Tag Archives: blogging

Hello July: Berries, Weeds…and a Lunar Eclipse!

blackberrySummer is here. No question. The dog days of August arrived early this year. Trust me. With two canines lying flat on their sides on the cool concrete of the porch, too enervated to even wag their tails at me, I know it’s true.

I can’t complain too much. After all, July is my birthday month (the 6th!) AND our anniversary month (the 7th!) and…. the month of berries and freestone peaches. Hurray! July also brings back that cherished, although awkward, memory of the lunar eclipse of 1982. Anybody else remember that? I boiled down that long-ago experience into an ultrashort flash essay that Mental Papercuts just kindly published in their Issue 1.5, Weird Summer Vibes. If you’re hankering for wildly creative, off-the-wall summer stories that may bring back memories of your own, please check it out.

Three poems of mine also appeared today, more writing inspired by the summer. “What the Weeds in My Yard Taught Me About Social Justice” and “September Raspberry” bloomed in the Summer 2019 issue of Gyroscope Review. And “Pulling Up the Wild Blackberry Bushes” just unfurled in the July issues of the gorgeous O.Henry and Pinestraw magazines, both of which are distributed in locations across the state.

As a reminder to all my writer friends, July also marks the halfway point for what we hope will be a productive year of writing. Now’s the time to start penning, gulp, other seasonal pieces (think: Halloween and Christmas) and most importantly, setting goals to improve.

Chinese fortune cookies are fun, not always prescient, but they can be surprisingly profound. Here’s one just for you. Of all our human resources, the most precious is our desire to improve.

So what are you doing to get better? For me, it means leading two workshops this summer at The Joyful Jewel because I learn as much, if not more, from my fellow workshop participants as they do from me! It also means taking a memoir class led by Dorit Sasson through Women on Writing, my favorite space for online writing classes.

I’m a little nervous because I’m new to the field of memoir (and a beginner in the world of creative nonfiction) but the good news is that I’ve got lots to learn. This means I’ll never be bored!

Stay cool, eat your berries, and set your own improvement goals!

Ashley

 

 

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Life is Just a Bowl of … Tart Cherries

Today I attended a meeting of the Sisters in Crime writers’ club where the speaker was none other than my fellow novelist Rick Bylina. His talk on social media was both informative, and, as always, entertaining. He stressed the importance of blogging, which inspired a great lunch discussion. All writers, myself included, sometimes struggle with this. You’re already a writer, so you have your book(s). So what do you write about in your blog?

Rick wisely advised us to just be ourselves. Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you have to blog about the dangers of dangling   participles or how the comma is provoking civil unrest in Denmark. It’s perfectly fine to blog about your cat, the dogwoods you’ve just planted, or even just the kind of day you’re having. There is always a connection to your inner world, the most precious domain of the writer. It was to Rick’s credit that we all left the meeting newly inspired about our blogs.

On that note, yesterday I travelled to a cherry orchard just north of the state border. The purpose was cherry-picking, more precisely, to take advantage of the two-week window in early June when you can pluck those delicious garnets of the cherry world: Montmorency cherries. Unlike sweet Bing or black cherries, Montmorencies are tantalizing tangy; small but nearly perfectly round and so glossy that they look as if each one had been polished by the cherry fairies. Imagine a tree filled with marachino cherries and you’re there! Cocktail time. Pie time. Cobbler time.

Having baked with my share of sweet cherries, which are delicious in their own right, I had always wondered what makes tart cherries so coveted for the pie. Well, just a few hours later, after taking two crumb-topped cherry pies out of the oven, I knew. The piquant, mouth-watering flavor of the Montmorency gives your pie an irresistible kick. It’s the conflict in your novel. The menace in your plot. The poignancy in your happy ending.

Such reflections are the benefit of taking a day away from the writing. You’re also rewarded with a host of new sensory experiences and characters galore, from hippies to cherry rustlers to the two men who nearly came to blows in the parking lot about a little bump-up.

Then there was the wise-cracking orchardess (orchardatrix?) who was pushing the weary cherry pickers to the scale and then on to the cash register. When asked if it was okay to eat the cherries without washing them first (even though we’d been sneaking them all day), she said: “Ain’t nothing wrong with them cherries. If there were, I’d be dead by now.”