So much is happening in my writing life, I barely know where to begin!

I’m up to 35 Rejections now! The 35th rejection was both difficult and excellent, as it was from Hippocampus, one of my dream publications for flash nonfiction. It was not a form letter rejection, though. Instead, it was almost an outline of what I needed to do with the piece to make it publishable, in the editor’s opinion, including lengthening it to include at least one more important scene that I have, before now, glossed over. Needless to say, I’ll be reworking it again (like a year and a half doesn’t feel like enough already???), to see what I can come up with in terms of making it the best piece possible.

Sharon Shadrick, Sharon Waters, and I have had a proposal accepted for not one, but TWO, upcoming writing conferences, on Confronting Imposter Syndrome for Writers. We will deliver it at the Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference in April 2024 and at the West Virginia Writers Conference in June 2024. I’m very excited about this program, as imposter syndrome is something all writers face to some extent. Hopefully, what we have to offer will help attendees overcome feelings of inadequacy and help build a stronger community within these associations, too.

I’m feverishly working on a collection of short stories that I hope to present to a publisher in April. No names yet. I’m trying hard to be positive, move forward daily, work diligently towards a specific goal, and see what happens. Right now, I have twenty-five pieces, ten of which have previously been published, and am working with a team of four beta readers to see what works, what needs to be stronger, and what simply doesn’t fit at all. It’s nerve-racking, informative, and exciting, all at the same time. There’s so much work to be done over the next few months. I feel like I could (and maybe should) devote every waking moment to getting this done the right (write) way, but there’s so much other stuff going on, too, that I’m trying to balance everything all at once. Lie always…

I’m working with Priscilla Shontz on a short chapter for a library-oriented book about what it’s like to be a writer. I worked with Priscilla several times back in my library days, and when this opportunity to work together again presented itself, I jumped at the chance. More on that as I learn more about it in the coming months, too.

I have two poems forthcoming in Salvation South, although I’m not exactly sure when they will be published. They also picked up a nonfiction piece called “Passing Peace,” about Granny Vance appearing to me in a dream before she died, which will run the weekend before Halloween.

One of my Ekphrastic Friday poems from the 7:00 a.m. Zoom group has made it as a finalist in the Johnson City Poets Collective’s third annual contest. We’ll find out more about that during their Pub Crawl this coming Thursday. The poem is called “On a Perfect Night,” and the theme of the contest this year was “Place.”

The official book launch for 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends, and Other Mysteries was a couple of weekends ago at Union Avenue Books in Knoxville, TN. I didn’t read but did get to hear seven other authors from the book read from their stories in the book. It was great fun meeting them and talking to everyone for a while. We have two readings for it here in our neck of the woods next week – Friday, October 13th at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Johnson City, and Sunday, October 15th at 3:00 p.m. at Bristol Public Library in Bristol, VA. I do still have a few copies available at $21.95 each if anyone wants or needs one.

Clinch Mountain Review has accepted my nonfiction piece entitled, “Eulogy for an Old Man,” for their forthcoming new edition. I’m always thrilled and honored to be included in their pages.

I’m taking a month-long class with Diane Zinna again, Fall Magic Circle. I’m not creating anything monumentally, earth-shatteringly great so far, but there have been a few prompts that have kicked me into gear with something that may help my fiction collection, even if it’s just some flash pieces. Last time, I wrote several poems. The prompts during the first week haven’t led me to much poetry, but I’m still in hopes to get some good things before the month is over. Lots of time left.

I was also recently named to the Lost State Writers Guild Board of Directors. I’m honored to serve the organization and excited to assist in this new role. Hopefully I will learn lots and grow greatly in this capacity and be able to serve the organization in meaningful ways. That’s always my goal in any such endeavor.

I got to spend almost a week working on various projects at The Orchard Keeper last month while Denton Loving was at a Book Festival in Iowa. I’m going back in a couple of weeks to cat-sit again and work a little more on some writing stuff while I’m there. It’s always good to work over there – so many fewer distractions than there are at home. If I turned off my television, I’d get so much more done at home, too! I’m easily distracted and always seem to have at least five balls in the air, working on different projects. I’m not as great at multitasking as I used to be. Eventually, some of the balls have to come down, I’m afraid; hopefully nothing comes crashing without my attention.

So there’s a brief recap of the highlights of my writing life right now. The official count is 35 Rejections; 14 Acceptances/Placements in Contests; 3 Withdrawn; 14 still out. I need to get a few more submissions out this month, too, if I can squeeze in the time to see them through to fruition. So much to do. Truly. So much to do…