Let’s get real: it was excruciating to write about COVID while existing through COVID. Whatever I managed to get on the page never felt right and it usually didn’t follow any kind of format, likely because I felt like I was drowning- drowning in e-learning, in uncertainty, in anxiety, and just about every other stressor you likely felt as well. In short, I wrote a LOT of very weird $%&*.
It took a long time to feel like I had something significant to share. So when I wrote a piece of flash (this means under 750 words and presenting with a succinct narrative in a profound moment), I knew it was something I could stand by. I knew it was a marker in time, a notch in history. I sent it out and received word last month that it would be picked up by Capsule Stories for their Second Isolation Edition (work written entirely during quarantine). Some literary publications put out digital magazines, some still print, but in this case, Capsule publishes in paperback. So I am humbled to share that my piece ‘Self-Storage’ has been published in this anthology.
I wrote ‘Self-Storage’ when I realized my then 5-year-old had outgrown the little handmade fabric mask that my sister had sewn for her. I grappled with the notion of storing and saving things from 2020, knowing full well that sometime in the future, one of my grandchildren will tell me they need to write a paper on the ‘pandemic of 2020’ and would I answer some questions? I know those days of retrospect are coming.
And I truly feel like this story (all 1 page of it) can explain it all- the heaviness, the energy, the worry, and the desperate attempts to make the best of it when I could.
If you are so inclined to purchase this book, it is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and available by request wherever books are sold. I sincerely thank you for supporting my words and my work.
It’s been a surreal week and I was able to do something I’ve dreamt of for so long: walk into a book store and hold a copy of my book.
In sharing this news, I think it’s important to infuse this caveat: I’ve had many other writing/book projects fail. I had a children’s book and a literary agent that never crossed the publishing finish line. I lost my longstanding newspaper column during the pandemic (and learned of this by reading The Chicago Tribune). I had a book of columns get rebuffed. I’ve had a full novel get a ton of buzz from agents without a single bite. All of that was devastating. But I still kept writing.
We never quite know what makes some projects flourish while others flounder- timing, trend, and a handful of other unique details. But I am immensely proud to have my short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ anthologized in Turning Points, the 75th Anniversary Anthology put out by the Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop. It was a marvel to collaborate with other writers- my first time doing so (also my first foray into fiction).
In being a Winnetka-based writing group, I was so heartened to see the response of readers willing to order this book through our local, indie book shop, The Book Stall. When I received the shop’s weekly newsletter, I was astounded to see Turning Points prominently featured on their Bestseller list. It was truly humbling. It made me especially thankful for all of my failed endeavors- yes, you read that correctly- to be a writer to learn to hold hands with the heavy onslaught of rejection. To grow from it. To fuel for the next opportunity. To push for what seems impossible.
If you are interested in ordering Turning Points, please consider ordering from your local book store. If that is not a possibility, please consider Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or inquiring with your local library.
One last thought to anyone who writes or has an urge to write- just keep going.
It is delightfully surreal to share that I have a book coming out. My short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ will be published in an Anthology titled ‘Turning Points.’
The backstory: I am a member of Off Campus Writers’ Workshop in Winnetka. The group is marking its 75th Anniversary as a longstanding Chicago writing group and as such, is publishing a short story Anthology- a whisk of mystery, fantasy, contemporary, historical, memoir, and the many turning points that move us ahead.
This is my first published work of fiction. It’s a process that began way back in October of 2019- yes, simpler times. What I love about Anthologies is that there is a little something for everyone. In my critique group alone, there were stories of a long-fought war, a high school student attending Turnabout, a neighbor curious about a new baby, and a cherished puffer coat passed down to a friend in need. All of these short stories tugged at me in unique ways. As for my story? It appears under the section titled ‘Unexpected Outcomes.’
You can preorder ‘Turning Points’ at The Book Stall in Winnetka. In belonging to a Winnetka-based writing group, it was important to us that we support our local, independent book store. Thank you for shopping local and for supporting the amazing contributors of OCWW.
2. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Ms. Reid was just nominated for the 2020 Booker Prize. I read her book back in March and was WOWed by it (trust when I say it lives up to the hype). A cousin just called me up out of the blue and said, “You read ‘Such a Fun Age’ right?” We then proceeded to talk excitedly for the next hour. Mini book club via phone!
4. Tennis. Yup, I’m branching out of my comfort zone and taking lessons. This meant I had to add a few tennis outfits to my wardrobe (I had none. NONE). I really enjoy Prince, a house brand of Dicks Sporting Goods, particularly this top and this tennis skirt.
5. Folklore by Taylor Swift. My head and heart are spinning with this album. It’s the morose, ethereal soundtrack of 2020. I am crushed by the beauty of ‘My tears ricochet’ and ‘Exile,’ but ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ is fantastically fun because the singer enters the narrative when you least expect it.
I love a good book recommendation. A friend/cousin (frousin?) recommended Portrait of An Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg. It was a short read but a wild ride that narrows in on a successful literary agent’s addiction and recovery. What should I read next?
Speaking of nothing related to books…I am loving a fanny pack these days (or as the highbrows call them, ‘belt bags’). Kind of eyeing this one for Fall/Winter.
I scheduled my yearly physical for this month so I will spend Saturday morning fasting and getting my blood drawn. FUN! Consider this your friendly reminder to prioritize your health and get these annoying-but-necessary appointments on the calendar.
Last night I attended my first ever Moms Demand Action meeting. They are a bipartisan group that counts firearm owners and non-firearm owners in their membership and their focus is on responsible gun ownership and laws. The meeting was short, succinct, and action packed (we drafted postcards to legislators, signed petitions, celebrated new developments) and I’m really glad I went. Check them out here.
It’s Pride Month! I’m so delighted by the ways in which I’m seeing inclusion promoted and celebrated, particularly this delightful balloon installation at one of my favorite local spots, The Flower Shop in Glencoe. To those who identify as LGBTQ+: Hello, I love you, and I’m thankful for you.
A friend asked what I’ve been reading and I cackled and said nothing and then got sad about that because reading is one of my most cherished hobbies. My current schedule (kids/ school/ summer camps/ home renovations/ writing) has been such chaos that reading feels like a far off place I might get to in August. Here’s hoping it arrives sooner because I’m dying to dig into Alyssa Mastromonaco’s newest book, So Here’s The Thing.
In visiting a fixture supply store (shoutout to kitchen sinks), I was FINALLY able to sneak over to Burt’s Place, a pizza joint that has been on my radar for practically a decade. Our order: onion rings (#forhealth) and a medium sausage and pepperoni pan pizza. It was TRANSCENDENT. EXTRAORDINARY. REMARKABLE. CALL-YOUR-MOTHER-WORTHY. The whole place just gave me happy vibes.