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I was on the radio!

Hello! I had an amazing day today. I was on the radio. Local station with a very small listening base. Which is pretty darn okay. Not too many people listening to me stutter my way through reading!

Another writer friend of mine in my home town has a radio show she runs every other week. The station is Radio Free Moscow (Idaho), and the show was Yin Radio. Today was "Women and Words", and three local authors (including yours truly) were invited by this writer friend to be on her show. The first guest was Maria Theresa Maggi, who just published a chap book of poetry through a local press here in town. She had the first hour of the show, and my friend Frances Rodriguez and I shared the second half.

I was so nervous about this show. Which is really funny, considering I doubted very few were listening. But I still got that bit of stage fright. So I skipped church this morning to practice reading my work, timing myself, seeing if I could make certain bits of my reading fit in a time frame. I stuttered and stammered my way through the morning, eventually giving it up as hopeless. I figured I might as well try to read Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks with a straight face, for all the luck I was having with a normal story.

As it turned out, the radio bit turned out very well. Because it was Caitlin running the show, and it was Caitlin, Fran, and I, and the fact we've known each other for years, the set became very relaxed. She didn't have a set format for scripted questions for us. She just asked us what made us want to write, what inspired us, that kind of thing. Fran and I took turns reading from our various works. I read from Tiger's Eye View, pubbed by Hadley Rille Books in the antho Barren Worlds, and Speed Dating, pubbed by Mozark Press in their antho A Shaker of Margaritas: Cougars on the Prowl. I also read my flash piece I had submitted for Lacauxflash.com.

So the whole setting was very relaxed, and thankfully I had no trouble breathing, like I usually do when trying to read in public. I only tripped up a couple times, and was told they would edit that out later before they uploaded it to the web.

Huh?!

Yeah, apparently the show ran live, and then later gets edited and uploaded to about five other sites. I have no idea what they are, or when the show will run again. I suppose if anyone wanted to do a search on Radio Free Moscow or Yin Radio, they might get something about it. I haven't done that yet, though. I have spent the rest of the day basking in the fact that my husband took the time to listen to the show, I was with good friends and writers today, and this evening we celebrated by going out for dinner, and I had a bloody mary and a margarita!

So I can't really say I got a whole lot of exposure on this gig, but at least I can now say I've been on the radio!

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Selling out? Just need the money

Well, much has happened in crazy unemployed writer/mom land. So much so that I finally had to cave in, submit, admit that being a stay at home mom was unsustainable (at least for us.) So I managed to find a job. Of course, it's part time irregular, which would be a dream if I didn't need more consistent income. But I'm hoping that something is better than nothing, and I will be working more often than not. But right now, I get to dictate my hours.

I shouldn't complain. I've only been at it a couple of days. The work seems interesting, when it comes in, and the office folk are nice. But of course it's an adjustment, after spending an entire year unemployed, having time to myself, and doing housework when I felt like it, or writing when I felt like it. So of course I didn't get much writing done. Netflix is evil.

There are many things I'm having trouble adjusting to. One is working dayshift. I have never done that. My entire working life. Well, I guess cleaning hotel rooms doesn't count, but that was working weekends as well. I'm talking the Dolly Parton 9 to 5 schtick. When I started working at 16, I was waiting tables nights and weekends. In college I cleaned hotel rooms on weekends, janitorial stuff at night, and motor-delivered newspapers in the afternoons and wee hours of Saturday morning (not all during the same time, but you get the idea). When I got out of college, I moved to the professional world in law enforcement, dispatching pretty much any shift and any day I was assigned. The last eight years of working in LE was pretty much constant graveyards, holidays, and taking whatever the higher ups shoveled my way. Which got harder to take with a family needing me.

So after a year of being a stay at home mom, I finally have tried coming to work in the "normal" world. Monday through Friday, weekends and holidays off.

The next adjustment is feeling like I sold out. I know being broke isn't a sin. But still. I knew my writing wasn't going to make any money, but that was my fault. And now I have to figure out how to make time for everything. Housework is not something I'm used to doing with little ones under foot, and now that's the only time I have to get anything done. So I suppose it's all good, teaching me to get things done a bit faster so I can be with the family, try to juggle the same things I hear my neighbors and other parents complain about.

I'm not giving up the writing. Just carving out that time is more important now than ever. And I'm a tad more motivated. My writing has always kept me sane. I've also joined a new critique group that is making me step up on my writing as well. AND a friend who works for a local radio station asked me to be on her radio show, regarding women and writing. So I'm putting that together. Oh, and I somehow need to get the next Bunco play time figured out, since I'm hosting it.

So all this is really my fault. Not sure why I felt the need to throw all these balls up in the air at the same time, when it's my first day in the circus! But my characters are calling now, so I must go. Have a good night, everyone!
I wrote a short story. A very short story. 250 words. I haven't received a large response to it by any means, but that response was consistent: Give us MORE!

That was not part of the plan. My plan. You know, where I just write a little vignette and walk away, chalking it up to my many attempts at flash. Leave my MC in the water, watching a boat burn, end of story.

But those responses apparently got to me. So when I say I caught my characters eating junk food, I mean they are growing! Banging against the walls in my head, telling me more about themselves, and raiding the fridge that is my creativity and gorging on my attention span. They know I have other projects I have been piddling away at for years, and it isn't their turn yet. They don't care! They are like gremlins with a major case of the munchies at 12:01 AM.

I think they want to know what happens next, as well.

Just entered a contest!

I just posted a flash entry at www.lascauxflash.com. It's story #179, "What You Get." Please leave comments at the end of the piece and let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I'm a Guest Blogger!

Hello everyone! Please visit www.facethepage.com, and click on the blog link. I have a guest blog there about resolutions and goals. Take a look and tell me your thoughts!

Hope you all have a great day!

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Growing pile of...

Just before Christmas my husband and I went on a working date. And I plunked over 1,500 words in my current WIP, making it over 27K words long! SQUEE! So if I ever manage to finish the thing, it might take a couple of months. Then the editing, while also trying to write on other projects. How did I do this to myself? :)

I don't know if any biographers out there read this, but if there are, help me out. I've volunteered myself to be a friend's biographer when he becomes rich and famous. So on top of all my other projects, I will also be learning about biographies, and how they get written. What style, format, etc. My problem is my knowledge of my friend will certainly flavor how the bio gets written. I'm not saying I'd make the guy look like a saint, but I worry my opinions would flavor the narrative more than it should. Positively and negatively. So that is another subject to tackle.

Well, I have an hour left of some valuable writing time. Gonna try to make the most of it. Have a good night, everyone!

How it's going

I'm finally starting to feel like writing again. I have some new ideas, and am hoping to get my novel kick started again. I'm at the 26,000 word mark, and hit my wall. Bored with it, but don't want to give up on it yet. I am also wanting to start a few new projects, with the goal of hopefully helping me reenergize my novel! And I'm going all over the place. Romance, spec fic, urban fantasy. Debating whether or not I want to use a pen name when I jump all my sharks.

I have to say, I like the days where writable things happen. I was driving home after dropping my son off at school, and decided to take a back road home. Where I came upon a car that slid off the road, and almost into a creek! Nobody was hurt, everything worked out fine. So yeah, that's going in a story at some point!

And of course, I forgot to put on my headphones, and I hear children moving about upstairs. So much for getting my writing done tonight! May everyone have a wonderful, happy, and safe holiday season!

Mary Ellen

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I am just loving how my older blog posts are getting hit with spam. "You don't know me, but I have this huge crush on you, click the link to find out who I am." Yadda Yadda. These 'replies' are being attached to blog posts made anywhere from six months to a year ago. Very odd. Sigh.

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On Missing a Friend

I've been struggling with how to write this particular blog. I've been wanting to write about my close friend, Sonia Todd, who died from cancer a week ago today. Even though this wasn't a surprise, we knew her diagnosis was terminal, news of her death still shook me. When I should have been relieved her pain was over, instead I kept the calm face forward while internally screaming, "This is so unfair!"

Despite all the questions of why, and how could this happen, etc., it still happened. A beautiful writer who had more talent in her pinky than she would ever admit to. She was so demure about her writing ability. Her drive to make the writing happen made up for it. She was always on the lookout for contests, new publications, any place that would possibly publish her work. I never would have heard of Mozark Press if it hadn't been for Sonia. And as a result, both of us have two stories each published in A Shaker of Margarita anthologies. Sonia's humor blog, My First Launch, had many people comparing her to Erma Bombeck.

In her own way, she saved me from having to write much about her, how much I admired her style and faith. She wrote her own obituary. The impact of that publication is becoming nationally known. First, her FaceBook friends watched as it went viral online. We later learned that The Obit Report picked it up from the Idaho Statesman, and it has been published in articles all over the United States. Colorado, California, Montana, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Arizona.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised about that. It's ironic that her obituary has touched more lives than all of her other writings put together. But that's the kind of person she was. A talented writer, a wonderful friend, a devoted wife and mother. And she never stopped with the surprises and laughter. As a writer, I'm embarrassed to say I don't have the words to describe her and our friendship fully. And yet I know I don't have to have the words. Everyone has, or should have, at least one person who touches them that deeply.

So Google "Sonia Todd obituary", and you will see what I'm talking about. Despite her diagnosis, she had hope that people could become better, and she gave us the tools to do that.

I worry that her loss will completely change my writing style. Her critiques of my work were always spot on, without being harsh. I will never find someone whose advice I trusted more. But I have to keep writing. Even though I don't want to. I can still hear her in my head, goading me, urging me on. Lord knows I don't want to let her down! No matter how much I miss her.

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A beautiful wedding, and then...

Last week I had the pleasure of taking my kids to Lake Tahoe, CA to my nephew's wedding. I had struggled with the concept of flying, and finally decided to just get over it and drive. My husband wasn't able to get the time off work, so it was just me and the kids. I have to say, the kids did great in the car! Of course, my car has third row seating, so the kids didn't sit next to each other almost the entire trip!

Tahoe is absolutely beautiful. I had visited once, about six years ago. My family and I drove around the lake, taking in the beautiful views. This time, I was able to visit Tahoe City. Small, quaint, crowded, the typical tourist town. Even in the off season.

The hotel we stayed at, The Tamarack Lodge, was a beautiful, simple hotel. There was a large stone fireplace in the parking lot, inviting guests to sit around the fire at night and trade stories. The host had plenty of wood, pine needles, and pine cones nearby for kindling for the fire. This time of year, the hotel registry was made of wedding guests and construction workers. We sat around that fire, drinking beer or hot chocolate, sharing where we were from and why we were there. It was very cozy.

The wedding was of course, fantastic. The reception afterward was energetic, to put it mildly! I can't imagine what the neighbors thought of the event! Little children ran all over the place, and often collided. One child went home with a black eye, and my son had some road rash on his face that I still have questions to its origin! The scariest part of the evening, at least for me, was when my oldest son came to me, choking and coughing. I asked if he was all right, and he told me he ate "some 'c' shaped nuts", and now was having trouble breathing, and his tongue was tingling and stinging. At this exact moment, my sister walked by and asked if I was going back to the hotel yet. I said no, I needed to watch my son, and told her what happened. Thankfully, he seemed to recover okay, and a relative's gift of Benadryl helped him feel better. I don't know if he had trouble just because he was overexcited from the night's events, didn't chew properly, or if he had a real reaction. But he's fine now, and cashews are on the list of cautionary foods.

While the wedding and reception were terrific, the aftermath, meh, not so much. Within 24 hours of the event, a large portion of the guests and wedding party came down with stomach flu. So many people were sick a question of catering arose. But as people continued to get sick three days after the wedding, the catering was ruled out. My family did not fare well. We stayed at my sister's house in Reno an extra two days to recover. We left the morning she got the flu!

The drive home was very long. The original plan was to drive from Reno, NV to Boise, ID. I texted a friend of mine, whose house we had stayed at, and planned to spend again. I told him we would not be there, as we were still feeling yucky, and didn't want him and his wife to get this. He mentioned he thought there was a hotel in another town about an hour from Boise.

There wasn't.

So, after twelve hours on the road, we finally found a hotel in New Meadows, ID. I could have driven all the way home, but that meant pulling in at about 11:00 PM. With two little ones, not such a great idea. We drove the last three hours back to our home the next day. What a relief it was! We came home to news that the stomach flu had been hitting friends up north as well, and felt glad that despite being ill while away, we had already had it, and hopefully won't get it again!

Despite the health issues, I'm very glad I made the trip with the kids to see the wedding. My husband enjoyed the quiet, too, I'm sure! :P

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Mary Ellen Martin

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