Grandma’s Coffee Grinder

Krups, who I often called K, was my best friend for twenty some-odd years. From the day we met, we were inseparable. The whir of her bladed heart made me smile as she ground aromatic java beans.  Some evenings when I’d call on her for some much needed Hazelnut or caramel decaf, she would happily comply. K didn’t just hand me perfect coffee, but she made sure my flax seed and almonds were finely chopped just the way I liked them.

Then, one day a few months ago, K died. No warning, no goodbye, she just didn’t wake up one morning. With tears in my eyes, I broke the news to Don.  In an effort to soothe me, he suggested we ask his friend Cuisinart in the fill K’s  now vacant spot.

“I can’t,” I said, wiping my eyes. “It’s too soon.”  

The truth was, I had found K dead less than ten minutes earlier and needed time to grieve.

As I wallowed in grief, Don came up with another suggestion.  “Hey, what about your grandmother’s old coffee grinder?

“Huh?”  I said, not sure what he was talking about.  

Then, my gaze fell on the old crank coffee mill—Goodwood, or G.W. for short—that had been living on the countertop for several years. G.W. had never moved or made a sound, and he certainly never complained about all the attention K got.  

That same morning after I laid K to rest in the recycling bin—I knew she wanted her parts donated—I put G.W.to the test.  I loaded his portal with fresh coffee beans and cranked the handle, around and around, smiling as he revealed his deep bass voice.  He worked hard to produce a good java.  However, because  he was older and a bit cranky, it took him awhile to get the job done. 

Now, as I sip a cup of café mocha borne from G. W.’s hard work, I smile as I realize he has proven to be a wonderful friend. Over time, his joints have loosened a bit and he is a bit more spry, always eager to grind my beans to perfection. Too bad him and K never noticed each other when she was alive. They would have made perfect companions.  

Goodbye 2013 and Hello 2014!

Even though I believe in reviewing the previous 12 months on the eve of the New Year, I am not big on making resolutions. If there is anything I have learned is that putting off until tomorrow what I can do today leads to nothing but premeditated resentment. Why? Because all I do is put off, put off, and then put off until the end of the year comes and that project remains undone. What do I then do? I beat myself up.

Lately I have experienced that premeditated resentment when it comes to my writing. I have spent too much time saying I would write that story tomorrow when the plot is clear in my head, or finish the umpteenth draft of my query letter for my novel when I know I can get it prefect. That’s plain silliness because these type of resolutions are not based on planning, which is healthy, but on fear that the product of my creative outlet is not, or will not be, good enough. The only way to combat that type of fear is to write the story and get it submitted now and to revise that query and get it out to agents now.

NOW is the operative word.

When I was a kid and would come up with excuses not to do homework or chores, my sweet little mother used to say, “there’s no time like the present” and her infamous “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Of course, back then I thought those words wee adult nerd-speak, but today they are golden nuggets in my memory. Believe me, there will be no more New Years resolutions for me.

So, in 2014 I plan to…..

Just kidding.

Happy New Year everyone!


Dry Spell

I don’t have writer’s block, I just have been living a dry spell. I can write if I want to because I have plenty of words inside, but I just haven’t been sitting my butt in the chair enough. The bottom line is I have been finding other things to do instead of writing.

Occasionally I have been line editing my novel and I’m almost done, but I’m stalling. Thinking the novel was ready I sent it out on query several times, but then decided that I’d missed too many errors with sentence structure, missing words, and other silly typos. It’s definitely time to finish the editing and get it out to agents again.

I still have some short stories out there on submission, but two have been rejected. Ideally, I need to keep submitting my stories to different markets until they are accepted or there is nowhere else to send them.

I love writing but I have not been making the time for it.  The only way to do anything is just to do it and not make excuses. Time to start writing again.


It’s Been Awhile

I have not blogged in over two months. Good intentions to write entries once a week have been waylaid by everyday life. In other words, I have been busy over the last few months.

I’ve been busy with life, but also busy with writing.

I have been working on my short stories and submitting them to magazines.  Some encouraging rejections have landed in my inbox, but no acceptances. I’m encouraged enough by the positive feedback in my rejections to keep submitting.

One short story market asks for a query prior to sending them your short story. I’m stumped with this guideline, except to say a query for a short story must be more compact than a query for a novel. I will give it as try, as I think my story would fit perfectly in this magazine.

I have finished editing my novel and it is with a beta reader right now.  I’m interested in hearing about what works and what does not.  At this juncture, I am blind to my writing in my novel.  I will soon start the re-query process and continue working on novel number two.

This is all for now. Happy writing all!


Research and Imagination

Besides putting the final edits to my novel, I have been writing a short story about a sixteen year old homeless girl and her younger brother surviving in current culture. Amidst all the troubles of these kids living in homeless camps, there are moments of peace and joy. I think I have a good story in the making.

Since I have never been homeless, I have engaged in some local introspection, if you will, of how I might add flavor to my story.

For example, in a neighborhood where I park for work, a box of books has been left on the sidewalk. Everyday I have seen fewer books in the box, as if people have been helping themselves to their favorite read. What if my characters were to come across this free mini-library and find books that can take them to worlds away from the hardships and possible horrors awaiting them on the street?

Another example is a walk I took during my lunch break at work the other day. In the city where I live, there are long paved trails, double decker at some locations, running alongside a flowing creek protected by lush canopies of trees and brush. As I enjoyed the scenery, I began to wonder about the many places that a homeless girl and her brother could camp unseen.

My point is that research is all around you. You don’t have to stick to the old adage write what you know, you just need to turn your imagination on and research enough to fill in the details. Most of all, remember to write honestly and from your heart.

Happy writing all.