Category Archives: Women Writers

RevitalWriters: Critique. Done. Write.

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REVITALWRITERS

A WEEKLY COHORT FOR WRITERS

This is what has kept me very busy over the last couple of weeks. Michael Grant, Artie Ohanian, and I have put together a Virtual Writer’s Group. RevitalWriters is for writers of any style or genre (poetry; fiction; non-fiction; memoir/biography; etc.) who want/need support for their WIP (Work(s) In Progress). All this leading to achieving a finished manuscript to send off to agents and/or publishers.

The sessions will run every Friday night, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST. If you are in any other time zone, if you’d like to become part of the cohort, let us know.

Our Goal: To offer support, encouragement, and constructive critique in a safe space.

We are not a prompt/generative writing group that you join when the planets align. Our intention is that writers serious about their craft get what they need to to finish and submit.

For full details of how each session will be run, visit RevitalWriters.  You’ll find our guidelines, About page, contact information, and upcoming Resource For Writers and Blog pages.

I hope you can join us in our first group meeting at RevitalWriters Session.  Friday, July 10, 2020, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST.

PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION:

RevitalWriters@gmail.com

I hope to see you there.

 

Upended, IRL

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Escher

Relativity by M. C. Escher

Upended, IRL

“Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Daphne sighed, folding her arms tightly across her chest.

She was disappointed that the unusual was becoming the norm.

The sight of Mabel being upside down made it difficult for Daphne to understand: was Mabel aware of the problem?

Daphne tried placing mirrors in strategic locations to provide feedback to Mable.

Mabel thought that Daphne was confused about who was upside down.

The bell from the Ice Cream Truck rang out from down the street.

Mabel wasn’t sure if the sound came from the left or the right side.

It was just enough to remind her that chocolate was her favorite flavor.

Mabel got her coat and went out to the Ice Cream Truck.

When she got there, the Ice Cream man was upside down as well.

Daphne, right behind her, paid for the chocolate ice cream cone, clicked her heels, and joined the others, upside down.

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Notes:

For the past month, I have been leading an Intro To Creative Writing/Storytelling class. This was set up by an organization that offers hands-on explorations for the senior community in New Rochelle, NY (but is open to anyone in the area). In our final session, I closed the group with a Round Robin writing challenge. I gave them a prompt from #storyseeds cards, created by Laura Packer. I randomly pulled a card from the pack and used that for the opening line: “Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Everyone wrote that down in their writer’s journal and then added the next sentence. Once everyone lowered their pens, the journals were passed to the right. That person had to continue the story with, again, one sentence. Pens lowered. Pass to your right. This was repeated until the writer’s own journal was in front of them. They had to option to add one more sentence (they all did) to tie the story up the best they could.

The entire group enjoyed this activity. It also gave them a piece of everyone involved to take home with them. That, in itself, created a beautiful close to our group. Community happens when you allow it and help it grow.

The above is from my journal. After the prompt, the first and last lines are mine. The rest is a piece where I can carry all of them along with me. All the stories were different. Most had whimsey and humor; a few took on a more serious tone in places. Different POV’s/ways of thinking coming together.

Keep writing.

KingCon: Haverstraw Library’s annual comic convention! Saturday, August 3

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I have been honored to be a panelist at a

Modern Speculative Writing Program!!!

Speculative Fiction is a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. It includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magic Realism, and so much more. Speculative fiction writing takes the imagination as far as it can go, and then some.

Located in beautiful Rockland County (less than an hour northwest of NYC), the Haverstraw King’s Daughter’s Public Library is holding their annual comic convention, KingCon. Yes, the pun fits.

Taylor Voght, author and MFA at Manhattanville College, will be our moderator as we delve into what makes Speculative Writing so attractive, contemplate the nature of sequential narration, and share what inspires us to write as we do.  Sitting beside me will be noted authors and editors Michelle Levy and Gerrit Overeem.

This is Haverstraw’s SDCC and NYCC, just without the mile-long lines!!

I hope you can make it. If so, stop by after the panel and say ‘Hi!’

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: KingCon!!

Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library
10 W. Ramapo Road
Garnerville, NY 10923

Modern Speculative Writing

1 pm – 1:30 pm, Community Room
For all ages. Speculative fiction requires using your imagination to create entirely new worlds, and it has never been more popular! In this panel, learn from science fiction and fantasy authors Taylor Vogt, Stuart Nager, Michelle Levy, and Gerrit Overeem on how to write your own speculative fiction novel. All attendees will leave with the tools to write their own story!

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Rock Liebster, Mon Amour

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So, once again the fickle finger of fate favors flash fiction here on Tale Spinning. I want to thank Dear Kitty. Some Blog for thinking what I do here is special enough to be granted this nomination. This is the second time (see Tale Spinning April 15, 2018) I have been nominated for the Liebster in the past few months. I had received this nomination a couple of other times over the years, and it doesn’t get old. Harder to come up with questions and people to nominate, but…c’est la prix.

The rules of the Liebster Award, as per Dear Kitty and the person who nominated her are:

1. Acknowledge the blog which nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers.
4. Ask them 11 questions.
5. Let them know you have nominated them.

Slightly different than the rules I received for my April 15th posting, but carry on I shall.
#1: thanks again, Dear Kitty.
#2 Her Questions; My answers:

1. What was your first job? Working in a Chinese Restaurant, filling up the Smorgasbord Table, doing To Go orders. Yes, many customers asked me if I was Chinese.

2. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Don’t become an Elf.

3. Favourite season and why? Vindaloo, cause I like it spicy. Oh, season, not seasoning.  L’automne.

4. Favourite TV show? Right now, iZombie. Way too many others. I’m a TV junkie.

5. When did you first travel alone and where did you go? Shortly after my divorce; San Fransisco.

6. Why did you start a blog? Bordom, and the need for a challenge.

7. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Not lonely, and at the same time being left alone. Complicated even as a kid.

8. Would you rather travel into the future or the past? Neither. Alternate Universe.

9. Do you have any siblings? Nope. I’m an only, for good or bad (see #7)

10. Can you cook well? Yes. Medium and Medium Rare too. Not a big fan of Rare, or Raw.

11.  What is the next thing you plan to learn? Whatever comes my way that I know little or next to little about.

As to #3, nominating 11 other bloggers: nah. Last time I did, only two out of seven followed through. If you, dear reader, want to take this on, please be my guest. Yeah, it’s cheating/lazy, but I have been writing my tuchas off the past few weeks and I be bushed.

Being even lazier, I’m reposting the questions (#4) I came up with on my previous Liebster post. I thought they were pretty good; hopefully, we’ll get more than two answers this time around:

Please be aware that “…and Why?” is invisibly attached at the end of the majority of the questions.  Lazy, remember?

  • If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  • What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  • What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  • What fictional character do you wish you were?
  • Savory or Sweet?
  • What does “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of” mean to you?”
  • You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  • Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  • What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  • What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  • What does writing mean to you?

If you pick up this challenge from me, please just let me know, alongside the accolades you wish to bestow upon me. Money is good too. BTW: this takes care of #5.

I’d love to read your answers. OH, and please don’t cop out with the “I would never” or “I’m fine with” answers. Instead of saying “No” to the question(s), try a big resounding “Yes” and stretch that creative muscle!

P.S. Please copy, paste, and follow the rules on your own blog. Doesn’t really work if you answer the questions in my comment section. Kind of defeats the purpose. Deal?

PPS: I really want either a Katz’s Pastrami sandwich right now, or a real Chocolate Egg Cream. They don’t go together; it’s one or the other. Or bed. Bed sounds good too.

Ta.

Real Neat Blog Award: Peachy Keeno

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So, second time in two weeks, I have a blogging award. Never heard of this one before, but it was created by Dear Kitty: Some Blog in 2014.

I was nominated by someone new (to me) who I discovered, again, through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. The blogger behind A Creative PTSD Gal is busy busy busy. She writes from the heart, and it has been a pleasure to discover her. Two blogs, a whole big family, life…and she does it. Not everyone can. Since she writes a bit more personal items, I don’t think it’s in my wheelhouse to go deeper into her reasons. Check out the above link and I think you’ll be pleased you did. Thank you for the nomination. I hope I can remain neato keeno.

Here come the rules:

The Rules:

  1. Display the award logo: DONE
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog: DONE
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you: See Below
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers: See Below Below
  5. Ask them 7 questions: See Below Below Below

PTSD Gal’s Questions for MOI:

  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic practice? I try not to write during the day because of interruptions (phone calls, mail, meals, life). I usually like starting about 11:00 pm EST.
  2. What has been the most difficult thing to date that you have written about? My one man play based on my father. He was a survivor of Auschwitz.
  3. Do you limit yourself to edits? Not sure how to answer this one. I hate editing, but I know it has to be done. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, like a fine cheese.
  4. Snack or no snack when writing? Beverages always; snacks only when my taste buds cry.
  5. What or who encourages you to keep posting to your blog? Right now, I push myself. It keeps me from negative things.
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A scientist &/or a comic book writer.
  7. Do you have a writing buddy? (Dog, cat, fish, snake etc…) Nope. I’ve got dust. Does dust count?

Bloggers I nominate are:

Seven Real Neat Questions:

  1. What car would you own if money is no question?
  2. What author would you like to sit down with and pick their brains?
  3. What is your favorite story about Winter?
  4. If you had to “Kill Your Baby” (talk to Stephan King) in a book/story you’ve written, who are you most sorry you had to do in? If you haven’t, who should get the axe?
  5. What book have you read more than once?
  6. One of these is real: Magic (Paranormal) or UFO’s. Which one, and why?
  7. What is YOUR favoriteist blog posting from your blog(s)? Please copy and paste your link here

Roadside Table (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge): Guest Post

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Roadside TableJenelle struggled to unbuckle the sweating child from the car seat. Traffic roared by, carelessly coming within inches. At last she hefted the toddler to her shoulder, grabbed the faded Hello Kitty bag from the seat, and made her way to the weathered picnic table. Sickly pines cast what shade they could over the two.

She rummaged and came up with a cereal bar and water. A sorry little picnic. Broken-down car. There goes our wonderful day. Damn!
They fed crumbs to some birds. A frisky squirrel ran by swishing his tail.
Mommy…this is FUN!”
Jenelle squeezed her tightly.
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This is a guest post by Ms. Lisa Vooght of Flash Fiction. I met Lisa in 2011 doing our respective first AtoZ Challenge. It has been a great pleasure and a highlight of that first challenge for me.
Check out her blog for wonderful stories and non-fiction posts. This month she is doing an amazing series on Character Development: check it out!!  You’ll also find a guest post by yours truly on her blog on April 29th. Enjoy!!

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Yesterday, Memories (non-fiction)

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In Memory
1926-2012

My mother passed away on October 14th, 2012. One major reason I haven’t been writing, or that my meager attempts have been sombre. My father died on October 15th, 1999, which has still sent shivers through me, that they parted this earth one calendar day apart (although thirteen years passed).

It’s Halloween, a holiday she did enjoy, seeing all the children in their costumes, playing like she was afraid of the “scary” ones, cooing over the very cute tots and babies coming out for their first Trick or Treating, and giving out bags of candy (each bag had to be the same, piece by piece, number by number, so she felt no child felt cheated).  It’s been one of my favorite holidays as well…not so much this year.

She was “known” in our family as the “family historian,” being able to recall all the family stories, connections, etc. This she did orally, rarely writing anything down. Which is a shame: those stories now only reside in the memories of those who listened, and if we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone.

I did find her beginning attempts to write some of the history down, colored through her lens. I’m posting it here where I normally write my own fiction. Not sure when/if I’ll really come back to this blog with any real attention. I hope you enjoy her early memories.

Yesterday, Memories…by

Edith A. Nager: 1926-2012

(1)          My mother and father met and married in Odessa, Russia. Papa had served in the Russian Army for five years and then was discharged. I have a picture of him in his uniform. He was quite dashing. He came to America first and then sent for my mother. This was before the First World War

(2)          The day I was born my father declared it a holiday. He kept my three oldest brothers home from school. The other two were too young for school. There were five boys and now me. The truant officer came to the house and asked why they were home, and Papa said: “After five boys, a girl was born!” That fine gentleman stayed and helped Papa celebrate.

                Mama said, and I quote her: “This is it! If it’s another boy, no more!” Papa ran through the building knocking on doors to tell them the good news. He finally had a daughter.

 

(3)          Saturdays, my mother did not cook. Papa said it was Mama’s time off. He went to the kosher deli and bought Pastrami, Corned Beef, Specials (knockwursts), Salami, Knobelwurst (very garlicky salami), and rye bread. The mustard came in paper cones. Oh my, how delicious it all was. Mama made the potato salad.

                Saturday evening after sundown was the time to turn on the radio and listen to station WEVD. It was Jewish music and singing. It was OK, but Sunday morning was better. Same station, but it was all about “Troubles of People” and “The Bintel Brief,” as well as more music and singing.

                The “Troubles of People” were some of the saddest tales you could hear. Husbands came to the Promised Land first and became Americanized. They met other women, forgetting about the wives and children back home. Sometimes it was a three hankie story.

 

(4)          Sunday brunch was out of this world. Bagels, bialys, pumpernickel bread, sweet butter, cream cheese, Muenster & farmer cheese; Belly lox, a large smoked white fish, and pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. Of course, a large salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes and green pepper. We ate and talked. Everyone showed up for this feast. My brothers: Lou, Phil, Ezra, Sam, Bernie and me…and of course, Mama and Papa.

 

(5)          My brother Bernie gave me a lot of grief. He was the youngest of the boys. He used to tell me I smelled like a flower: it was called a stink weed. One day, he came home from school and went to the medicine cabinet. He took out a box of Feenamint. He got a box of Chicklet’s Gum and replaced it with the laxative. Some of the boys in school were giving him a hard time, so he got even. They never bothered him again. We gave him a new name: we called him “Dr. Fleckel.”

 

(6)          Walking with a group of girls and boys along the Gran Concourse to Fordham Road you could window shop. The stores stayed open till 9:00 p.m. We went to Rushmyers on University Avenue for Ice Cream in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. We’d also go to 161st Street to Addie Valin’s and the Roxey Deli.

                Trolley cars in the summer, the sides were heavy metal mesh so you would feel cool. It cost five cents each way and some of us would take a ride in the evening. We went all the way to Throgs Neck and back. This was before A.C.

Nyctophilia: #defythedark contest

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Well, I’ve been away for over a month. During that time, I’ve started writing a number of things, but all of it was working towards story ideas I’ve had rolling around for a bit. All of them are in different stages…and almost every piece is for a future novel, or novella. Hence, not for Tale Spinning.

My SO brought a Figment contest to my attention that actually intrigued the two of us: the Defy the Dark New Author Contest. I had given up on submitting anything to Figment because of the usual  “heart (like) my story & I’ll like yours” mentality, which rarely ever translated into the merit of the story. Yes, I did that last year with Birdsongs: The Virtuous War. I learned my lesson and stayed clear of that type of “whoring” for votes.

What’s different about Defy the Dark New Author Contest? The likes/hearts don’t mean a thing: there is an actual YA editor (Ms. Saundra Mitchell)  who will read and judge the work on its merits. This is for eventual publication in an anthology by HarperCollins. Combined, the two things got me writing a just under 4,000 word short story entitled Nyctophilia.

FYI: Nyctophilia, as defined by Dictionary.com, is: a love or preference for night, darkness.

My description/”blurb”:

On the coast of the British Isles lies beautiful Bournemouth. At the turn of the 20th Century, it is a quiet, peaceful destination. A retired London Chief Inspector makes his home there with his wife, their house cared for by a local towns girl, Miranda. By day, most agree that the views of Bournemouth are spectacular. By night, the Spectacular views Bournemouth in an unsavory way…an old “friend” of the inspector comes to visit, and he  very much prefers all that the night has to offer.

Please CLICK HERE to take you to my newest story, Nyctophilia. If you with to leave comments, you can do so either at Figment or here on Tale Spinning.

Lisa Vooght entered the same contest with an extremely compelling tale called Rain’s Gonna Come.  Very powerful, a story you will be glad you read.

Thanks one and all for sticking with Tale Spinning. I hope I’m not gone another month before posting something new.

Connect The Dots

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Her little index finger went from point to point, moving along the surface as she went. Eyes wide, laying still, her tongue slightly pushed out as she worked at the image.

“A butterfly!” Amy said, retracing the pattern she saw.

“Um huh,” her mother murmured, smiling as she stroked her daughter’s hair.

Amy continued to explore, finding another pattern, and then another. Shifting positions only when asked to, Amy found images as she went along.

“A star!”

“Pony!”

“Fish.”

“A dragon!”

“Dragon?” her mother asked?

“Yup. Dragon. Big, scary dragon. Roooooaaaaarrrrrrrr!”

Katie laughed as she hugged her Amy. She got a hug back.

Amy went on tracing  what she saw in the dots, naming them at will, giggling at the made up things. The late afternoon sun streamed through the bedroom window, lighting and warming up the bed they were laying on. Amy drifted off to nap time, finger still on one lone spot.

Katie held her daughter, feeling Amy’s breathing change. She was nappish herself, closing her eyes as they nestled together.

Just before she, too, drifted away, Katie smiled, thinking: “Why did I ever hate my freckles?

 

Indifference To A Walk In The Park

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The writer wished he  was a painter. In his mind, he painted, as he strolled through the park that surrounded the lake. “An artist that crafted something permeable,” he thought.  “People would enjoy the aesthetics of my creation. Or not. Who cares?” He knew his words held power, but they came fleeting, more often then not. He wanted a blank canvas on an easel, paints, brush…all the accoutrements. What he had was his hands in his pockets as he walked around the shallow body of water.

He thought in tones of realism, but wished he was  a writer who tended to the abstract, maybe even pointillist, impressionist or surrealistic styling. He wished to dig at the what emits through the nature of things, taking away the shell and leaving the essence.  He wanted words that would fly, forgoing concrete for emotive deconstruction. The writer who wanted to be a painter wanted intrigue, disgust, passion…not the indifference of being one of so, so many.

His thoughts led him along the path, noticing moments: the couples on the benches that were shaded, not in direct sun; the gangs of geese, on land or in the water, their droppings littering almost any step he could make; the twin girls learning how to bike ride, both in pink helmets and pants, one free wheeling, the other still attached to dad, who yells out “Be strong!” to her as he’s ready to let go; the bicyclists who pass him by; the joggers who run, stop, start, all around him, in various work out clothes, both loose and tight; the woman with the  lame leg trying to keep up with her younger walking partner; the broken pathway, cracked earth, the cloudless blue sky that’s letting the sun light to beat down on the surroundings, on him, sweating. He wants to paint these moments, these scenes.

It happens in a lost thought. Coming up the path, straight towards him, wide open eyes staring at him, a smile plastered across the dirt streaked face. A collision course, chicken played out in daylight. A foot splashes into one of the many puddles that dot the walkway, sending a light spray towards the writer, towards geese sitting to the side, silent. The writer stares back, keeping to his path, and a reflective smile creases his face. His hands, which are at his side, reach up towards his belt, elbows bent, ready.

The mother shouts “Liam!” and  takes the three year old’s hand, moving him out of the writer’s way, just as the writer side stepped the child. She and the father apologize for their child, but the writer waves it off, laughing, and says “It was just a showdown. Liam would have won, ” and he continues walking. Looking back, Liam is riding high in his mother’s arms, looking over her shoulder at the retreating writer. His little hand waves. The writer waves back, then continues on.

From there on, the writer observes the dragons that come to roost on the banks of the lake, the mates and their dragonettes in clusters, resting. The Swan King settles down in the middle of the water, standing on one foot, and calls out to all his turquoise and brown brethren, who swim in a circle around the king, genuflecting into the water, and coming up with catch for their supper. A high speed chase flashes down the path, two wheeled and two legged, a race on a moebius strip of gravel and dirt. The writer notices things out of the corner of his eye, but he pays them no heed, for when he looks directly at them, they are altered forever.

He sits on a throne of blue painted planks held up by ornate grey cement, etched with decrees of love and foul curses. Breathing in the moments, it all plays out for him in hundreds of different ways. He is an artist, and he is a painter, and he sings and conducts and composes and his mind dances to all the tunes he can imagine, and all the colors are at his disposal.

Levitating off the throne, he wings his way home.