Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Unmoving Sky Returns!


With a NEW COVER! 


 



It was a heavy blow when my publisher closed in 2019, two years after the print edition of The Unmoving Sky was released into the world. All the momentum was thwarted when people couldn't order my book. I had to loan out my copies. Haha. 

So, I'm happy to report those who wanted to read the story of two young brothers coming to terms with their father's pain and their own can once again! I'm not sure if I'll have copies of print available. I'll have to wait and see. 

The link in my title will take you there. And HERE. Barnes and Noble + iBooks + Kobo & Various other online retailers and LIBRARIES  Overdrive, Hoopla, Bibliotheca ~ are coming very, very soon and you'll be able to read my book for FREE!    


Free. 
Free 
Free.    I LOVE the Public Library.   All the Hearts. 












And thanks to the good people at Draft2Digital for helping to make it so easy to take control of my story once again.    

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Book Review: Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber

 

Taking Up SpaceTaking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to Wunderkind for an ARC of this book.

An honest and emotional portrayal of a young girl struggling with the ways her body is changing and what this means to her life’s passion, basketball.


When 12-year-old, Sarah doesn’t hit her marks on the court, she’s sure it because she isn’t eating healthy, or what her mother terms as healthy. But Sarah’s mother has had her own issues with food.

Sometimes she forgets to make dinner. Or pick up snacks for her sleepover, or stock the refrigerator. But she’s always there to watch Sarah’s games and they love reading and decoding detective stories.

Half of Sarah’s teammates suspect something (and they aren’t very nice about it) when she isn’t eating, but it’s her BFF that steps in and tells their coach.

When the boy she crushes on asks to be her partner in a cooking competition, she learns how much she enjoys cooking and she can take control of what she eats and stand up for what she needs at home in order to feel safe and confident. 

Sarah comes to an understanding about food, that no food is bad. It just is. 

Within this book, are many important conversations about food, body image, and self-worth, written in a  natural and compelling, heartfelt voice. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Writing Management, a Year After Covid-19

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog. It's been a hectic year for most of us, a year of loss, heartbreak, and fear. A descent into the unknown. 

Having faith was difficult. Faith that I'd return to my regular writing schedule. I have not, nor do I expect to return to my pre-covid routine. It's been difficult to find a space in time for myself. 

Alone.

My husband and I live in New York City and share a small apartment with our two young adults ( a large dog and a cat), and both were frustrated and disheartened with the lockdown aka "Pause' in which Governor Cuomo termed. Alas, the end of the tunnel is in view. 

I've been unable to find uninterrupted time due to our small business, a jazz club (you can read my previous post ) housed in a historic venue. After lockdown, we improvised and became an outdoor coffee house/cafe. Fresh-squeezed juices. Chagachinos. Local coffee. Pastries from Grandaisy in Tribeca. Our nightclub always had a piston coffee machine, even before Starbucks. My husband spoiled me with his machines and dark roast. 

Our sons helped at the cafe (no longer miserable), they learned new skills as baristas. My BFF was happy to join in and likened running a cafe to a housewife on steroids. I thought it was the perfect analogy. After seven days a week for much too long, before extra help arrived, I couldn't focus on writing, not knowing what would happen to our business and my hours were all over the place. I was making food for the cafe when I left. Homework. Meanwhile, my mind was reeling, plotting how to return to the new normal.





I decided on a simple book edit. Not a revision, but an edit. This I figured was all my time allowed, without the stress of wanting to do more. Because apparently, I'm often unsatisfied with the writing work I've managed in a day. It's never enough. (It's hundreds of pages! Let's go!" my inner taskmaster says.) And this was when I had five hours of daily writing time. 



I was also waiting to hear back about an R-n-R. 

Back in November 2019, I sent in my second Revise and Resubmit to the requesting agent and she warned me it would be a long time, she was slow. I already knew this having finished R-n-R #1 for this agent. She seemed great and I agreed, (at the time) with her suggestions. The historical fantasy had already been revised from its first draft that was omniscient, then third limited past tense, with two POVs, and then 1 POV present, but I've lost track. 

I edited another manuscript (not ready to tackle the big revision of the latest draft completed on March 1, 2020.) I queried literary agents. Not one bite after ten sends. I decided to hold that project. I had a realization reading a previous comment from another agent who read the third POV version. She didn't care for the other POV character but she liked the MC's voice and loved the premise. So after three or so years, I realized she was RIGHT and I began revising the historical fantasy back to 3rd POV, past-tense and I cut the other POV character's scenes. But since it's a bit of a whodunnit (genre-mashup, really) I left the chapter scenes in third-objective POV. 


And Yesterday I finished! The manuscript is back where I want it. Just a few more tweaks and it's ready to query. (Again!) I reached out to the agent, still "reading" my second R-n-R, and told her I was returning the manuscript to my original design, and while she finally passed, she thought my idea was wise. That was encouraging.  

I'm starting to carve out time for writing at other times of the day, restructuring and organizing. I'm not there yet. For years I was an early morning writer and I prefer this. Going from dreaming to writing. Ah, bliss. 

Now with our outdoor cafe that's usually a jazz club, moving indoors soon (after construction), my schedule will be in flux once again. I may manage better if I keep flexibility in mind. 

And YES, absolutely-- I am VAXXED. Our entire team is. Otherwise, we wouldn't open indoors. 





Join us!  We have Brazilian Music on Sundays from 4:00-7 PM! More to come. 
Follow us on Instagram @ZincBar
 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Our Garden Through Uncertainty


Our garden through uncertainty. 



It was all we heard on the streaming device. Crazy time. These uncertain times. The end of the world. While others said we used to be this or that, we said we’re usually a jazz club to those stopping by our 6-foot wide counter for an espresso. Our tiny candle-lit basement club once overflowed with jazz legends and up-and-coming virtuosos, who played shoulder to shoulder with their exuberant audience, was now silenced. 

 All of New York City had been hushed into sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many New Yorkers live alone, I ached for those without the comfort of connection. Walking the city streets left you feeling haunted and isolated. Unsafe. 

 Coffee was hard to find in the early weeks of March; an espresso wasteland for over a mile radius in my neighborhood where my husband and I live and work in Greenwich Village. When two large coffee houses on our block closed, and then the deli on the corner, it wasn’t just a matter of getting a steamy cup of strong, rich latte or chai, you couldn’t find drip coffee unless you had a machine at home. 

 We had to open. 

 Not that anyone was leaving home. 

 Since many people in the city had no kitchens, we became essential workers. My husband, always the coffee aficionado, turned our piston-lever Kennedy-era espresso machine around on the bar and we built a 6-foot counter, a barrier between the staff and customers. And we became a coffee shop to-go. Being a jazz club, we knew how to improvise. 

 It was a great distraction from the fear closing in, a distraction from my anxiety, my son’s anxiety, and the political climate in the United States that helped create an unfathomable body-count, still growing. New York City was at war with a pandemic, the illegitimate president created with his deliberate ineptitude. 

Our music club, a small business, had successfully become an espresso bar. A place to escape my young adults, a place for them to escape us, our tiny apartment, and learn barista skills. The to-go counter was bustling. There was little competition with the neighboring coffee shops, still shuttered. Plants and flowers overflowed from our counter-window. People often left dying plants overnight that we nursed back to health. Friends and neighbors pitched in and built the counter, helped served customers, and brought supplies when I couldn’t get away, and our neighborhood grew closer during the pandemic lockdown. 

 Our café to-go brewed local roasters and we ordered pastries from a friend’s bakery. Meanwhile, there were no signs of life at the coffee houses around the corner. 

 In the gloom of late March and early April, when neighbors passed and unexpectedly found us, their faces filled with relief as they drank some “damn good coffee”. They were ecstatic. Became regulars. And the flower pots multiplied. I brought roses and herbs from the farm market and slowly added more greenery and blooms. Without much money and not knowing the fate of our music club, when or if things would ever get better, much less return to normal, we kept smiling. 

Because smiling made me feel better. Helping someone else made me feel useful. Lending an ear to a neighbor who’d had no one to listen for months, I learned so much, and my optimism grew. As the dank spring opened to clear and sunny days, we gained more enthusiasts and soon became known for our freshly squeezed juices and frozen drink specialties. 

By mid-June, the city permitted restaurants to build seating outside in their parking spaces. Phase #2. We built a patio deck, added trees and shrubs, a picket fence, vintage gliders, and our parking-lot evolved into a woodland nook. People let us know how much they loved the new scenery, how it calmed them. It became a space for contemplation. Our neighbors gave us cards of gratitude and gifts. 

During the summer cocktails were sipped and our reputation flourished. Being a thoroughfare on W 3rd street, those trekking across town were delightfully surprised to find a locally roasted decaf coffee. We’d put as much heart into our decaf and we did our espresso and fresh fruit cocktails and smoothies. 

Given an abundance of chairs, we spaced them out across the street, allowing friends and families to form COVID pods, find comfort for a short stay, considering theaters, clubs, and parks were still closed. 

Black Lives Matter police brutality protests marched past. Every day. Peacefully. Usually, around noon, people gathered in Washington Square Park. There were often several marches a day. While one rallied through the park, another headed over the Brooklyn Bridge. Thankfully, I was able to join and march a few times. My city was ALIVE and I was right where I wanted to be. Witnessing history. Not hidden away in a second home. 

Still evolving, a friend’s refurbished bike shop set up on the weekends and offered vintage bicycles for sale or an opportunity for repairs. It was temporary, like so much else. After sunset, pedestrian traffic became sparse, our counter light gave our neighbors a little reassurance until closing time. 

Phase 3 wasn’t much of a change for our café to-go that’s usually a jazz club. We had live music again. Outside. And then, two weeks into our Brazilian Sundays, the rules changed. Phase 4. Musicians had to be 12-feet from the audience. This was quite a challenge for our tiny patio parking space. We had to stop the music again. Our professional artists are hurting, streaming is expensive, and reaps little monetary reward.  
The mayor has extended outdoor cafés until October. After that, what’ll our fate be? On September 30th, we’re told we can bring people inside the club at 25% capacity. But this comes with a huge risk. According to scientists, the pandemic is far from over. But we’ll be here for New Yorkers.  

We never left. 


ZINC BAR JAZZ Club & Cafe.  82 West 3rd Street  New York, New York 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hive Mind ~ 1K Short Story

 



P.S.  I don't know what the heck Blogspot is doing to the formatting but it has become near impossible to copy & paste my writing. Anyone know how to fix this? 

  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Boo! ~ Halloween Story Contest for Kids.

 

Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!


100 words using the words skeleton, mask, and creep.  





"Boo!" came from the shadows. 

Bubby jumped and smashed into the dangling skeleton. Its bones clanked down the stairs behind his jack-o'-lantern full of shimmering candy. 

"That'll teach ya' to sneak up on us," snarled three little witches. 

Pirate Kam and his ghost crew laughed as they passed. Bubby stood up straight. He was the Hulk. Impenetrable. 

He adjusted the green grunting mask and picked up his candy. Onward. Two more houses before he had to meet his mother and baby sister at the corner. It was getting darker. 

Where was his mother?

"Boo!" she said. 








The link to learn more about "Doin' the Skeleton Dance Contest"  on Children's Author Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Metropolis Sent Me.

I have several short stories that haven't found markets, so I'll share here on occasion. This dystopian was written in 2019 and originally titled Slaughterhouse and it's under 1k words! I love writing short fiction between novels to work out ideas. Revising novels can take years. (I'm close to completing the revisions of a Middle-Grade Magical Realism story ~ While I await an agent's response on an R&R for another novel.) Writing short fiction is always fun. 



METROPOLIS SENT ME


 

The uneven floorboards creak as I follow the metallic odor, careful not to awaken the supervisor who supposed to be on guard keeping people like me out. Metropolis sent me.


It’s a death sentence to take a photograph. No one’s supposed to know this place exists. The ruins, the rusted leaking pipes dripping sulfur water, my mind reels back: pipes forced down the throats of unwitting birds and geese. Their stomachs pumped with grain and sawdust, protrude out of proportion, as they gurgle undigestible remnants humans could have eaten instead.


Fatty liver is still a delicacy to the Upper Echelons of our ruling class. The exploitation class. Those who seek out our dwindling resources and gobble them up at their leisure. Even after the fowl disease had stopped anyone with any sense. Not for those who pumped their veins with antibiotics, allowing a continuation of their exploitive appetites.


Appetites that destroy our environment. There’s scarce freshwater or land left to farm. This factory is one of the few outposts churning out animal byproducts. The buffalo and cows died off a decade ago, the rest of the land creatures drowned in the floods. Birds that didn’t escape were caught and now, here. It used to be that only geese and ducks were turned into fatty liver, now it’s any bird caught alive.

 

My camera bangs against the side of my leg as I step over a bird’s carcass, the flesh peeled back, boney ribs exposed.

 

The others in my camp grew too hungry and tired for this mission. As a ranking member of Metropolis, I volunteered. If we release the caged fowl into the sky, they could eventually proliferate and maybe, one day, we’ll eat fresh eggs again. Until then, its snails and mollusks fished out of the tide pools.

 

I don’t really need the camera for what I’m about to do. But I want a before and after shot and show the Caver’s the truth. Most, refuse to leave their cave dwellings in fear of viruses.

 

The birds sense my approach, fluttering, cawing, frantically flapping against their cages. “Shh,” I whisper as if that’ll do anything.


“Who’s there!” shouts a guard.


I slide behind a bloodied cage, a goose’s eye watches, and I hold my breath. Heavy mud-coated boots pass inches away. I shrink and chew my lips shut. The guard isn’t much taller than my 5-feet. Stunted growth like the rest of us.

 

But he has a turbo. One beam in my direction, I’ll disintegrate into vapor, and then what? What happens to my sister, my baby brother, our grandfather, what’s left of my family.


The birds squawk an ungodly sound. They’re ratting me out. Sinking,  sinking.


“Hey, you –" the guard shouts, turbo steady. “Get up!”

 

I push the hair out of my face, so I can meet his eyes. If he’s going to kill me, I want to see it coming. Defiant, jaw set, teeth clenched, I charge forward. 


Tackle. I bite his legs, rip at his arms until I’ve wrestled the turbo out of his grip. Now he’s up against the wall staring into the barrel.

 

“What’s your plan, young lady?” he says with a bored expression. “Ah, I may already know. You want to repopulate the planet with birds?”

 

I don’t speak. I don’t want to listen. I’m the one holding the turbo. I search the nearby cages for one large enough to set him inside. “Over there.”  I swing the turbo.

 

“I wouldn’t release these birds if I were you." 


They lie! The guards all lie to save their own bought skins. Living side-by-side with the Exploitation Class up on the mountain. It’s manipulation. I’d better hurry before more arrive. He could have set an alarm. The birds are worth more than gold was a decade ago. Food is our scarcest commodity. So are human lives.

 

“They’re sick birds, you know,” he says after crouching inside the cage. “They’re making the Upper Echelon’s sick too, haven’t you heard?”

 

“I know they’re sick.” I lock the cage. “Doesn’t mean the birds can’t live a natural life.”

 

“Cavers sent me,” he says. “I’ve been making sure those on the mountain eat every last bird. They’re dying up there, you know. The ruling class is disappearing. Couldn’t stop their exploitation and they never listened when we, the scientists, warned about the health of the birds.”

 

“Shut up.” I leave the slaughter room and enter the office, pull the wires on all security systems, and then return to the birds. Open the cages and I begin scooting the birds out.


“They’re sick,” the guard repeats. “They’ll be sick for generations.”

 

Ignoring him, I tip over buckets—is that grain? Squatting down, I scoop it back inside. I’ll bring what I can with me. Water buckets. Blood buckets. I smell ammonia and gag as I flip another bucket drum.

 

The geese squawk. Their webbed feet quickening, and I hold the door open until every abled body is outside, soaring into the chemtrail-streaked sky.


“Don’t do it!” the guard shouts. “I’ve been here for a long time making sure no one releases them into the wild.”


“So, you’re just keeping them here to suffer more forced-feeding. You’re lying.”


“It’s the only way to get the Upper Echelons out. They believe it’s their privilege to destroy every last living thing on this planet for their consumption.”


“No kidding.” I poke at two robins lingering behind while the guard rambles on issuing more warnings. “Where’s your tattoo?” I ask.


He pokes his dark brown arm through the cage, showing me the zig-zag river, the Caver’s tattoo and I take a deep breath. “What’d you do with the U.E. Guard?”


He shrugs.


“Either you tell me or you tell Metropolis,” I warn.


“I feed him to the birds.”