3/5/2023 0 Comments
My short story Annie's Snow appears in the Pikes Peak Writers anthology Journeys Into Possibility. On sale soon!
Here is more info about the anthology:
Now that the past few years are behind us it’s time to come out and play! Are you ready to go on a journey to a place you have never been before? What would you like to do? Maybe a swim with dolphins, meet strange new creatures, or see John Dillinger behind bars? You could take a trip through time, visit a new planet, or hop on a train worn with memories. The possibilities are just a page away.
Welcome to the third anthology of stories and poems written by twenty-one talented member authors of Pikes Peak Writers. It has been quite a trip this past year finding our way to the end of our journey and the beginning of yours. Journeys into Possibility will come to print this month. Bowen, Kim O., C.S., Steven, and Kim L. pushed through the slush pile of over 200 submissions. Then, the editorial team Deborah Brewer, Kim Olgren, and Kathie Scrimgeour compiled all of it to bring you these adventures in writing. The editors want to extend a special thank you to the cover designer, Josh Clark whose artistic eye hasn't failed, along with Pam McCutcheon who graciously stepped up to put it all together in a cohesive file that the distributor can work with.
So, strap in and get comfortable as we travel into the imaginative realm of possibilities. Together, we will journey into all things possible and impossible. Once you’ve been there and back again, you won’t be quite the same.
2/26/2023 0 Comments
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
My short story Claire's Cabin appears in the March/April 2023 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
In Claire’s Cabin, three women settle beside the fireplace in a mountain cabin after a successful deer hunt. Friends since high school, each faced small town gossip and condemnation for their youthful indiscretions. They discuss an old mystery – the disappearance of an eccentric artist's abusive husband fifteen years ago. The former owner of the cabin they're in used found materials, including dead animals, in her artwork. After her husband vanished, Claire moved to a New Mexico artists' colony and found the peace she always desired. The women hunters puzzle over the mystery, while enjoying the second chance they each have achieved.
2/20/2023 0 Comments
Bighorn Sheep Day
I was a day early for the 18th Annual Bighorn Sheep Day. My youngest granddaughter and I were enjoying the afternoon, and decided at the last minute to drive through the Garden of the Gods. We were stopped by traffic when my granddaughter pointed and exclaimed, "Wow!"
A park ranger waved us along, trying to keep traffic moving. Amazingly, we found a parking space. Neither of us was dressed for hiking, but we managed to clamber down an icy trail.
A herd of bighorn sheep tolerated adoring crowds, lounging and grazing just off the main road through the park. One large ram seemed to pose for photos.
This has become an annual event for my family. We manage to see the sheep almost every year.
The sign says: "KEEP OUT! Please observe from the trail." I imagine summer visitors straining to see the sheep. I have only seen them in the winter or spring.
2/12/2023 0 Comments
2/5/2023 1 Comment
January 13, 1931 - Plot Twist
I promised to follow up on my previous post, Keep This Check. I speculated on what the weather was like on January 13, 1931, and if Mrs. Clark herself ventured out to purchase underwear.
I found a shocking twist as revealed in my great-grandfather's journal (image below), as well as a photo of the store.
C. A. Smith & Son General Merchandise was built in 1910. By this fateful day, it had already been operating for over two decades. Mrs. Clark did not go shopping, and it wasn't the weather that kept her away. She was ailing. So the Mrs. Blogg or Blagg in my previous post must have made the purchase for her.
The morning began with frigid temperatures. George Caitlin Berry reported at 8am it was 5 degrees below zero F.
"I was up to see Mrs Clark this morning, she is in bad shape. Doc Fleeger says he don't think she will get over it. Ma is going up at 10:30 to see her. Bob Smith will take her up. Mrs. Frankie Clark died at 3:30 pm today. She was a good old friend of mine. She was 77 yrs - 7 mo - 3 days of age. She had many good traits and was very determined in her likes and dislikes."
So a few of my questions are answered, but one remains. Why did Mrs. B purchase underwear and hose for Mrs. Clark while the woman was on her deathbed? I may never know, but it has been fun putting together the clues.
1/28/2023 1 Comment
Keep This Check
I am actively de-cluttering my home. Last weekend, I shredded my Blockbuster membership card. Afterward, I wondered if I had destroyed a treasure future generations would marvel over.
Okay, that's a bit ridiculous. However, I am marveling at this receipt dated 1/13/1931. I found it in an old chest my mother left to my brother. He asked me to clean it out, to save old family photos for what's becoming a massive archive.
Mrs. Clark purchased underwear and hose from C. A. Smith & Son, General Merchandise, in Willow Lakes, South Dakota. The cost was $1.58. On the back of the receipt is the admonition to "Keep This Check."
Indeed, Mrs. Clark and her descendants kept that check, although the underwear and hose have long ago disintegrated and returned to the earth. I have a vague notion Mrs. Clark was a relative or at least neighbor to my mother's family.
Great-great grandfather Captain William Nelson Berry homesteaded in Willow Lake in 1882, but passed away in 1909. He was no longer alive to witness the momentous occasion of Mrs. Clark's underwear purchase, but my great-grandparents and grandparents were around.
Did Mrs. Clark walk to the store? Ride in a horse drawn wagon? Or was she escorted in an automobile, still a bit of a novelty in semi-rural South Dakota in 1931. Was Mrs. Blogg or Blagg a shop clerk? Or did she run an errand for Mrs. Clark? Was Mrs. Clark actually there? Which neighbors might she have encountered? Was the January weather intense? Or had she taken advantage of a mild day to obtain the critical items?
When I have the time, I may be able to find a photo of C. A. Smith & Son's establishment. Who knows, maybe Mrs. Blogg/Blagg and Mrs. Clark are depicted in the Clark County history book. My great-grandfather's journal might have clues to the happenings of the day. Or at least the weather report, which he recorded with regularity every single day.
I have to be careful not to become too caught up in the past, although teasing out the story fascinates me. It's the mystery author in me, I suppose. I may eventually create a "murder board" style research tool to put together the crumbs of history to complete this day in 1931.
1/4/2023 0 Comments
Resolutions versus Plans
A resolution needs to be backed up with a plan. For example:
Resolution: I resolve to drink more water. Vague. No tangible measurement of success.
Plan: I have a beverage container of known volume. I will drink four of those full of water a day to equal my 8x8 - eight glasses of eight ounces. Solid. Success can easily be measured.
Resolution: I will get back into a regular writing routine. What is "regular"? How is that measured?
Plan: My calendar lists projects and deadlines. Some have detailed goals of how many words must be completed by which date. Success is defined. Goals can be quantified. Work time is recorded.
When you have contracts and deadlines, it's easy to measure writing success. With other fiction projects, your goals may be more difficult to define. It's helpful to set word or page goals - how many a week. Or completion goals - rough draft of a short story by the end of February.
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. That is where a plan makes itself useful. If you are bumped off track by life events, you can consult your plan when things settle back to normal. Or some version of normal.
We're nearly halfway through January. Resolutions may be falling by the wayside as I speak. But plans endure. Stick to it, and you'll make progress toward your 2023 goals.
The ending of 2022 felt like saying goodbye to a bad houseguest. I just wanted it to be gone.
Good things happened in 2022. But they were weighed down by the burdens of stress and sadness.
Some events in our lives are beyond our control. Certain responsibilities are unavoidable. Others we take on (okay, speaking for myself) because somebody has to take care of the task, and no one else is stepping up.
In 2023, I pledge to take care of myself before tackling all those have-to-dos that really don't have to be done.
My resolution? Me First.
12/14/2022 0 Comments
A Rough Ending to 2022
The year has been stressful as my mother's health declined. The end of October, she passed away.
She would be happy to know her children have grown closer as we came together to honor her life. We're being faithful stewards of all that massive family history archive she left behind.
Eighty-nine years seems like a long life. Even so, Mom left many things undone. Like finishing her dozen or so cross-stitch and crochet projects, completing the many to-be-read novels on her lamp stand, or labeling the rest of the old family photos.
This is what I had to say about Mom at her memorial service:
Ten Life Lessons from My Mother
I didn’t understand when Mom moved to Colorado in 2014 how delicate her health was, and she didn’t tell me. Relatively spry for her age, Mom managed for several years in an independent senior apartment. Then her lungs and heart gave her increasing trouble.
Mom almost died in March 2020. My siblings recall the tearful phone call as I advised them she was not going to survive. The chaplain sat with me, and the health professionals explained the process to “pull the plug.” My daughter and I left the hospital that night, convinced Mom would not make it to the next dawn.
When we returned in the morning, Mom sat at a table eating her breakfast. She looked up, saw us, and said, “What?” We expressed our amazement. Mom explained she saw us crying, and didn’t want to leave, seeing how sad we were.
Mom dodged death a couple more times. When her great granddaughter heard us talking about Mom being on death’s doorstep, she said, “It’s a good thing Grandma Jane got tired and laid down to take a nap, so she didn’t go through the door.”
My number ten life lesson from Mom is, “If you find yourself on death’s doorstep, ring the doorbell and run away giggling.”
9/7/2022 0 Comments
A Green Summer
Typically by this time in August, Colorado has turned crispy brown. Due to a return of our monsoon season, we're still enjoying green meadows and wildflowers.
I don't miss the continual wildfire smoke of the last few summers. Much of our smoke blew in from other states. But for several horrible years, large swaths of Colorado forest burned, making the air unhealthy. Although wildfire smoke does make for spectacular sunsets.
A benefit of a green summer with no smoky skies is that I can sit outside to write. I have spent a lot of time on our deck. I've watched cucumbers grow. Seriously. The skinny little cylinders expand and grow quickly.
The days are growing shorter, and the evenings cooler. This year, I can say I have made the most of my summer.
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