Tag Archives: Lisa Rivero

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.

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):

The iPhone: It’s like having another brain.

That’s what my friend told me, when I said I was considering an upgrade from my old-school cell phone to an iPhone. “I keep going back and forth, though,” I sighed. “I mean, I don’t really need it.”

“Get it,” she insisted. “You’re a writer.”

My ears perked up, then. I love it when someone outside the circles of writing helps me acknowledge that I am, in fact, a writer. Some days, I still have trouble saying those words out loud. Plus, I was intrigued by how certain she was that an iPhone would complement my other writing tools. So, I bought one.

It is lovely. Even the box it came in is pretty, with its minimalist and sleek design.

(Taken with my iPhone and emailed to my laptop. Just call me Fancypants.)

I’ve already put the phone to good writerly use, too, downloading the Kindle app and buying a copy of Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel. The other day, when I suddenly had a few hours to sit in a coffee shop, I whipped out my phone, my pen and paper, and read through the beginnings of Morris’ book. I scribbled down notes. I wrote out the first few tasks. I felt productive.

I also purchased an eBook novella by Cathryn Grant, a book only available for eReaders. That “Buy now with 1 click” button on the Kindle Store page is a little dangerous, but I’d be missing out on Cathryn’s novella without this iPhone and that Kindle app.

Technology, be it wireless internet or free apps for a phone, makes a writer’s life a little easier. I’m finally getting that, in bits and pieces.

What about you? How are you using the technology you have on hand to move your writing along? Or, do you have a secret iPhone app I should know about? My son keeps pushing me to download the free Monster Truck game, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for virtual mud-bogging.

While you’re thinking, here are a few other posts on technology and iPhone apps for writers:

  1. Lisa Rivero talks here about all the fun things she’s doing with technology and writing these days, including this great video she created in conjunction with a current book project. The video, like a mini book trailer, is a great way to whet the appetites of readers and introduce her main character, Hattie, to the modern world.
  2. “Ultimate iPhone Apps for Writers: 30+ Productivity and Creativity Boosts,” from Jane Friedman, There Are No Rules. As always, Jane offers plenty of links and great information.
  3. “iPhone Apps for Writers,” from appadvice.com. This one includes information on Writer’s Studio, an app that mixes visual and audio components with writing.
  4. “12 applications for writers on my iPhone right now,” from Michael Alexander on The Editorial Engine. Listed here is iBlue Sky, an app that makes a map of your brainstorming ideas.

Guest Post by Lisa Rivero: Down She Went

What would you do if you were given a stack of daily diaries written by a vibrant woman, who saw the importance of recording simple yet rich details about the world around her? You’d read them, sure. Not many can resist diving into the pages of first-hand experiences about the past. And, if you’re Lisa Rivero, you’d see the value of their imprint on history and turn those diaries into a story.

Every Tuesday, on her blog Writing Life, Lisa posts flash narratives — very short excerpts of the story that lies within the pages of her Great Aunt Hattie’s diaries. Lisa’s narratives are beautiful pieces that will draw you in and leave you hungry to know more about the life of Hattie Whitcher. Today, I’m honored to host Lisa here, where she shares the third installment of a series based on Hattie’s experience on Memorial Day in 1933. Click these links to read part one (“A Nice, Bright Day”) and part two (“Cracklings”).

Memorial Day Weekend, 1933:
“Down She Went”

She knows what will happen only a moment too late to stop it. Her foot slips on the rain-soaked bank of dirt the men had thrown onto the path, and down she goes into a newly dug, half-finished toilet hole, her left leg buckling beneath her in six inches of water.

At first, she feels nothing but surprise and wonders only how she will heft herself out of the four-foot deep hole, but when she tries to stand up, the pain in her left leg lashes through her body like a whip, causing her to collapse against the earth wall. She tries again to stand, this time on her good leg, and braces both arms on the ground at her chin level.

“Bill! Help!” Her voice is shaky. She hopes he is not asleep in his chair, as usual.

Her arms keep slipping on the mud, and she clutches at wet clods of earth, trying to prop herself up so as to project her voice. “Bill!”

She sees him then, rushing from the house.

“Goodness, Hattie! What did you do? Give me your hand.”

He tries to pull her up first by taking her hands, then by grabbing her under her arms. She bites her bottom lip when her leg hits the side of the hole. After three more attempts, she manages to get out. She sits on the ground to catch her breath.

“I’m going to carry you into the house,” Bill says.

“No, I’m too heavy.” The image of her brother’s hauling her across the yard is more than she can bear. “I’ll crawl.”

Using her arms and her right leg, she crawls to the house, issuing small cries of pain with each labored movement. Her dress grows heavy with mud, slowing her down even more.

“Hattie, be reasonable,” Bill pleads, walking beside her, his hands helpless at his sides. She just shakes her head.

Once on the porch, she allows Bill to help her into a standing position. She leans on his right shoulder and, step by step, makes her way to the first floor bedroom. The thought of what her dress will do to the quilt makes her cringe, but she cannot imagine removing her clothes, so she tells Bill to lower her to the bed. The relief of finally being off her feet combined with the pain in her leg brings tears to her eyes. Bill gets her some aspirins and a glass of water, then disappears.

Hattie spills water on her chin and wipes it with the sleeve of her everyday dress, smearing mud on her face. “Bill?” she calls.

He brings a hot pan of water he poured from the kettle on the cook stove that she had been keeping warm for cleaning the kitchen and places it on the floor. After removing Hattie’s shoe and stocking and gently moving her leg off the side of the bed so that her foot soaks in the hot water, he says, “Stay here. I’m going for help.”


“No buts, Hattie!” She rarely hears this sharp tone from her gentle brother. He puts his hand on her shoulder. “I’m going to Tom’s to get a car.” Over his shoulder, as he leaves the room, he adds, “Don’t move.”

Bill runs west to their brother Tom’s house. On the way back, at the bridge, they meet LeRoy Kropp and his wife, Jerome Jamison and his wife and their two children, all coming from Winner in their car, and they follow Bill and Tom back to the house.

Just as the cars pull into the yard, Will and Narvin return. They prepare Hattie for the trip to Rosebud Ashurst Hospital, their only stop being for Hattie to use the slop jar at a neighbor’s place. Because of the Memorial Day weekend, there are no workers and no power at the hospital to take an X-ray until the next evening, when it is found that the long bone above her ankle is broken.

From her hospital bed the next day, she is keen to learn from Will of the holiday’s events, which she writes in her diary:

May 30, 1933: Will and Thomas went to O’Kreek this morning to the Legion Program, then George O’Conners took Will in his car to Mission to help decorate graves and then back to O’Kreek to dinner. Will then went on to see me at hospital. It was my wish that he do all he could, also the boys. William and Narvin did fine with lunch. Will said that all the meat is put in the basement and the kitchen is cleaned and mopped. All the pork is cooked and in jars, covered with fryings and lard, so the men can batch awhile.


"Although a windy afternoon, I managed to walk to the Car, first time on crutches. W. J. has his pipe in vest pocket, was told to put it in his mouth, but he covered it with his hand. Maggie and Will took me to Winner, and I enjoyed the trip."

Hattie stays in the hospital for two weeks, and for several weeks afterward she remains on a sanitary cot at home, leaving it only “when they take me out to sit sideways at the table to eat.” She has a live-in helper, Maggie—“the best helper we could have”—for one and one-half years, at which time she can walk with one crutch and a cane.

Hattie will eventually be diagnosed with diabetes. Her left foot and leg will heal slowly. We can only imagine the damage done by her crawling to the house and the jostling car ride to Rosebud before the leg could be set. She will battle infection and poor circulation, and her leg will never again be pain free. This is her last entry, from June 2, 1957:

South wind was quite strong. I feel bad with pains in my left foot. Will put my bedding from the front-room chair back on my bed and elevated my left leg, but it pained more than ever, so Will brought the bedding back to the front room chair. I gave an insulin shot to myself and ate oatmeal toast and apricot sauce and had hot water to drink.

She never writes in her diary again, and, four days later, part of her foot will be amputated. The next Memorial Day in 1958, twenty-five years after having broken her leg, Will—her husband, friend, companion and helpmate—takes Hattie to the hospital, where she will stay until her death.


Lisa Rivero

Lisa Rivero lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she is a writer, teacher, indexer, and speaker. Her professional and writing interests include gifted education, home education, creativity, literature and the humanities, and the challenges faced by all families in this fast-paced and often perplexing 21st-century life. Her published books include Creative Home Schooling (Great Potential Press, 2002), The Homeschooling Option (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens (Great Potential Press, 2010), and The Smart Teens’ Guide to Living with Intensity (Great Potential Press, 2010). She is currently writing a novel based on the Great Plains diaries of her great-aunt Harriet E. Whitcher.

Ride the internet waves.

Today, I’m guest posting at Lisa Rivero’s blog, Writing Life.

Lisa and I live within easy driving distance of each other, but it was the ever-expansive internet that brought us together. I won’t bore you with details on when and where we connected, or how long we “chatted” before we finally met in person (writers’ forums and social networking sounds a lot like online dating, don’t you think? Only we exchange website domains instead of phone numbers).

How Lisa and I met isn’t half as important as why I value her as a writing friend: her blog continues to inspire me, and she’s a constant bouy of support. So, jump on the broadband and slide on over to Lisa’s blog, where I write about how one genre of writing informs another:

On Stanley Kunitz, Memoir, and Fiction.

If you’re like me, you’re always in search of the perfect How-To book when it comes to the craft of writing, but sometimes the lessons are found in other books. You just have to pay attention.

Browse around Lisa’s blog, too, while you’re there. She publishes some great posts on writing and some amazing flash narratives.

Okay. I’m listening.

I love this blog. In fact, I love it a little too much.

That thought surfaced several times in the past few months, but in the last few days I looked at the ugly truth of it.

Blogging, while providing a great outlet to hone my writing skills, sometimes serves as a distraction for me.

Just when I decide to sit down and face that novel again, I realize I’m due for a post, whether it’s Wednesday or the weekend.

I made a commitment, I tell myself, and if anything, I follow through.

Sure, I follow through, on shot-in-the-arm kind of writing. But, the bigger projects sit on the sidelines, waiting. And, the longer they sit, the more difficult it becomes to bring them back into focus.

Several posts by other writers shed light on the importance of keeping my blogging in balance with my outside writing.

In Lisa Rivero’s recent post, she writes about the “place of stillness,” as described by Jonathan Franzen in an article in Time Magazine. Franzen’s words were inspiration enough, but it’s the quote Lisa uses to open her post that grabbed me:

“You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death.” – William Goldman

That got me thinking. Where am I devoting the majority of my writing time, and how can I redirect it towards more important projects?

A post from Michelle Davidson Argyle offers one suggestion, “slow blogging,” and highlights an essay from Anne R. Allen. In Allen’s essay, she discusses the dangers of blogging too often and the pros of blogging less often. Allen mentions writer/translator Lee Robertson, who shared his philosophy, “A blog is like frosting on top of the cake.” Then, Allen quotes Miss Snark:

…There’s a lot to be said for sitting down with your ownself and writing. Nothing, literally NOTHING replaces that. Focus. You’re wasting time.”

Someone, or something, was nudging me to pay attention, and finally I started listening. I’d been wondering how I might shake things up on this blog, set some new goals, and now it was clear.

Blog less, write more.

I still love the Wednesday Word challenge, so I won’t give that up. But, I will stretch out the schedule of those writing exercises. Every other Wednesday, I’ll still face off with Wordsmith.org and his logophilian self. Then, on alternate Wednesdays, you can look for a post on all things writing: author interviews, book reviews, essays on the craft of writing itself.

That means, posting once a week.

And, the other days of the week? Well, considering I just sent in my check for a writing class on Flash Fiction and a Roundtable critique for longer works (like a novel-in-progress…*ahem*), I’ll be writing.

And, reading.

And, I will NOT be obsessing about rising or falling stats or how many bloggers “like” my weekly posts (WordPress sure makes it easy to become gluttons for punishment).*

Where do you spend the majority of your writing time, and is the Universe directing you towards change?

* I might obsess a little, but it’ll be my dirty little secret.