A WRITING RETREAT

Office at CabinIt began three weeks ago, this self-imposed writer’s retreat for one. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for years. Time alone, during which I would write and create astounding stories.

Alas, when the time came for me to be alone in the mountains, other things crowded my plate. Editing jobs for others, marketing of my books, and organizing the new home. Writing once again took the shortest piece of the straw. But I organized the new office, and I’m comfortable.

Then this week, when I realized my time for the writer’s retreat could be counted in days and not weeks, I developed a schedule and managed to write 6,000 words on a new manuscript, but it wasn’t anywhere near the goal I’d set. Then I got sick. Momentum gone.

I’m down to my final four days of my alone time, and I need to push forward. My mind doesn’t sit down for the tasks I need want to complete. So here it is, one-thirty in the morning, and I can’t sleep. So I laid down 1,000 words. I have no idea if they are words worthy of the new book. But they are words–imagines and thoughts of my characters–jumbled out of my head onto the computer screen.

ColorCabinWhat I want to do requires more stamina than I find I have right now. Instead, I want to stare at the trees on the mountainside turning first yellow, then scarlet, and then the softer muted tones of red and orange. It’s been quite a show. Those moments of silence staring at the landscape or gazing at the stars in a sky not clouded with city lights bring peace.

Six novels await creation. Perhaps they can wait just a little longer.

I still have four days with an organized office, editing jobs completed for now, and rain on its way, keeping me inside. The long-anticipated writer’s retreat shall begin, unless the rain stops and more leaves turn red or yellow.

Happy Halloween, autumn, and October. And be forewarned, when dreams turn to reality, something else just might occur instead.???????????????

Mountain Living

Smokies1Our entry into living atop a mountain didn’t begin with any auspicious drum rolls. In fact, if I took those first few hours after arrival at our cabin with two vehicles and a U-haul trailer as a sign, it would send me right back to Pittsburgh. But life throws us those little curves so we know how wonderful it feels when things go from bad to good.

We left Pittsburgh on a Friday morning around 6 a.m. in our little caravan of loaded vehicles and trailer. Mostly a smooth drive, but long because we both needed to stop often. Probably our tiredness and exhaustion from preparing to move was the key to our lack of stamina for what should have been a nine-hour drive. Within an hour of the new place, dark clouds came rolling over the mountains. Around 6:30 p.m. we pulled down our road. Unfortunately, the rain had started, and we forgot which of the turn offs led to our cabin. A newly installed steep driveway at our neighbors confused me, and I led our caravan up the wrong drive. I backed up my little Hyundai–right into a ditch. My husband had headed up a very steep drive that was not ours with the truck and trailer. ditchWhen he tried to back down, he ended up jack-knifing the trailer, blocking the road up to our driveway. jackknifedTwo hours and one wonderful tow truck driver later, we arrived with everything intact, albeit wet, at our cabin. We wondered if we’d made a hasty decision in moving here, but daylight and views of the smoke on the Smokies changed our minds.

 

meSo did the beautiful cabin that we’ve spent this week making our own. I brought my office desks and a dining room table. The rest of the furniture we purchased here, but it won’t arrive until our next visit later this month. As our ten-day stay nears an end, I yearn to stay. This place has grabbed me despite the incessant rain for the past five days. I feel at home here already. I can tell because I’ve been able to work on my next novel every day this week. The words come easily in my new office, and it feels like the place where I’ll write plenty more novels.Smokies

 

Yesterday, my husband planted two tomato plants and two pepper plants. tomato plantThat’s always a sure sign that we’re home.

 

 

 

 

 

WORD OF CAUTION: “Someone” in our crew threw in a large bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap at the last minute. It came open on the trip and dumped all over a table my great aunt made more than one hundred years ago. The table had been draped in a quilt made by my grandmother seventy-five years ago. Over that I wrapped an old tablecloth and put bungie cords around the whole thing. To our surprise, that soap acted as a harsh chemical and ate through the tablecloth, quilt, and damaged parts of the table. I don’t use this stuff and it wasn’t supposed to come on this trip, but “someone” saw it on the floor of the garage where we’re staying in Pittsburgh and decided it would fill a hole nicely. I’m even more convinced that I’d rather not use this stuff on my hands.

Soap damage.

Soap damage.

Soap ate the quilt.

Soap ate the quilt.

Reality Blogger Award

reality

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m honored to have been nominated for the Reality Blogger Award by my blogger friend Staci Trolio. Staci writes an extraordinary blog about writing. She inspires me with every post. To accept this award, I’m supposed to answer the following questions (in lieu of the acceptance speech Staci thought might be required) and nominate twenty other bloggers. Did it really say twenty bloggers? Stay tuned to the end for that portion of my acceptance.

If you could change one thing, what would you change?

The cold weather in my newly adopted home in Pittsburgh.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

Like most people, it would be fun to be twenty-one again (for a day or a week), except this time around I’d have all the knowledge, wisdom, and tenacity I’ve acquired in the three decades since I was that age. I’d kick some serious dirt, no doubt.

What one thing really scares you?

When my husband tailgates on the highway.

What is one dream you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

I’ve not yet become a bestselling author, but every day I continue and persevere brings me one step closer. I know I keep learning and improving as a writer. That’s the easy part of this career path I’ve chosen. I believe on my best days that all the work, the tears, the highs, the lows, the laughter, the praise, the criticisms I’ve endured during the thirteen years I’ve called myself a writer will bring my dream to fruition. When I get down, I remember that I’ve achieved almost every big dream I’ve ever had, except for this one. Let’s see what the next decade brings.

If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

That’s a tough question. I’m perfectly content where I am right now. Anytime in my life when I’ve wished to have someone else’s life, I’ve always discovered one cliche to be false. The grass is never greener on the other side.

I said I’d get back to the twenty bloggers thing. I decided to do what Staci did. I’m going to nominate five bloggers who I believe exemplify writing posts that qualify for their honesty and bravery in writing about tough issues. All of them are fellow writers who produce some excellent work through their blogs. Please check them out and don’t forget to go to Staci’s blog. She’s from my newly adopted home of Pittsburgh, but she’s relocated away from her home her in the Steel City. I hope she comes home one day so we can meet in person.

Please be sure to visit the sites all my five nominees as well. Drum roll, please. Here are my nominations:

Descent into Slushland – http://descentintoslushland.wordpress.com/

The Wrought Writer – http://thewroughtwriter.wordpress.com/

Lit and Scribbles with Jae – http://litandscribbles.wordpress.com/

Shannon Thompson – http://shannonathompson.com/

lifeintheblueridges – http://lifeintheblueridges.wordpress.com/

There are many more I could nominate, and if I’m ever nominated for an award again, I’ll add to the list. Nominees: If you choose to accept, here’s what you’re supposed to do:

  • Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back to them
  • Answer the five questions presented
  • Nominate up to twenty (I did five) blogs for the award and notify them on their blogs
  • Copy and paste the award badge from my post or sidebar on your blog somewhere

That’s it. Enjoy!

Nomination for Very Inspiring Blog

Thanks to my fellow blogger over Writing Fiction Blog for the nomination.

Writing Fiction Blog

It’s happened again, however unlikely, right smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season. I have been kindly nominated by Nic over at www.afewshortwords.com for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You can always be sure of finding short pieces and examples of fiction at that address. As everyone knows I love to celebrate awards. 😐 So in honor of the occasion I’ve pulled out my powder blue tux and frilly tux shirt and clean pair of underwear. I’ve also pulled out my public teeth (teeth I wear in public) and my shiny black leather shoes. In the corner sits my close friend, Myrtle. She is eighty years old and can party with the best of them. She is sitting in the corner with a half empty bottle of champagne in one hand and a party blow thing (one of those things you blow into at a party that rolls out…

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Finding the Road to Happiness

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I wrote Raising Independent Children about my daughter moving to Oregon. Here’s a follow up to that post.

I stood on the bricks of an old St. Augustine street just after dawn one Sunday morning. Tears streamed down my face as I waved to the back of a VW bug. My daughter, Anna, drove away, on her journey to Portland, Oregon.

Her roommate and I stood together crying, when I suddenly realized something.

“She turned the wrong way,” I said.

We both began to grin through our tears when I heard the putt putt of Anna’s VW. A minute later, she passed by again headed in the right direction.

That moment not only made me laugh through my sadness at seeing her depart for her new life in the West, but it also brought to mind all those seemingly wrong turns we make in life. In just the matter of a second, we can change the direction.

When I changed careers at the age of forty-six, I took one of those turns in the road, not sure of the outcome. The reactions of others to my decision surprised me the most.

On my final day of teaching, students stood in line to wish me well and give me notes of appreciation and encouragement. It surprised me that these teenagers understood why I was leaving. One theme ran through all of the messages. They expressed pride in knowing someone who decided to change course when the present road brought little happiness.

“I’ve watched my parents and my aunts and uncles work jobs they hate,” one student said as he walked out of the classroom. “It’s been awful to watch so I really admire you for recognizing your dissatisfaction, and then doing something about it.”

This profound statement came from a fifteen year old. When I made my announcement to my students a few weeks earlier, I simply told them my love of teaching no longer motivated me, and I wanted to leave before I burned out. This young man understood and so did my other students.

My fellow colleagues surprised me as well. One teacher, a burly football coach, congratulated me on my move with tears in his eyes. He said he wished he had my courage to make a change because he had not been happy in a very long time.

My alleged bravery came from the conviction that my unhappiness in my work led directly to dissatisfaction with all parts of my life. Conversely, unhappiness in our personal lives permeates into our work life as well.

When this happens, we have three choices. We can remain unhappy or we can change our attitudes or we can change the road.

I decided I didn’t want to change my attitude nor did I want to remain unhappy. I’d done a decent job as a teacher, and I left while I still had pride in my work. I had something else tugging at me that would not leave me alone. I followed that path.

More than a decade later, my journey as a writer has brought me more satisfaction and happiness than I’ve ever had in any job before. In fact, I don’t think of writing as a job. It’s as much a part of me as my arms.

We all deserve happiness and satisfaction in a life that is much too short. Following Anna’s lead, when we discover we’re headed in an unsatisfactory direction, we only have to turn the car around and head a different way.

My daughter stayed in Portland for five years. Last year she moved back to Florida. My writing life has taken another direction as well. But through it all, both my daughter and I always knew when the journey no longer made us happy, we could make a turn and change our course.

Writing & Gardening – No Time to Blog

By Patricia Zick @P.C. Zick

I’ve had to let my blog go the past week or so. I’ve reblogged some of my favorite blogs on topics near to my heart, but I haven’t been able to find the time or inspiration to concentrate long enough to put out a thoughtful post.

I’m juggling three projects right now so that’s my excuse. I keep thinking I’ll find a way to put one of them aside. I’m impressed with my colleagues who manage a daily blog and still manage to write books. I’m lucky if I can produce a blog two times a week.

When I published Live from the Road on Kindle, I didn’t realize the amount of promoting I’d need to do to sell the book. Nearly 20,000 folks have now downloaded it. Ninety-seven percent of those downloads were done on free promotional days, which are now over. Next week,  a media blitz will hopefully  draw more folks to actually download it on Kindle for $2.99 or buy the print edition at $7.90 on amazon. I’ve told myself that’s it. I’ve done all I can do at this point. Live from the Road has been sent out into the world. I must move onto my other projects.

I wrote the novel Tortoise Stew ten years ago. It was published with a publisher – whose name I refuse to promote – in 2006. I decided it was time to edit the book and put it out on Kindle as well. That’s occupied half of my time for the past ten days. I hope to have it up on amazon early next week, in time for Live‘s media blitz. All the experts keep hammering the point that indie authors, such as myself, need to have more than one book out. I’ve enjoyed reading Tortoise Stew once again and revisiting the chaos of Florida politics and development and land grab at any cost. The same artist (Travis Pennington) who designed Live‘s cover is currently redesigning the cover for Tortoise Stew – I should have it in a few days.

Finally, I’m working on the second draft of my new novel Trails in the Sand. It’s going well, but I’ve decided to change point of view from one person (first person) to three people plus short narrative chapters on the environmental issues at play in the background.

I find working on the two novels at the same time helpful, which surprises me. I’m pleased the messages in Tortoise Stew are the same ones I believe today and try to incorporate in everything I write. I love the love story in Tortoise Stew. I wrote it imagining the ideal love relationship I yearned for at the time. Guess what? A decade later I’ve found that with my new husband, Robert. It’s uncanny when I read scenes I wrote ten years ago and realize they are now reality.

When I’m not absorbed in my writing world, I tend the produce from our garden. Every night we’re eating mostly fresh vegetables. Last night we had cauliflower and beets. The tomatoes are piling up on the windowsill so next weekend I’m sure I’ll be canning sauce and dreaming  up scenes for Trails in the Sand, while Live from the Road and Tortoise Stew sell themselves on the Internet. Why not? I’ve turned my dreams into reality before.

Very Inspiring Blog Award

I’m very grateful today to announce that one of my favorite blogs has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Faithrises inspires me with each post, so it is an honor to be nominated by this blog.

Here are the requirements for this award:

1)      Display the award logo on your blog.

2)      Link back to the person who nominated you.

3)      State 7 things about yourself.

4)      Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.

5)      Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself

  1. I type 80 wpm.
  2. I don’t feel all put together unless all my underwear matches my outerwear.
  3. I pumped gas for one day back in 1973 at a Sinclair gas station.
  4. I am the baby of my family (and the only girl).
  5. My brother was signed to the Detroit Tigers in 1966 and played in their minor leagues for two seasons.
  6. I was a Trash Trooper in Gainesville, Florida, and issued tickets to people who littered.
  7. I love dancing.

My nominations for the Very Inspiring Blog Award – I chose the following blogs for different reasons, but all because they inspire me in some way. A few provide very helpful tips and suggestions for living lightly upon this earth (the theme of my blog). Some simply give me inspirational words of wisdom as I begin my writing day. Others offer insight into the writing life, making me feel less alone in this isolated career. And others I love because they give support to all of us independent authors just because they believe if we support one another, we all succeed. Thank you all for the good work you do.

  1. What’s Green with Betsy?!?
  2. Charming Trinity
  3. Coco J. Ginger Says
  4. TBN Ranch
  5. Staci Triolo
  6. Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household
  7. Pixel Pole – Photo Art
  8. The Heirloom Salad
  9. The Stay-at-home Scientist
  10. headywriting
  11. For Your Good Health
  12. A.D. Trosper
  13. Alle’s 5-star review blog
  14. Kristen Lamb’s Blog
  15. betweenfearandlove

The Inspiring Blog Award

Today when I woke, frustration with many parts of my life filled my head. Where do I start with my second draft of my new novel? How can I improve the abysmal sales record for my newly released novel? I wondered if anyone ever read my blogs or my posts on all the social media sites I’m supposed to be frequenting to build my platform. Yes, Patti’s pity party was about to go into full swing as my chin scraped the top of my desk. I opened my email and saw someone left a comment on my blog.

“If you go to my blog, there might be a nice surprise for you there,” the comment said. So I went to Lightningpen’s Blog, and sure enough I had one of the nicest and best surprises of my short blogging career. Lightningpen’s Blog nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award. Thank you!

Someone does read my blog after all. Maybe all the work isn’t lost into the netherworld of the Internet. Today I move forward with renewed faith and hope that what we do always makes a difference. We might as well make it a good difference.

As a part of the rules for being nominated, I am to write seven things about myself. So here goes:

  1. Both my grandfathers were Methodist ministers.
  2. I played the flute in middle and some of high school. I took lessons in college. And I still own a flute but it mostly sits on a shelf in the spare bedroom.
  3. Until I moved to Pennsylvania, I could describe where I lived by using the back of my hand. Upright it is Michigan, the home of my birth. Inverted it is Florida (the thumb is the Panhandle), where I lived for 30 years before moving to the Pittsburgh area. Not sure what to do with my hand now that I live in a rather square/rectangular state.
  4. My husband and I first fell in love in Michigan when I was seventeen and a senior in high school. He was twenty-two and ready to start his life. He moved to Pittsburgh, and I eventually moved to Florida. We reconnected in 2009 after a thirty-six year separation, and we discovered we still loved one another. Today, we’re still on our honeymoon.
  5. I was once known as the Python Princess when I worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. That’s a story for a blog for sure.
  6. My favorite breakfast is cold pizza.
  7. I am the baby in my family. My parents were delighted to finally have a daughter. My brothers were upset because the basketball squad they’d envisioned when they discovered there would be a fifth sibling were squashed. Of course, if it was today, I’d be a part of that team!

And now for the most pleasurable part of this nomination for most Inspiring Blog Award. I am honored to nominate fifteen other blogs for the award. These are the fifteen blogs that most inspire me through their writing, experiences and comments. They are all truly worthy for The Inspiring Blog Award.

  1. Hazy Shades of Me
  2. West Virginia’s Farm to Consumer Connection
  3. Nature’s Place
  4. katieajennings.wordpress.com
  5. The Museum of Forgotten Pickles
  6. Everywhere Once
  7. kilpatrickkenya.wordpress.com
  8. Travels with the Blonde Coyote
  9. birdlightwind.com
  10. Kana’s Chronicles
  11. The Neophyte Writer
  12. Clean Tech Solutions
  13. The Soulsby Farm
  14. countrygirllifeonthefarm.com
  15. blessedwithastarontheforehead.wordpress.com

Please visit these blogs. I think you’ll like them all because they all have one thing in common. They are passionate about their subject matter and that always makes the very best writing of all.

To the nominees: Now it’s your turn. Please thank me in your acceptance blog, posting my URL. Also, write seven things about yourself (this is fun but gave me pause!). And then choose fifteen more winners and post their URL’s in your blog. And most of all, continue your excellent work that inspires me to get back up and try again. Thank you.

Pardon my blog

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

I’m learning daily on how to best post my blog, but something I did today with the settings caused my posts to post twice to Facebook and Twitter.

Overexposure is not the greatest thing if you want to be taken seriously in this writing business. At least it turns me off as a consumer, reader, citizen, person.

So in an effort to correct the overexposure I might have received on my Rachel Carson piece this morning, I’m doing this short little ditty to see if I corrected the problem.

However, learning about Rachel Carson and remembering her work over and over again is not necessarily a bad thing.

Confessions from the Food Court

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

“The eyes believe themselves; the ears believe other people.” (Fortune cookie)

It’s time I came clean with one of my secret activities that even my husband doesn’t know about until now. I go to the mall once a week, not to shop but to watch.

I enter the doors by the food court and wend my way through tables to the last counter in a row of fast food heaven. No steak burger, chicken sandwich, sub, or pizza for me. I head straight for Asian Wok with its red and yellow sign proclaiming *Special* RICE or noodle with any 2 meats and eggroll $4.99. A young Asian woman with a red shirt stands waiting at the counter that never has a line. I order teriyaki chicken with rice, and she always asks, “To go?” I always respond, “For here.”

I squirt soy sauce on my rice and squeeze hot mustard out of a little plastic tube onto my eggroll. I grab my fortune cookie from a pile in a basket next to the condiments and head to a table on the edge of the food court so I can sit facing all the other tables.

I pull a book from my purse, but I don’t read much because I’ve really come to listen and watch. Grandparents tend toddlers at a few tables. Mostly it’s grandmothers, but today both a grandma and grandpa sat with two small children with sub sandwiches and chips in front of them. Before tearing into the wrapping around the food, all four bowed their heads and prayed.

Three teenagers sat next to me eating pizza. They talked occasionally, but their eyes did not connect across the table because all three were busy texting other people.

An elderly man sat alone at a table facing me. He ate his burger slowly as he stared out of the table without focus. I tried to keep my eyes on my book and away from his expression of morose. All of a sudden that expression changed and a sparkle nearly jumped out from his eye onto his French fries. I followed his gaze to an elderly heavy set woman wearing a red shirt and black apron. She’s holding a broom and sweeping debris from the floor into a dust bin. He said something to her that I couldn’t hear. It doesn’t matter. She smiled, and he picked up his burger, now smiling. They could be strangers flirting or a married couple together for decades. But what transpired between them was pure love.

The grandparents and their charges put their garbage in the trash. The teenagers pushed back their chairs to leave with pizza box intact upon the table. And the gentleman in front of me continued to sit at the table long after he finished his burger watching the woman sweeping the floor. I turned to my fortune cookie and decided it was time to read it.

“The eyes believe themselves; the ears believe other people,” I read.

In those around us, we see love, hate, happiness, unhappiness, peace, turmoil, courage, fear. No matter the words we spout, and the words landing on us, what we see with the blinders removed reveals more about the human condition than words exchanged over cell phones at the mall.

I could stay home when the urge hits me to go out into the world to see and save $4.99. I could turn on the television and watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Now that’s something to see, although the words not to be believed.