Blurred Reality


How much of ourselves do we put in our stories?

Something I asked on this site not long ago.  Responses varied from not much to everything, and I appreciate your candid answers. 

Here is my take:  from a writer’s standpoint, short stories have a certain effect on me, somewhat different from novels. They take a peek inside, if you will, reach the broken, the defeated, the cautiously hopeful and happy parts of the self.

BLURRED REALITY, a short story about family and relationships, did exactly that while taking shape, before it decided to be something else; to take a familiar yet different course. Sure, the story portrays people I know, but it’s not their story — it’s not entirely about them — because, as we know, art takes a form of its own in the end, irrespective of our intentions.  It grows into something sufficiently distant from reality in order to exist.

So, allow me, dear blogging friends, to present BLURRED REALITY, a short story, published by Solstice Publishing, now available in ebook format.

Here he stood, his life a muddle of thoughts worsened by anger that had been stealing his peace since childhood. He should turn around. Go home and forget. Life had been good lately—a wife, a baby on the way, a well-paying job. Behind this door, he’d find a drunkard who had mistreated everyone and robbed them of a sense of family.

For more, visit:  BLURRED REALITY

The Mind and Plans


So, my plan to catch up on blogging and get back to a weekly routine didn’t quite work. It came apart, it seems, like shattered glass, each broken piece echoing its demise.  Every time I sat down determined to focus, something else came up — an urgent idea for a story, someone needing something, the preoccupation with our remodeled kitchen that still needs finishing touches.

On and on it goes.

Life is a series of distractions, including a news cycle I tend to get sucked into more than necessary. So, I keep falling behind. Sometimes, irreparably so. Keep getting sidetracked. Diverted. And by the end of the day, overwhelmed.

Our weather in Los Angeles doesn’t help the mind quiet down either. There is a storm somewhere off the coast of Baja, California, that seems to have a measurable impact on mood and focus. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I really need to consider deep meditation. Stay indoors and meditate all day. Now that sounds appealing.


Finally, at work

So, today, I pushed everything aside with a stubbornness that shocked the mind into compliance, and came here to chat … because darn it, it helps. You know what else helps focus the mind? Poetry of the calming sort. Nothing heavy, or thought-provoking, just soothing verse I found and thought I’d share. Verse celebrating the last few days of summer.

So, tell me, does art, in any shape or form, help you focus?

Beauty of Summer

By Nette OnClaud

A fleck of wheat along the bay / A quiver in the grass,

While daybreak shifts and ripples while / It mirrors clouds that pass.

Warm breezes drift among the trees / So calming to my ear

And only wistful eyes can seize / This dreamy atmosphere.

Then stars lend glitter to the night / To beam upon the dew,

Which reaches every tree with charm / As beauty thrills anew.

Image: http://www.pinterest/MikaBar

Writing, a Delicate Dance


Blurred Reality is a short story that demanded more than usual. So, please allow me a moment of reflection before I send it out.

Short stories are like that. Different from novels — works that require personal bits but can spin into something else fifty or a hundred pages later — short stories demand more. To me, they demand more personal experiences, more understanding, more emotion.  

They demand putting oneself out there. And that can be difficult because it’s counter intuitive. We’re programmed not to expose our own experiences or those of our family members. Our psychological defense mechanisms are in place to keep us from doing exactly that.

But as an avid reader, I know full engagement is demanded. As a reader, I don’t want to be protected. I want to be transported, and the author doesn’t get to choose if I like where I’m going or not. Or at least that’s the illusion.

Emotional writing that doesn’t go there comes out as unnatural. Fake. And readers pick up on it, don’t they? They also pick up on over sharing, too much drama, so it’s all a delicate dance where every step looks easy, but it was meticulously studied and planned and hopefully understood.

Donald Maass advises that we mine our own experiences as writers. So, in the end, style or voice, those celebrated terms we hear so much about, boil down to psychology. Crazy, I know.

What do you think, dear blogging friend? Have you ever taken a big breath and jumped?



#SandFire, Los Angeles


The ongoing L.A. fire (or Sand Fire, given its starting location on Sand Canyon Rd., one hour north of downtown), has scorched over 33,000 acres of mostly foothill. And three days later, it keeps raging. Several homes have been destroyed, and thousands of people are under mandatory evacuation orders. As of now, there is one fatality.

Wildfires aren’t a unique feature on the Southern California landscape, given our high temperatures, low humidity, and wild winds. Still, this fire is about as massive and scary as I remember. 

While not close enough to be dangerous to us, there is smoke and ash everywhere. It’s been a somber time around here, watching the erratic flames destroy farms, houses, come close to a wildlife refuge.

It’s also been reassuring watching communities come together, people taking in friends and strangers. When the call went out, Southern Californians lined up with their trailers to help evacuate exotic animals from the Waystation center — chimps, tigers and other such animals. People continue to do the best they can under the circumstances, and leave the rest to the firefighters, who’ve been at it for days with hardly a break.

Watching the fire from afar leaves one mostly speechless. Here are two photos from our front yard, a friend’s balcony — and above, from the local media.


Image credit: