Monday, October 31, 2011


The spirits move, and the edges of the world blur gently together. Today is the day of energy, the real possibility of change. A festive mood marks the day. People go about in costumes, in the colors of autumn, in altered versions of their selves.

All day is busy and joyful for me. The morning began early, writing in the dark before a warming fire. My daughters tumbled out of the house in their whimsical attire and I showed up to witness the march of hundreds of small princesses, witches, pirates and heroes around the blacktop square.

Yoga was a gentle flow, all length and strength, and, now, I write more before the onslaught of evening fun begins. Friends will come and family. We will carve pumpkins and set them alight with our hopes for the coming year. Through the dark, we will wend our way, house to house below the quarter moon, gathering sweets and good will to us, enough to last as long as we may need.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Forced Giving

Like most people, I am extremely uncomfortable when approached by someone homeless or down on their luck and asked for money.

That simple interaction brings up so many conflicting feelings that most people try to avoid it all together. I think when people say no or just brush the person off, most of that comes from their discomfort with the idea of poverty, their desire to believe that they are morally superior, or smarter, or more capable and therefore they themselves would never be in that situation, etc. There is also a valid concern that the money will go straight to drugs or alcohol, thereby sustaining that needy person's problems and ultimately harming them.

Once, I was extremely generous and giving. If someone asked, I would give money and wish them well. Over the last few years, I have become more self-protective, and with that, I often resent being asked to give to someone. I feel like I am already giving, that I have already given, and more blocked-up, fearful, upset emotions like that.

Now, I know that giving is its own energy. And money is energy in action. It likes to circulate and it likes to be given away. Blocking it up doesn't help anyone. Still, though, when asked, in the last few years, more often than not, I would just say no and keep going.

But now I have an excellent solution!! I do want to give and be kind to another human in need. And I don't want to feed any harmful addictions. So I have decided that I will buy Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Gift Cards and keep them on hand. Most of the places that I get hit up are within a couple of blocks of a cafe. If I buy 5 $5.00 cards, Coffee Bean will give me a free drink of my choice. Then I can just keep the cards in my purse and hand one over if approached.

I win by being generous. The person in need gets a nice, hot cup of coffee, maybe some food, and a legitimate right to use the restroom. The business makes money. And I don't have to waste any more time averting my eyes or clutching my purse and my kids closer to me as we pass by.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why I Welcome Rejection

As you see in my post below, my story got kicked back to me this week. Thanks, but no thanks.

That rejection should have stung like the dickens. But it didn't.

I was actually quite happy to see it.

When I thought about how curious that was, the reasons were instantly clear to me. One, there is simply a certain amount of rejection inherent in life. You can't please everybody, all of the time. So rejection is the opposite side of the coin for Acceptance, the needed balance. It's only logical to assume that I will have my fair share of shrug-offs in my life.

Two, being rejected as a writer certainly puts me in good company. I don't know any fabulous and successful writer who hasn't had work rejected at some point, some of them, numerous times.

Three, did you hear what I said up there? Being rejected puts me in good company as a WRITER! I think this, more than any other, is why I feel happy instead of sad. Getting that rejection is proof that I had a story worthy of submission. It's proof that I made a good attempt at the process. It's proof that I actually do think of myself as a WRITER. (yay)

When I was a girl, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I had no idea how to become one. I had no understanding of process and craft. I just loved to read. Now, I live as a writer every single day.

And I love it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh Well. On to the Next Prospect on the List!!

Dear Marie,

Thank you for the opportunity to read "Finding Adam." Unfortunately, your story isn't quite what we're looking for right now. Each month, we receive hundreds of submissions and while I may like many of them, I can only publish twelve of them per year.

In the past, we've provided detailed feedback on our rejections, but I'm afraid that due to time considerations, we're no longer able to offer that service. I appreciate your interest in Clarkesworld Magazine and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Take care,

Neil Clarke
Clarkesworld Magazine

Monday, October 24, 2011



A full week ahead. Chopped up already into little blocks of responsibilities and obligations. I hope there will be some time to flow and feel smooth.

We are all just chugging along, doing the best we can, right where we are today. I've been anxious a lot lately, with all the repair changes unsettling me around my home.

Been dealing with that by reminding myself to just be in the moment. I only feel anxious when I find myself either trying to be too far ahead in time, or trying to be overly in-control of what will happen next. The painter really bugs me. We are having some dispute over his work. I had an opportunity last night - through text messages - to move into more conflict with him. Instead, I took a long breath, thought for a few minutes, and consciously let go of caring about any outcomes.

This morning, I approached him with a whatever-needs-to-happen attitude, however-much-it-costs. That gave him space to be mellow so now we have a good agreement and no bad feelings. It just wasn't worth it to me to fight.

He should finish tomorrow and I'll be glad to have some space back. There has been someone extra at my house every day except yesterday for the last two weeks. I find that draining.

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for conflict. People are too important to be harsh with them. I hope everybody gets to have a good day today. I get to teach yoga - which should be calming and rewarding - and be with my daughters, and even write.

Oh, I sent out THREE stories last week. One was inspired by a friend, so I hope Clarkesworld publishes it. If that one comes through, I'm buying a new dishwasher -- I'm sick of washing every dish by hand. Still, though, seems like things are going okay. Time, time and more time and just being mellow.

No conflicts.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Painted Mind

Everything is okay. Everything is okay. Everything is okay.

Just keep saying that over and over.

I sit to work this morning and realize that I am filled with anxiety. It's a lot of pressure getting both girls off to school on time, me caring about being prompt even more than they do, carrying the psychic weight for them.

Dealing with the painter is not my favorite thing to do. He's a nice enough guy, but the whole process is a delicious obstacle for me. One of those challenges that life throws in your path to remind you to be flexible.

I was talking to a friend last night and mentioned that my Buddhism didn't seem to be very active at this point. "I could certainly do with a bit more acceptance of Impermanence," I remarked to her laughter. "Perhaps a bit less Attachment to outcomes?"

This re-painting has most of my least favorite elements wrapped up in it. It's a big change. There's someone in my personal space, disrupting my routine. I don't know what the outcome will be. I'm not really in control of the process.

And while, obviously, all of those elements are true in life -- ALL THE TIME -- and we just want the illusion that there is more safety, control, stability and permanence than there really is, still, STILL, this process is really throwing all of that in my face.

In a way that's a bit difficult to come to terms with before nine am every single morning.

At least all the windows aren't taped shut anymore.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn Moves

Autumn is always a time of energy currents and fluctuations. I couldn't sleep well last night; I could feel them moving and shifting just at edge of perception.

I can only try to center on the positive and hope that outcomes are beneficial. Generally, my optimism lifts me through these times. It's exciting, of course, to feel the waves and know that there are tremendous possibilities out there, waiting to come into our lives. An interconnected web of energy and circumstance, of choice and result, of past melding with future.

We've been having work done around house, and all of the changes, along with the intrustion of the workers, has unsettled me. Today, I have refocused my energy. I've burned away all my problems and protected my home with fresh intention. I felt so bad all last night because I snapped at our neighbor. He wanted to rebuild our fence on Halloween and I said absolutely not. For one thing, I am super busy on Mondays. For another thing... Halloween!! Really? Have some sense, people. Then I felt guilty about shutting his plan down. But there is just no way I can rip a fence apart during that week.

I have to be true to my own intuition. And enjoy the tremendous movements in energy that this season brings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mirror of Time

I sit in the cafe, the tools of my trade spread all about me. It's nice to be here. Peaceful, bright, social. I like the solitude in the midst of others, the calm of my own thoughts when I'm not in conversation with anyone else.

Today, I am in conflict.

Part of me wants to get right back into my work. I yearn to be productive; I want to earn the money we will badly need in a few weeks. I want to gain recognition and support for my clients, sweet organizations with good missions. Really, I couldn't work too much.

But part of me feels dreamy. Part of me wants to write whatever I want, stories that I like. Silly things and serious things and ... A R T. You know.

I feel like I have been caring for sick children and caring for my sick self and arranging financial and repair matters around the house, oh, and teaching yoga almost every day so much for the last week or so that I feel like it has been ages since I have been in touch with this part of myself. This quietness. This creativity. This creation that ties the timeline of past and future together with silver strands of story. You know. That.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our House

Each time, I enter my front door, a wave of gratitude sweeps over me. It simply feels so good to come home.

I love my house, this special place that holds all of my belongings and so many memories, this sacred space that reflects me. There was a time when I was restless in this house, in this area even, but now I fall more in love with it every day.

I find myself nesting, settling in, at no time more than now, the beautiful season of autumn that will lead into winter and holidays. On dark nights, our house glows with candles and a cozy fire, the smell of cinnamon and baking, the bustle of homework and chores, the jewel-like colors of crafts and decorations and flowers.

My house has literally been my sanctuary. Over the last difficult years, it has been my safe place, where I could retreat from the dangers of the world. In its steady presence, my house has guarded me and protected me. Even now, I know that I am bound to this house. Were I to try to leave it, I would be swept away into despair and destruction within weeks. Very much like a fairy tale, I know. But as long as I stay here, I am strong and free and occupying a very important place in the lives of so many dear ones. There's a story there somewhere, a beautiful fantasy tale of power linked to place, and dust and ashes waiting just outside the magical borders. Maybe I'll write it one day.

In the meantime, I am so content to be here. I look across my rooms, over our yard filled with sweeping trees, and I know that we choose well. I used to think that I would leave this home behind and go in search of adventures. Now I know that this will always be my home base; I can venture into the world on adventures aplenty, and return here to recharge. We vacation somewhere almost every month, just for the variety. And in the future, we are planning a fabulous European Tour to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. My daughters are already compiling a list of the places they dream of going. We may have other adventures as well. I want to stay in a rugged coastal lighthouse, have an apartment in Italy, live on a French farm. And this house seems like the ticket to open all of those far-away foreign doors.

When I was going through my years of struggle and despair, I didn't pay much attention to money. We did what we wanted, and I showered experiences and fun on my family, most of it subsidized by credit cards instead of income. Actually, it worked beautifully. I healed; I became happy; my family has amazing memories of time spent together that only strengthened our bonds with each other. It was a worthwhile investment in our amazing children, and they absolutely benefitted.

Now, our house has stepped in to put us onto a more prudent track. It just provided us with a year's salary, an end to debt and a fresh beginning. In return, we are sprucing it up, making sure it is taken care of. We will pay for this house within ten years and then it will be absolutely ours. I plan to live here forever, to age here in this lovely modest home on our quiet street, to play with grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our just-enough space. There is great contentment in that, great possibility in feeling my future expand before me in such a happy way.

I am so deeply grateful to my house and for my home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Submission Markets

So, for almost the last TWO years, I have been holding onto a copy of Writer's Digest that had some great tips for online submission markets. I thought that I'd sit down when I had a spare moment and list the ones I most like the look of. Then I'd have a handy reference for sending in work.

Well, you know how that story went. Months flew by! Today, TODAY, I finally made time and typed out my list. And since I'm known for my generosity, I'll share it with you as well. Who knows? Maybe I'll even read your stuff in one of these some day (Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU, Kat and Elle and the rest of you who've been meaning to write a bit more and send it out - YOU know who you are!)

Plus, this way I'll always be able to find it when I'm ready to be online. Useful, right?

Good submitting, one and all:
Short Stories/Online Literary Markets
10Flash Quarterly
Pays $20 per story. Looking for genre flash fiction of 800-1000 words (horror, fantasy, sci fi, suspense).

$15 per story. Fiction – all genres, book reviews, nonfiction about writing.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Pays .05 per word. Literary adventure fantasy fiction

The Big Ugly Review
No pay. Circulation 10,000/month. Theme for each issue.

Pay unspecified. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction that challenges traditions in profound ways.

Café Irreal
$0.01 per word. Irreal fiction like Kafka, Abe, Borges.

Carte Blanche
Modest pay. Poetry, fiction, CNF

Clarkesworld Magazine
$.10 per word up to 4000 words, .05 per word after that. Sci fi and fantasy fiction and articles.

$20. Fiction, commentary, book reviews

Diode – No pay

Every Day Fiction
$3 per story. Circulation 48,000 – 100,000. Flash fiction up to 1000 words.

Expanded Horizons
$30 story. Spec Fiction with underrepresented groups

*Fantasy Magazine
$.05 per word. Fantasy fiction, CNF, interviews.

*Flash Fiction Online
$50 story. Flash up to 1000 words

$5-25 piece. Fiction to 1000 words, poetry, CNF

*The Pedestal Magazine
.08 word for fiction. Poetry, fiction.

$100 short fiction/$20 flash (fewer than 1500 words). Horror Also and

.01 word up to $10. Genre fiction, short-shorts.

Strange Horizons
$.05 word, minimum $50. Fiction, poetry articles about future.

The Teacher’s voice
No pay. Poetry, fiction, CNF, essays about education and language.

*Tri-Quarterly Online
$200-250 story. Fiction, CNF, poetry,

Wily Writers
$50 story, $20 flash fiction. Speculative fiction.

Online Consumer Magazine Markets
$50 article. For Male professionals 18-45 years.

Literary Traveler
$50 article. Circulation 80,000 month. Travel articles for the literary imagination.

Pay unspecified. Articles, personal essays on sex, love, relationships.
Pay varies. Articles.
No pay? Related to women’s interests

Pay varies. Articles, poetry.

The Smart Set
Pay varies. Essays, memoir, travel, stories – original and creative.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Year of Goals and Growing

In August, 2010, a friend and I were sitting in this cafe, sharing about our lives. At one point, we realized that neither one of us had much of a vision for the future. We simply didn't know where we where going, or where we WANTED to go.

That conversation stuck with me and disturbed me. With no plan, how could I measure growth? What would pull me into a future I would enjoy occupying?

So, I made some goals. They were simple, focused, and extremely ambitious. I wrote them in huge letters and posted them on my fridge where I would see them every day. Over the last 13 months, I certainly haven't met them.

But I have made excellent progress.

It seems to be that now would be a particularly auspicious time to revisit the goal process. Time to re-evaluate and re-set what I hope to achieve. Oh, I know it's not New Year's or summer or any of those occasions, but it just feels like a good time.

So - here are the goals I have in mind for the next four to twelve months:

1. Get Fit - I'm currently about a 2 on a scale of 1-5 possible fitness. I'd like to be a 4, able to perform more strength, stamina and flexibility functions than many people.

2. Lose Weight - This goes with goal one, but isn't necessarily synonymous. Still, though, I plan to cut back the sugar and junk, reduce the intake, and drop 40 pounds by the end of January, with more to follow throughout 2012.

3. Be Mindful - In all things, I will take my time and pay attention. When I eat, I will eat. When I write, write, When I shop, shop. And so forth. Plus it's good to breathe throughout the day, really breathe, breathing like nourishment for the body.

4. Serve 20 new clients by October 2012 - About two per month. This is going to prompt me to reach out, make phone calls, send letters, flyers, networking or whatever else it takes to make new contacts.

5. Write 10 new stories - less than one per month. That's nothing really. Just a good steady pace and certainly possible.

6. Submit! - Put every decent story I've completed so far into the submission cycle. And keep it there until it gets published!

7. Write a Nonfiction Book - I had this idea more than a year ago and I've been churning it around since. Today, it's come back to me more focused and complete - and more in line with what I stand for. I have chapter ideas, research content, interest, etc. I'd like to write at least one chapter per month - again easy, right?- and start querying in March 2012. By October 2012, I want the manuscript complete and publication by October 2013. I think that's very doable and then I will finally have a book to my name!

And that's it, I think. Relationship-wise things are going super for me. I have tons of loving family and friends. Financially too, we are blessed with balance and abundance. My kids are great. I'm practicing and teaching yoga professionally. Yeah, just a bit more fitness, some career growth, and more writing - with results in the world.

Sounds good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Other Side!

This song plays in the cozy cafe where I am tucked away, watching rain drift down onto the grey streets outside while I go over and over text I am writing for a proposal, trying to create the very best 2000 characters of program description possible.

I used to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my classroom. I'd lock the door during my conference period and interrupt my pile of grading to stare moodily out my windows, taking in the vista of mountain and sky, and wondering about the note of melancholy this song in particular stirred in me.

"How long, How long...?"

There was always a certain restlessness in me then, a certain anxiety about being overwhelmed by the nonstop duties of the day. Now, I work on my own schedule, at my own pace. I write for my daily bread. I am never lonely, unless I choose to be, since I am continually surrounded by other people. I have to say, I loved my life back then. I loved teaching. But there is a wonderful and glorious freedom in the way my hours unfold now.

I am so grateful.


What a week! From last Friday to today, things are flowing smoothly, one after another.

My birthday was fabulous, really one of the best I've ever had. So many people remembered me and showed their love. I especially appreciated the lack of tension and anxiety. In contrast to other years, it felt like everything just fell into place, without effort or struggle.

We spent the weekend at my friend's new home in San Diego. Just a very low-key time, a big sleepover, with the kids all crashed on the floor in the den and the adults staking out the bedrooms. Her daughter's wooden bedframe creaked every time we moved, so S and I spent the night being very still and praying not to do any permanent damage to it!

My friend insisted on making a dinner, despite my protests. Three kinds of pizza, creamy quiche, too many nibbles to list, and multiple bottles of wine. Around nine pm, we caravaned to the coastline to watch the glowing tide. It was beyond incredible. With every wave, flashes of electric blue lightning danced within the water, creating a supernatural vision of beauty. The kids discovered that if they splashed each other with water, or dipped their hands and rubbed, they would see blue sparkles all over. They were soaked within minutes, romping like puppies in the dark night.

After moonset, I saw not one, but two shooting stars! And, honestly, all of my wishes were already coming true, so if someone out there needs it, you can have my extra wish. I'll give it to you to boost yourself along.

The next morning started with strong coffee and berry/nutella crepes. When a French woman insists on cooking for you, just go along with it! We spent the rest of the day exploring San Diego. At the harbor, we watched the procession of the Portugese Madonna, for the annual blessing of the fishing boats. It involved prayer and a lot of fireworks and flares sent up into the air. We took a harbor cruise, enjoying the spray of water and sun blown against our exposed skin.

Dinner was at my favorite Asian restaurant. Pumpkin curry, duck drunken noodles and a strong, bright blue martini put me in heaven! As the first customers of the night, we had the place to ourselves and greatly enjoyed the eighties jazz, glowing candles, and muted decor. Dessert was an entire plate of cupcakes, aflame with candles and Happy Birthday accompanied by tingling Thai bells.

The next day was a dream of teaching yoga, working, eating pie, making a huge Italian dinner for my parents and having my daughters insist that I open my gifts. They bought me tons of necklaces, and scarves, and my other friends sent cards and flowers and bottles of wine. One good friend even showed up at my door first thing in the morning, singing Happy Birthday over a pastry aflame with a candle!!

Truly, I felt so loved and valued. And since I actually enjoy getting older, I felt good about the whole thing. Accomplished. Settled. And very happy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Forty Three

Tra-la-la. It's a lovely day!!

I taught yoga class this morning. Oh, didn't I mention it? I'm a regular yoga teacher now!!! I finally took on my very own class. We meet every Monday at 10:30. I'm just starting, still trying to build up my student base. But so far, excellent.

I picked up my first paycheck this morning, and hope to have many more to come.

For lunch, I zipped over to this cafe. The day is gorgeous -- overcast and chasing back and forth from blue to grey sky. Big fat raindrops drummed my car as I pulled in, but now the rain has stopped and a cool breeze blows. Outside here, a landscaped stream burbles, piped in classical music soothes, and an amiable group lunches happily.

I choose banana cream pie. Hardly a nutritional win, I know, but I couldn't resist the mounds of fluffy white cream which reminded me of the clouds in the sky. That first bite, complete with shavings of white chocolate, melted in my mouth like a happy song.