Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Readin', Writin', 'Rithmetic...It's Elementary

Though it's summer, I feel like I'm back in elementary school, since my days are filled with reading, writing and arithmetic. As I have for the past decade, I'm reading the selections of fellow members for two monthly book groups, as well as submissions for Not Your Mother's Book two upcoming anthologies, On Sharing Secrets and My First Time. Additionally, I'm reading descriptions of apartments for seniors in the Southern California Long Beach and Orange County areas, since I'm keeping a positive attitude that I'll sell my house here in Northeast Washington.

I'm continuing to write creative nonfiction for anthologies. Right now there's 90 books containing my stories on top the entertainment center. A few more are set to arrive any day, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?, Not Your Mother's Book...On Cats, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life and Dear Nana, a collection of stories about grandmothers. I've also received word that my stories are being considered for Not Your Mother's Book...On Working for a Living and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some other submissions, as well, including Not Your Mother's Book...On Sex and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness. I've even sent a new story for Chicken Soup for the Soul's Christmas 2015 book, ever hopeful, even though I've never had a story selected for their Christmas book series.  Hoping to break 100 by year's end!

My article on the recent Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop appears in the summer issue of Uncle Jam, debuting at cartoonist and publisher Phil Yeh's booth at San Diego's Comic Con this weekend: This month Publishing Syndicate's free monthly Wow Principles online newsletter will feature my article on dialogue tags, a fun piece to research. (If you haven't signed up for this, do so now...there's over five years of archives worth browsing if you're a writer, or want to be.)

Like other freelancers who are supplementing their fixed retirement incomes, I make a lists of income and outgo, and consider new sources of work-from-home, adding and subtracting and figuring where to splurge and where to cut back. My second term with the Washington State medical board (Medical Quality Assurance Commission) won't end until the close of August, so I'm still reading complaints about doctors and physician assistants. Additionally, I served as a federal grant reviewer for the Department of Education's Primary and Secondary School Counseling program at the beginning of summer, so spent a solid two weeks reviewing, analyzing, scoring and discussing grant applications. These two activities keep me professionally up-to-date on health and education trends, plus bring a little additional income to my retirement years. 

I'm looking for new paying markets for writers, and have updated resumes for grant reviewers for other federal agencies, figuring I'll have more leeway in my schedule once I won't have the every-six-weeks trips to Olympia or Seattle for the medical commission. I remain hopeful that I'll sell the house and find a small apartment with no yard to tend to. That should save many more hours for reading and writing, and lessen the budget arithmetic.

I'm still California dreamin' and will be exploring housing possibilities, and hanging out with friends and relatives, this next week...and that should be something to write about!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't Tug on Supermom's Cape!

The "Accidental" Stacey

Today's a big day for Stacey Gustafson, who was my accidental roommate at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop this past April. This is the book cover release for her upcoming book, Are You Kidding Me? Do you think that's Stacey on this cover, looking harried while sporting all the attractive cleavage? Are you kidding me? Here's the real Stacey, in her Malificent glory.
The "Real" Stacey

How do I know Stacey Gustafson and why do I care what she has to say? A couple of years ago I selected one of her stories for Not Your Mother's Book...On Travel. So we corresponded over edits to that. And then Stacey stepped in as my Marriott roomie when Joyce Ann Newman Scott had to step aside because of a family emergency. And that's when I learned you don't mess around with Stacey. No, siree, folks. So you better buy her book, to be released this fall...or who knows what she might do to you. As the late Jim Croce would say, you don't mess around with her!

You see, Stacey takes no prisoners. To continue the martial metaphor, she shoots from the hip. Just see what she did to poor little innocent me, who graciously offered her the chance to stay at the prestigious Mariott in Dayton, when she thought she'd have to settle for the makeshift lodgings for orphans. You'll see how trickily snarky this mom can be. Please, please, read the comments following Stacey's piece. You'll see what I mean.

Here's what Stacey has to say in her defense:

I am an author, humor columnist, and blogger who has experienced the horrors of being trapped inside a pair of SPANX. My blog, Are You Kidding Me? is based on my suburban family and everyday life. My short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Not Your Mother’s Books. My work appears in Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Generation Fabulous, ZestNow, More Magazine, Pleasanton Patch, Lost in Suburbia, Better After 50 and on my daughter’s bulletin board. I live in California with my husband and two teenagers that provide an endless supply of inspiration. I write about parenting and daily frustrations like my dislike of laundry, the DMV, and being middle-aged. I hope to entertain you one story at a time. Now go get your funny on!

Please order Stacey's book, and let her entertain you! You'll be glad you did. Maybe. If you are lucky enough to have evaded her notice!

Here's what her publicist has to say:

Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt. 

As soon as purchase information is available, I'll post it...Blue Lobster Book Company and Amazon will be letting us know soon when and how we can buy this book. I can hardly wait. I'm so glad I met Stacey...after her manuscript was completed!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Anyway Anniversary

July 1, 2000, Sparks, NV

Ken and I should be celebrating our 14th anniversary today. We'd likely go to Stephani's Oak Street Grill for an Early Bird Special...maybe the wild salmon, which we both favored. He'd mix a pair of his favorite brandy Manhattans and we'd toast. He'd survey our front yard gardens, smile approvingly, and announce, "I just love it here." He did. And then we'd settle down to a riotous evening of watching reruns of NCIS...or, if we were lucky, Gunsmoke.

Though Ken died just weeks short of our 9th anniversary, I still commemorate these days that should have been. And why not? You don't stop remembering your mom's birthday (tomorrow, July 2, as a matter of fact), just because she died decades ago. You don't stop remembering other important dates of events just because they're history. What is history? The whole series of past events connected with someone or something. And that someone, Ken, and something, our relationship, will always be connected to me.

In Requiem for a Nun William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead ... actually, it's not even past." So if I want to celebrate an anniversary today, I've got good reason. A marriage to me is never over, the way I see it, whether it's supposedly terminated by divorce or death. The relationship lives on, at least in memories. Those memories rush back on what I call Anyway Anniversaries.

So, Ken Wilson, Happy Anyway Anniversary!