’ve got lovely hair.” I tell her as we head into my office. I walk to the chair behind my desk. “It’s so straight.” I reach up to my own curly mop and laugh.

She stands until I ask her to sit.

“We’ll head to your class when you’re ready.” I offer when I notice her eyeing the door.

“I’m ready.”

“Really? Because we can sit here for a while. Talk. There’s no rush.”

She pulls at her hair, adjusts her glasses and stands.

“No, I’d like to go now if that’s okay.”

The walk to Mr. Roy’s room is quiet, no one in the halls, just the sound of Helena’s loose laces slapping the floor.

“Your mother didn’t tell me much, I’m afraid.”

“I’m sorry about her. She’s like that.”

“Have you signed up for any of our teams? Or enrolled in the book club?”

“I suck at sports and book club is social suicide for someone like me. I don’t need any help being unpopular.” Her tone is well beyond her years.

We reach Mr. Roy’s door and Helena finally looks at me.

“I’m okay on my own.”

Several bracelets slide out from under her jacket sleeve and circle her thin wrist as she reaches for the doorknob.


“Absolutely no jewelry allowed. Yeah, I know. I read the rules before I got here.”

“Yes, you’re right, but what I was going to say is, you know where my office is if you need anything.”

She enters the classroom and from the hall I hear her say; “What are you lookin’ at? Never seen a baldy, four-eyed, new girl before?”

I think of Ms. Harris and how Helena had stood so far away from her. How her mother had been so rough, how she hadn’t said good-bye. I think of her tight lips and her stern whisper and I know now, Helena has always been okay on her own.


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Yesterday, I came across a quote that said there is no such thing as writer’s block. It claims that what hinders us is instead fear, procrastination, perfectionism and laziness. And not just laziness, but pure laziness.

I’m interested to know what you think?

Peeking from behind slightly parted curtains, I sheepishly declare that whether you throw exploding tomatoes or rub browning mashed banana in my face, I’m just going to have duck down and simultaneously stand (difficult to do) united with Thrasher.

There’s many a time I sit down full of serious hope and intention with absolutely no idea what’s to come of it. But that’s the thing – if I let my vacant brain off the hook – if I never sat down just because I had nothing, nothing would ever emerge.



Of course there’s fear. Very different from the fear that you’ll awake to an unwelcome stranger in the middle of the night or that you’re going to run out of gas going through a high-traffic tunnel. It’s the fear that you’re choosing to play the fool, that someone will laugh, find your work a shabby replica or perhaps worse, all too authentic.

No writer, with any living acquaintance, wants to pen dark, risqué or just plain screwed up and have people believe that that’s what’s really thought or felt by them.

You see no one, other than another writer, can truly understand a writer’s thought process. It’s that what if that’s been so over-exposed. And, I almost hate to bring it up again, but in the end, that is what it’s all about. That little catalytic question that brings a writer to a thought where they, before deciding to write it all down, pray no one ever finds out they conjured it up.

I think this may be the true meaning of irony.

Procrastination. Well damn, that’s an easy one. Hmm, should I tackle the crap that I know I can get done successfully, or should I sit down and type for hours, hoping that I get at least one half decent sentence out of it? Should I make sure my family has food and clean clothes, or should I while the hours away writing something that no one may ever read? Should I show anyone what has turned out to be definite drivel? No? Okay, what do I say I’ve been doing for the past six hours instead of making sure the kids were picked up and the bills were paid then?

Enough said on that.

Perfectionism. I have countless closets, nooks, crannies, projects and plans that remain untackled due to a silent and highly unrecognized, misunderstood affliction called perfectionism. I literally have to talk myself into starting something that I know I only have twenty to thirty minutes to work on. I, to my core, feel that I should not start a project that I don’t have to time to see through, not only to completion, but to painstaking precision. I will literally allow a stain to stay on my floor for a week because I don’t have the time to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the entire wood surface (which includes a kitchen, dining room, hallway, living room and front hall) rather than just swiftly wiping up the singular mark that lies right in front of the kitchen sink. So, you can imagine my dilemma, not having a solid six months to sit down and write an entire novel without stopping.

Perfectionism is show-stopping.

Laziness. This is the one and only point I’m iffy on. Actually, a little more than iffy. This one irks me. Speaking for myself, and any other writer I’ve ever interacted with, whatever the task or tribulation at hand, we’d love to toss it aside to write. Which I guess, could be deemed a different kind of lazy, but that’s not what Thrasher is talking about here. He’s referring to writers who are lazy about writing.

I believe, if you feel in any way, like you couldn’t be bothered to write, then you’re not a writer. A true writer should be thinking about their next opportunity to write any time their eyes are open and they are breathing.  There. I said it.

It’s up to us. No one is cheering us on to be what might be viewed as a sedentary slop. Not a soul is saying, Hey, sit on down. Chill with your laptop. We get it. You’re writing. In reality, many are biting their tongues on words like aloof, rude, lazy and antisocial.

We may not yet be Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King or Danielle Steel, but if we don’t stand up and sit down, we never will be.

Inspiration exists

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I often come to this door, but have never turned the key.

Until this time.

This time, I press against the cold steel and watch my fingers curl around the handle and slowly twist. I can tell by the way I inch forward that I believe I’ll have the chance to choose whether or not I want to enter, after I see what’s inside.

But this is not so today.

The door opens and I’m in with such force that my cheeks draw back and my neck strains against the pressure.

It’s so dark.

Lack of light is not the issue. It’s well-lit. Sharply, in fact. Bright fluorescents so exposing, that I can see all of my smudges and every choice I’ve ever made.

Nonetheless, it’s dark in here.

The blaze of light showcases every setting, subject and sonnet I’ve ever engaged in and holds it up to the heat of the glare. The doubt of it all melts and it drips its hot, inky stain over my skin.

There’s often darkness in light.

But whether or not we turn the key, open the door, step inside or flip a switch, it goes both ways. There’s also light to be seen in the darkness.

We just have to imagine it’s there.

light in the dark 1

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