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!





Welcome to Blurb Boot Camp!

I had a serious wake-up call last May when my editor asked me if I had any promotional blurbs to print on the outside of Naked and Hungry. You’ve heard of blurbs, right? Those jazzy little snippets kindly provided by more successful writers. Oh, and we had about a month to get these. Gulp!

The good news is that I didn’t have time to panic. So I reached out to friends and other writers, some whom I knew and some who were referred to me by dear friends such as the inimitable John Graham, literary muse and more to hundreds. To be fair, some folks said no but most, surprisingly, said yes. This yielded three blurbs as well as three more proofreaders, all of whom generously pointed out errors in my manuscript that I had missed.

Next, I reached out to a publisher who declined to publish my book but hired me as a copyeditor for his own books. And since every “no” may hide a “yes,” I reached out to an editor who denied my short story (too long for his publication) but had offered to review my novel in his literary journal. And last, I reached out to the editor of my hometown newspaper and a local environmentalist  (another friend’s referral) since my book had an environmental theme. Fini!

Now that I passed basic training for writing publicity (albeit barely, whew!), I thought I’d share these hints as well as my blueprint for the next time. For my second book, I plan a bolder and slightly savvier approach First, I’m starting much, much earlier and reaching a little wider. I plan to reach out to the same kind of writers who inspired me. What do I have to lose? I also plan to reach out to more area journalists and local booksellers whom I’ve met as I’ve promoted my first book.

I also plan to submit more of my writing such as shorter pieces or publication and to contests. Hopefully, this will not only yield more exposure it will introduce me to more influence leaders who might be willing to lend their name to my second book. Worst case, I’ll make even more friends!

Because I’m still learning, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reach out to all of you and ask your thoughts. Referrals, ideas and thoughts are welcome!