Monday, October 22, 2018

Failing Forward



Fear—we’re all afraid of something. None of us want to fail.

When I do my bike trips people are constantly saying: You’re so brave. Not really. I’d wake up every day while on my trips wondering if I’d make it to my destination. You see, I don’t always ride with maps. But, even with maps, I often get lost.

This past summer I rode my bike by myself from Amsterdam to Sandnes, Norway. I had to deal daily with different languages, currency, kilometers, road closures, my smartphone dying. Yet always by the end of the day I got somewhere. I’d put up my little tent, fire up my tin-can stove, and prepare a bit of supper. Always there was a tomorrow where I would once again wake up and question my abilities—and as usual ride closer to my destination.

In Norway on my last day, I made the decision to ride a plateau rode that is known for its difficulty. I climbed and climbed up past the tree line, up above alpine lakes—then when it came time to descend into the fjord below there were 32 hairpin turns on a single one-lane road plus one dark tunnel. I was scared.

But needs demanded I keep going. It was too late to change my mind. I rode down, carefully. When done I celebrated with an ice cream. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always pretty—yet I was so glad to have accomplished what I’d set out to do.


“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

C.S. Lewis


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

One Day This Will All Go Away

The other day in the car I passed a shuttered piano store. Like so many retail outlets, brick and mortar stores are closing up. Sears. Treasure Island. My favorite tea shop. People order things on-line. The tea I used to buy I have to order from Amazon. Virtually every place—in Chicago a metro area of over 3 million people—doesn’t offer the brand I like.

But how do you order a piano. Drones can’t deliver it. Those people on bikes can’t run it up the steps. My UPS guy already has a bad back. Certain things can’t be plucked off the conveyor belt, packed, and shipped at an Amazon warehouse.

Will pianos become extinct?

In a way they are already a rarity, and the people who play them. And the neighborhood ladies who advertise lessons. All of this will become a thing of the past. We’re too busy with our devices and pressing buy.
Image result for abandoned piano

Monday, October 15, 2018

Ann Marie--a memory


When my daughter was little we were always losing her shoes. Not sure why I say “we.” Maybe because if I wanted her out of the house and to school on time, I had to become involved.

Basically, I’d just look out the window.

We live on the 4th floor of our building and I can see down into the play yard below. That way I might spy her shoes mixed in with the wood chips under the monkey bars or by the splash pool area or on one of the benches. And, always, there would be Ann Marie sleeping on a bench.

Image result for cartoon, sleeping on a park bench
In my building the top three floors are reserved for low-income seniors. Many are only on Social Security. Ann Marie was queen of the house coat—a cross between a robe and an all-over apron. It can be worn over clothes or as it. Women of a certain age sport just a house coat. I’m almost there myself.

She was also afraid to sleep in her own bed. She was convinced someone was out to get her. There was a rumor that her late husband had been part of the Chicago Mafia. I believe she was merely paranoid. Either way, we’d find her asleep in the lobby, senior’s lounge, or outside when the weather was good, laid out on one of the benches.

Grace would run downstairs and outside and pluck her shoes up from under a sleeping Ann Marie without waking her. Eventually Ann Marie would arise and begin vacuuming or wiping things down—tucking used Kleenex into the pocket of her house coat.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Book News: Cloud of Wintesses




--from a reader: When my mom lived in Ohio she made it to the State Final as a Quiz kid. All I could think of when I read your book.

At my book launch I had a diverse crowd. From my contacts in the neighborhood there were a few folks who used to sleep under the bridge in the park, and are now, thankfully, housed. A few days after the launch ----- approached me and said, “I read your book.” I told her it means a lot to me that she bought one (on her limited budget!), and that she’d read it already. “Oh, that’s nothing—I’m half way through reading it a second time.” I really did want to cry. I appreciate so much her reading it once let alone a second time. “You know who I identify with? Hassan, the kid they made fun of, an outsider.”

You see my friend grew up outside of American society. As a Native American she has struggled all her life with identity; how does she fit in this land, this country?

Thank you friend for your kind words and thoughtful reading.

Thank you everyone who came to the Book Launch Party and are connecting with Cloud of Witnesses. I look forward to hearing your story/stories.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Nostalgic for Muzak


The other day driving home listening to the Kavanaugh hearing on the car radio I became nostalgic for Muzak. You remember, that inane background music you might hear in an elevator or dentist office. Maybe the pain of the hearing reminded me of the dentist’s office.

Actually what I was yearning for were better times. Days where we weren’t confronted with anything more challenging than “A Summer Place” by Percy Faith and his Orchestra.



As a kid I would have rather been taken out and shot than admit I liked Muzak. I mean the euphemism was “Elevator Music.” The kind of characterless, benign stuff my parents listened to. Yet, there in the car I wished to travel back fifty years. I wanted to be left alone. To not have to listen to a woman telling her story and a roomful of men dismissing her.

Now to be honest fifty years ago Christine Blasey Ford would not have been called to testify. She would have been given “Mother’s Little Helpers” (a tranquilizer) and told to go home and get dinner started. If it were fifty years ago I would be driving a station wagon instead of a minivan. Nevertheless, I imagined a sweeter time, where no one had to be made uncomfortable, where we could nod along with each other, and sleepwalk through our days—listening to Muzak.

I crossed from Evanston into Chicago and immediately woke up in this century. I kept the radio tuned to the hearing, while ranting out loud to no one.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Illinois Reading Council

Join me in Peoria at the 
Illinois Reading Council Conference on Friday, October 5

The theme is Read the World, Oct. 4-6, 2018
at the Peoria Civic Center


My presentation is The Rural Child in Juvenile Literature


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Lifters


Image result for the lifters
The Lifters
Dave Eggers, Alfred A. Knopf, 2018

Is magic enough to fix the morass of Middle America? Are Earth balls enough to stop the collapse of a small town? How can two middle schoolers stop the madness of grownups tearing their community apart?

These are questions divergently addressed in The Lifters by Dave Eggers. A young Gran moves to Carousel, which despite its “fun” name, is a place of desperation, depression, and insurmountable sadness. Carousel is in the midst of an economic downturn as is Gran’s family. Both had seen better times. Thus, the town is suspicious of new comers—hear any political echoes here?

Gran and his newfound friend Catalina attempt to prop up the town. This means taking risks, free-falling down deep, dark holes.

There are parts of the book where I seriously had to ask myself—why are these kids working so hard and there isn’t a lot of chemistry between the protagonists. Do they even like each other? But it’s cool to think teenagers are holding up the world, that when things fall apart—turn to a Lifter.

The problem of one small town, who has lost its manufacturing base and has literally collapsed (City Hall has fallen into a sink hole), is addressed as a global fight. The kids try to inject a maker spirit, as well as joy and peace into a chaotic town torn apart by fears and something called The Hollows (still not sure what it is, a big wind?). The town’s population has forgotten who they were, and the teens have to work to excavate the town’s identity/history.

 Overall, the book is about hope in hard times, how to rebuild unity and resilience. Something I think we can all identify with.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Early Reviews



Weaving fiction and historical events together, this book made me laugh and cry. The characters jump off the page. A great read for all middle school students. — Marilee Amodt, M.S.Ed., long-time Middle School Curriculum Resource Teacher

Cloud of Witnesses hooks the reader with well-developed, interesting characters and snappy dialogue. The story features issues faced by many middle schoolers—coming of age, friendship, loyalties to family and classmates--but is set in the backwoods of Appalachia. This is an important fish-out-of-water story about empathy and the dangers of painting everyone in similar circumstances with the same brush.
— Marlene Targ Brill, author of Dolores Huerta Stands Strong: The Women Who Demanded Justice

In this present era of unusual cruelty and persecution of others in America, Cloud of Witnesses provides a gentle reminder of what it is to wonder, to love, to experience suffering and loss, and how letting go is also a bridge to joy. Cloud of Witnesses reminds us of the simple and quirky yearning each of us has not to be alone. Such yearnings, young Roland Tanner suggests, offer both blessing and pain.
--a reader



Friday, September 28, 2018

Collaboration


I’ve been so busy with my Cloud of Witnesses book launch that I’ve had very little time to create.

As the day draws nigh I’ve been working on a book trailer which I will preview here in a bit. What’s truly wonderful is finding someone else’s work that resonates. While working on the book trailer (okay, I’m not a videographer or film editor, my friend Juan Carlos Garcon is the one working the magic) I felt like we needed some images that represented the region. It’s hard enough for kids to imagine life in the 1979/1980, let alone what things looked like in Athens County. Anyway, I stumbled onto a group of photographers and a project called “Looking at Appalachia

There were many pics that worked well with the book and the scenes I wanted to highlight, but had no idea of how to contact the photographers. We wanted to have the project done in time for the book launch. Alan Pittman’s photographs of West Virginia were just great. He had images of little country churches, hilltops shrouded in mist, a Ferris wheel, abandoned cars half buried in leaves, rural roads seemingly going nowhere. So I contacted him.

For the music I knew I needed someone willing to loan me their song. There’s a song Mama sings, “I’ll Fly Away,” but, even though that’s public domain (meaning free to use), it still didn’t fit. I wanted something younger, livelier, fun and engaging. At the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College I was introduced to a young singer/songwriter Sorrow Estate. Actually we broke bread together. Myself and a friend were invited for breakfast, the most amazing sourdough bread ever, and Laura was there as a guest. This is all via the couchsurfing network I’m a part of. It was the worst spring weather ever. Outside there was literally ice falling from the sky. We sat in the dining room eating warm bread with spreads and drinking coffee and tea, talking about art. Afterwards Laura sang for us. We had nowhere to go because the roads were mostly impassable.

Her songs were magical. We bought a CD and arrange for her to do a house show in Chicago. Her song “Elsewhere” complete with whistling accompanies the video. A book trailer which is only a little over 60 seconds.

So stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

2018 Events


2018 Events:

Book Launch Party
Friday, Sept. 28 7 PM
--Chicago, IL

Book Releases
Sunday, Sept. 30

Illinois Reading Council
Friday, Oct. 5, 2:30 – 3:30 PM
--Peoria, IL

2018 Kentucky Book Festival
Saturday, November 17, 9 am to 4 pm
--Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

OCWW, Off Campus Writers Workshop
Thursday, Dec. 20, 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
--Winnetka, IL



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Launching my author website

Young Jane Hertenstein

I've launched an author website in support of my new book
CLOUD OF WITNESSES

https://janehertenstein.com/


Monday, September 17, 2018

Dream Delivery Service

Image result for dream delivery service




You are a slightly graying slightly paunchy poet on a bicycle in the hours before dawn, riding the city streets under arc lights, steering around potholes, in varying weather. Sometimes coyotes run beside you until they weary or veer off. This isn’t a dream.

You began out of an existential desperation to find meaning, or maybe to lose weight, or to vie for fame in the treacherous academic world: publish or perish. It’s hard to stand out.

So you drop out and climb aboard an ’85 bicycle with a frame size too big for you. Everything, and I mean everything, you might possibly need for the next 30 days goes into a pair of panniers and a seal line bag.

You cannot escape your depression or pedal fast enough to leave yourself behind.

But once in a new town you set up shop. For ten hours a day you compose dreams—an annoying woman at the Poetry Foundation called you out, saying they were in fact poems—you cycle out dreams as if they were miles and then in the early hours of morning you deliver them, 40 – 50 miles per day, every day, because not for one second do your subscribers stop dreaming. Then it’s back to the coffee shop and the keyboard and the sombiescent experience of channeling the dreams of others.

When do you sleep, oh Poet Dreamer?

Check out the work of Mathias Svalina of the Dream Delivery Service. I heard him speak at the Poetry Foundation: Off the Shelf, where he inspired poets and cyclists.



Follow him n Instagram and Twitter—because you literally will exhaust yourself following him



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wisconsin, state of grace


Memoirous is about memories and using memories to tell stories.

Memories are also unreliable. We unintentionally leave things out or embellish. Sometimes the more accurate memories have the ring of truth to them. What seems to resonate the most are universal experiences where readers can exclaim: Hey! The same thing happened to me!

Sometimes we end up just giving life and words to the mundane and everyday.

A few years back I picked up a small “poetry” book by Kyle White. It isn’t exactly poetry but more a hybrid of observations, comments, essays, criticisms, and poetry. There is line variation. This book is monumental in its scope: Wisconsin.

I know, that line made me laugh too.

It is about bundling up in snowsuits. Walking home with your cheeks stinging. Snot crusting inside your muffler. It is about the horror of returning to a normal schedule after Christmas break.

Kyle White employs everyday memories in crafting Wisconsin: river of grace. Coming from the sister state of Illinois and maybe from just being a kid, I can relate to the book, Hey! The same thing happened to me!

A young boy in his bed, the dark cold mornings, having to get up for school. You feel like you are at a dead end. No hope. Then! You remember the next school holiday: Casimir Pulaski Day!

I also enjoyed the piece about the number of times the writer had been run over—either by bikes or cars, by his family and friends, or taken out back behind the stands and beaten up by a bully. We are left with the writer’s memories as well as our own.

The stuff of life.

Image result for kyle white wisconsin

Monday, September 10, 2018

How to craft a simple, mundane flash by making a list


An example of how to craft a simple, mundane flash, make a list


Little-Known Facts about People

          Did you know that Kenneth Koch's wife Janice used to be
an airplane pilot? Once she had to make an emergency landing
on a highway.

          When Kenward Elmslie was a kid he wanted to be a tap
dancer. Did you know that Kenward's grandfather was Joseph
Pulitzer?

         Kenward once told me that Jane Russell is a dyke.

         Andy Warhol wanted to be a tap dancer when he was a
kid too.

         D. D. Ryan wanted to be a ballerina.           

         Did you know that Pat Padgett was Ted Berrigan's girlfriend
for years before she married Ron?

         Ron Padgett and I were in the same 1st grade class together
in school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

         Ron's father, Wayne, was a notorious bootlegger in Tulsa
until Oklahoma went wet.

          A few years ago Ron's father got divorced and married a
beautiful Las Vegas showgirl younger than Ron's wife Pat.

          Did you know that Bill Berkson was once bat boy for the
Yankees?

          Ted Berrigan married his wife Sandy after having only
known her for five days.

          Did you know that the first poems John Ashbery ever had
published were published in Poetry magazine under the name of
Joel Symington?

          Did you know that Bill Berkson was on the "1oo Best
Dressed Men" list of 1967?

          Rudy Burckhardt once dated Miss Vermont of 1938.

          Donald Droll is in some way related to Daniel Boone.

          Frank O'Hara once told me that what he really wanted to
be was a concert pianist.

          Did you know that Harry Mathews started out to be a com-
poser? He studied at the Juilliard School of Music.

          Edwin Denby was born in China.

          Anne Waldman's father wrote a book called Rapid Reading 
Made Simple.

          Tom Veitch's father writes Christmas card verse.

           When I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer, a
minister, and an artist.

            Peter Schjeldahl's father is very famous in the plastic area.
He discovered the new lightweight plastic used in Bufferin bottles.
Soon he hopes to open a contraceptive factory in Red China.

           Did you know that Bill Berkson was once on I Remember
Mama?

           D. D. Ryan went to see The Boys in the Band with Jackie
Kennedy just a week before she married Onassis.

          John Ashbery was a quiz kid.

         Kenneth Koch once won the Glasscock Award.

         Did you know that Ron Padgett has blebs on his lung
which may explode at any moment? They have exploded twice
already.

         Tina Louise once sang "I'm in the Mood for Love" to Bill
Berkson over London broils at P. J. Clarke's.

         Did you know that Ted Berrigan did his thesis at Tulsa
University on George Bernard Shaw?

         Did you know that the Katz Tumor is named after Ada
Katz who discovered it?

         Edwin Denby once performed in Berlin's "Wintergarten"
billed as "Der Amerikanische Grotesktaenzer Dumby."

         Yvonne Burckhardt was the backstroke swimming cham-
pion of Connecticut for one week.

         When I lived in Boston I used to panhandle on the street
where all of the art galleries were, and I got my cigarette butts
from the urns in front of the Museum of Fine Arts.

         Did you know that Ted Berrigan's first book of poems, 
Lily for My Love, was published by the Lenox Bar in Providence,
Rd. Island?

         Greta Garbo once called Bill Berkson her ice cream man.

         I once went to a "come as your favorite person" party as
Marilyn Monroe.

         Did you know that John Ashbery once worked in a cherry
canning factory?
Joe Brainard, "Little-Known Facts about People" from The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. Copyright © 2012 by Joe Brainard.  Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.
Source: The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. (Library of America, 2012)

Image result for joe brainard and bill berkson

Friday, September 7, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready for pre-order NOW

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018



“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What I remember most

What I remember most about my Scanlandia bike ride from earlier this summer:

Crossing the mountains
Crossing fjords on ferries
Impossibly high bridges
Moose meat stroganoff
Long, slanty light
The sun
Wishing for the sun to come out
Wishing for the sun to go down
Winding down on switchbacks, thinking
      this could be the last day of my life


Mostly what I remember is the fear
            a knife-edge, precipice-inducing fear
            the awful feeling you get
                        when lost
                        when there are no maps
                        when no one knows your name

and you speak an entirely different language

the fear that drives you to make a way when there is no way,
            a fear that numbs you into submission, to accept
that things might not go right, but no matter what you have to keep going

the kind of fear that creates

that makes life exciting

Monday, September 3, 2018

Holiday at Home

Holiday @ Home Parade

It’s that time of year—back to school—when I recall the Holiday @ Home Parade in Kettering, Ohio.


Here is a flashback post:


from an earlier post: http://memoirouswrite.blogspot.com/search?q=holiday+at+home



Holiday at Home Parade
Labor Day weekend. School was right around the corner. Which meant autumn was coming, falling leaves, and change.

But things would never be different.

Freshman year I was a nerd. As a sophomore I was a more experienced nerd. Junior year I entered school thinking halfway done, only 2 more years of being an ostracized nerd. Finally as a senior, I knew it was my last year. I'd never be popular but forever a nerd. But at least a nerd on her way out.


The only good thing about Labor Day weekend was the Holiday at Home Parade. I looked forward to getting there early and finding a seat along the curb. Friends of my parents lived close to the parade route, so I rode up to their house and parked my bike in their garage. The Centerville Elks marching band and Coed Drill team would be in the parade along with both Fairmont high schools, East and West. Schools from as far as West Carrollton and even ones from Dayton, the big city, might show up. There were the floats and people I had no idea of who they were in convertibles, waving. The Shriners, clowns in miniature cars came by tooting their horns and tossing candy into the crowds. The Shriners also had a bagpipe corp. I often wondered if the guys minded wearing kilts. In fact, the Shriners took up a large section of the parade.


Somewhere in the procession came the mounted police and after the mounted police came the street cleaners!


Several cars carried the Holiday at Home parade court with the Queen and several princesses. I never once knew anyone elected. Or were you born royalty. That's something else I thought about.

I can't recall a time that the parade was cancelled or rained out. In my memory it is always sunny, the parade going on forever, until at last people filed into the street carrying lawn chairs and pulling coolers. Time to go home, turn on the Jerry Lewis telethon, and prepare for the next day. The first day of school.

for the history of the Holiday at Home Parade go HERE.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready to pre-order

“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Every Pigeon



Readers of this blog know that I often post about memories. I've blended the art of flash with memoir to come up with flash memoir.

Memoir, unless you've had a ridiculously exciting life--such as people who survive a bridge collapse--most of us lead lives of quiet desperation--even Thoreau's life was made up of unmemorable experiences. The ordinary, the mundane.

And what can be more ubiquitous or mundane than a pigeon. Here in the city we call them flying rats. There's nothing special about them--mainly because they're EVERYWHERE.

A pigeon exemplifies the very idea of writing about the ordinary. Consider, then, submitting flash to http://everypigeon.com/

Every Pigeon publishes works which magnify the mundane.
Works that find significance in everyday routine, light and layered color in the grey coat of every pigeon.
We publish twice a year in June and December.
We favor work that puts its face right up to the glass.
Let us see the details of everyday life, the buttons and acorns found on a Tuesday afternoon, the stain on your shirt at the last staff meeting.
What is underneath? What is the sum of all these small things? Only you can show us.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Places to Submit Flash



Check out these publications if interested in submitting FLASH:

New Flash Fiction 1000 words or less

NEW FLASH FICTION REVIEW

FlashBack Fiction is an online journal dedicated to historical flash fiction, prose poetry and hybrid work. 500 words or less


Friday, August 24, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready to pre-order!

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018



“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rejected Manuscripts



I recently had new work published at a small online journal called Rejected Manuscripts.

I'd only just started circulating Examples of Synchronicity, and while at Calvin College and the Festival of Faith & Writing I received a rejection. This in and of itself is no big deal. In fact I barely ever emotionally register a rejection. Mainly because I'm ALWAYS sending things out. I know the odds are I'll eventually get an acceptance.

But it was WHY it was rejected that baffled me. The editor said dismissively--this seems like a bunch of random coincidences. And, I thought--well? yes--that was the point. It's sort of the meaning of synchronicity and the basis of the piece, a series of small flashes that detailed examples of synchronicity.

I sort of thought that was evident, self-explanatory.

Image result for joy williams, god
I sat in on a session with the famous short story writer Joy Williams, who has her own book out containing what I might describe as flash essays/fiction/synchronicity/random musings: Ninety-Nine Stories of God.

Afterwards I walked with her to the pedestrian bridge over the highway and told her about this rejection. She laughed. Yeah, I thought so too!

It was funny.

Later I submitted to Rejected Manuscripts and it was accepted. Just goes to show.

go here to read: https://rejectedmanuscripts.org/examples-of-synchronicity-meaningless-coincidences-or-flashes-of-the-universe-aligning/

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Work Accepted

Hi! everyone

what a summer!! can you believe it's almost over??

I've had a few acceptances this summer--one of which is a short story called Museum of the Mall--forthcoming from Colere, a literary mag out of Coe University

Colere is a literary journal that publishes works of fiction, essays, poetry, and artwork dealing with culture and cross-cultural experience. 

 Image result for colere

Friday, August 17, 2018

Oyuvsbo, mountain hut to Lystbotn ferry

Tuesday July 3, 2018, 56 km (35 miles) - Total so far: 1,918 km (1,192 miles)

My alarm went off at 5 this morning. I was the only one sleeping in the hut so didn't worry about waking others.

Last night a man and his little girl showed up. I asked if they were staying. No, just getting food. (The hut has a pantry where people can grab stuff and leave $$) We talked a bit about my trip. I told him I was hoping to make it to Sandnes. I'm from Sandnes, he said.

He suggested I take the road to Lystbotn and then the ferry. I said I'd heard the switchbacks were crazy. (28 total) Not too steep, he answered, and I'd save a heap of KM. I would definitely make it to Sandnes. On the map the ferry goes through the fjord past Pulpit Rock. It sounded beautiful and a perfect way to end the trip.

He mentioned there was some ups. But he seemed certain I could handle it.

It took me 1.5 hours to relay my stuff out. Much better than the trip in, and cooler. It was 7:15 by the time I made it to the parking lot.

Some ups and downs, then a BIG down to a gas station in Sulakard, where I bought my standard sausage roll. And where I encountered the mocking lady.

Just before turning into the station I forgot to downshift and sort of Fred Flintstoned in. There was a fullly-loaded-and I mean fullly-loaded, cyclist. Like on the Harley of bikes, a real hog. We greeted one another with the standard stuff. I asked if she was going up or down, and I answered I'd just come from the top and planned to go to Lystbotn. She looked at me-not if you're already walking up this hill.

Wow, I thought. That's harsh, and we'd only just met.

Her husband pulled up, fullly-loaded. He asked where I'd started. I said, Amsterdam. Then she interjected, A half year trip.

Really? No, I answered, I started 19 days ago.

Then she kept challenging me. Saying stuff like the way to Lystbotn is super hard. It would take forever. I asked how often the ferry ran. Twice a day. So I said definitely after lunch. Since it was 9 a.m. I was thinking I could definitely make the second one. She seemed doubtful. She left me with little confidence. Maybe I should take the longer road and just plan on finishing my trip tomorrow.

..But, wait! Who is she to steal my moment, make me doubt myself. I asked the fully-loaded how they got to the top. They said, We took a shuttle. They were in for a reality check. We parted--me for Lystbotn.

And, that my friend, has made all the difference.

The road is called Lysevegen. Another narrow, windy, climb, perhaps even more dramatic than the Suleskarvegen. Coming from Sulakard I found that it starts slowly. Not gut-wrenching. You climb high and higher by degrees and lakes. You eventually leave pines, there's these scraggly trees, then you are above tree level. Around you is only rock. I'd climb, turn a corner, below a lake...keep climbing, turn a corner, another lake.

The weather has been so dry that many of the lakes and definitely the waterfalls were reduced. I was riding by small pockets of snow--the source of where all the lakes came from. The road seemed like a motorcyclist destination, many passed me. I kept wondering where the top was. The road was too narrow at places for passing. If, say, I was in a low gear and struggling to get up and a camper was either passing or coming down to pass, I'd slow, stop, and then have to get off and push it up. The edge of the Lysevegen was built up asphalt, what I think in the U.S. is called soft shoulders. Very little berm. So if my tire slipped off the edge I couldn't quickly yank it back onto the road. In fact, I'd fall down the ravine. After awhile I chose to ride close to a guardrail (if there was one) no matter if it was on the left or right.

There were very few chances to take breaks. No where to lean the bike, or safe. At 12 noon I was by a hydro station. An actual building, the size of a shed, and parked the bike and had a tea and looked out. The world down below me. About 30 minutes later, I was getting hungry. I can tell because I made a shifting error and had to walk the bike. This was constant, walking, getting back on, then hopping off again to walk it. So I came to a shady spot and pulled out food. Cheese and crackers.
I continued on up. There was a holiday atmosphere the "closer" I got to the top. Motorcyclists would beep-beep at me. People were giving me the thumbs up out their windows. A German couple on motorcycles ahead of me stopped. Photo time, he said. He insisted I take their picture in the snow and he snapped one of me. At a kind of plateau there were many rock cairns, man's monument to man.
So at one point I saw in the distance a fjord, and suddenly in the distance down below, so far that it looked hazy, was the bottom.

This is going to be crazy.

I just prayed. Hung on. Made frequent brake cool down stops. It was the kind of thing that if you thought about it, you'd lose your nerve. I got to Kjerag, which I'm still not sure what it is, but a big parking lot. And a rock formation, someone said. A rock between two rocks. I'll have to research this later. I had 7.5 KM to go to the bottom.

Down. Down. Down. Until I came to where a guy was holding up traffic. I asked a motorcyclist what was happening. She said, We wait to go through tunnel.

As if I hadn't been scared enough. The tunnel was 1.5 KM and very poorly lit. I stopped before entering to take off my sunglasses. It didn't help. Also from what I could tell, the attendant didn't have a walkie talkie. So when would the attendant at the other end know a cyclist was coming through last and when to release traffic on the other side???

The tunnel wasn't like a real tunnel, like the Lincoln tunnel going into New York city. It was more like a cave. You could see rough stone walls and ceiling. There was a curve and so NO light at the end of the tunnel. And it was DOWNHILL. I kept up a constant audible honking noise. I saw a twinkle of light. Walkers!! I shouted I'm freaked out and they shouted back, so are we!

Finally I emerged. Put back on sunglasses, and continued down. By the time I reached the ferry my legs were shaking. My whole body felt rubbery. It was 2:30. The ferry came @3:30. Time for a sandwich.

At 3:30 I found that the ferry was booked, so had to wait for 6 pm ferry. The trip through the fjord to Lauvik would take 2.5 hours. My friend Camilla in Sandnes volunteered to pick me up. Yes! I was glad becaue getting off the ferry, even though still light out, at 8:30 and have to navigate to Sandnes I knew would take me hours. I'd actually be done riding.

Then it hit me: I'd done it. This crazy, solo woman bike ride. Thank God.

I will likely have a few follow up thoughts, corrections, and add more photos once home. But for now, the journey ends.
UP 1,020 m · DOWN 1,806 m
Lysevegen

almost at the top of Lysevegen (notice the snow)
meeting French cyclists on the way up


at the top
on the way down

at the ferry

Kjerag

Kjerag from ferry
ferry ride