January News

In these complex and arduous times, I’ve found stories to be my greatest teacher, distraction, and refuge. I’m honored to share with you the fiction that we’ve published at Isele magazine for the month of January.

We also have ingenious artwork and prose by the wicked-talented Jennifer Purling Baker.https://iselemagazine.com/…/untitled-unbridled…/

“Right” One of my favorite authors, Rilla Askew (who won the American Book Award in 2002 for FIRE IN BEULAH– you should read it — it is amazing), wrote a powerful, timely, and meticulously crafted story for us — a work of historical fiction that takes place in the early seventies when there wasn’t access to safe and legal abortion. https://iselemagazine.com/2022/01/15/right-rilla-askew/

“Witch Hazel” is pure literary deliciousness and tenaciousness all wrapped up in a retelling of folklore (inspired by Hansel and Gretel). https://iselemagazine.com/…/witch-hazel-gabriela…/

“Gloworm” A brilliantly told tale that balances humor and sadness, asking, What does it mean to be family? https://iselemagazine.com/2022/01/15/glowworm-tayler-bunge/and…

“Just See” A compelling story of environmental activism told through the eyes of a naysayer. https://iselemagazine.com/…/just-see-ashley-bullen…/

…And we have our first print edition of ISELE coming out in June.What a brilliant and inspiring literary start to 2022.

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Some Things I’ve Learned This Month

When scaring teenaged girls while wearing a deranged clown-head mask (creeping stealthily in the dark, along the floor, until hidden just next to said girls who are watching a scary movie), make sure you are at least a full teen soccer playing daughter’s leg (and a half) away.

Lessons learned 

  1. Demented clown masks offer great protection from facial injury.
  2. Daughter has secret super fast karate-like reflexes and doesn’t cower in the face of danger.

A Dragonfly can and will land on your finger multiple times in a row and, even after flying away, will come back to your finger.  And, despite the fact that you’re with four (phone addicted) teenagers, not one of them will get a photo of it, but the two teen girls will take hundreds of selfies (puckered lips and hand signs, ya’ll) later in the day.

Lessons learned 

1. A moment that can capture a teenager’s attention long enough that they forget they have a phone is priceless.

2. Cell phones suck.

3. I love my cell phone.

4. I need a tiny house in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service, stat.

Other lessons learned

When my husband is out of town, I can always find positives, such as not shaving my legs for over a week and unabashedly watching Bachelor in Paradise.  One major positive: nowadays when he goes away for work, he’s not a soldier in a war zone, but is working within the US, staying in comfy hotels where he can call me—Way, way, big positive.

So, the trick to surviving without your soulmate while raising a fourteen-year-old daughter and, in two weeks, an eighteen-year-old son (gulp), as with everything, is to focus on the positives and just keep doing the next right thing. Sounds easy to all you youngster-raisers, doesn’t it?  Just wait.  Tiny houses in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service will become much more appealing.

*Here is where I would’ve posted a nice photo on my blog of me with a dragonfly on my finger.  Please close your eyes and try to picture it now.

Trudging the Road of a Writer…

Was I naive?  Completely. 

When I finished the first draft of my first novel back in 2005, I assumed that the next step, obviously, was publication.  That’s how the world works; you go to the trouble to spend a year spilling your soul out into a manuscript and your reward is that you get to see it in bookstore windows, people buy your book and say, good job, and your family is all so proud of you, and then you get paid to do it all again. 

After reading that bestselling authors, such as Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, and others didn’t get a publishing contract until after they’d written their fifth or tenth books, reality slapped me on the ass and said, Don’t throw in the towel, EVER.  So, determined not to give up on my dream of being a paid novelist (I could care less about fame, no, really! Just pay me to do what I love to do.), I began my second novel about the time that I decided to go back to college (both of my kids were in school at that point).  After two years I proudly held a degree in English literature and a completed second novel.  I guess I let the praise of my professors (and a couple of writing awards) go to my head, because once again I believed that I would get my break. 

Moderately fast (trudging painfully) forward to my current circumstances: happy home, healthy family, a handful of poems and short stories published, and two unpublished novels that have gone through more re-writes that I can count.  I keep reminding myself of  successful authors who didn’t give up, like Robert Persig, whose classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was rejected 121 times before selling 5 million copies worldwide. 

Thankfully, my husband didn’t pull a Zelda and tell me that he wouldn’t marry me unless I sold a story– like she did to Fitzgerald.  It’s hard enough being your own worst critic, maybe that’s why I don’t let my friends read my novels, not even my husband.  If they’re not good enough for agents how could I subject my friends to them?  Even worse, how could I tolerate the polite compliments given out of obligation?

Which brings me back to my current predicament: I’m a writer who isn’t being paid to write. 

I’m now working on my third novel, trying to block out the beginnings of my fourth novel, all eleven pages of it, which haunts me with the idea that maybe it’s the one I should be giving my attention to.  And of course I can’t forget the sequel to my first novel, which remains unwritten but floats in and out of my thoughts like the whine of a toddler who hasn’t gotten enough attention.

Bottom line: I’ve got to write.  I write because I love to write.  When I forget this, when I focus on monetary success or publishing, I find myself not making time to write.  So, I’ll keep typing away and try to trust that if it’s meant to be, eventually it will be.