Friday, June 28, 2013


Waking late, staying up way past midnight, sometimes seeing the sun come up, meeting people for lunch, hanging out with friends, getting a phone call and stepping out, sitting on a lawn chair, swinging in a hammock, reading a book, listening to the radio. FM. ~ Nothing heavy on my mind, only thought is what kind of salad to order, or when to begin drinking, or texting because I forgot where we were meeting. No problem. ~ Catching the L train, strolling down sidewalks, smelling whatever it is that is coming out of the open door of shops: coffee, patchouli, pizza, cigarettes. Under the glow of moonlight, flashing neon, street lamps, the orange haze of breaking dawn, ~ I am in love with summer.

ALSO new flash up at Em Dash Literary Magazine.Check it out!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Runniest Church in America

A bold challenge, I know, but if you know of any others—please contact me and I will post here. This year in 2013 Jesus People USA Evangelical Covenant Church comprises more than half of the 73 runners committed to running to end homelessness for TEAM CCO. So far 36 church members are in marathon training. TEAMM CCO is an organized charity running group where participating runners run the Chicago Marathon and at the same time raise money for Cornerstone Community Outreach. 
a third of the TEAM CCO runners gathered for National Running Day, June 5th
 A few years ago CCO the shelter I am associated with (doing programming and creative writing workshops) began a program called Strive 4 More, based upon the principle that one person could, by asserting effort, make a change. Actually more than one person. Anybody could strive for more. The program worked well motivating school children to get up and get out and exercise and, in collaboration with Strive 4 More, collect donations for the shelter and the city’s homeless and underserved.

That program folded into TEAM CCO.

From their website:
Cornerstone Community Outreach assists over 400 people daily with housing, meals and the support to get back on their feet.  And the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will change your life!  Run and feel better about yourself while at the same time helping raise funds for those in need. In 2012 as a team over $15,600 was raised to directly help the homeless.

Benefits for those who run and fundraise for Team CCO

If already registered, your registration fee will be refunded once you hit your minimum!
—access to your own team fundraising page and help with how to fund-raise
—training plans and recommendations to certified personal trainers that will help personalize diet and training
—Team CCO runners can reserve dorm housing and save on hotel expenses
—pre-race spaghetti dinner and post-race THANK YOU banquet
—drop off at starting line and van pick up at finish
—Team CCO performance shirts for training and running

Runners Requirements

-Fundraising required minimum of $300* and recommended to set a goal of $1200.
-Self-register with unique link, password and redemption code from Team CCO (will be provided after accepted)
-Train and have fun!
If interested in DONATING or sponsoring a team member go here: Crowdrise

FYI—the church is also known as the walkiest church—see the Hunger Walk! This weekend!

Last year 61 walk for Cornerstone Community Outreach—this year TWICE that number.

Here is the link to DONATE directly to Hunger Walk for CCO.
- Each person walking on behalf of CCO supplements our food budget by 214 pounds.
- Over the past two years hunger walkers have supplemented CCO’s food budget by 14,980 pounds.
- CCO served over 200,000 meals to hungry Chicagoans in 2012.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Flash Fiction World

Promotion: we've all heard about it, but in today's Internet world full of Twitters and Tweets and multiple Facebook personalities, many authors are having a hard time keeping their message on track.

I belong to several professional writer groups and a current conversation at one of the listserves is about the real-life effect of using social media to promote an author's work. There's only so many people or "friends" we can reach and the questions revolve around how to cast a wider net.

After publishing last month Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir I sat down to plot a strategy. One of which was to contact blogs and on-line sites dedicated to flash. That's how I stumbled upon Flash Fiction World. At the site are definitions and examples of flash--specifically fiction. I was particularly struck by the various definitions given for flash.
I once asked an avid FF reader friend of mine "what is flash fiction to you?" With a smile she said "The difference between sanity and madness." She went on to explain that as a part-time employee and single mother of two toddlers, a well-written FF story gives her a break from her life when one is not available through other means. That break is of a quality that she can't fully define. But it feels to her, after reading a good, complete story in five minutes, that she has been away from her own life for a lot longer. She feels refreshed and mentally rested after a good read.

What is flash fiction? A form of healing.

Long live flash fiction.
I contacted the man behind Flash Fiction World who graciously included a guest blog from me with links to Freeze Frame for his weekly Flash Fiction World newsletter. Though technically I'm not writing about how to write fiction, there is a lot of blurring between the genres of fiction and memoir. One seems to beget the other.

Interestingly enough Flash Fiction World is based in the UK (good thing Amazon, who is distributing my e-book, sells worldwide!)FFW has a whole page dedicated to its writers with inspiring bios. Please consider checking out Flash Fiction World and possibly submitting one of your flashes. click here for submission guidelines. The cast of writers is truly international--which leads me to:

INTERNATIONAL FLASH FICTION DAY. June 22, 2013. Join with hundreds of thousands of like-minded writers in celebrating. Write a flash, something memoirish.

PROMPT: Fireworks. Do you remember the first time you set out on the lawn, the rooftop, the stadium and watched the blooms of sparks explode above your head? Remember the smell of sulfur in the air, the way you felt when the M80s boomed and the sound hit you in the chest? Remember sitting with your family, your group of friends, that one special person? And, did the fireworks signify the beginning of summer, the end?

Now, go forth and flash--and consider buying my book: Freeze Frame where you'll find many other prompts and exercises to help you isolate and freeze frame memories and get them out on paper!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Old Faithful

A lot of people have asked what my daughter is doing now that she’s graduated from college. Good question.

The same thing she’s done every summer for the past 4 years: She’s at Yellowstone National Park working. These same people are equally fascinated by this information, imagining, no doubt, that she is leading Ranger talks, keeping the wolves at bay, recovering stolen pic-a-nic baskets from Yogi Bear and Bobo. They are a lot less thrilled when I explain that she’s doing seasonal work, for example changing beds, cleaning cabins, clearing hair out of drains.

What I sometimes get around to telling them is that I did this same work when I worked in the Park over 30 years ago.

My sister got a job at Yellowstone and then told me to come on out. I was in a bad space mentally and spiritually and was looking to find myself. Nature can do that. Except I was way too busy just working and doing the job I was hired to do. Don’t get me wrong, I did an awful lot of hiking too on my days off. I worked at Yellowstone for a total of 2 seasons.

I especially remember one summer where I met 2 kids, a guy and a girl, from Athens, Georgia. I always liked to reply that I was from Athens too. Athens, Ohio. Actually I went to school in Athens (they were students also) but was from Centerville. So were they! Centerville, Georgia.

What I also remember about the girl (whom I’m forgetting her name) is that she would call her mother every day. I found that fascinating. While away at college for more years than I’d like to admit, I rarely called my mom. Long distance phone calls were reserved for important conversations—not to catch up. This, even though my parents were fairly well-off. So I never acquired the talent of making small talk on the phone. I use it like a tool. Too many times I’ve abruptly cut people off with an “okay, talk to you later.”

I was intrigued that someone would want to call their mother every day. And, in a way, I was sort of jealous. I wondered what a relationship where you called your mother every day was like.

After hearing about the girl calling her mother I got the idea I’d like to call my mom. Yellowstone, though not the end of the world, is also sketchy in terms of cell service. Back when I was in the Park I had to use the pay phone from a bank of them near Old Faithful Lodge.

“What’s wrong?

“Nothing,” I retorted defensively.

“Then why are you calling?”

I found it difficult trying to tell her I just wanted to hear her voice. So after the first couple of times of worrying her by phoning in the middle of the day, I stopped.

This year Grace is at my old stomping grounds. She’s been assigned to Old Faithful. And, every day she calls me as she’s crossing the parking lot (apparently Old Faithful is a cell phone hot spot!). She’ll call me up to tell me the geyser is going off or that she has 10 check-outs. I can hear the sound of the wind whipping around her, humming through the phone lines. Just like when I was there ages ago.

What I don’t tell my friends is that unlike me or as opposed to my mom, I’ve got a daughter who calls me every day. And, I love it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember this: Tupperware Parties

My latest piece is in The Golden Key who was looking for "something old." I sent them a flash memoir about when I was five or six years old and my mother threw a Tupperware Party.

After every move we tried to lose Tupperware, but they seemed to have Tupperware babies.

 Click here to finish reading Tupperware Forever or any of the other fine pieces included in The Golden Key.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Who Owns the Future?

There are many articles and books addressing the vanishing middle class, but this was the first book I’ve read that examines the vanishing creative class. Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier (a dreadful dude) writes not about the economics of the situation but about cyber future. This blog has commented in the past on compensation and how most of what I write ends up as simply a byline or publishing cred=FREE CONTENT. If I absolutely needed to support myself on my art then I would have to retrain and NOT write.
Blame the Internet.

Lanier as well as anybody understands. Even as he criticizes the digitization of information/entertainment/all that is holy—he is getting paid by what he calls Super Sirens—or is it Siren Servers? That which giveth, taketh away.

The publishing industry will ultimately go the road of the music industry, the same road that flushed away the local bookstore and the superstore Borders that lays empty down the street from me. The blame just keeps getting bumped up. Who is gobbling up who (whom)? Someday only Google and Amazon will be left standing, left to fight a Hundred Year War for dominance or virtual audience.

I write this as even a couple weeks ago I launched an eBook. Even as I’m in the running for a job writing small for this—a job I read about on the Web at CAR (Chicago Artists Resource).

I need what will eventually kill me and all that I love.

All that free content is getting recognition, building an audience=just not cashing out. Though if everyone who reads my blog buys a copy of Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir I might be able to afford the permissions I had to pay out to Pantheon and FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX for the right to use copyrighted material. I don’t mind forking over $$ to these publishers even though my beloved James (Schuyler) won’t see any of it. I wonder who controls his estate since he had no offspring? Perhaps the friars at Little Portion Friary where his ashes are interned.

This to say that most of us do not live to see our due. Poor Vincent (Van Gogh)—more famous dead than alive.

So you can order WhoOwns the Future? from Amazon or second-hand or a bootleg ARC (advanced reader copy—that are often showing up on the ’net) where little to no royalties are recouped.

Because of the Internet I can self-publish, brand myself, blog tour, and not kill any trees. Yet it is a case of the snake swallowing its own tail—or tale.