Month: January 2014

Friday Whimper

Remember my last post, focusing on what’s been good?  Fuck that.  Somehow the three days since then have been 83 days in real time.  Just tell me when I can go meet Fatigue for Friday Night Madness.  In fact, I think I might splurge.  Skip the food and just spend all my dollars on a Kwak.  Because it’s delicious and makes me feel special, that’s why.

pauwel kwak

pauwel kwak (Photo credit: [puamelia])

It is Friday, that’s the good news.  Tonight, Fatigue will tell me about his acting class and his singing practice.  He will ask me about writing, and I will tell him about fixing-to-get-ready to query.  Then we will both contemplate, strategize, and ramble about how much is subjective, and analyze the week to find the bright and hopeful spots.  And of course, dog poop.  My beasts, his beasts, and any other beasts we walk.

I will remember that Loehmann’s is going out of business.  This is a big deal to me.  When I shop, I shop the discount stores.  Filene’s is gone, Daffy’s is gone, what’s left?  There’s Century 21, but their stuff is all higher end, so for me I can buy a splurge piece there, not replace my blown-out-in-the-knee jeans.  TJ Maxx, but I rarely find anything in there, and most of what I do isn’t stuff that’s made to last.  Yeah, yeah, I’m cranky today but I feel like this is another nail in the coffin of the working class.  “You’re a peasant, it’s time you dress like one.  How dare you want to wear something that isn’t lycra and polyester?”

And it’s just after the holidays, so it isn’t like I have any money to run in and see what they’ve got before they’re gone.

Goodbye, Loehmann's

Goodbye, Loehmann’s

I'll miss you

I’ll miss you

Together we will moan and groan about the state of the union, the dearth of common sense in politics, and–depending on how far into my beer I am at that point–I will likely rage about this case, which thankfully is over now, but has been weighing heavily on my heart and my mind.  It shouldn’t have been a case at all.  I’ve been wanting to write a post centering on it, but I have to wait until I can think calmly and clearly.  I’ll still be angry (wtf, politicians?  Get your head out of my skirt!) but I want to make sense, whether or not readers agree.

It is warmer today, though I’d prefer that didn’t mean the pigeons were out and bold and noisy.  They are, you know.  They make this obnoxious whirring trilling noise that is the auditory equivalent of their splatter.

So yeah, just hanging in to get to the end of this hideously long week, hoping nothing goes wrong in my house or Fatigue’s to prevent our meeting up tonight.

No shame whatsoever

No shame whatsoever


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Oh Mama!

This winter is feeling very, very long.  I’ve barely taken my boots off in the last six weeks.

Sure they're ugly, but they're warm and dry.

Sure they’re ugly, but they’re warm and dry.

You know I’m just waiting for beach season, but this morning it occurred to me we’re nowhere near the end of winter.  Blargh.  So I thought about what’s been good.  Writing and editing have been very good.

Continuing to try and capture a sharp from the terrace moon pic…not as good, but getting there.  This was from this morning, somewhere between 5:30 and 6am.

But not bad, getting closer.

But not bad, getting closer.

Flower Child began art classes, excellent.  Man Child has been home, which has been beautiful.  He hasn’t been home for a good length of time since last winter, and I’m thoroughly enjoying having him here.  He helps out, he cooks and bakes (really, really well), and he makes me laugh.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like my kids.

Woke to fresh, home baked by Man Child cinnamon rolls the other morning…bliss.

Woke to fresh, home baked by Man Child cinnamon rolls the other morning…bliss.

His goal, for his time at home this winter involved driving.  New York kids aren’t as driving focused as teens in other areas, so it isn’t unusual that he didn’t get a license as soon as the law allowed.  But now it just makes sense, he’s been spending more and more of his time up North, and who knows where he’ll go when he graduates.  So he got his learner’s permit within days of being home, and has been practicing.  If staying up North is a consideration, this was certainly the winter to learn on, plenty of opportunity for finding out about driving in snow and ice.

Today he went to take his road test.  Like any mother, I felt compelled to give last minute words of wisdom.  With a song.



All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

pole dance studio

pole dance studio (Photo credit: wwphotos)

But I’m not talking about pole dancing.   I’ve seen several interesting blog posts recently discussing blogging, inviting readers to talk about who they are, why they blog, what their blogs focus on.  Maybe WordPress threw the idea out there, offered a challenge, I don’t know.  It’s Sunday morning and the beasts woke me up too early so I’ll jump on the bandwagon, too tired to be clever on my own.  Because in a way, blogging isn’t so different from pole dancing.  “Look at me, check out this nifty spin, ooh, Mister, would you throw a dollar my way–I’ll give you a peek under another layer.”

There was a recent discussion on the writer’s forum about blogging.  The profitability or lack thereof, return on investment, etc.  I think the conclusion was that author’s blogs aren’t worth (financially) the time and work required to keep them going.  I didn’t participate in the discussion, but I read, and I’m thinking about it.  I don’t blog because I’m an author, I’m not selling anything.  No book being hawked, no freelancing.  Sure, if I ever sell a book I’ll post about it, add a link so the curious and flush can purchase it.

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2008

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2008 (Photo credit: Michael Holden)

A lot of writers, published and unpublished, also run blogs.  Many of them blog about writing.  How to.  I have to admit, I find the vast majority of writing blogs boring.  Is that awful to put into the foreverness that is the internet?  Sorry.  Doesn’t mean they’re bad.  It’s subjective, after all (my favorite song).  Maybe I’m delusional, but I don’t think I need to read 8000 regurgitated versions of THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, ON WRITING,  or THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE.   I own all three, have read them, reread them, dissected them many times.

I follow several writer’s blogs but most are talking about more than writing.  They’re fun or touching or snarky, discuss a personal journey, or downright silly.  They represent the person blogging. To me, that’s what blogging is, personal.  I also follow a few agent/editor’s blogs–those are different, meant to inform by those who actually know what they’re talking about–and still, good reads that offer a sense of who the individual is.  Or at least the persona fronting the blog.

Mrs Fringe is not only not a writing blog, I don’t consider it an “author’s blog.”  I’m a blogger who also writes fiction.  When the coffee grounds appear in just the right pattern and I’m offered a contract I don’t expect I’ll sell 750,000 copies as a result of this blog.  I’m pretty sure that’s about what I’d need to sell to in order to say the hours spent on blogging (writing posts, responding to comments, reading other people’s posts and commenting on theirs) were monetarily worth it.

But I don’t blog as a marketing tool.  I blog because it’s fun, it’s a release, I’ve made and continue to make fabulous connections with other bloggers–many of whom have nothing to do with the world of writing or publishing.  And when I think about it, I don’t consider my time here in Fringeland as time I should be spending working on my fiction or wasted words.  It’s rejuvenating.  And when I am spending a lot of hours writing, I don’t spend a lot of hours on blogging.

If I’m on the pole it’s at home in my raggedy old yoga pants, no dollars in sight.  Of course I hope that somehow, some way, the time spent blogging will provide a boost to my yet-to-be-established writing career.  But that isn’t why I do it.

What about you?  Do you blog for professional reasons?  Marketing?  Display your art?  The opportunity to make connections?  Be positive?  Spread the Word?  The chance to anonymously scream out all the suckage in your life?  And if you aren’t a blogger, but you’re a reader of blogs, what draws you in and keeps you coming back?

Blog Machine

Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

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Stay the Hell Home!

Load em up and slide down Broadway.

Load em up and slide down Broadway.

So says the Mayor and Schools Chancellor of NY.  Except wait, schools are open.

I will never understand these decisions.  Stay off the roads!  Visibility is terrible, the roads are terrible, trains are running but only local, dangerously cold, don’t call 911 unless it’s an emergency (no kidding!), State of Emergency…but schools are open, offices are open, just go ahead and use that magic teleporter to get to school and work, so you don’t interfere with the plows or interrupt the flow of the dollar.

There have been four fatalities in my neighborhood over the last week, pedestrians struck by cars/buses.  I’m afraid to turn on the news and see what might have occurred during the storm yesterday and last night.  Even today, the snow has stopped, but contrary to the image they’re showing of the street outside the mayor’s house, the streets aren’t all clean.  The plows have obviously been through, or the snow would be piled much higher, but still far from “cleaned up.”  And we’re back to frigid temps, so plenty of ice to go along with the snow that won’t be melting anytime soon.

Snow storm in NY photos.  I would have gone into the park, but it was too freakin’ cold.

Pfft, NY, don't let a little snow get in the way of $

Pfft, NY, don’t let a little snow get in the way of $

Some are from yesterday afternoon, some from last night, a few from this morning.

No rain, Mrs Carmichael–but plenty of snow.  This is going to be a long winter, isn’t it?  Stay warm and dry, Fringelings!

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Comma Coma

Like a gazillion little commas.

Like a gazillion little commas.

Since finishing the draft of Astonishing, I’ve been worthless.  Seriously, it sucked it all out of me.  I know there is editing to do, revising to do, but I’ve yet to even sit and do a read through.  And there is always editing/revisions to be done.  If nothing else (ha!) I’ve got to address those pesky commas.

They know I adore them, know I won’t notice until later, so they sneak in, get fruitful and multiply between the pages of text.  Each one a little love note to my fevered writing brain, slow down and think.  Some say our mutual love is unnatural, I say we’re misunderstood.  I want to keep each and every one, stop trying to get between us!  Unless you’re an agent with interest and publishers in mind in which case ptooey i will stomp out those little marks like roaches revise the text into one long stream of consciousness

My love of this pedestrian punctuation is so great, Man Child penned an ode to us:


There are others who would like to get between my love and I, citing disdain for my little Oxfordian friend, who toss around slanderous words like redundancy.  Jealous, they’re all just jealous, wishing they had the freedom of intimacy, the long history we share.

If you couldn’t tell from my ramblings, my sleep has been a bit off for the past few days.  Friday night I was snoring by 9:30.  Unfortunately that left me wide awake at 3:30 Saturday morning.  I thought by last night, I would be able to not only get a normal night’s sleep, I would get to sleep in this morning–MLK day, Flower Child has no school.  And then I could be productive today, do my read through, maybe even make notes for when I’m ready to begin revisions.  But no, my phone rang at 5:30.  “Hello.  Hello!”  No one there.  Crap.  Then I had to pee.  Double crap.  Once I get up, I’m up, doesn’t matter if I had 2 hours or 8 hours of sleep.  For the record, it wasn’t the phone ringing, it was my alarm.  I forgot to turn it off, it’s set to go off automatically on weekday mornings.

Maybe I will be able to read through today.  Maybe not.  I’ve been thinking this could be the perfect opportunity to get back to a regular Yoga routine.  It would be, if I didn’t have the motivation of a slug.

One of the things I like about waking early is seeing the sun rise.  My apartment faces east, a beautiful way to have my first (or second) cup of coffee, on the terrace.  I’ll share today’s.

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Looks like a promise of a good day, no?

Looks like a promise of a good day, no?


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Friday Photos

I’m sure I intended to write a pithy, insightful post today.  Sorry.  The last several days have been a marathon of working on Astonishing.  I typed THE END a couple of hours ago, and I’m so drained I feel  gutted.  Crap, I think Little Incredibly Dumb Dog is playing with my small intestine.

I took my camera with me the other morning and shot some New York morning photos on the way home from taking Flower Child to school.  A couple of cool fog photos, and several of the ongoing and ever popular construction around the city.

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Poetic Meltdown

Shooting for the Moon

Shooting for the Moon, but not quite focused

I’ve been trying to get a good photo of the moon from my terrace.  As yet unsuccessful, but still trying.  I took a few  shots last night and when I was uploading them today, I realized that in some ways this photo nails what I’ve been feeling and thinking these last several days.  A little further away than I’d like, not as sharp as I’d like, out and visible just a little too early.

Writing, working on the WIP.  I’m getting close to the end, but it still feels very far away.  Further than it actually is.  And I’m antsy about it.  But if I’m honest, I’m also totally and completely excited.  So I’m doing exactly what you aren’t supposed to do, obsessing over my belief that this is the ONE.

I believe it, and I shouldn’t.  It’s good.  I think it’s really good.  I think it’s good enough to happen.  But is it marketable?  Is it marketable enough?  I fucking hope so, but I’m not an agent or a publisher.  And it’s magical realism, a genre that makes most people say “huh?” when I mention it.  Umm, surrealist fiction, sort of.  The conversation only gets more jumbled when the other person asks what it’s like, and the only authors I can think of who are known for magical realism are authors no one of the unwashed and unpublished persuasion should ever compare themselves to.  Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez?  Isabel Allende?  Salman Rushdie?  Paulo Coelho?  Toni Morrison?  Umm, it’s weird.  *I am not trying to suggest my writing is up there with the aforementioned authors.  It’s the style/sub-genre of literary fiction.

I should be cool.  Tattoo all the stats and odds against me across my forehead while I continue writing and face a mirror, and know that this might or might not be the ONE.  In the interest of balancing reality and dreams, I’ve been working on the query letter.  Another shouldn’t.  This one–I shouldn’t hate query letters.  They’re a tool, one of a few used to catch an agent’s eye.  But I do hate them, because I’m not very good at them, and so I figured it would be a good idea to start working on this well in advance of sending any out.  Less pressure.  But really, looking at a blank document and typing “Query” across the top, all I want to say is this:

Pretty sure that would be the ultimate cliche.  Would that change it from cliche to kitsch?  Hmmm.  I’ve been getting some feedback–questions and thoughts–from several excellent, skilled query writers.  I really want to stomp my feet and say well fine, you write it for me. Except a) that isn’t cool, and b) I would be even less happy with what any of them wrote than with what I come up with.  I have no doubts what they came up with would be enticing and fantabulous, but it wouldn’t sound like my “voice,”  or capture the tone in Astonishing.

Queries are always tricky beasts, and I’m having a particularly tough time capturing the right notes in this one.  One thing keeps sticking in my head.  I already tortured my buddy kk whining about this.  I can’t whine to Husband, his response is “just write, you lunatic you.”  OK, he doesn’t actually say that last part, but I can see him thinking it.

Your turn, Fringelings!   A couple of people used the word “poetic” in reference to what I wrote in the query–and I know that I still haven’t hit the right note.  Poetic sounds suspiciously like a polite substitute for “purple.”  For any readers who aren’t writers, “purple prose” is the phrase for overwritten, melodramatic scenes, usually stated with a sneer.  The manuscript is not purple.  Descriptive, but not purple.  I’ve been happy with the feedback I’ve received so far on Astonishing itself, and much of my feeling pleased centers around a few readers using terms like “clear,” and “clarity.”  (And squirm, but that’s a Mrs Fringe thing, I love it when a reader really feels the scene, mwahahaha)  Clarity is important in any writing, but when I’m writing lit fic, it’s probably the biggest compliment I could receive.

I wrote poetry a million years ago, in my angsty teen years.  In my mind I was Anne Sexton.  In reality, I was more like Patti Smith circa 1977 at the end of a show, angry and sweaty and wanting to make. my. fucking. point.

I’m nervous.  Because I do believe Astonishing is The Right One, at the Right Time, written with the Right Words.  God knows I spend hours reading and rereading and taking out the Wrong Words.

Dear Agent,

Please read my manuscript.  It’s better than my query.

Thank you,

Mrs Fringe

Anne Sexton

Cover of Anne Sexton

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Piss and Vinegar

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mrs Fringe and guilt go together like oil and vinegar.  Sure you have to do all that mixing, blending, emulsifying to get them to unite, but once you do they make sense.  Unlike this analogy, but I’m under the weather and Flower Child is home sick today, so that’s the best I can do.  Besides, I’m a big fan of vinegar, have no less than seven  different kinds in the fridge at all times.

And I just had a little mishap on the terrace.  I keep a big jug of plain white vinegar for cleaning the reef tank equipment, very effective, inexpensive, doesn’t harm the critters–NOT that anyone should add vinegar to their tanks, reef or otherwise, but it doesn’t leave behind crazy levels of nitrites, nitrates or other nasties reefers don’t want measurable amounts of in our reefs.  I got a huge bottle at one of those big box stores for people who like to purchase 72 rolls of toilet paper at once, and left it on the terrace.  Because it’s big.  And I have a small apartment.  Well guess what?  Vinegar freezes.  And then it expands, and then the plastic bottle leaks, and then the terrace reeks of vinegar.  Maybe it will keep the pigeons away.

What was I talking about?  Guilt.  My most recent guilt episode is one that’s old and familiar, the guilt of slow writing.  Everyone has their process, I know this.  Some people write faster than others.  Know it.  But you know when you’re already feeling low, and then you read just the right thing to make you feel like shit?  And then you look for more things to read to make you feel worse because what the hell, you’ve been stuck and not making progress on the WIP, plenty of time to read about other people’s mind boggling daily word counts.  They are productive.  They don’t make excuses.  They are working on their 87th draft of their 120,000 word manuscript–pared down from 210,000–while I continue to watch the word counter at the bottom of my page stay at exactly the same number.  Which is still too far off from my 70,000 word goal of my first draft.  They are disciplined, they write, they earn money, they raise children, they work out, they save the fucking whales and feed croutons to the pigeons in order to soak up the excess vinegar.

Well I was stuck.  And I pondered.  And then I was more stuck.  And then I pissed and moaned and whined.  And then I stopped reading about the fabulously prolific and closed the open Astonishing file and said I’m taking a break until I’m not.   And then I found myself pondering again.  Yesterday I was able to unstick myself, wrote a little.

This morning I was cruising the writer’s forum and saw this link.  Hallelujah, I have found my people at last!  My perfect critique partners.  Ok, it’s true that all except one are dead, but doesn’t that sound like my pace?  Bed, grave, is there really that much of a difference? Just my speed.  Lying down is my favorite! and is there anything more secure than being in your own bed?

Couple in Bed

Couple in Bed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was inspired, wrote more than a little today but not anything another slow writer would boggle at.  Not in bed, in my corner on the couch, where I always write.  Half lying, half sitting, laptop on my lap.

Come to think of it, I got a new ottoman last week .  Maybe the next time I’m stuck, I can try writing from the other end of the couch.

Perfect height, on clearance!

Perfect height, on clearance!



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Breaking News: Cold in NY, in January

Yeah, I know, this is more than the usual cold.  Pretty sure the meteorological term is fucking freezing.  Or en español,  frio con cojones.  But first it was strangely warm, and we saw a spectacular sunset as the temperature plummeted yesterday evening.

The view facing east, sun reflecting off of the buildings.

The view facing east, sun reflecting off of the buildings.

This being NY, nothing stops for weather (-12 windchill be damned) so it was school and business as usual today.  I had an appointment that I expected to take about an hour.

Bring on the leeches!

Bring on the leeches!

After a quick consult, I was sent to the lab.  Except the usual lab was closed for renovations, so I had to bundle up and head outside to walk closer to the river, and then register to wait.  To register insurance info.  And then wait for a broken printer which wasn’t fixed.  And then register for the actual lab part of the lab.  And then wait.  And wait.  Free entertainment, something broke on an upper floor causing flooding, and I was treated to an hour of alarms and flashing lights.  This is a hospital and lab that is crazy crowded under the best of circumstances.  Add in sub freezing temps outside (lots of accidents, illnesses, and people just looking for anything that will get them out of the cold), the second lab of the hospital being closed, and chaos on another floor, and well.  Sigh.

I’ll admit, met a nice bunch of folks all talking about (surprise!) the weather.  One reminded me of one of my mother’s friends, very elegant older woman there with her daughter for pre-op fun.  I started to worry that I wouldn’t make it home on time to pick up Flower Child.  I said this out loud (why?) and the group prodded me to go into the lab and tell them.  When the lab tech came out and called my name, I stood up and this small group cheered for me.  Not kidding.  NY is never more wonderful than when faced with a challenge/crisis–be it natural or manmade.

I felt worst for the phlebotomist, the inner rooms of the lab were so cold, my hand was literally blue as she took my blood.  I was only in there for five minutes, I can’t imagine how that woman was keeping her hand steady in the middle of an 8 or 12 hour shift.  Thank you! After a mere four hours, I was on my way to the subway.

The show might go on, but the streets are strangely empty today.  No one is loitering outside, everyone is bundled up and hurrying to be indoors.  The streets along the hospital are usually lined with panhandlers/homeless.  I didn’t see one today, and I’m glad, it means they’re all inside somewhere.  Even the pigeons are suspiciously absent.

IMG_0279 IMG_0282 IMG_0283


Just about everyone is as bundled as they can be and still navigate the steps down to the station.  I saw two exceptions.  One, a woman running to the train this morning in a short skirt and heels, no tights at all.  Umm, honey, I know bare legs are awesome, but no one was admiring your daring.  And another on the train, sure she was cute in her short peacoat and no hat.  Young women always look good.  But psst,

you would have looked just as cute in boots.  At least put a pair of socks on.

you would have looked just as cute in boots. At least put a pair of socks on.

I took note of the empty benches in the street and waiting for the light to change when I noticed this:

Sometimes I really don't want to know.

Sometimes I really don’t want to know.

I’m just ready to be done for the day, and join Big Senile Dog on his tempurpedic.

Warm and cozy.

Warm and cozy.





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You know those friendships.  We all have them.  Pick-up friendships.  The people you don’t see, or don’t speak to, or don’t see an email/post from for months and months, and then when you do it’s like you saw them last week and it feels so…good.  They are the sweetness in life that leave us smiling, seemingly small but full blessings within the frustrations and drudgery of day to day life.

I saw one of those friends this evening, Honor, and in fact I think it was from him that I first heard the expression, of friendships being like a game of pick-up basketball you find on the public playgrounds of the city.  Just walk onto the court and start playing.  He was a teacher of Man Child’s years ago, and over the years became a friend to Man Child, a friend to all of us.  I call him Honor because he is one of those rare people who lives his principles, always kind, always thoughtful.  He was raised by a mother who believes you never show up at someone’s house empty handed.  Old fashioned?  Yup.  Unnecessary?  Absolutely.  And completely lovely.

A frigid, snowy night.  Could there be a more perfect gift?

A frigid, snowy night. Could there be a more perfect gift?

After a little catching up, Honor, Man Child, and Miss Music left to go out for dinner.  They went to a local restaurant that’s about to close.  Priced out of the neighborhood after more than thirty years.  Oh New York.  I’m sorry I won’t get the opportunity to go in before they’re gone, but I didn’t realize they were closing in time to plan.  Ah well.

I didn’t get to have my favorite sandwich one last time, but Flower Child and I were treated to our favorite live music.

Thank you, Nerd Child!

Thank you, Nerd Child!

Now all is quiet.  I’m just watching the snow coming down, waiting to hear if the public schools will be closed tomorrow.   Thinking about the WIP, turning a few ideas over in my mind.  Tomorrow I write.  And continue avoiding the mirrors, I got my hair cut today.  Blech.

It's coming down hard and fast, a snow day is feeling possible.

It’s coming down hard and fast, a snow day is feeling possible.