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Meet Clayton Smith, Chicago Author

I met Clayton Smith at the “Chicago Writes Conference” last September.  He read from his then soon-to-be-released novel, Anomaly Flats. He hooked me with the scene where the main character, Mallory, gets introduced to the Oracle, which turns out to be the bowling alley.  I could hear, see, and smell that bowling alley.  The idea that a place has prescience stayed in my head until I could get the book.  Plus, Clayton stuck around and chatted with me for a while. Okay, maybe I hooked him into a conversation a little bit, too.  After all, I’m the woman who sat…

Gratitude Monday: Abundance

My heart got tortured the past week. My nephew’s getting married.  Saturday was the Wedding Shower. A niece and nephew graduated this year.  Their parties are this coming weekend.  Connie is my godchild. I can’t go both weekends.  It’s over 300 miles away, more than a 5 hour drive.  I say more than, because I never know how long it will take. Traffic through Chicago is always a bit dicey. I choose graduations. Godchild trumps nephew. I see the photos on Facebook of the Shower. Boo.  I wish I went.  Oh well, I’ll see everyone next weekend. Then it happens. Mr.…

PhotoFriday and NaPoWriMo Mashup

Today’s challenge: (well, it’s actually yesterday’s challenge) write a “social media”-style poem. Namecheck all of your friends. Quote from their texts, tweets, FB status updates, twitter accounts, and blogposts, and the back of the cereal box on your breakfast table. The poem is about you and you are about what you say, think, talk, eat. You might end up with a poem that seems bizarrely solipsistic (like the internet itself, maybe?), but there might also be a spark there of something live and fun and present (like the verbal equivalent of a really great animated cat .gif). I hope my…

Progress Report: September

Whoa!  In August I worked really hard.  Yard, Garden, Book and blogs.  Lots of newspaper articles.  So many opportunities started coming my way, I turned every-which-way but forward on some days.

Swimming, bicycling, Chicago Sky basketball, yard work and gardening all took my eye off my goals.


My Progress on Game Plan 2014:

  1. Get my novel published:  I will get editors, a cover designer, and a publisher.  I will.
    Progress:  I am writing and editing and writing.  I got more edits on my novel completed.  I went back and incorporated all the edits I penciled in on my copy of the manuscript.  Remember when I said I read it again, as if I picked it up from the library?  I found a lot of mistakes, areas for clarification, and discrepancies.  I read a quote about writers never being finished.  I’m keeping that in mind.I’m tucked in for the hard work of editing, based on my beta-readers and Lisa Romero.  I got some great advice from SheWrites co-founder,KamyWicoff, atBlogHer14.I’m writing down my blogging ideas, too.  I had four newspaper articles to write this month.  Some people in the community are beginning to recognize and comment on the articles.  In a good way.  It’s very encouraging.

    For a long time, I thought being a dee-jay has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world.  Upbeat or mellow, she’s putting her voice out there and gets little or no feedback.  How do they do it?  Sometimes, writing is like that too.

  2. Knit or crochet yarn stash into hats for charity: I have a lot of yarn stash.
    Progress:  Acht!  No knitting during May or June or July or August.  Maybe it’s to darned hot.  Plus the outdoors, cookouts, swimming, biking, are calling me.  And did I mention there’s a wedding at my house in September.
  3. Make enough money writing to pay property taxes:  Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in 2013.
    Progress:   Four more newspaper articles for a local paper and a commitment for a website re-make.  I got the go-ahead on the website.  Evernotes is a good vehicle for feedback.  I did a little training to help the director get comfy.  Next I will use the old-fashioned way:  sit down and talk it out.
  4. Expand my platform: a key to successful selling of a published book, I’m told.
    Progress:  Still growing  Fastest on Twitter; I just passed 700.  In the grand scheme of things:  paltry.  Still, progress is progress. BlogHer,SheWrites,Instagram, Twitter, FB page; Google+,Pinterest.  The biggest number of retweets, likes, and new followers came from this picture of Sasha. Who can explain it?  I foresee more tweets of Sasha; and Misha, too.

    My Office Manager
    My Office Manager
  5. Experience Night at the Museum with Two More Grandkids.
    Complete!  Yay!  Miss K and Mr. L.  Mr. L plans to be a paleontologist when he grows up.  Miss K has her heart set on fashion design.  The two kids were congenial enough, but they never really talked to each other.  Really interesting dynamics.
  6. Travel Route 66 with Loved-One:  I plan to get some sponsors and write about out trip.Progress:  This goal is post-poned until spring or fall of 2015.  Drat!  But on the happy side, Wrestler One and his Loved-One will be married in September in my back-yard.  What a wonderful goal replacement.
  7. Volunteer:  Last year I tried a women’s shelter.  Maybe this year, the food pantry.
    Progress:  Success with “1st Way Pregnancy.”  Volunteering is going so-so.    (This shelter mission is “To provide loving assistance, emotional and financial support for women and girls who find themselves in a crisis.”  The values of “1st Way Pregnancy” match mine, that is: empower women to make life-affirming choices by offering financial and emotional support.  Rather than shaming and coercing with rules and regulations.)
    I’m learning a lot about myself.  I really like to be in charge; or at least self-directed.  It’s humbling to relinquish control, especially when I believe I have improvements to offer.
  8. Read two book a month:  This goal doubles my 2013 rate.
    Progress:First, the book I read in July.  You know, the one who’s title  I forget.
    Never Change Elizabeth Berg‘s novel Never Change:  a heartwarming novel about a home care nurse who gains a surprise patient, her high school crush.  She’s forever felt like an outsider.  An observer, rather than someone fully engaged with society.  I love the character development in Never Change.  Berg was a nurse, so she comes to the story with a whole lot of wisdom about people and just the right dollop of medical information.  You will feel touched and inspired by this novel.  I promise.  (Unless you are not touched by George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life.

    For August:

    Matthew Kelly‘s Rediscover Catholicism.  I took a good long time reading and meditating on Kelly’s words.  I started it in February, and finished it in August.  I tweeted a quote on many days throughout my read.  My favorite thought from Kelly:  getting closer to God is a way to discover and nourish the best version of myself.  That is the main point.  The rest supports how that actually comes to pass.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in a full faith life.  I believe you’ll get some wisdom out of it, Catholic or not.  Kelly inspired me to read more faith-based books.

    Sue Monk Kidd‘s The Invention of Wings is about two women growing up in the 1800s.  Handful is a spirited slave girl, and Sarah is her young owner who hates slavery, but feels no power to do anything about it.  The characters are based on real people from that era.  The parallel of anti-slavery and feminism is nothing new for me.  So, although Kidd’s prose is beautiful.  However, if I take the struggles of both characters as those that we wage inside ourselves, I really like the book.  I highlighted a lot of phrases and dialog that really spoke to me.  A word of caution though:  The e-book I purchased included highlights and comments from Oprah.  Those were just a distraction.  I remained a sucker, and clicked over to everyone anyways.  Nope.  Nothing to see there.
    Here’s a couple of my highlights:

    “I have one mind for the master to see.  I have another mind for what I know is me.”  (Handful)”I’d chosen the regret I could live with best, that’s all.  I’d chosen the life I belonged to.”  (Sarah)

    From past months:
    Louis Erdrich, The Round House
    Kate Atkinson by Life After Live:  A Novel by
    Doreen M. McGettigan.  Bristol boys Stomp:  The Night That Divided a Town
    Adela Crandell:  A Land of Milk and Honey
    Eric Larson:  In the Garden of the Beast
    Beth Nonte Russell:  Forever Lily.
    Graham Greene:  Our Man in Havana.
    Michael Allan Scott:  Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – A Lance Underphal Mystery.
    Linda Lawrence Hunt:  Bold Spirit:  Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America.
    Rachel Thompson: Broken Pieces (interviewed)
    Guy Kawasaki: APE
    Hilary Grossman:  Dangled Caret (interviewed)
    Candice Millard:   Destiny of the Republic.


  9. Get new carpeting for the lower level:  Ugh!
    Progress:  Not yet.  I got to thinking about the wedding, which is an outdoor party, hipster BBQ with games and a picnic.  Maybe I’ll just rip the old carpet up and leave a cement floor.  That way we can put the food inside.  I won’t be embarrassed about the old carpet and I won’t be worried about the new carpet.  The bride loved this idea.  Loved-One had some reservations.  To dissuade me from my plan, he did touch-up cleaning.  It does look better.  The jury is still out.
  10. Send St. Patrick’s Day photo cards to friends and family: Progress:   Complete.  I got  great feedback from my Welcome Spring card.  Several people thought they just received an invitation to something; they weren’t sure what.  They loved the pictures and the surprise out-of-the-blue greeting.  I think I’ll do this again next year.

First Times

No not that first time. A sister blogger nominated me for an award.  It’s the first time. Thank you, Laurel.  I love your blog:  Alphabet Salad.  For one thing, we are roughly, roughly in the same demographics, for another thing, we both blog about a bunch of stuff.  Our minds are like honeybees: at first glance, there’s a randomness about us, but underneath it all, we are busy, busy with purpose. So today, I’m busy, busy, responding to Laurel’s questions and nominating a few favorite bloggers of my own. The Rules: Provide a link to and thank the blogger who…

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