Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Back from Being Gone

The gardener and I got back from Yosemite the other day. We hadn’t gone on vacation since pre-COVID, and had already lost points in the time share thingie that my parents had given us years ago. So we used some points to stay near Bass Lake and go to Yosemite. We’d been to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, etc, but never Yosemite.

We also wanted to get away from some family troubles, if possible, although that didn’t happen as they followed us there heh. The best part of the vacation was spending some time with the gardener away from our jobs (we work together at home), housework, yardwork, and cat chores. We cooked easy gluten free meals in the kitchen of our condo. Bass Lake was ok, and we had a nice day in a rental boat on the lake, but it’s not a lake like Coeur d’Alene, George, or Tahoe, which are my preferred lakes (spoiled much).

Yosemite had some brilliant granite formations, but the Glacier road is closed all year, so we didn’t get to see everything. And we didn’t hike much (because of my bum foot) or camp (because of my good sense). Yosemite seems to be all about the hiking and camping. For return visits to national parks, Yosemite wouldn’t be near the top of my list, but some of these views were breathtaking.

El Capitan, Clouds Rest, and Half Dome (and the rest)

For some reason I screwed up our flights, probably because of all the family stuff going on this summer. It’s been hard to concentrate. I didn’t realize American had nonstops between Phoenix and Fresno and, instead, booked us on flights with layovers. That turned out to be a big mistake for the trip home. Took us sixteen hours. Then SWA discovered that in Vegas, at the layover, employees neglected to load 2/3 of the baggage! That included ours. We had to stand in first one line, then a second one, until 2AM while daughter waited in the cell lot for 3 hours. She had work next morning at 8. I felt terrible about it. For some reason I felt a little better when the SWA employee womanning the second line declared the whole situation RIDICULOUS!

I hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for Rooted and Winged!

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Filed under Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, travel

My Wacky Migraines

Note: if you have trouble posting a comment on this blog or any other, here is something I learned from blogger Marian Beaman: If you use the back arrow after the error message appears, fill in your email address and name again. Then your comment should go through, and WordPress will recognize you in the future. 

I was recently diagnosed with something called vestibular migraine. Or hemiplegic migraine. Or maybe both. There is a difference because vestibular is awful, but hemiplegic can be dangerous. Apparently there is no way to tell for sure, but I am not going to accept that answer. Story unfinished. But let me back up.

For twenty-four years, I have been plagued by something that was called “complicated migraines” by the neurologists I had seen. After Loma Linda mistakenly diagnosed me with TIAs (mini-strokes), UCLA and, later, Barrows in Phoenix, diagnosed these episodes as complicated migraines.

They are a migraine disorder, but they are not migraine headaches. I used to get the headache version until they turned into this other sort of migraine. In fact, I had some horrific migraines when I was a kid–seven to ten years old. The version I’ve been getting for 24 years is generally without headache. The symptoms include sudden severe vertigo, heaviness, inability to stand or sit, weakness, burning through the sinuses, widely fluctuating body temperature, brain fog, squinched up face on one side only, numbness of limbs, nausea, vomiting, falling asleep at the tail end of the acute episode, etc. It’s very difficult to go anywhere by myself, and this is why I don’t travel alone any longer. I can’t attend concerts or sporting events with lots of lights. I had to leave daughter’s wedding reception early once the goofy lights came out. Although we had planned ahead, what the DJ thought was mild was not. That’s ok because her friends all had a wonderful time, and I was tired anyway.

When I moved to Arizona, the complicated migraines got worse in that I felt sick every day and had acute episodes every couple of days. I had to go on preventative medication in the form of a blood pressure med. The meds kept the acute episodes from happening so frequently.

I would say my migraines have been under control for a dozen years until this spring when I started feeling sick (sore eyes, nauseous, slight vertigo) all the time. So I went back to Barrows, to their headache clinic. That’s where I was diagnosed with vestibular and/or hemiplegic migraines. No such thing any longer as complicated migraines.

My worst trigger is light, especially flickering artifical light. Fluorescents always have a flicker, even if you can’t see it. But LED can be bad, too. And fluorescents that have a noticeable flicker are the devil. When I have to go under artificial lights, such as the doctor’s office or grocery store, I wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Other triggers are sleep disturbance, stress, too much paperwork where I have to look down instead of across (computer better than paper on the desk or table).

Another thing that happened in the last few years is that I occasionally get migraines with very traditional aura in the form of sickle-shaped kaleidoscope images. And, yes, it is as vivid as in the image below.

I am going to try to continue to search for answers. My symptoms are consistent with having both conditions at the same time, but I haven’t been able to find anyone yet with my regular set of symptoms. There are rare individuals who have both vestibular and hemiplegic, but the forms occur at different times. Some of my regular symptoms apply to vestibular, and some apply to hemiplegic (especially the one-sided face squinch). So onward. And in the meantime, please hand me the hat and sunglasses!

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Filed under #amreading, #writerlife, #writerslife, #writingcommunity, Arizona, Nonfiction, Writing

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Judging for Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest is completed. The winner of the contest and of the $250 award is Merril D. Smith for her poem “How I Learned”!

How I Learned


recurring patterns, star shapes
and spirals, leaves and shells are echoes,

the vibrations and reverberations of before-time
the ineffable radiance, the glimmering streams

whose crystalline traces created
seas and a world
where we swim before we can fly—

fractals that connect past and future.

Birds sing the harmonies of stars,
trees and seas bear primeval secrets, 
tremulous whispers flow underground and
across continents, waves of knowledge
break on fallow shores,
snippets coast on spindrift, 
we feel the droplets, taste the salt, hear only susurration--

perhaps we understood once,

the whispers, the songs, the patterns,
like puzzle pieces, fragments 
I have glimpsed, 

in a dream,
a tightrope journey over a dark, uncharted crevasse
my arms outstretched for balance,

and then 
free-
      falling 

upside-down and in-between
the visible and the unknown--

but my ancestors spread wings
that covered centuries
to catch me, guide me,

You can, they said
as they showed me that I have my own wings—
unfold them, fly. This, too, is part of the pattern.


The finalists, in no particular order, are:
*Jess L. Parker
*Serena Agusto-Cox
*Stephanie L. Harper 
The finalists will be receiving a Rooted and Winged tote bag. Congratulations to all three because the scores were very close.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE CONTEST JUDGES!

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Only a Few Days Left to Submit to The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest closes on July 27!

Read the guidelines below to find out more about the chance to win $250!

Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Dates: Preorder book by July 15. Submit through July 27.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Cat Rescuer Extraordinaire Holly Provance

Dedicated to the memory of Kit Kat, the “Calico Queen”

This is my friend Holly Provance with her dear Kit Kat who just passed away at the age of 18.

Holly is a heroic cat rescuer in Temple, Texas. In fact, she volunteers a lot of her time in the cat and dog rescue field. I interviewed her to see exactly what she does to help the animals that most humans have forgotten.

 Would you please tell us what you do for the animals?

I volunteer with several great organizations. Snip and Tip does primarily TNR (trap-neuter-return), but I recently worked with them to rescue 15 cats from a very unhealthy living situation. Normally these cats would have been returned after neutering, but the environment isn’t safe, so I took the kittens and cats in to foster so that hopefully they can have a better future and not have to go back to living at a drug house.

I also volunteer with Fixin’ Ferals TNR and Rescue. I foster community cats with mange, skin and eye issues, or other conditions that need some “extra” work, and then return them to Fixin’ Ferals for them to either be returned to the community or adopted out. I recently went and picked up a cat that was paralyzed, and was able to send her to an amazing foster home through Fixin’ Ferals. We found out someone shot her, so she will always be paralyzed, but she is doing great in her foster home. Such a different outcome for Dragon than when I found her dragging herself from under the porch of a mobile home begging for help.

I recently took in a trio of kittens through Journey Home Rescue, which is primarily a dog rescue, so they networked to find a foster for some sick kittens, and found me. My own organization is Ferals and Friendlies, where I manage my own colony, and do neighborhood TNR here in the beautiful Garden District of Temple, Texas.

The Meowtel, where fosters stay when there is a large group. It’s air conditioned and has an enclosed outdoor area for rambunctious kittens
This is Wacoville, complete with multiple food and water stations, and shelters. The fencing keeps the dogs from bothering the colony cats who aren’t dog-friendly.

In my spare time (ha ha) I am a volunteer for Texas Transport, helping transport dogs to new homes/rescues, and I am a scanner with Central Texas Lost and Found Pets. When someone finds a pet, we go and scan for a microchip to try and get the animal home. Sometimes, that leads to rescuing a pet. I recently went to scan a very old Chihuahua who someone had found wandering down the highway. The poor guy was covered in fleas, had ear mites, and horrible skin issues. The finder couldn’t keep him, and I didn’t want him to end up at the shelter as they are already overwhelmed. So he came home with me as a foster. And now, I’m the proud owner of a very old, still kind of scraggly looking Chihuahua who is heartworm positive, and wobbles when he walks, but is an absolute little rock star who quickly became a much-loved member of the pack. Welcome to the rescue life.

Trio is one my recent transport passengers. I was one leg of a 19 leg transport team sending Trio and his friend Toby from Texas to a rescue in Michigan.
This is Dobby, who was just supposed to get scanned for a microchip, but ended up living the dream when he wasn’t chipped and no owner came forward.

How did you get involved in volunteering in rescue?

I started doing TNR (trap/neuter/return) when I moved to my current house 3 years ago. There were a number of cats that just started showing up, so I put out food, water, and shelter, but I wanted to do more. I contacted a local TNR organization called Snip and Tip, and they lent me traps and helped me do my first big TNR. Through them, I connected to other organizations, and realized I could help by doing medical fostering. I joined different Facebook groups, and just offered to help when I felt I had the skills and resources that were needed. I connected with Fixin’ Ferals TNR, and I got my first mange cat from them. I had no idea what I was dealing with I took in Waco (so named for the city he came from.) But I found a treatment plan that worked, and so used it to help other cats with mange or other skin and eye infections. At some point, I agreed to foster a litter of kittens through Fixin’ Ferals, and I continue to foster for them.

What is your professional background and does it help in any way(s) with rescue?

I have spent most of career working in the nonprofit world, for organizations big (American Cancer Society and NAMI Texas) and small (Austin Steam Train Association.) But I never wanted to work in the animal welfare field because I felt like I would connect too much. Three years ago I made the leap to the for-profit world, where I serve as the business development director for an inpatient mental health facility. I love it because I get to help educate the community about mental health, provide resources and support to patients and families, and work as an advocate for better treatment options and access to care for individuals living with a mental health condition. Having a lot of community connections really helps, because you never know who may be a resource for the volunteer work I do. For example, I currently have fourteen foster kittens/cats needing homes. So I am partnering with the Hewitt VFW to host an adoption event at their post. I have that connection because of my job!

Please tell us about the cats. Are there special ones that you want to tell us about? What are the most difficult cases? What are the biggest joys?

Cats! I love cats!! My current crew consists of Kit Kat (RIP dear friend), Lucky, Moxie, Pixie, Strut, Charlie, and Poppet. We just lost Kit Kat the other day. She was the calico queen at age 18. She was picked up off the highway as a very small kitten.

Lucky is 14, and her name comes from the fact that she was the lucky one of her litter who survived being thrown out of a car. Moxie and Pixie were also found on the road kittens, and they are now 4. Pixie is a tortie, and boy does she let you know it. Strut and Poppet came in as medical fosters. Strut suffered some type of blunt force trauma to his face and leg, and was having seizures when we got him as a foster. He lost an eye, and one of his legs is crooked, and he’s a klutz, but he is the sweetest boy. He was up for adoption, but the right family never came along, so now he’s one of the crew. Poppet came in with horribly infected eyes, and we had to have both of them removed. She was also up for adoption, but as with Strut, the right family ended up being ours. Finally we have Charlie. who came up with one of the neighborhood cats as a kitten. We were able to trap him, and he bonded with Strut, who was also a kitten at the time, so he became a permanent member of the family. They live with Baxter, Bandit, and Dobby, our three rescue dogs.

Baxter, my emotional support floofmonster

There are the “permanent” colony cats – Bear, Jr., Jester, Jon Snow, Pirate, Shimmer, Waco (the infamous mange cat,) Goldeneye, and Jax (another mange cat from Waco.) While normally Waco and Jax would have returned to their colony after they recovered, but the colony they came from has lots of medical issues, so the decision was made to allow them to stay with my colony. There are also the neighborhood cats who are regulars – Curly Tail, Floof Tail, Swirl, Hissy, Gigi, Grayson, Blue Eyes. They come and go, although Curly Tail is working his way up to permanent colony member. That just means that he has moved from eating at the feeding station in the side yard, to eating and spending most of his time in Wacoville, which is a designated outdoor living space for the colony cats.

I don’t decide who becomes a permanent colony member – they just let me know at some point that they like living here. For the neighborhood cats, my rule is that if they come here to eat or to seek shelter, they get snipped and tipped. So I trap regularly. They are spayed/neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and mites, then released.

Click on the images below to open larger.

Finally, there are the current fosters – twelve kittens, two mom cats, a teenager, and an old man. Ten of the kittens (the motorcycle gang of Harley, Davidson, Throttle, Silly, Sprocket, Spark, Tank, Piper, Speed, and Racer,) and the two moms (Mom Cat and Not Mom Cat) came from the drug house rescue. Wynken and Nod came in with their brother Blynken, who didn’t make it. But the two remaining storybook boys are doing great, and will be going to Pet Connect Rescue to be adopted out through Petsmart. The teenager, Sam, came in very sick with all kinds of nasty parasites, and now is waiting to find the right furrever family. Then there is the old man – Carrot – who came from a hoarding situation. He was bad allergies, and he seems to have a flare up every time I think he is ready to be posted for adoption. It’s hard enough to find the right home for an older cat – but it’s pretty much impossible when their back end is bald! In the meantime, he has him own special spot in the crew here, and he is living a great, although noisy, life.

How do you handle the emotional toll of what you do? A lot of people say I would love to do that, but I can’t handle the sad stuff. If there are things that make you “keep coming back” and taking care of your own emotional health, what are they?

The emotional toll is sometimes overwhelming. I’m so fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive partner, who lets me cry when I need to, who digs very small graves for very small kittens who don’t make it, and who doesn’t bat an eye when I tell him that I am bringing home the body of a deceased puppy I went to scan (no microchip so no owner to notify) because I couldn’t just leave it on the side of the road. Our motto is no one crosses alone, even if that is only in spirit. Everyone gets a proper send off to the rainbow bridge. Believe it or not, that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. That the sickest who don’t make it got to live out their final time, whatever that was, being cared for. They are warm, fed, bathed, loved for as long as we have them. And then there is the total joy of delivering a kitten to his new home! Or matching an older cat with an older woman who recently lost her cat, and was in need of a special companion. 

None of this would be possible without the love and support of Derrick. That’s Poppet on the back of the chair. He’s holding Bandit, who came from our local shelter. He was so fearful that he bit Derrick when we went to meet him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Please let us know how people can donate to your project of helping the cats who have been let down by other humans.

The best way to follow the many adventures, and sometimes misadventures, is on my Facebook page, Ferals and Friendlies. I keep an Amazon wish list posted, which is a great way to support the colony and the fosters. I also post when I have large vet bills, in case someone wants to support a specific foster cat. But what I need most is to find furrever homes for the fosters, so that I can continue to bring in new fosters! So please like our page and share our posts. And if you see a kitten – or two – you know would be the purrfect addition to your family, email me at feralsandfriendlies@gmail.com. You would be surprised at the number of places that the volunteer transports go!

Thanks to Holly for sharing about her life as an animal rescuer. It’s good to know that we don’t have to live in Temple to donate or even to adopt your animals. I love how you mention “or two” about kittens. I learned over the years that it’s by far best to adopt two at a time when adopting kittens. So much better for their upbringing—and easier on the humans, too. My daughter just did that this spring, adopting two little female tabbies—and their bonded cuteness is so adorable. When I babysat them I noticed how much easier it was to take care of two than if one little kitten had been here on her own.

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Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Interview, Nonfiction

What’s Going On?

I’m so annoyed that WordPress took away my ability to draft a post in “classic” instead of “block.” I hate block. Any writer would hate block. And you know what? Even my website guy who is a techie instead of a writer hates block editing. If WordPress would pay attention, they would see that blogging via WP is down since they started that ridiculousness.

Things have been tough this past year without WP screwing around with me. Four kitties since July that I’ve had to watch get sick and then help over the rainbow bridge. Family troubles causing me to end up with two more senior cats that I need to integrate into the household (not to mention the family troubles themselves).

I wrote a chapbook of poems, and I submitted it to a contest that I found through a reputable writing website. My chapbook didn’t take one of the top three spots, but it was one of nine finalists. I thought that was great until I got an email from them saying that as one of their “top finalists” my book deserves to be published. I can do that if I cough up $600 for the publisher. What???? So I read more about the press. They say they operate on a cooperative publishing model and are not a vanity press. To clarify: a vanity press is when you want to publish your book and you pay a publisher to do so. There is no possible rejection involved. This “cooperative” press assures first that they want to put their name on your book. Then you pay $600! When is this ever a good idea? Let’s say you have had a book rejected by many publishers and you don’t want to self-publish and you can afford to spend the money. Maybe then? Back to me submitting to their contest. I guess I’m a little ticked off that a legit writing website would let them advertise that contest without explaining about the “hit you up for $600 bit.”

Remember that the writing contest I’m holding right now is LEGIT. 🙂

Remember my tiny books for Doll God and Kin Types? I got them for Rooted and Winged!

You have through Friday to preorder a copy of the actual book if you have not already. I’m still pledging to donate $5 per preordered copy to Liberty Wildlife. Also, if you would like to enter my writing contest (for prose or poetry) which closes on July 27, you must preorder a copy by July 15 to be eligible. Guidelines at the end of this post.

GUIDELINES AFTER ELIGIBILITY (PREORDER ROOTED AND WINGED) MET:

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, don’t put your name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

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Guidelines for The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest closes on July 27! Read the guidelines below to find out more about the chance to win $250!

Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Dates: Preorder book by July 15. Submit through July 27.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Presales Now for Rooted and Winged

My full-length collection Rooted and Winged needs your help. (Please forgive the drama!)


PRE-ORDER HERE

Release date: September 9

Book description:

The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.

The poems of Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged are embedded in land and weather. “Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light,” she writes early in the collection, hinting at the sensibilities of the companionable speaker who will usher us through the book. 

Diane Seuss (2022, Pulitzer for poetry)

Cover art: Leonard Cowgill

If you pre-order . . .

How the book gets distributed is contingent on pre-order sales! SO for the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years.  Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.

If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.

As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts and would particularly love to set things up for fall when the book is in our hands!

If you already ordered a copy Thank You!!!!!

all my ghosts and angels become each

other and then me with a hinted outline of wings.

from “The Shape of Me”

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Cat Sanctuary Founder Ruth Rawls

https://writersite.org/

Some of my biggest heroes are people who work in animal rescue. Those who provide sanctuaries or care of cat colonies might be my favorites. Ruth Rawls, who I met years ago when we were both blog posting regularly about genealogy, founded and operates a sanctuary for cats in Georgia. I think you might want to hear about it, so I interviewed Ruth to find out what it’s like taking care of the cats. Listen to how Ruth did what a lot of people say they would like to do if “only” . . . .

Ruth, can you describe the environment and lives of the cats on your property?

The environment is lovely. It’s an acre and a half of mature trees. There are climbing platforms and shelters and feeding stations. The cats spend their days lounging and waiting on the next meal.

The Butter, Basil Cowper, and Sue

What do you know about the backgrounds of the cats?

Originally, I released two cats there in 2007 to start the colony. Those two cats came from a McDonald’s restaurant about 13 miles away, and they and other cats were depending on food from the dumpster. A friend of mine who is also an animal rescuer/rehabilitator delivered newspapers, so she was always out in the wee hours of the night and would stop for coffee. She noticed the cats, called me, she set traps, I transported to the spay/neuter clinic, and then released at the new colony. I named them Catkin and Catnip. They were truly wild, and I rarely saw them again. At the time I also had another cat that I had trapped and named Sylvia because she was going to be sylvan, even though I trapped her at a convenience store. Sylvia was semi-feral, in that you could pet her, but when she was finished with pats, she would grab your arm with all claws extended and hold on, never breaking the skin. Sylvia was heavily pregnant when I trapped her, and after her kittens were old enough, I vetted them and found homes.

Other cats have come and gone in the almost 15 years of the colony, which I named Catcatcher Corner.

There are 8 cats living there now, and the group dynamics have changed from a feral colony to a more domesticated group.

Currently, the oldest cat and oldest resident is Georgia, who came from upstate New York when her owners moved to South Carolina in 2008. They were cat lovers whose income didn’t match their desire to help cats. They moved south with approximately 12 cats, and most of them weren’t spayed or neutered. I took 4 of her female cats, had them vetted, and found homes for the two kittens and kept Georgia and her sister Cali. I estimate Georgia is about 15 years old.

Next we have Jersey and Joey, littermates who came from a litter of six that were left in a cardboard box on a local walking trail in 2012. They were so newly born that their umbilical cords were still attached.

Sue’s mother brought her litter here about 8 years ago. There were 6 in that group. I had to trap them all with the exception of Richard Parker, who seemed to be the runt of the group and could be scooped up. Richard Parker and several of the kittens were rehomed. Sue is the remaining member of that group.

Pop-Up was a stray at a friend’s house. He’s probably about 4 years old.He was friendly but was having trouble integrating with that group, so we brought him here. He is super-friendly, but has issues with social cues, and he offends the other cats by ignoring the social greetings and being over-friendly. He currently lives in an outdoor condo with Tortie, a long-haired tortoiseshell, probably about 3 years old, who came from my place of work. She showed up there about two years ago, very semi-feral, but the vet discovered that she was already spayed. She and Pop get along really well. She’s still semi-feral, so the outdoor condo is the best for her with that long coat. She needs regular brushing, and there’s no way I could keep the mats at bay unless she’s confined.

The last two are The Butter and Basil Cowper. The Butter, maybe 6 years old, showed up at the same friend’s house about 2 years before Pop-Up. Butter also has issues with social greetings. He has a head-tilt and a concentrated state, and, although he’s friendly, he doesn’t send that message to other cats. Basil came to live here in the woods about the same time as Pop-Up. I set the trap for two years before he finally went in. I can’t know how old he is, but he seems to be geriatric. My friend named Butterscotch but called him The Butter. I named Basil Cowper for a historical figure during the revolution who actually owned property about 20 minutes away, but it was confiscated after the revolution because he was a British subject. He was from Scotland, so let’s guess he was a redhead, and Basil the Cat is also a ginger.

Pop-Up

How did you come to provide this space for the cats?

In 2002, I started working part-time for a luxury boarding kennel. I worked all the positions, including the front desk. I met so many people who would moan that they loved animals so much, and they wanted to have a farm or a bit of land in the country where the animals could run and play. So I would reply, “Then you should do that.” They would respond with something like, “Oh I can’t”, or “My husband is allergic”, or “I’d have to sell my house”. So I’d pop off back to them something like “Why not?” or “Your husband can take allergy shots” or “So sell the house if that’s your dream to help animals.” You can imagine that this didn’t sit well with some people.

In 2006, my father died, and I got a little inheritance. I thought I should put my money where my mouth was, and buy a bit of property with that money. I didn’t want to spend that money on bills or a vacation because that money was the result of a lifetime of my dad’s work. I wanted to honor him and that money. I looked for a bit of property for months, not a house lot in a subdivision, with specific wants, like trees, few neighbors, in the country, with room to start small and develop if possible. I found 1.52 acres facing south, all wooded, in a rectangular shape with road frontage on east, south, and west. The south and west frontage is a dead-end road about a mile long with maybe 7 little houses. The east frontage is also a two-lane with a little more traffic but not much.

Another concern in this area is hurricane evacuation. The money went towards the down-payment on the property, five-foot-high chain-link fencing for the eastern ½ acre, septic tank, well, electric connection, and a 25-year-old RV to use for evacuations if needed. I also had a large, house-like 12’x18’ shed built for storage.

What is their routine like?

They live their best life. They are fed twice a day. Early on, I fed them dry like Friskies or Nine-Lives, and wet like canned Friskies pate. As they got older, I was able to upgrade their food to ProPlan, both canned and dry, but occasionally I use Merrick or another mid-range food.

They do cat stuff, like lounge around and wait for meals. The cat condo with Pop and Tortie have lots of climbing shelves so they have vertical space, plus outdoor furniture.

Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey eat at the picnic table inside the fence. There’s a mid-size dog crate there with the food bowl inside to protect the food from the elements. The picnic table is near the well and water connection, so I wash their dishes there and store them in a dish drainer.

The Butter and Basil basically live at The Treehouse, which is a platform with a roof over it between two mature pine trees outside the fence. Their platform has water and food bowls, and a smallish dog house with hay. They can climb up to the roof, which is nothing more than a sheet of metal roofing, and lounge up there.

The Butter loves to relax on the roof

Who else lives on the property and how did that happen?

Right now, only the cats and any wild animals like raccoons, opossums, and birds live there. There was a flock of chickens that moved through here almost every day, eating all the food in The Treehouse. They couldn’t be touched, and I don’t know where they came from, but we started buying chicken scratch and chicken feed to put out. They are voracious feeders, and the cats stay out of their way.

Also, randomly, a lone black hen moved in inside the fence last year. I named her Robirda. She started laying eggs, and we learned a lot about hens and egg production.

Last year, I was diagnosed with DCIS, a form of breast cancer, and I moved in with a friend to help take care of me. After a lot of treatment, I’ve just had my first annual post-op checkup, and things look fine. The cats have managed really well, doing what cats do best, and I’m planning on staying with my friend.

Robirda
Robirda and Georgia (orange) at the picnic table
Georgia tends to push into the condo when I go in just to make sure they don’t have better food than she has. She’s totally self-indulgent.

What is the funniest thing the animals have done?

The Butter and Basil are the funniest without even trying. Their platform is like a little stage where they have “conversations”. Admittedly, the conversations are created in my head based on photos that I take of them. Sometimes, The Butter lies on the platform and hangs his head over the side like he’s recovering from too much catnip. One time The Butter and Basil were on the roof of The Treehouse looking over the edge, like they were getting ready to water-balloon the chicken gang.

What is the most surprising?

The most surprising and interesting thing is how they separate themselves into groups. The Butter and Basil took over The Treehouse, which was started as just a safe place for cats to go if they ventured outside the fence. Pop-Up and Tortie live in the condo because that’s where they need to be for their own safety. The last four, Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey, live in the general area of the picnic table. There are multiple places for them to sleep, inside and outside the fence. We made what I call the Dormitory outside the fence in the woods about 15 years ago. Sometimes the wild animals sleep there, but the kids here now don’t use it any more.

I take those large Rubbermaid totes, cut a hole in the end, and stuff them with hay or straw for sleeping quarters, so of course they like to lounge on the tops of those. There’s also nesting boxes in the shed, and they have access to the old RV.

Sometimes Jersey, Joey, Sue, and Georgia come outside the fence to visit The Treehouse, but that’s usually just at feeding time because I tend to feed The Treehouse first, and they try to snag a bite and encourage me to hurry to the picnic table to feed them. I have a car trunk full of dry and canned food, and other supplies.

The Butter, Basil, Joey, Jersey, and Sue (in order)

What about your background prepared you for all this?

I’ve always been interested in animals. When I was in 4th grade, I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was not to be in my future, but I have had vet tech training and worked for several vet practices.

Working at the luxury boarding kennel showed me that some animals get better treatment than others. I’m interested in group health and shelter environments and creating a place where animals can exist.

I have a degree in business management, and I hope to create a non-profit status in order to help more cats/dogs/people.

Pop-Up photobombing Tortie

Ruth will stop by here in case you have any comments or questions for her. I’ll be here, too. Right now I have eight cats in the house, but it’s just temporary because I’m babysitting the feline grandkids.

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When I Got Kicked Out of Girl Scouts

Last week Liz Gauffreau posted a story from her childhood with an image of herself in Girl Scout uniform. Wow, did that ever send me back in time! If you’re familiar with the Girl Scouts, you know that the first level is Brownies. My mother bought me a cute little brown uniform, lightly worn. I remember swinging in the swings at school, pumping my legs as hard as I could, looking down at my mocha brown skirt. My friend and I were singing, “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” 

Skip forward to fourth grade at a new school. I remember walking down the hall from the art room to the Girl Scouts meeting room. I was carrying money to give to our leader, Mrs. Norton. When I handed it over, she counted it and then accused me of stealing some pennies. I will admit that when I was a teenager I engaged in some shoplifting and paid the price. But as a nine-year-old? I wouldn’t even have thought of it. I was scared of authority, too.

What I learned from the experience is that even if you’re not guilty, once you are publicly accused you have been publicly shamed. Nothing was worse to me as a kid than shame. The look Mrs. Norton laid on me was pure hatred and disgust. She kicked me out of the troop, and I never went back. But I lived with that feeling of shame (and the stomach aches it helped cause) for years afterward.

Did anything positive come from the experience? I think it made me more sensitive to other children and then to other people in general. I never liked to see anyone bullied and would try to support people I saw bullied. This has continued throughout my life and has even included “mom groups” on social media where I defended the picked-upon. So I guess it was worth it, but it wasn’t the only problem I had at that new school. Luckily, I was only there for 1 1/2 years before we moved elsewhere.

About my new book, Rooted and Winged: it went into pre-orders last Monday. Why would you want to pre-order it instead of waiting until the release in September? In part, to be nice to me hah. The thing is, the number of pre-orders the book gets determines the royalty percentage that I will receive, as well as where the book will get marketed. So I can’t stress enough how much I would appreciate you pre-ordering instead of waiting (if you are able to, of course). AND, if you pre-order, you will be helping the wildlife in the Phoenix area as I am making a $5 donation for each pre-order! Info that I posted last week is copied below. If you want a donation slip, please let me know you pre-ordered and what your email address is.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Release date: September 9

Book description:

The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.

Cover art: Leonard Cowgill

If you pre-order . . .

I would love it if you could pre-order the book, if you can swing it. For the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years.  Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.

If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.

As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts.

 

all my ghosts and angels become each

other and then me with a hinted outline of wings.

from “The Shape of Me”

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing