Short Cuts

Hello peoples,

It has been one week since I started my own private NaNoWriMo. I made word count! 10,550 = 7 days times 1,500 words.

So, YAY! But also. Wow. Because it wasn’t just work to get this first week done, it was a lot of shortcuts that aren’t sustainable. I pretty much look like a zombie with a frownie face, not-chic pony tail, and burning eyes. Instead of brains, though, I want sleep. I want to sleep so much that my eyes burn when I wake up in the morning and I need two cups of tea before I can even stop yawning long enough to make a third. I’ve been cheating on making my kids’ lunches and telling them to buy instead. I should change the music for my fitness class. My dog is absolutely bored with being walked up and down the street because I haven’t had time to take him to the park. He retaliated by chewing up one of my yoga CDs. I have no social life. I have unreturned text messages, three post-Christmas cards still to send out, and forget seeing any of my friends in person. Overall, there’s no sense of balance. I’m running from one activity to the next, just smearing across the surface instead of really checking things.

So, I need to adjust. I’m leaving for AWP (writing conference held in Washington DC this year) on Friday. I’m setting aside my speed writing until I return on Sunday. That way I can get my household squared away before I leave and, most importantly, I mentally prepare for the conference. There’s no use going if I haven’t looked at the panels, discussions, and activities. I want to go to get energized about writing. I want to learn something new. All I can think about right now is crashing on the hotel bed and sleeping before my roommates get there and potentially try to get me to actually attend the conference.

From Sunday the 12th through Saturday the 18th I will write another 10,500 words.

Anyone else going to AWP? Seen any good panels I should check out? Anyone else sludging through first drafts right now?





Literary Death Match

Okay, I’m a little late for my blog post, but life has been nuts.  I picked up my minivan from the auto shop where they seemed to have an inside competition based on how many times they could get me to say, “I ran into my own mailbox.”

I took Sylvia to get her cast off today.  A couple weeks ago I posted her in a pink cast, then she had a green waterproof cast, today she got it all the way off and will wear a brace for the next four weeks and still can’t do gymnastics.  On the way out, the doctor says, “Just be careful.”  Within seconds Sylvia walked into a computer shelf jutting out of the wall.  She nodded yes she was okay, then started shaking her head that no, she was definitely NOT okay.  Then she buried her face in my shoulder and wailed.  The doctor turned around at the screaming and I felt him staring at me.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I’ll be getting that brace today.”  I almost said “stat” but it’s hard to be breezy when you’re being snotted upon.

Then I went to the grocery store because we were out of milk because my minivan was in the shop because I ran into my own mailbox (ding goes the bell at the auto shop).  But I was hungry because I didn’t have my coffee because I forgot that we didn’t have milk until I’d already made it, the coffee not the milk.

We had no creamer, no cooking cream, nothing.  I found two mini half and half jobbies that you get from a diner shoved to the back of a kitchen shelf.  When I peeled off the tops and turned them upside down, the mixture remained inside.  I wasn’t brave enough to scoop it out.  So I pulled out the ice cream and put a dollop in.  Ice cream is made from cream, right?  And milk.  And, apparently, bits of cake.  Especially if, when you check, the ice cream is called “Wedding Cake ice cream.”  Huh.  Cake in ice cream might be fine, but cake in ice cream in coffee is not.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, I’ve put away the apple pie that I didn’t need and the half-price bakery goods (what?  This is why you don’t go shopping when you are hungry) and ten Greek yogurts.  And two gallons of milk.  And two bottles of creamer. A rotisserie chicken.  And the True Lemon (unsweetened) packets that the twins and I need in our cold, refreshing, water.

And now I’m almost finished this blog post and still haven’t even gotten to the Literary Death Match.  Okay, really quickly.

Writers are (generally) introverts whose work requires a great deal of time alone with either a computer or notebook and pencil.  It’s not very glamourous work; there’s a great deal of waiting involved.  It takes time to share what you’ve been working on, sometimes a novel isn’t available to the public until years after you’ve written it.  Blah blah blah.

So, what do writers do for fun?  The go to Literary Death Matches (drum roll).  There are four writers.  3 judges.  A host personality: Adrian Todd Zuniga.  An audience in the basement of a restaurant.  Drinks are flowing.  We got there early and parked it next to the stage.  Something like this:

Literary Death Match 1

I don’t know why my eyes are glowing like I’m from “The Host,” but check out that cool jacket I’m wearing, Christmas present from Mike.

The first two writers read from their own work, the judges critique, Mr. Andre Dubas III moves on.  Break for more drinks.  Second round.  Sarah Shun-lien Bynum advances, despite being shot with a nerf gun for going over the seven-minute limit.  The judges aren’t even making sense anymore, although Mr. Tony Hoagland is impressive in his stream of consciousness.  The final winner is to be determined by a shoot-out between the two winners.

A shoot-out in a packed basement bar?  That’s crazy, you say.  No, what’s crazy is a cupcake war!!!  An overly large photo of author George Saunders magically appears.  My friends Lisa and Amanda are instructed to blindfold the authors, and Andre Dubas III WINS THE NIGHT by hitting the photo of George Saunders with a cupcake to the face.  Well, more like an icing soul patch, really, as it hits under his mouth.  Something like this:

Literary Death Match 2

There you go.  Good clean literary fun.

Result of evening: I bought Townie by Mr. Dubas III for my husband and went to the library for House of Sand and Fog.

Other books I bought at AWP:

  • The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.  (Saw her read poetry and my friend May recommended.  May has excellent taste).
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
  • A book of translated Russian Poetry for my friend Elyse.  My keyboard can’t type the title and I can’t read Russian, but I hope its good.  Or dark, I guess, in an appropriately Russian way.
  • The FairyTale Review, editor Kate Bernheimer
  • Passages North, Winter 2013
  • The Problem with Power by Agnes Jayne, met the author and looking forward to reading this.

That’s it.  I will stop writing about my less-than-a-week in Boston, although I did want to talk about Elyse and I following the Freedom Trail and my taking a picture of Ben Franklin’s tomb.  Here’s a picture of us while I wait…..

Elyse and Sherri Boston

…yes, that’s right.  Ben Franklin’s tomb is NOT in Boston it’s in Philly.  Thank goodness my phone is so slow to text that I had time to delete Ben Franklin’s parent’s coffins BEFORE I sent the pic to Mike with the caption, “Hey, guess who is buried in Franklin’s tomb?”  Joke would’ve been on me, right?

Much love,


AWP Pictures

I’m up in Boston for the AWP conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs). The internet connection in the lobby of the Marriott is a bit spotty, so I’ll be brief. Last night, I went to a reading by Anne Carson. Here’s my visual imitation in if-then paragraph:

1.  If you wear beautiful new shoes,


2. If you are not invited to a reception,

Then make your own.  With truffles, wine, and apricot cheese and crackers. 

3.  If you sit through a Political poets presentation

Then you can sit in the front row of Rick Russo and Jennifer Haigh’s talk on regionalism.


Keep On Keeping On

Quote:  All four kids in school — what are you going to do with ALL THAT TIME?  (asked by like a gazillion people during the last week and a half)

Um.  Three days of pre-school is not really a lot of time.  Well, it is, but your baby didn’t sleep through the night once and suddenly you weren’t tired anymore.  A couple of days do not undo a year’s worth of waking up in the middle of the night.  Know what I mean?

Besides, I’ve got to GET those kids to school.  Let me show you what I’m dealing with here:

Grumpsters Diana and Chance got on the bus on Monday.  In the afternoon they ate my just-baked chocolate chip cookies grudgingly and answered every question with a ‘whatever’ and a ‘leave me alone.’
Tuesday the twins had their first day.  Sylvia got ready and then Evelyn came down wearing a dress.  I reminded her that she had to wear a pair of shorts underneath so nobody could see her panties.  Big fight.  Tears, even.  She goes up to change.  I’m grabbing lunch bags and making sure blankets and tier B lovies are packed.  (Tier A lovies Racoonie and Patches do NOT leave our house under any circumstances except sleepovers).  She comes down in the leotard and crown you see above. 
      I say “It’ll take too long to get that off if you have to go potty.”  She runs and hides under the dining room table.

 The bus took away the older two.  Sylvia is in and out of the back door and I think she has the keys.  “Fine.  I’m taking Sylvia.  I’ll be back,”  I say. 
She finally gives in.  We make it to school right before circle time.  I look through the pack of papers waiting for me in their cubby.  Then, in disbelief, I look around the room.  My kids are the only ones dressed.  It’s school-wide pajama day.  REALLY???  Of course my girls noticed immediately.

 I try to forget about it all during my yoga class; instead, I focus on the cracking and popping my body is doing as a reminder that it’s been way too long.

At home it’s time to break out the list of things I SHOULD HAVE done a long time ago, but didn’t.  Like fight through this insurance thing with the chemo. 
             Victory — It’s done.  After five weeks of denying the claim, insurance is paying for Evelyn’s chemo and it was delivered this morning.  Getting it into her….sigh.  That’s a fight for Monday night.  At least she takes the daily dose with no problem.
             Victory — a note that my story “Hand-Holding” has been accepted for publication by Third Wednesday.  Small check and copy forthcoming.  This was HUGE for me.
             Half-Victory — Last part arrived for audio studio.  Waiting for call back from teacher to install it. (Has he given up on me?)
             Half-Victory — Am going to AWP conference in Boston in March with writer friends.  Anyone else out there planning to go?  Here’s the link:
Pre-conference lunch is scheduled for October so we can all check in with each other.  It’s only a half-victory because the registration and hotel arrangements are still pending.
         Half-Victory — worked more on my shark story.  I wrote the first draft years ago.  I submitted it to my dream publication yesterday.  It’s been turned down twice by BIG speculative fiction outlets — the ones so big that you get your rejection notice before you’ve finished hitting the submit button.  No, that’s silly.  It takes about four days to be rejected by those guys  🙂  But I really like Abyss and Apex and it would mean A LOT to me if the story was placed there.  We’ll see.  It’s been almost twenty-four hours and no rejection yet.  Their site says three months to reply.

     I picked up our co-op share.  We’ll be having fresh lima beans tonight if I can figure out how to cook the little suckers.  Paid for school lunches on cafe prepay for Diana and Chance.  I really am going to try not to get those paper sent home to me this year.  This morning the twins and I watched Alice in Wonderland — the old animated version — and I made their decaf iced coffees in their sippy cups.  My son has been asking me to buy him a Bible so maybe we’ll go to a bookstore before his soccer practice tonight.  Trying to think of ideas for Mike’s birthday.  Basically, we’re just keeping on keeping on. 

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!!