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, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, 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. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. 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!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

As a writer, I'm an avid people watcher and listener. I also pay close attention to the little things that happen in life that could possibly trigger stories. Sometimes things happen that are just so brilliant, so awesome, I feel I couldn't even have made them up, because in addition to being brilliant and awesome, they're really weird.

One such thing happened to me and my son. We went into a gas station/convenience store to pay for gas. The man working was probably in his thirties, tall, with hair that looked vaguely 1970s. A Bryan Adams song was playing in the store, and when I went to the register to pay for gas, the man said, "How are you doing?" in an eastern European accent, and then nodded to nothing in particular, smiled, and said, "Bryan Adams." He said it as though it were a secret between us, something only we knew the true meaning of. I've filed this incident away and hope to one day use the eastern European Bryan Adams man somewhere, somehow.

Another thing happened on a recent Fourth of July when my son, husband, and I were sitting in a crowd of people by the river that runs through our village, waiting to watch fireworks. We heard a man nearby say, "I seen her taking shit that don't belong to her." It sounded funny to me, and it made me think, who is she and what is her relationship to this man? What is the shit that she's taking?  Where was this man when he saw her taking the shit that didn't belong to her? Incidents such as this trigger thoughts in me that might lead to stories. I've remembered this man and his statement and periodically ask myself these questions. Perhaps one day in my fiction, I'll answer them.

If you're a writer, I feel you have to be a close watcher and listener of people. And you have to pay attention to the little weird things in life. Sometimes all it takes is one odd moment to come up with something fabulous.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My April River Ram Press Blog Article

My article for April is now on the River Ram Press blog. It's about creating characters with mental illness and the healing that this provides. Click here to read the article. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting Inside a Story

I'm working on a new story about a washed-up, formerly addicted rock star named Jimmy Gemini. The story has a working title of "Jimmy Gemini", though I think I'm going to want to change that. There's another problem with the story: I haven't yet been able to get inside of it.
What I mean by this is a bit hard to explain. When I'm writing a story, it really takes off once I'm inside of it. I imagine a hole in the fabric of spacetime, or a little tiny wooden door, and I have to find this hole or this door and climb inside to get into the world of the story. The hole or the door might be just one word, or a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a description, and suddenly something opens up and I'm there... I'm able to write the story and feel in sync with it. This opening and getting inside is an elusive thing. I can't force it. It just has to happen.

So what do I do before this happens? I write and keep writing. And sometimes I feel like what I'm writing is forced crap, but I keep at it anyhow because the right word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or description always comes to let me inside.

I guess what it all comes down to is that you have to write in order to have something to write. You have to keep going until something forms and takes on life and a story is there. People here in central New York have complained a lot about the winter we had this year. It was harsh, but I kept saying to myself, "Spring will come. It always does." And it has. Likewise, even when I'm struggling with finding that hole in the fabric of spacetime or that little tiny wooden door, a story will come. It always does. Because once I have an idea for a story, I don't give up until I have a story. Sometimes the story is radically different from the initial idea, but still it exists. Jimmy Gemini will get his story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What I'm Currently Reading and Writing...

Well, I'm still reading Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety because it's 485 pages long and I'm not that fast of a reader. I absolutely love to read and it's imperative to do as a writer, but I've never read very rapidly. Anyhow, I'm also reading Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (I loved the movie--the book is already better) and fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science.

I wish I could read a bit faster because there are so many books I want to read, but instead I read like the English major I was: very carefully and thoroughly. I also like to savor a book that's really good. You know, the kind of book that you're sad to see end.

As far as writing goes, I've just started a new short story called (at this point) "Jimmy Gemini". Jimmy Gemini is the washed-up rock star who appears in "Mr. Gribbles Eats a Beetle" (Literary Brushstrokes, Volume 1, Number 1, June 2012). I feel that he needs his own story. I'm not sure what it is exactly yet, but I'm having fun discovering it. I've also been working on my memoir about bipolar disorder. Just recently I finished a draft of a chapter called "Flowers and Psychosis" and I'm working on a draft of another chapter called "Pity Party".

My memoir continues to be difficult to write. Revisiting parts of the past is hard, and yet it almost seems like a cliche to say that it's cathartic. Of course it's cathartic. What I really want it to be is something that others can relate to--both those with mental illness and those without. While my experiences may be unique to me, I'm hoping that there's a certain universality to the experiences that enables readers to step into my shoes. Then of course there's the challenge of keeping the memoir from being maudlin, melodramatic, or sensationalized. I try to write in a direct, matter-of-fact way that effectively conveys the truth. And then I must admit that, through it all, it can be fun to write at times. For example, I've used Puddles Pity Party (Puddles is "the clown with the golden voice") to get into the chapter entitled "Pity Party". And I've used wonderful memories from very early childhood of roses and violets to get into "Flowers and Psychosis". These bits were fun to write--to fit Puddles into what I was going to describe, and to remember the roses and violets of my childhood.