From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

WxW short shorts

      My current financial status is tight. Leaner than it has been since I was about 27 years old, a long time ago. I'm learning to live on my lean means and have found that most luxuries one can give up by being happy with the memory of having experienced them at an earlier time. Concerts for example, I used to attend every good show that came to town, but now find the cost of most shows prohibitive. But one thing I am having trouble letting go of is attending writing retreats. I miss them!

      So I invested a few hours yesterday writing a short short for a competition that will award free tuition to attend the WxW 2017 writer's conference-
Boulder Generative Workshop with faculty 
Andre Dubus III, Camille Dungy and Pam Houston .
Imagine being able to work with them for a few days! Pam is one of my sheroes, and well, Andre in person, makes me swoon.
      I had so much fun writing the entry. Here are the rules:

    Your piece can be fiction, non fiction or memoir, but it must contain a New Year's resolution, a Mustang or a mustang, the name of a Mountain Range, a reference to a seventies song, comfort food, and hope.Word Limit:  300 Words

     I just love the challenge of these kinds of crazy prompts. Wish me luck!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Eve excerpt

from my novel seeking representation.
With letters from Lafayette and Martha at his breast, Washington purchased gifts for his wife, and for the children Nelly and Wash. Set solely on retirement, he and his fellow, Billy Lee, crossed the Potomac on Christmas Eve, under a night sky pregnant with yuletide snow. After riding their beasts hard, they delighted at seeing his windows awash in candlelight, knowing what feasts of good fortune awaited them inside.

1784 ~

When the men arrived home after eight years away, they were followed to the front door by several of the yard slaves, and everyone in the house assembled quickly in the front hall to greet them. Ona and the children were afraid and excited as they made their way downstairs. All eyes were on the General, many wet with tears.
            Ona wore her blanket around her shoulders as she was wearing only her shift. Her bare feet felt the cold that had come in with him. She looked at him from his boots up to his hat as he removed it and handed it to the butler. She thought she had never seen such a large man before. He towered over everyone in the room. His size and presence filled the space that the words she’d always heard of him had carved before he came. She knew she should not look directly at his florid face, but it seemed impossible not to look for the briefest moment, at his eyes. They were the blue his Missus had once spoke of. They seemed to see her. She knew she had to look away but could not. Everything about him was mesmerizing, especially his eyes. When he spoke everyone stilled. His voice was surprisingly soft and warm. He looked about the hall, and addressing everyone said flatly, but with his eyes twinkling happiness, “My family, how happy I am to see you.”
            He brought change to the room, to the people. Missus was beaming, the usually noisy children were dumbstruck, but most notable to Ona was the change to the slaves who were present. She knew these people well, and had never seen them this way. Their bodies never more erect, their voices never more deferential. His home and property were diminished by him, though not by his actions, which were genteel in every way. He greeted each person in the foyer individually. First a warm embrace of his wife who remained on the bottom stair so as to be a bit taller for the moment that caused her cheeks to redden, then he knelt on one knee before the children, his sword knocking the floor each time. The children politely returned his affectionate greetings with sleepy but interested eyes. Then he acknowledged the slaves individually by name and nod, each acknowledging him in return with a bow or curtsy, until at last he came to Ona, standing behind Nelly.       
            His size, his sword, his air, and of course, his authority, frightened Ona immeasurably. She trembled when he spoke to her. “So this is the little slave girl we have taken into Mount Vernon?”

            Her voice was almost inaudible. “Sir,” she chirped like a little bluebird in response, bowing her head in her perfectly executed curtsy, instantly satisfying her masters, who continued in their joyful holy night reunion. The slaves remained standing in the periphery of the light and the love.

All rights reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Interview with Jeannine Atkins

Some excellent holiday gift choices available from this author:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Wizard of Uz: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

      "There's a storm blowing up. A whopper."

       "A storm you say?" The cowardly lion, wringing his tail and trembling, cried, “I am afraid –  so very afraid, … of those who don’t look like me, of those who don’t pray like me, of lions and lionesses who get better jobs than me, … of all sorts of things that may not be real, but still, they terrify me.”

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      The tin man stood there, overheating in the ever warming climate of his armor, and spat in a rusty voice, as facts binged off his tin like limp bullets, “I just don’t care. I just don’t care about other stuff, and don’t bother me with facts and stats. I care about one thing. Oil. Fill my can. Mine. Lubricate me. I don’t really care about you and what you need. Unless, I fall down. Then I need you to help me get back on my feet. But once I’m up, get the hell out of my way. I need to fill my can.”

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      The scarecrow watched all of this. He had been watching for a while. He scratched his head, which happened to be crawling with bugs, all competing for space. “I don’t know what to believe. Every crow’s caw sounds so angry, and convincing. Some of them seem sinister. Some of them seem sophisticated. Some of them seem to care about me, and my relentless plight here in the cornfield. I'm obsolete, making a feeble attempt at getting something done. I get confused, and I ramble, and nonsense comes out of my mouth. I feel empty inside, and itchy for something new and different. Something needs to change. I’m not sure of anything. I can’t do anything. I’m stuck on this pole.”

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     Dorothy gathered all of the men, pieced them together, shored them up. It is scary for a woman to travel alone, and befriending strange men is a risk too, but she had been on other brick roads before and thought these ones might not grab her and laugh about it later on a bus. She is even more frightened by the winged monkey types. The ones she knows mean her harm. The ones who might tear her to pieces.
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      She'd fall in line with these sad, broken men, and skip off to a new place, an emerald city where everything is shiny and sparkly and bad stuff is hidden behind big walls. She assures the broken guys, “You don’t have to get along with your sister there, you can just melt her and take her house. There is a guy there, the great and powerful Wizard of Uz, he says he can fix everything, he can fix us! And only he can do it. No one else. He is a tremendous man and his emerald empire proves that.” She doesn’t share what she is really thinking …  I suppose his promises are magical, and maybe I know he is hiding behind his tweet machine, and even a silly little dog could pull the curtain back to see him for what he really is, 

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... but I want to believe.

      I just want to get in the balloon, inflated with his hot air, and float up - and back - to that homey place  - that I think I remember,

... but  maybe  it was all a dream.

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(Here's the part that hasn't happened   ...   yet.)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

TBT - Quite a few Thursdays...

     My dear second cousin Barb sent me an old photo (sixty-seven years old!) this week and I have been marveling at it. It features two people I never met. They are my great-grandparents.
     I've been thinking a lot about them in this time of great turmoil in the country that they went to great lengths to call home. They, like so many of my ancestors, were immigrants.
     She was Rose Ramos, born in Terceira Portugal. the "third" of the Azorian islands, known for lilacs and volcanoes. He was named Anthony Mederios, and is thought to have been from the same island though they didn't meet and marry until they were here. He came at the age of fourteen earning his passage by fueling the fire on the ship which landed him in Providence, Rhode Island. He arrived at the turn of the twentieth century. Soon after he felt the need to change his name to William Mowry. Not sure why he chose that particular name, but there is no need to wonder why he felt he had to take a new one. It is a milky white old English name few could take offense to. He worked two full-time jobs all of his adult life in factories. Rose stayed at home raising their children. They sent their sons back out on that ocean to fight for this country in World War II.

      In the photo the couple is posing with their four grandchildren, each holding a baby. My great grandmother looks pleased and is wearing a corsage. I wondered at the occasion. My aunt Rosemary, the twelve-year-old girl pictured, remembers it as my great-grandparent's 50th anniversary over which the family made a big fuss. My great grandfather doesn't look happy, but proud and serious, and completely at ease holding a baby. The lad beside him is my father and this photo was taken close to his fifteenth birthday. That was the year he moved from Ohio to Rhode Island and was probably very unhappy. My aunt said, "Those were trying times for our little family." 
      They are all standing in front of the house that my father and his sister sold out of our family just recently. It was a three story walk up with enormous three bedroom apartments located on a corner lot in Pawtucket. My father was raised there from that summer on and my grandmother lived there from the year this photo was taken until her death in her nineties. It is the scene of many childhood memories for me, including quite a few thanksgiving dinners.
      I wish I knew more about my great-grandparents. I wonder about the corsage. I wish I knew if he pinned it on her and what they might have said to each other when he did. I wonder about the jewelry; my great-grandparents are wearing none, while the baby is, and I wonder what my father is holding. I think I see a little star on a string, but am not sure. I wish I knew what was served at the celebration dinner that must have followed. I note that my great-grandparents are not turned toward each other even though the day was about them, but instead each is turned toward a grandchild, the future. I wish I knew what that grandfather might have said to his fifteen-year-old grandson that day, a boy given the name he had given up, Anthony. Maybe they listened to a ballgame on the radio that afternoon. Maybe President Truman addressed the 48 states about his Fair Deal Program. If he did I bet my great-grandparents were listening, and think my father probably was too.
      I wonder what they would have thought about that boy growing up to vote for this anti-immigration president. I hope they can rest easy in what has come to be and in what is yet to be. That grandson is now the great-grandfather and two days ago was gifted his sixth great-grandchild, a beautiful baby girl. She carries their DNA in her tiny little body. The DNA that sailed here, alone, fueling fires real and imagined, with sweat and hope and trust, that the future would be good and safe for the babies that may come, in the years ahead, in the melting pot of milk and honey, the land of opportunity, a place they would have called the Estados Unidos da America.

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A sight from the island that my great-grandparents left behind.