Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CHECK FOR INSECURITIES IN YOUR PAST, PLEASE! - AN IWSG POST



It’s Tuesday, January 3rd and I’m sitting here trying to decide what I want to write for my IWSG post. I’m not feeling particularly insecure today. I found out over the weekend that I was the ‘Runner UP’ in the December WEP Challenge and for me, that was a pretty big deal.

Now, you might be thinking, Geez! that’s second place (or as my kids would say, the first loser-rude as that may be), but coming in second out of twenty on only my second time entering this Challenge, was a pretty big deal to me. ALSO, the piece I entered was one of the short stories that I have been accumulating as part of my ‘memoir’. Yeah, you read that right, I’ve been working on a memoir. I had started thinking that it would never see the light of day. Why? Because it’s so personal. Let me explain.

I had the good fortune to be raised by two especially wacky people. I’m an only child and my parents were well into their forties when I was born. They had tried before and my mother suffered numerous miscarriages and even a still born baby. I never doubted for a minute that I was loved and wanted. I admit while I was a teenager there were moments when I doubted my love and/or need for them, but in retrospect…what a fool I was. My mother left this world way too early and needless to say I was much too young to be without her, but that’s a choice we don’t get to make. Daddy lived to be ninety and we had our ups and downs but, today I can honestly say I am who I am because of them and their somewhat unorthodox upbringing.

My love for them and the personal nature of my ‘memoir stories’ make them hard to share. As a writer I’m learning to develop a thicker skin when it comes to critiques of my work, but when it comes to the non-fiction of my life, it’s a whole ‘nother story. I’m very protective of my parents and the memories of our life together. I’m worried that I don’t have the skill to tell these stories in a manner that would convey the love, devotion and even the spiritual nature of our relationship, through some of the outrageous experiences we’ve shared.

Anyway… this brings me back to the WEP Challenge ‘Runner Up’ win. What an incredible boost to not only my ego, but the possible release of some of these stories that are so near and dear to my heart.

The IWSG question of the month is:

What writing rule do you wish you had never heard?

BACKSTORY! That pesky rule that says never ever have an ‘info dump’ of BACKSTORY, but rather dole it out slowly. Sometimes that’s very hard. Sometimes all that BACKSDTORY, sets the time, place, or world of the story. Sometimes that BACKSTORY is integral to character development.

I’ve had several critiques of a WIP that uses BACKSTORY in exactly this (these really, because it’s more than one) reason, and the critiques are conflicting. they go from, ‘Never ever do this.’ To, ‘go ahead and break this rule, because it’s really good and necessary’. I get confused and feel conflicted. I guess I’ll just have to go with my gut and submit it with the BACKSTORY as an info dump and let the professionals tell me, if this is a rule that can be broken, and if I  have the skill to break it properly.

I have always had a hard time with rules. Go ahead, blame my parents.

The IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, today it has grown so much, he has a lot of help pulling it off. If you want to know more, or would like to read other insightful posts on this topic, please go HERE for a complete list of the participants. While you’re there give a shout-out and thank you to Mr.
Cavanaugh and the others who work so hard to bring this monthly blog-hop your way.



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

'Silent Night' - December WEP Challenge - Utopian Dream






It's time for another WEP Challenge. This quarter the theme is:




The following is from my Memoir Series of Short Stories, it may not be exactly the type of 'Utopian Dream' that the Challenge promoters are looking for, but for me personally it is a Utopian Dream of a perfect world, or at least one near perfect night, that has been gone from my grasp for quite some time.

While my Utopian Dream might seem a little bit strange to you, please remember, 'one man's floor is another man's ceiling'.



Silent Night


‘Silent Night, Holy Night     All is calm, All is Bright’

Without fail every Christmas Eve was spent at my ‘Busia’s’. My mother’s entire family gathered for this affair. Momma came from a family of ten children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. They were rowdy, messy, loud, exciting and Polish. We children were hyped up on candy, soda pop, and the promise of a visit from Santa.

The adult activities included the uncles dropping shots of whiskey into mugs of beer in a contest of who could gulp theirs down the quickest. Music was played at the highest possible decibel level and sung at the top of their lungs. It was not unusual to experience laughing, joking, storytelling, and even the occasional brawl; all within a few hours’ time.

Round yon virgin, Mother and Child

Momma was the only sibling to marry outside of her nativity. Daddy was neither Polish nor Catholic, but he could party with the best of them. Of course he was often the source of some major disagreement which could easily lead to fisticuffs. I could see the fear in Momma’s eyes at the beginning of every family gathering. I would silently pray ‘Daddy, please don’t get drunk this Christmas’,

Holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

There was talk of Midnight Mass and who was old enough to attend that year. Just another tiny aspect of this family life that left me on the sidelines. Sure I was exposed to Catholicism in every possible manner, but Daddy would have no part of their official religious observances like Midnight Mass. We were Protestant through and through. Church was for Sundays, or at least most Sundays. Christmas Eve was supposed to be a party.

Silent Night, Holy Night     Shepherds Quake at the Sight

There would come a time, shortly before the men gathered for the ritual penny-ante poker game when we children were assembled together in ‘Busia’s’ meager living room combination kitchen. Normally Momma would lead us off singing ‘Santa Clause is coming to Town’ and within the first few measures we would all strain to hear the jingle of sleigh bells. Sure enough; the bells would ring and the Jolly Ole Elf himself would appear at the door, laden down with gifts for each girl and boy.

Glories stream from heaven afar,     Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!

This was it. This was the moment the cousins had been waiting for and anticipating with glorious visions of what they might receive as an early present from that man in red. Once again, I was set apart. See, I was in on the secret of ‘Santa’s Helpers’. The excitement and anticipation was so great by everyone else, they didn’t seem to notice that Daddy had slipped away. Or maybe everyone was relieved that the cause of tension in the room had expired. I never knew for sure. Either way it wasn’t until adulthood that the secret was revealed to all. Daddy was Santa.

Christ the Savior is born.     Christ the Savior is born.

As children our minds were far from the real reason for celebration at this time. We were caught up in the circus of pleasure that only a true believer can experience at Christmastime. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I came to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. The pure love that was showered down upon us all. But in that moment of childhood, even with all the feelings of separateness I felt on those Christmases, that pure love flowed through my family and into my heart.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace.  Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

Go ahead, tell me what you think. I'm happy to have a 'full critique' on this piece. 

With Christmas being only four days away, and my usual condition of being 'a day late and a dollar short', it may take me awhile to get around to visit everybody, but I will do my best to make it before we ring in 2017.

I probably won't post again before 2017 so I sure do hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May we all be in for many more 'Silent Night's in the future.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

AIN'T LIFE GRAND - AN IWSG POST



It’s IWSG Day and I’m late getting my post up. Not surprised, are you? LET ME EXPLAIN!


By way of explanation I’m going to talk a little bit about myself (something I am normally loathe to do). I have an autoimmune disease. This means that my immune system has decided (by some freak of nature) the some of my organs are the enemy and it regularly attacks them; namely my thyroid and kidneys. My poor kidneys are already in a weakened condition, so it is an extreme concern to keep the ole immune system as happy as possible, so it’s lays off of em. On top of that I suffer from Fibromyalgia, most likely brought on by severe nerve damage as a result of chemotherapy (yes, I’m also a cancer survivor). Because of the aforementioned conditions I suffer from chronic pain and fatigue. Some days, like today for example, I have to lay down for a little bit after taking a shower, I’m that worn out by the activity (ain’t life grand).


These conditions are exacerbated by a  host of things that occur for most of us in the normal routine of life; like stress, over-activity, anxiety, the common cold, and changes in the weather (just to name a few). Yesterday was a day from hell for me, and a perfect storm for my unfortunate physiology. Top that off by the fact that today the weather is changing and storms are moving in. Yeah, today is not one of my happier days.


I don’t like to talk about this for a number of reasons, I try to remain positive, not giving into the pain, fatigue, or the fact that there is no cure for my problems. I can do certain things to control it, but some things are simply not with in my realm. I don’t like to complain or appear weak. Nobody likes a whiner. I suppose I also harbor the belief that by not talking about this, it will somehow go away. I know, I know; classic denial.  


Anyway…why am I telling you all of this personal carp today, well it plays directly into the reasons why I write and how I look at the future. Today’s question for the December IWSG is:


In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?


First, let me tell you that I write for myself. Oh yeah, I hope that someone else will enjoy my stories and want to get lost in them, but that is always, Always, ALWAYS, SECONDARY. You see, I write to outrun the pain, to catch up with the pain, to endure the pain, to forget about the pain, and ultimately to learn to live with it. Because of my constant companion I normally don’t look too far into the future. Many days, my main concern is getting through that particular one with as much grace and optimism as possible. Days like today, I’m working on it hour by hour.


As to whether or not I actually have a writing career, who knows? But I do know one thing for sure and that is that I will keep writing, keep running (at least figuratively), and keep hoping. For all good things are possible with God, and He too is my constant companion.


Now, I hope this post wasn’t too much of a downer. The last thing I want is pity or undue attention from anyone because of my condition. Perhaps is prove to have been good for me to talk openly about this. You never know. Please hop around to other participants where I’m sure you’ll find more uplifting and informative posts than what I’ve had to say here. Please, stop by and thank Mr. Alec J. Cavanaugh (find him HERE) and his co-hosts for the inspiration behind the IWSG (find the list and more information HERE), and no matter what the future holds for any of us NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR WRITING OR YOUR DREAMS.