About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Friday, March 29, 2013

What I'm Currently Reading...

I realize that as a writer, it might be interesting to share what I'm reading. I tend to have many (too many) books going at once. I try to stick with one nonfiction book and one fiction book at a time, but I always seem to start and read more books than that.

Such is the case now. I'm reading the nonfiction books Visit Sunny Chernobyl and Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell, Break the Bipolar Cycle: A Day-by-Day Guide to Living with Bipolar Disorder by Elizabeth Brondolo, Ph.D. and Xavier Amador, Ph.D., Spent: Break the Buying Obsession and Discover Your True Worth by Sally Palaian, Ph. D., and A Morning Cup of Yoga by Jane Goad Trechsel. In fiction, I'm reading The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian.

I'm not the fastest reader, so this list might take me a little while to get through. I'm not a very slow reader, either, but I certainly don't speed read or skim. I read like the English major and English graduate student that I was--like I'm later going to have to write an essay about what I'm reading. But I have great recall of what I've read, and I feel I get incredibly immersed in the books I read. I'd rather read carefully and remember and truly appreciate what I've read than zip through and hardly remember anything.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great Review and Two Rejections

I got a great review of "Arthur Cleary" today. Please feel free to read it by clicking here. It makes me happy! It offsets the two short story rejections I got today. Ah, well. That's all part of the process.

It would be great to have more people read "Arthur Cleary". You can get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Musa Publishing's website, OmniLit, and Rainbow eBooks. You can get my other short story "Honeymoon" at all these places as well. And on Amazon, you can get my short story "Shadow People".  "Shadow People" originally appeared in the literary journal The Linnet's Wings.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..."

When I sleep, I'm a very active dreamer (I'm an active dreamer when I'm awake as well, but that's for another post!). I have random dreams... some good, some wonderful, some neutral, some nightmarish. But I also have recurring dreams and places that I visit frequently in dreams that don't exist in the waking world.

I call the place I visit most often simply "my house". It's a large Victorian house with an attic, a basement, a huge porch, and many, many rooms. I'm always discovering new rooms. Sometimes, dreams about my house can be disturbing. For example, I'm terrified of the attic and have yet to go into it in a dream, yet sometimes I'll catch a glimpse of it through an open doorway and become very afraid. There's something up there that's horrifying--I don't know what it is--but I clearly don't yet want to find out. Maybe someday, in some dream, I will.

I often dream about my writing. I've come up with characters, character traits, plots, and dialogue when dreaming. I can even "make" myself dream of things I'm writing about and writing problems I want to solve if I think about the things before I fall asleep.

I dream just about every night--or I should say I remember my dreams from just about every night (everyone dreams... it's just a question of whether or not you remember them upon waking). I love my dream world. I'm sometimes plagued by nightmares, but it's worth it if it means I get to have the good and productive dreams I have, too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some Old "New" Stories

Going through my files today, I found and printed out two stories I'd like to continue work on: "Under the Bookcase" and "The Pattersons".

"Under the Bookcase" isn't that old of a story. I wrote it last year and have been letting it sit on the back burner to simmer for a while. I think this is always a good idea, a good thing to do. When you let a story sit for a while, you go back to it with fresh eyes and may see things that need to be changed or edited or tweaked in some fashion.

I wrote "The Pattersons" quite a while ago (a few years ago), and now I want to revisit it and see if there are ways in which I might tweak it and prepare it for submission to journals. This is a Twilight Zone-esque story. I may want to look into journals that publish speculative fiction and science fiction and submit it to some of them.

I'm glad I've let these stories sit and wait for a while, and I highly recommend it to any writer. When you've let a story sit for a while, your first time reading through it again is almost like reading someone else's work. This is good. It allows you to see things you may not have caught when you were closer to it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring!

It's the first day of spring, and here in Syracuse, New York, it's snowing! But this is to be expected in central New York.

I'm excited about this spring because I'm moving ahead with some important goals. First of all, I've started submitting my novel, Purple Loosestrife, to agents and publishers. It's an arduous and often quite disheartening process, but no one is going to come knocking on my door asking me if I've written a novel, so it's up to me to get it out there and see where it goes.

I'm also continuing to write and submit short stories for possible publication. I've got a few out there right now that I'm waiting to hear about.

And then there's my next novel, which I'm going to start planning and writing this year. I know the general plot and feel slightly familiar with the two main characters. I have to do some significant research for this novel into drugs and drug addiction, so that will take some time. I also have to get to know the characters much better so that I can flesh out their story in notes and then begin writing it. I'm excited about this novel! I think it's going to be challenging yet very fulfilling to write.

Further, I have to continue to work on my memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. This is tough going, and it's not moving along quickly, but I want to be like the little engine that could and keep chugging along on it. It's cathartic and satisfying to get it out, albeit hard, and I don't know where it will go when it's finished. Publication would be great, but even if I just write if for myself and those close to me, I'll feel happy.

Finally, I have a novella idea floating around in my head that I think I should write. It shouldn't take too long to do, and once it's done, I'll have to see where it goes as far as possible publication.

I'm in a good place right now to dig into my goals. I'm just coming out of a bipolar mixed episode that I (and my doctor) believe was related to some changes in my meds. But with further tweaking of my meds, I'm feeling a lot better. I'm feeling ready and able to take on what I want to do.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Titles

I've changed the title of my short story "James" to "The Escape". I think it works better. And I've changed the title of my flash fiction "Bobby Bouillon" to "A Good Boy's Tale", because it really is a somewhat Chaucerian tale.

Why change titles? I don't know... sometimes a new title will just come to me and sound and mostly feel better. Often the new title better reflects what happens in the story, or better conveys what kind of story it is.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Title Change

I've changed the title of my flash fiction story "Bobby Bouillon" to "A Good Boy's Tale". It was pointed out to me by one of my readers--a Professor of English Emeritus with a Ph.D. in English and Linguistics (who also happens to be my dad)--that the story is somewhat Chaucerian. I agree, and since I did my master's thesis on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, it seemed fitting that I should name my story something in keeping with its Chaucerian form.

The tale is about Kip, a good boy who falls under the influence of a boy named Bobby Bouillon. I intend to have it critiqued by my writers group and then look for good places to submit it to.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Productivity

I've been productive in the past few days. I have written "Chapter 18: Plain Land" and inserted it into the middle of my novel, Purple Loosestrife. I have written a longer short story called "The Affair" and a flash fiction story called "Billy Bouillon". All this while struggling with my mood and mental state, both of which were down.

I'm typically a productive person, but I feel especially happy about it when I'm struggling to stay balanced. It can be hard, but writing can be one of the best things I can do.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Writing Through Depression

I'm just coming out of a bipolar depressive episode, and I was able to write through it. This isn't surprising to me because writing is a form of escape for me when I'm feeling depressed. I actually wrote a new short story called "The Affair", and a new chapter to insert into the middle of my novel, all while suffering depression.

There are physical symptoms that come along with depression in addition to the mental ones. One of the ways in which I experience it is that I feel leaden and immobile. It's immensely difficult to move around and get things done--even things as mindless as laundry or as insignificant as washing dishes. But since writing is a sedentary activity (except for when I pace!), I can do it when I'm feeling really low. It takes me away from how I'm feeling.

What is the nature of my writing when I'm depressed? Well, it can be a bit dark. "The Affair" is not a happy story. However, the chapter I wrote, which is entitled "Plain Land", is more hopeful and happy compared to other parts of my novel (which is overall a somewhat dark piece of work since untreated mental illness is a major theme of it).

I'm coming out of the episode now, and I've uploaded "The Affair" to be critiqued by my writers group, the CNY Creative Writers Cafe, plus I've had my parents and Michael Canavan, my critique partner, read it. So far the response is quite positive. As far as the chapter goes, I think it works. I believe it helps to develop the characters more and provides a bit more magical realism to the novel (which contains magical realism).