Tag Archives: E. Victoria Flynn

Camp Duty

This weekend I’m hosting, what I like to call, City Camp.

December colors

My niece and nephew are in town, having traveled from a smaller city just north of here to our house, where you can span the back yard in a few long strides and fall asleep under the glow of a billboard light shining in through the bedroom window.

Think four nights of non-stop slumber parties, crowded seating assignments in the back seat of the car, radio station wars; movies back at the house, late-night snacks, and tears at bedtime (just a tiny case of homesickness, happens to the best of us).

Since I’m entertaining a brood of four instead of two, there isn’t much writing going on. But, I am sneaking in some reading, of essays and posts worth sharing:

And, because we’re talking summer camp (even if it is in the city), Allan Sherman comes to mind.

I’m off now, to pass out ice cream bars and to supervise the chaos that may ensue.

* Photo credit: Anders Ljungberg on http://www.flicker.com

You can find me talking about food today…

…Over at Writing Up An Appetite, a new group blog hosted by Lisa Rivero, E. Victoria Flynn, and myself:

Yeast: We’re Still Getting to Know Each Other

“I’ll be honest. I’m no gourmet cook. But, in another life, I would be a master baker. I would dive into culinary classes, learn the art of cream puffs and petit fours, tease my friends and family with a loaf of freshly baked bread that I whipped up, on the fly.

Yeast would be my friend.”

Read more here, especially if you’re an expert on rising dough and the temperamental nature of yeast.

Independence Day: Break Out the Coffee, We’ve Got Guests

Kiddo & Mama Victoria

Today, for your Fourth of July weekend pleasure, my friend and writer,
E. Victoria Flynn, stops by with a guest post on small town surprises.

Victoria blogs over at Penny Jars, and if you aren’t reading her stuff, you’re missing out. She whips up some amazing posts, especially on Thursdays. So, get your feet wet here, then click on over there.

The Small Time Philosopher’s Guide to House Listing

 They didn’t tell us about the parade route. Maybe they didn’t think it was important in the middle of January, a day after a snow storm, when the only parades anyone seemed concerned with was the morning traffic heading out of town. Maybe they thought it would scare us away.

We started the 4th of July weekend playing poker, Mike and I, thinking about taking a walk down to the park where we could hear the bands and the hooting, where the kick off fireworks shot from their canons, where I felt we should be becoming part of this tiny town, beer and all. We knew no one, but I loved the possibility.

These were the weekends before kids when we could sit around comfortably surrounded by dusted bookshelves and organized cupboards. Going to bed early meant before the sun came up, and sleeping in meant anything at all.

Until the siren blasted us out of bed.

Until the steady honking moved slowly, slowly, slowly past our heads.

“There are people all over our yard,” Mike said. “It looks like we’re having a parade.”

“For real? How come nobody told us?” Maybe we should have made more of an effort to introduce ourselves to the neighbors, but I had been waiting for the bunt cakes and brownies to arrive. How come nobody brought us brownies? We love brownies.

We did have coffee, and we made it strong.

We pulled out our fold-up beach chairs and set them on the porch. Mike got out the video camera heretofore used for shots of “This is the garage. Here’s the back yard. Look, the neighbors have a pile of wood. And this is…I don’t know what this is.”

It was a dark day, drizzled and damp and dimpled with small town promise. We watched green and yellow John Deere tractors, shined up red Farmalls, Dairy Queens riding the backs of convertibles, horses clomping at the road. There was candy strewn across our lawn.

It was terrific.

By the next year we had invited our family, and I was fat in the belly with our first little girl. After the parade we ate brunch—banana bread, mini quiche, lemonade, and bowls of fruit. A year later, it was a tradition.

I’m pretty sure the four days of the 4th of July is what keeps us rooted in this town. We talk about moving back to Madison, closer to my husband’s job, closer to our friends and so many places and events we enjoy. We talk about it, but we can never decide–if we were to sell our house, should we tell them it’s on the parade route, or should we just leave it as a surprise?

~

You can find Victoria elsewhere: on Twitter and on Facebook and sometimes at a small ice cream shop just west of here, when the stars align and calendars sync and writers unite.

Like Kermit and Fozzie: Find Your Community

Each friend represents a world in us,
a world possibly not born until they arrive.  ~Anäis Nin

~

Yesterday, my morning began with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, an unlikely pair but kindred spirits just the same.

Lisa, me, and V. (thanks to Lisa for the picture!)

I was getting ready for a coffee date with Lisa Rivero and Victoria Flynn, two women I met through writing ventures, who have both become role models and cheerleaders in one way or another. Soon to be on my way, I quick checked in with Twitter, and there it was, the link to one of my favorite Muppet songs with a note from Victoria:

Heading down the road to a writin’ good time.

I met both Lisa and Victoria by chance, really, which is often how I meet people who become lights along my way. We share many things in common and, at the same time, are a mixed bag of writers — working on different kinds of projects and at different stages in our careers. But, I will drive a few minutes or a hundred miles for the chance to spend a couple of hours with them, no matter the gas prices.

It’s the same with many of my friends who’s company I cherish. Some of them I met in the quiet rooms of a church, others at a work function, and one on an afternoon when I tagged along with my older sister to her kids’ play date. That friend become my oldest and dearest, my sister of the heart.

Within certain communities, I learn – by example mostly – how to live life on life’s terms, how to step back when the little things drive me crazy and to focus on details when the big picture overwhelms. Other groups of friends urge me forward along a path of creativity, by sharing their own stories of success and offering words of encouragement at just the right time.

When or how I ended up in those circles doesn’t matter. How long I stay makes all the difference.

The song that sparked it all (bet you can’t listen without bouncing in your seat):

Curiosity, Minus the Cat

Writers, by nature, are curious people.

We are always searching for the who and the where and the what, digging up answers from our psyche – or the psyche of an imagined character – to create story after story.

We question other writers, too, asking How do you do it? How do you survive the absence of your muse? What do you say to someone who doesn’t write, who rolls their eyes to find you hiding in the basement – again – huddled over your laptop?

How do you spend your days? We want to know. To answer this very question, Cynthia Newberry Martin hosts a guest author once a month. Every bit of detail I read in those posts either inspires me or connects with me in such a way that I find the confidence I need (yet again) to call myself a Writer.

So, it should be no surprise that writers get tagged now and then with three questions or twenty-five or (this time) eight. Suzanne Conboy-Hill and Ann M. Lynn both tagged me, and it’s taken me way too long to respond. I can whip out a flash fiction story in half a day. But, ask me something about myself, something I should be able to answer easy enough, and the first response you’ll hear are crickets.

“Me?” *nervous laughter*

SO, here are eight tidbits of information about me, along with links to three other writers whom you might want to check out for yourself. No formal tagging here – I took too long, game’s over I’m sure – just simple recognition.

And, thanks Suzanne and Ann, for the questions!

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have?

Telepathy. There, I said it.

I won’t lie. I obsess about every submission I send out. Wouldn’t it be lovely to know the second an agent or an editor picks up my submission with their very own hands?

Yes or No. Yes or No. One flash of a thought in their minds, and I’m on my way – to strangle my muse or to celebrate. No wait times, no checking and re-checking the inbox, no more stalking the postman.

2. Who is your style icon?

If we’re talking wardrobes, then I’m in trouble.

For fashion guidance, I depend on the goodness of my friends. Friends with money and with taste. I accept hand-me-downs without hesitation, because – left to my own devices – I am a fashion disaster. So, if you see me wearing something sassy and in style, you can assume I got it from a friend.

3. What is your favorite quote?

It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite quote. There are so many great ones that I love about life and about writing. I latch on to one quote that strikes me on a particular day, but the same quote might not mean as much to me the next day. So, here’s one I’m holding onto this week from Mary McNamara’s recent article in the Los Angeles Times:

…[I]f you’re a writer, you don’t write for money or fame or a chance to dish with Oprah Winfrey. Basically, you write because when you’re not writing, you’re even more cranky than when you are writing.

Yep.

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

“Ever?” I have a terrible memory. That’s one reason why I write — because I forget the things I insist on remembering. Recently, though, my favorite compliment came from my daughter who’s almost four.

“You look beautiful,” she said. Her eyes traced my outfit from head to toe.

She ignored the three blemishes on my face that might suggest I’m fifteen and not forty. Then, she stopped at my feet and gave me the eye.

“Except for your shoes,” she said.

She’s anti-Birkenstocks, and her comment reinforces my answer to number two above. Left to my own devices….

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

Every year, Fall throws me into a melancholy mood. One of the ways I survive that mood is to play lilting music that rises and falls and lifts and carries. Ingrid Michaelson has been on my mind a lot. But the other day, this song struck my fancy:

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

A night owl. Late night hours are the most quiet times at my house. Plus, I’m just lazy before the sun comes up.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

To this I say Achoo!” and “Pass the Claritin.” I love them both — from a distance.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I am forever running out of time. When I decided I wanted to pursue my writing for real, I knew I would have to do it during those moments in between — moments that are fleeting as soon as they start some days. And, I like hard and fast deadlines.

There you have it, more than you wanted to know. Now, along with Suzanne and Ann, here are three more writers whose blogs I read and tweets I follow — for inspiration, for lessons in the craft, and/or for a good laugh:

I’m off now, to practice my telepathy.

I’m sending you messages right now to leave a comment and retweet this post (stack those stats).

Just kidding.

(Sort of.)
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Wed’s Word: Guest Post by Mercy Loomis

Every Wednesday, on Writing Under Pressure, you’ll find a post based on a word prompt. Past essays, poems, or flash fiction pieces can be found under Wednesday’s Word on the sidebar to the right.

Mercy Loomis

Today, I welcome fellow She Writes member, Mercy Loomis, to Wednesday’s Word.

I met Mercy in person last month at a meet up organized by E. Victoria Flynn. Victoria, Mercy, and I nibbled on sweet treats for several hours that Saturday and talked all things writing.

We laughed at the story material found within the four walls of a coffee shop – a writer’s paradise when it comes to characters.

I also had a taste of Mercy’s writing during our meet up, and I decided to invite her for some “word of the day” flash fiction fun.

Mercy chose the route of a prompt from my personal word bag (in lieu of Wordsmith.org), thus allowing me to play Wordsmith for the day. Oh, how I love control.

The word I chose for her: bitten.

*****

Twice Shy

Trevor tried to pretend he wasn’t winded, but keeping up with Naomi’s long, shapely legs was proving to be more of a challenge than he expected. Not the he minded the view, of course; even though it was dark the trail they were hiking could just keep going up and up forever, as far as he was concerned.

Of course, his own legs would give out long before he got tired of watching. Flex and swing, flex and swing. When she’d picked him up and he saw the short-shorts he’d assumed she wasn’t the outdoorsy type, but either bugs didn’t scare her or she did a lot of Stairmaster. Naomi’s loping strides devoured the trail like…

Something pricked his arm, and Trevor swatted at it with a muffled curse. “Stupid mosquitoes,” he muttered, staring dolefully at the smear on his hand. In the deepening gloom the blood looked almost black. Pausing, he wiped his hand on his jeans and stuck the flashlight in his pocket, the beam pointing up into the leaves and giving the path a weird green glow.

“What are you doing?” Naomi stopped and turned to give him an irritated glance.

“Getting some bug spray.” Trevor dug through his fanny pack for the little bottle. “I must’ve been bitten half a dozen times already.”

Naomi sashayed back to him and took his hand in both of hers. “Aw, what’s a few bug bites? Please, I really hate that stuff. It tastes terrible.”

Trevor blinked, momentarily confused. “Tastes? But why..?” Naomi fluttered her eyelashes at him, and he tossed the bug spray over his shoulder. It landed somewhere in the bushes and was instantly forgotten. “Right. You got it, babe.”

Laughing, Naomi drew him farther up the hill. “C’mon, we’re almost there. You have to see this place.”

Trevor stumbled after her, giddy with the implications of her teasing, but when they finally crested the slope and emerged from under the trees his lascivious thoughts were momentarily silenced by the view. Barely ten feet ahead of them the bluff’s face fell away in a sheer cliff overlooking a glimmering stream that snaked through the wooded valley below. The moon lit up the landscape like a giant spotlight, and even as he stared open-mouthed he saw a barn owl swoop down over the water to disappear beneath the branches.

And another mosquito bit him.

Trevor cursed roundly, slapping one cheek and flinging the dead insect away. “Doll, I don’t understand how you can stand being out here dressed like that. Not that I don’t appreciate it,” he hastened to add, “but they must be eating you alive!”

There was an undertone to Naomi’s chuckle that made the hairs on the back of his neck rise, a low growling that went beyond sultry into something else, something animal. “Oh, they wouldn’t do that. Doll.”

Trevor turned to her slowly, trying to shake off a cold shiver that coursed down his spine. “Why is that?”

She grinned. That was when he saw the fangs. “Professional courtesy, of course.”

*****

Mercy Loomis graduated from college one class short of an accidental certificate in Folklore, which explains a lot. She has a BA in Psychology, but don’t hold that against her. Though fascinated by mythology her whole life, she blames her husband and the History Channel for her late-found love of studying history.

Her stories appear most recently in the anthologies Please, Sir from Cleis Press and Taste Test: Rainy Days and Mondays from Torquere Press, as well as in Hungry For Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance, coming from St. Martin’s Press in October 2010. See what she’s up to and find links to her other work at www.mercyloomis.com.

You can also find her at She Writes here.

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A Mother and A Writer

I love writing contests.

If I’m not using the opportunity to tighten up a old story, then I’m off creating something new.

And, once in a while, a contest sharpens my focus; it turns my perspective from outward to in. A contest I recently entered did exactly that. It gave me reason to examine – again – why I continue to write, despite the obstacles in life that could easily sway me.

In celebration of She Writes‘s first year anniversary, E. Victoria Flynn hosted a Mother Writing contest. We were asked to write, in 500 words or less, an essay on being a mother writer. The deadline for the contest came during the early days of summer vacation, and my first thought was: Mother Writer? Impossible. Still, I wrote.

Though I didn’t win the contest, I’ve posted my essay below. And, you can read the lovely winning Mother Writing essay by Diana Duke here.

Nothing was lost by thinking back on my Writerly beginnings: blogging about my children. From those short posts, I moved on to my first writing class, my first published piece, and my first attempts at writing fiction.

Thanks, Victoria, for hosting a contest that put Mother Writers in the limelight and gave me a reason to look inward for my own affirmation.

*****

The Whole of Me

Mother and Writer. There are days when, like opposing forces, these two sides of me sit miles apart. They each refuse to accept the presence of the other. When I turn to write, I feel the pull of my children; when I go back to my children, I feel an unyielding persuasion to write.

“What’s the point?” I ask myself, exhausted from the struggle of trying to keep both identities in balance. Still, despite my frustration, I refuse to give up on either: as a mother I can’t, as a writer I won’t.

In Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, Margaret Atwood lists several reasons that answer the compelling question: why do it? The answers that resonate with me trace my own journey to becoming a Mother Writer.

“To set down the past before it is forgotten.”

As a new mother, I recorded details: of birth, the first day of school, and the first tooth lost. Details alone, though, never conveyed the rise and fall of my emotions. A date stamp would not remind me of the out of body experience I had when my daughter was born. A picture alone wouldn’t express my own anxieties about sending my son to school. And marking the day the tooth finally fell out wouldn’t hint at the number of days prior when repeated negotiations to “let mommy pull the tooth” failed.

I wove details into stories, so that I might remember the power behind each moment.

“To justify my own view of myself and my life, because I couldn’t be ‘a writer’ unless I actually did some writing.”

Writing about life with my children reignited my love of storytelling. I looked back at my stack of old journals and a well-worn spiral notebook filled – when I was fifteen years old – with stories of girl meets boy.

I always wanted to be a writer, and I realized that to become one meant I had to take action. So, I started a blog, I submitted stories to journals, I shared my secret with others. I became a Writer.

“To cope with my depression.”

Lord Byron said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

My bouts with depression, though never debilitating, distract me from life. Being a mother pulls me back into the moment. Writing helps me stay there.

“To bear witness….”

To bear witness to my children that in the midst of life, of being whoever we are that day – mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend – we do not have to suppress our creative selves. In fact, embracing my creativity enhances every aspect of my life.

I don’t earn money as a writer or a mother, but each of those daily experiences makes up the whole of who I am.

~

*Atwood, Margaret. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. New York: Anchor Books, 2002, p. xx. Print.

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