This has been such a distressing week with all the bad news. I had a personal joy though, small as it is. My story, “Incident at Shady Acres,” is First Runnerup for the Julia Peterkin Literary Award. This is a huge honor for me. Smiling . . . .
I know I’ve been writing for quite awhile, but really only started flash and micro fiction in earnest this February, so this really tickled me. I’ll keep keeping on!
Congrats to the winner Caridad Moro-Gronlier and the other finalists.
The stories will be published in the winter issue of South 85 Journal. A thank you to them and to the judges.
So no story to share yet, but I wanted to share my news!
When the eclipse occurred the other day, we had our usual clear blue skies in Phoenix, so the phenomenon was very clearly shadowed on the ground!
Editor Keith Hoerner has published my 50-word story (called a Dribble, which makes me a Dribbler!) at the illustrious The Dribble Drabble Review. The story is called “Historia de La Iglesia Católica del Sagrado Corazón,” but the story itself is in English.
Editor Robert McEvily has published my six sentence story at, you guessed it, Six Sentences. The story is about animal rescue and called “I Got Sick of Making Excuses for Dog #586 at Paws Perfect No-Kill Shelter.”
I have a micro up at Scribes *MICRO* Fiction, thanks to Managing Editor Edward Ahern . It’s a surreal drabble (100 words). This link is for the whole issue, which is full of fun stories and poem. https://www.fairfieldscribes.com/issue-32.html/ My story is about 3/4 through the issue–if it were in pages it would be page 10 out of 13.
I will also post a screenshot here, but you should really check out the whole issue because it’s chockful of goodies.
This past week I was in Michigan and Ontario (Canada). I got to see my mother, as well as some other relatives who I also saw in April. The main reason we chose last week to travel was to attend our high school reunion. Have you ever done that? This was my first one. The gardener and I went to the same high school, although he had been with those classmates for elementary and junior high, whereas I was the new girl in 10th grade.
Our reunion was put together sort of last minute by mainly one person who was helped by a few others. It was casual, held at a lakeside park. And maybe 15-20% of graduates attended. Although it would have been fun to have a big dressup party, I think this turned out best because people could move around easily–and best yet, we could hear each other talk. A dinner-dance isn’t the best place to catch up with people.
Although everyone there (except for two people who looked as if they have a nasty portrait of themselves hidden in the attic) looked older and in some cases unrecognizable, in general, I think my class has done pretty well with their appearances. It was really fun to catch up with some old friends and to talk to others I wasn’t as close to. In high school, it seems people rarely talk except to close friends.
An upside of going was that it was fun to “catch up,” and I realized I really care about the welfare of everyone I went to school with. We had a good time, and it was especially fun for the gardener to see people he went to school with for so many years. We also had a memory board with names and a memory candle so we could spend some brain and heart cells on those who are no longer with us.
A downside for me was that I didn’t know so many of the people we went to high school with. High school is not the best time to really get to know a large group of people. It’s also hard to see how old we have all become, although that is also an upside because it made me realize that these people are no longer the 17-year-olds I remember, but have had full lives with ups and downs just as I have had.
I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative, but I learned something about myself. Maybe that is really good, although it feels sad. When I was in school, I was quite shy, though not in a classic “quiet” way, but rather I found it very difficult to have poise in social situations. I didn’t have the confidence to participate in the activities I would have liked to, such as yearbook, journalism, and auditioning for plays. I would be too quiet when I should be more open to talking to others, and I would be noisy when with close friends. When I had openings or opportunities to do more, I assumed deer-in-headlights stance. Starting a new high school was very difficult for me, and add to that I had a lot of problems at home with my father during that time.
So what did I learn about myself from attending the reunion? Although I’ve gained in maturity, compassion, and confidence, I am still the same dummy in social situations. Too scared to initiate conversations, mind empty when I should have spoken, etc. Ugh. So, no, I guess people don’t really change although I thought I had.
My high school was known for being very cliquish, and we had a fair share of “mean girls” (not one of them was at the reunion). I only bring that up because my mother has her own social situation. She lives in a retirement community, in a large independent apartment building, and it too is cliquish. My mother is also an introvert (I think this gene is rampant on my maternal side). Is this what tends to happen in large social groups? Is it only the women or do men feel this, too?
On another note, I have a micro up at Scribes *MICRO* Fiction, thanks to Managing Editor Edward Ahern . It’s a surreal drabble (100 words). This link is for the whole issue, which is full of fun stories and poem. https://www.fairfieldscribes.com/issue-32.html/ My story is about 3/4 through the issue–if it were in pages it would be page 10 out of 13.
Here is how it begins:
These Days by Luanne Castle
I look over at the white Waymo as it pulls up next to us. The giant stuffed bear in the driver’s seat, its googly eyes stubbornly facing forward, refuses to glance at me.
For Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday prompt about sunflowers, I offer this shadorma. The prompt includes a beautiful photo, but I couldn’t download it to use over here.
I am very excited to see five of my Remedios Varo inspired micro stories published at The Ekphrastic Review! A huge thank you to EIC Lorette C. Luzajic for this and more. Each tiny story is accompanied by the art that inspired it. Some of these, like the one last week in Bending Genres, are about poets. I am pretty proud of all my Varo stories and think they are some of my best work. Whether or not they are to your taste is another matter. They tend toward the sarcastic. I hope you do like them, though!
As I have been pursuing my new passion of microfiction, I have also been having fun with ekphrastic writing, and my favorite artist to work with is the surrealist Remedios Varo. The amazing journal Bending Genres has published a story I wrote based on a Varo painting; it concerns the idea of writing or art muses that are not complacent “nice” creatures. This story also happens to be completely indebted to Sylvia Plath and her poem, “The Disquieting Muses.” My story is called “Disquieting Muses with Pets and Fruit: A Still Life.”
The Varo painting is called “Vegetarian Vampires.” Here is the Plath poem:
The Disquieting Muses
Mother, mother, what illbred aunt Or what disfigured and unsightly Cousin did you so unwisely keep Unasked to my christening, that she Sent these ladies in her stead With heads like darning-eggs to nod And nod and nod at foot and head And at the left side of my crib?
Mother, who made to order stories Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear, Mother, whose witches always, always, Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder Whether you saw them, whether you said Words to rid me of those three ladies Nodding by night around my bed, Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald head.
In the hurricane, when father’s twelve Study windows bellied in Like bubbles about to break, you fed My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine And helped the two of us to choir: “Thor is angry: boom boom boom! Thor is angry: we don’t care!” But those ladies broke the panes.
When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced, Blinking flashlights like fireflies And singing the glowworm song, I could Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress But, heavy-footed, stood aside In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed Godmothers, and you cried and cried: And the shadow stretched, the lights went out.
Mother, you sent me to piano lessons And praised my arabesques and trills Although each teacher found my touch Oddly wooden in spite of scales And the hours of practicing, my ear Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable. I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere, From muses unhired by you, dear mother,
I woke one day to see you, mother, Floating above me in bluest air On a green balloon bright with a million Flowers and bluebirds that never were Never, never, found anywhere. But the little planet bobbed away Like a soap-bubble as you called: Come here! And I faced my traveling companions.
Day now, night now, at head, side, feet, They stand their vigil in gowns of stone, Faces blank as the day I was born, Their shadows long in the setting sun That never brightens or goes down. And this is the kingdom you bore me to, Mother, mother. But no frown of mine Will betray the company I keep.
This Plath poem is also an ekphrastic poem, inspired by the Giorgio de Chirico painting, also called “The Disquieting Muses.”
This week, Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt is to write a syllabic poem inspired by your Celtic tree. I had never heard of this before. It seems similar to an astrological sign in that your birthday determines the tree. My tree is holly, which I had never thought about before. I mean, I know the holly berries and leaves design for Christmas decorations, but that is about it. I discovered:
HOLLY – THE RULER
JULY 8 – AUGUST 4
Among the Celtic tree astrology signs, the Holly is one of regal status. Noble, and high-minded, Holly signs take on positions of leadership and power. If you are a Holly sign you take on challenges easily and overcome obstacles with rare skill and tact. When you encounter setbacks, you remain vigilant to obtain your end goals. People look up to you and follow you as their leader as you are rarely defeated. You are competitive and ambitious even in the most casual settings. You are quite generous, kind and affectionate. Highly intelligent, you skate through academics where others may struggle. Holly signs may look to Ash and Elder signs for balance and partnership.
No doubt these descriptions are set up to flatter, but there are aspects of this description I can relate to. Taking on challenges, (trying to be) kind, things like that. But the ruler? My husband would laugh himself silly because we both agree that while some are leaders, some are followers, there are those like me that are neither. I don’t like being a boss as in: do this, do that, don’t do that, I’ll judge you, etc. I do like the “noble and high-minded” thing, though. Whether it’s simple flattery or something more, I can take a guess 😉 but one of my literary role models (and here I use literature to mean Broadway musical haha) is King Arthur in Camelot. He has to choose between the legal choice for the good of the country (meaning lots of people) or his love for his wife. Really really admire that character.
I thought I would try a tectractys today, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. So here it is:
must come from tact
and the ability to see both sides.
Tectractys is a five-line poem with this syllabic configuration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10.
The literary journal Does It Have Pockets? has published a Red Riding Hood story of mine that is darker than anything found in my chapbook Our Wolves. “Why I Always Wear Red” is flash fiction that finishes with a tectractys, making it a hybrid genre. You can read it here: