Blueberry Blush

I forget about blueberries for ten months each year ....

Don't get me wrong, I love them all year ... 
preserves, pancakes, and brandy.
{blueberry bagels are somehow always a disappointment}

I don't notice, or think about, blueberries most of the year,
but at this time of year, they rocket to the front of my brain.

I may notice some new leaves in April and May,
and start to see some flowers as May rolls into June ...
but the thing that really grabs my eye is when the bushes begin to blush.

The leaves shift from all green to having some pink at the tips,
I think it's a mix of pride and anticiation of their yearly fantastic trick,
berries tiny and juicy and bursting and bright with flavor.

I saw them blushing this weekend, and now can't think of anything but blueberries.


WRITE EVERY DAY! {or don't ... whatever works}

One of the most commonly given, and parroted, pieces of advice given to/for/by writers is to:

It's not bad, as advice goes ... certainly better than "Never, Ever, Write!", but I think there's a hidden trap, a lie, an elitism in this ubiquitous admonishment.

There's a suggestion or hint or implication in that particular nugget of wisdom that real writers write everyday ... which implies that if you don't write every, single, day, that you're not a real writer.

If everybody who gave this advice actually wrote every day, we'd be up to our ears in novels and short stories and poems and such. A single page a day could yield a lengthy novel each year (something few novelists manage); on productive days, I have often written 20-30 pages.

I'm not telling you not to write every day if you get the urge and have the time ... I'd love to write every day!

I'm a big believer that the most important part of writing is getting something, anything, down on paper ... once you've got something written you can fix and polish and chop and add and share with beta-readers and repeat the whole process as many times as is needed to tell the story as it should be told.

I also believe that your writing gets better and easier and faster the more that you do it. It's like any other form of exercise that you get in shape for by doing on a regular basis.

My point in writing this blog on this day was not to tell you, or anyone, not to write everyday, but instead to not worry if you can't ... that most writers really don't write every day (maybe they think they should, or think they should think they should, I don't know).

I write when I have a block of time that works for me, my family, my dayjob, and my mindset. Sometimes that means I write every day for a week, sometimes I don't write for a month ... I still consider myself a writer.

I do most of my longer writing (my novels) during the summer months, but generally sit down at my computer a few times a month with the intention of getting some writing done.

Under this scandalously lax writing schedule, I've managed to write and edit and publish three novels, a collection of novellas, and a handful of short stories and poems since 2012.

The secret isn't in writing every day, but in writing when it works best for you ... writers write.




Family, the ocean, seashells, and time

We're in Maine for the weekend, visiting with family ... it's lovely and chilly, sometimes uncomfortably so.

Growth rings on a clamshell make me think ...
the accretion of habit and love and grudge and duty and customs,
we don't, maybe can't, see them after a while;
they're just the shell that protects, or at least encircles, family.

I went for a run this morning, at six ...
my son followed me, literally, nearly two hours later.

We're both running these days, each for his own reasons ...
me not to die before I'm done (with what? with everything), him to 'get in shape' (whatever that means).

Mine is the footprint on the right, I may be digging in more, pushing harder ...
I only hope the paths I leave him in this world are straight and true and lead to worthwhile places.

Water was trapped in the heights when the tide swept out overnight.
In the cold light of morning it can be seen pulsing/bleeding out of the beach I'm running across.

Time is the water,
the grains of sand are you and me and jobs and TV and dinner and new shoes ....

We're moved and shaped and arranged by forces we can't really control or understand ...
the patterns are only visible from a distance, a perspective, we cannot obtain.

Some sand is washed out to sea, some makes the beach, some is dry, some wet ....
I generally/genuinely don't see my place in the patterns.
I resent being a grain of sand in a bigger picture.
I'm arrogant enough to think I may be the irritant making a pearl in an oyster ...
arrogant enough, even, to think that might be a good thing.

I imagine that I can feel understanding lurking out there ... just over the horizon.



I often feel as though I'm running ... running away from things, running just to keep up with everyone else, and sometimes (when I'm at my best) running towards something.

Normally, for me, running is a metaphor. 

I don't generally like running for exercise, and people my size cause upset when seen running ... people generally assume something is chasing me, and they start running too. 

I have been known to cause stampedes.

Starting this weekend though, I began to actually run, to improve my health and wind and strength and speed ... not a difficult task given my starting point.

I'm using an iPhone app that mixes an interactive storyline with my music to hold my interest and keep me going ... this helps because I find running to be both boring and painful otherwise.

It's been fun so far, and I'm hoping that I can push through the initial sofa-slug and ouchy-thighs stage with the help of zombies that want to eat my tasty, tasty brains.

I'm a big fan of zombies in films and stories, and my running program and I are relying on that love and fear and fascination to keep me running ... that and beat-tastic music that keeps me moving during my own personal chase scenes.

It's not entirely unlike this ... (note: you only need to watch the first 15 seconds or so to get the idea)


The reason for my inclusion of this post in my blog is that I'm running ... running towards a slightly different me:

  • a me that can climb stairs without huffing and puffing as though I'm trying to blow someone's house down
  • a me that lives long enough to write down all the stories banging around in my head
  • a me who can be more comfortable sitting down to write for hours at a time without getting a sore back
  • and, of course, a me that can easily outrun a hungry horde of medula-munching zombies in the inevitable zombocalypse

It's been slow going in the first few days, but I want to keep going for the above reasons ... as well as one other, unexpected benefit.

When I get back from a run, collapsing into my comfy reading chair with a cold drink, I find my exercise-oxygenated brain full of new ideas for stories and/or approaches to the stories I'm already working on. 

The combination of exertion and sweating and breathing hard and running to exhaustion seems to create a new/different type of creative sweet spot, at least for me.

I'm going to keep running, for a variety of reasons, and towards a variety of things.




Kickstarter-ing My Next Novel

I'm using Kickstarter to help crowdfund my next novel, and am about halfway to my fundraising goal with two weeks left; I thought this would be a good time/chance to talk a bit about Kickstarter, and my Kickstarter campaign in particular.

Kickstarter is being used by lots of independent authors to help fund their writing in much the same way that advances used from publishing houses used to work; the big difference is that readers and patrons of the arts get to choose which writers and projects to fund, and to fund them directly, instead of through the proxy of a huge multinational.

My Kickstarter Campaign
I'm a teacher during the school year, and write my novels during the summer. I'm asking for people to pledge money to help me secure the same cabin that I used for my summer writing session last year because I was incredibly productive and inspired during the week that I spent there last summer; I would love to repeat that experience again this summer while writing my next novel.

What I get out of this:
If my project on Kickstarter is funded, I'll get enough money to pay for the writing retreat, and have a fantastic week in a peaceful and secluded cabin writing my next novel.

What you get out of this:
If you fund my project on Kickstarter, you get the satisfaction of supporting a writer doing his thing, BUT you also get a variety of more tangible 'Thank You Gifts' from me, commensurate with the level at which you choose to participate. Some of the lower levels simply involve my looping you in on my progress while at the writing retreat, others include signed copies of the new book (or all of my books), and it goes up from there.

The big point is that you're not giving me money and getting nothing but the satisfaction of supporting an author while he 'auths', you're giving me money and getting some great thank you gifts and getting the satisfaction of supporting an author while he 'auths'.

I'm intrigued ... how can I find out more about this fascinating concept?
I'm glad you asked. To find out more about the Kickstarter in general, and/or my project in particular, you should click on one of the numerous links in this blog entry and explore the information provided on the Kickstarter website.

My project page is loaded with useful information about the writing retreat, great pictures of the cabin, descriptions of the various levels of thank you gifts, and even an informative (and thankfully quite short) video explaining everything about everything in just under 3 minutes.




They Love ....

We found them (or they found us)
in times of need;
we needed fur-children and they needed homes.

It doesn't work perfectly, but it works;
all of our lives are better with all of us in them.

We love them and they love us, certainly ... with certainty;
the miraculous thing is the other love, the unexpected love.

Puck and Miles love each other ... incredibly, impressively, inspiringly

They are broken dogs, but perhaps, broken in the same ways;
their phobias and other issues dovetail rather than grate.

The world chewed them up and spit them out,
and ultimately found them wanting, but unwanted.

At the end of the line, maybe beyond the end,
they found us, and more importantly, each other,

Their lot in life is to live with, and love, each other ... and that's a lot.