THE QUILT

Life is a quilt,
one created over time,
one square, one stitch
placed just so
over weeks,
months, decades.
Sometimes the stitches
knot up, tangled
in unexpected
life events:
death of a love one,
divorce,
too much of this
too little of that.
And then
it smooths out
when new bonds
are made,
babies are born,
life goes on.
The quilt spreads,
covering the span of life,
bringing comfort
and protection.
The quilt of life,
the connectedness
that bridges divides.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.comhttps://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooksAmazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

BOOK TALK NOV. 22

We are so excited about our next Literary Salon event. Book Talk will feature two of our favorite booksellers talking about the books they love and getting your feedback about the books you love. The holiday season is upon us. This is a great opportunity to find just the right gift for the readers in your life. Thank you Dennis Ditmanson and Nancy Colalillo. Readers and writers, you won’t want to miss this!

Books of the Southwest

Ditmanson is a dealer in used books with a focus on the American West and an emphasis on the Southwest, New Mexico, and Las Vegas. Hence the name – Books of the Southwest. Ditmanson has a smattering of other non-fiction and general fiction, cookbooks, trail guides, etc.  His main outlet is at Frankie Ann Tiques, 247 Plaza, and He keeps a small space at Rough Rider Antiques. He and his wife Carol, came to Las Vegas in 2001 when Ditmanson took on the Superintendent posts at Pecos National Historical Park and Fort Union National Monument.  “Books have always been a must for me. I got the bug as a seller after a stint working for Nancy at Tome On the Range!”

Nancy Colalillo is the founder of the original Tome on the Range independent bookstore, which she owned and operated from 1996 to 2013. After a brief retirement, Nancy resumed her retail career with the founding of Paper Trail, a quirky gift shop located in Tome’s second home at 158 Bridge Street in historic Old Town Las Vegas, NM. In addition to flights of fancy for home, office, kitchen, garden, and kids, she has integrated a carefully chosen selection of books for all ages into Paper Trail’s offerings, proving that once a bookseller always a bookseller!

Nancy has also been involved in commercial and economic development ventures that focus on shopping local, historic preservation, and community improvement. She is the quintessential emcee at fundraisers and her entrepreneurial savvy has been a great inspiration to many small business owners.

Don’t miss this Literary Salon!

Sign up below for the November FREE Book Talk
Las Vegas Literary Salon

Media File(opens in a new tab)

Thanks to Jim Terr for his help in preparing videos of Dennis and Nancy for posting. Check out Nancy’s personal invite here…


Sharon Vander Meer

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting, and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.

Lit Salon celebrates writing

ToolsLas Vegas Literary Salon hosted its first event Sunday, July 12, thanks to the Las Vegas Arts Council and the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. A special thanks to Susie Tsyitee who walked us through the Zoom technology and acted as host for the event. Below is a video about the event we hope you will watch. It features Patti Romero and me talking about Las Vegas Literary Salon in a broad sense and giving our thoughts on this premier event. Please note that this is a first “video interview” either of us has done and I was at the tech wheel, which in and of itself speaks of disaster! But, all things considered it gets our message across.

And what is our message? Writing is an art. We want to encourage emerging, young, established, genre, literary, nontraditional, fiction, nonfiction, poetry – basically writers and writing across the spectrum. We will do this through workshops, events like the Zoom Writers Roundtable, book fairs, tapping into the skills of experts in areas related to getting the book, essay, memoir, novel, whatever it is, from your brain to the page.

This is not for everyone. Some writers want solitude and choose not to network with other writers. I get that. But for those who do want to be part of a learning and networking community, come on board! And we want readers as well. You are important to the process. You consume our words and make them a part of your story from the time you start reading until you reach the end, and sometimes beyond. Along the way, we hope we’ve made you laugh or cry, pissed you off or lifted you up, perhaps even broadened your horizons.

The Sunday event was a success largely because of our five readers: Joy Alesdatter, Kathleen Lujan, Ray John de Aragon, Tim Hagaman, and Beth Urech. We thank them for the time and effort they put into preparing for their readings.

What’s next? We will be scheduling an event with former Las Vegan, Vera Jo Bustos in the near future. Look for details to be released soon.

We have a lot of ideas, and now we need bodies to help implement them, and come up with more. Join us! Fill in the form below the video and let us know if you’re ready to join, or whether you need more information. Also consider donating to one or both of the organizations working through the pandemic to figure out ways to keep the arts alive and thriving!

Las Vegas Arts Council
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation

Patti and Sharon talk about LV Lit Salon #1

zoom_0 from Sharon Vander Meer on Vimeo.

Please sign up below to join Las Vegas Literary Salon or to find out more.


 

And now for the next adventure

Yes or No

I’m in that battling through ideas stage, wondering what thread of excitement engages me enough to begin story development. It sounds easier than it is. Some ideas will be best expressed as poetry, others as a short story and others in a novel.

How does one get past the muddled mess and move forward? Here are five questions to help you determine how you want your inner storyteller to tell the tale.

Is this a story with interwoven plots and subplots?

  • Complex stories can be told in any form, including poetry. Think of The Iliad by Homer, a marathon Greek poem about the Trojan war, or Caged Bird, by Maya Angelou, a story about freedom. Could these tales have been told in a different way? Probably, but not as poignantly. That said, if you have a story that’s deep and wide, consider writing a novel, or at the very least, a novella. You have more time and space for compelling characters and intriguing plots.

Is this story a shovel or a knife?

  • A shovel digs deep and uncovers what is hidden; a knife is more precise and goes to the central theme without a lot of lead in. Deep is best handled in a novel; precision in a short story or poem. O. Henry was the master of short form writing with satisfying – often unexpected – endings. Remember The Gift of the Magi?

What audience is the story geared toward?

  • I don’t like to bring it up, but yes, you do need an audience for your work, no matter what you write. Children’s books are written in a certain way for very good reasons. Consider carefully the profile of your reader and forge ahead accordingly. One of my favorite authors is David Baldacci.  This is a writer who knows his audience and creates powerful characters in compelling situations. His novels sell worldwide and have been translated into many languages.

How much do you love your idea?

  • Writing a story is a process. The seed is just that, a seed. For it to grow into something that will inform and entertain requires nurture (creativity), weeding (editing), and feeding (revising).

But – as writer and literary agent Lisa Cron would ask – how much do you know about your  character before you push him or her onto page one of your novel?

  • Cron, the author of “Wired for Story” encourages writers to understand their protagonists’ deeply and well before proceeding. This isn’t pre-writing; it’s exploring the lead characters backstory so, as the author, you know going in the “inside intel” that drives the character and mucks up his or her life as they make their way forward. It sounds easy, does it not? Well, it isn’t. It is probably the most difficult thing a writer must do. Is it worth the effort? Cron says, yes, citing authors in her acquaintance who – by way of this process – went from rejection to seven-figure book sales.

My stumbling block is focus. To write, one needs to set everything else aside an focus on the goal, and be willing to do the work.

Back to basics. Who is my story about? What does she want? What does she fear that will keep her from achieving that goal? How can she overcome her fear and succeed? Therein lies – THE STORY.

Wish me luck!


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central



 

Redesign

Sharon VI am so psyched! For the past several months I’ve been dragging my fanny, and it isn’t funny! I’m so not the sit-on-my-bum kind of person. As a writer, I have options most people don’t have:

  • I can work where I want.
  • I can work when I want.
  • Inspiration is a window, not a door.
  • I can take on clients to write for, or I can get creative with my own writing.
  • I’ve been working from home before it was a thing.

I could easily attribute my lack of productivity to life events that sort of stopped me in my tracks, not the least of which is the mad virus that has brought the world to a stuttering halt. That’s BS, a big BULL and big load of SPIT!

My method of handling life is to write about it, in my journal (which no one will ever see), and through poetry, fiction and essays. Some get publish; most do not.

Why am I psyched? I did a website redesign, or more truthfully, erased a lot of color giving it a cleaner and crisper look. Why does that get me going? This sort of comes under the heading of what COVID-19 has taught me.

  1. Like my website, I live with unnecessary clutter, yet fill my days with procrastination and guilt. The wouda-coulda-shoulda syndrome. I’m over it. One day at a time.
  2. I tend to equate busyness with productivity. So not true! In future, I hope to have the good sense to ‘finish’ one thing rather than half-assing five.
  3. I’m a more social person than I realized. I miss seeing friends and – really, folks – ZOOM is a crappy substitute.
  4. Hugging is healing. Virtual hugs are wonderful, but there is no substitute for a hug from a friend.
  5. When it comes to the virus and the future, nobody has ‘the’ answer. There are too many variables.

My daily prayer is that my friends in small businesses can survive and thrive and that the virus dies out, never to return.

So, why am I psyched? Because there is no alternative. Living in limbo waiting for the next alarming news report is a sad waste of time. I choose to count today as the best opportunity to be… well, me. And, yes, I am ever the optimist.

What COVID-19 has taught me more than anything is to live each day as best you can. We’ve lost so many to this breath-stealing monster. Don’t let fear rob you of the best life you can live, now.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

Which do you prefer and why?

And what are you reading now?

This is something everyone knows, but I would like to use it to stimulate a conversation. Do you prefer fiction over nonfiction or nonfiction over fiction? Why? What are you reading now and what is it about the content that keeps you turning pages? Are you a writer or a reader?

Fiction or Nonfiction

A musing on aging gratefully

Yesterday I turned 75. Turned 75. That’s like referring to oneself as if you’re a tuna casserole that’s gone off.

I don’t feel a day over 75 – oh, right, I am a day over 75. I don’t think of myself as being old-ish. Okay, okay! Old! Even in middle age – 45 or so – I thought anything over 50 was ancient. The older I get, of course, the older young becomes.

Once, when told she didn’t look 40, Gloria Steinem reportedly said, “This is what 40 looks like.” This is what 75 looks like, wrinkled, a touch pudgy, and grey-haired.

I prefer to think of my hair as snowy, shot through with silver, but what do I know? I’ve never been one to gloss over reality, but I did go through the coloring my hair phase to take a few years off my appearance. Why? God knows. It was a pain in the butt and dried out my already-thin hair unmercifully. Plus – get real – my skin still looked papery and wrinkled.

I like being a grey goddess, a woman of a certain age who isn’t taken with the idea of forever young. I know, I can hear you laughing. A goddess I have never been. Wrinkles and grey hair don’t bother me. Not having something worthwhile to do bothers me. I want to be productive. I want to interact with others, not just my generation, but every generation. I still have lots to learn, and I even have a few things to teach.

Life is about the things you can do; it is not about the things you can’t. I will never be the great American novelist. I have neither the discipline for the talent. That doesn’t keep me from writing. It doesn’t keep me from sending in freelance articles for publication in hopes of being paid. It doesn’t stop the flow of words that demand to be put into a story.

Age does not stop us from wanting approval and feeling sad and rejected when we don’t get it. It must never stop us from loving what we do enough to get it out there and do it. Einstein didn’t stop because he got old; he stopped because he died.

Studies show that people who stay active doing the things they enjoy, live longer and are healthier than those who sit on the sidelines waiting for the next thing to happen, and expecting whatever it is, to be bad.

Life does get harder for many of us as we age, no doubt. Overcoming that isn’t easy, but making the effort is the difference between a life well-lived and one of despondency and loneliness. You don’t have to be the life of the party, just show up and participate. You have something to contribute. We all do. Getting old is not a card any of us should play to get out of living our best life now. Stephen Hawking didn’t and neither should we.

I am grateful for every day I’ve lived, even the ones that brought me to my knees, where I learned to lean on the Great Comforter and on my friends. I count every day a blessing, a gift, something to be opened with joy and anticipation. Seventy-five and counting! Thank you, Lord.


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central

Author Profile: Carmen Baca

From Carmen’s Amazon Author Page: Hello! I’m Carmen. As if 36 years in the classroom weren’t enough, I now “teach” from home, helping aspiring authors with their own manuscripts, researching marketing strategies, and working on my next book. You can find me in the mountains of northern New Mexico where my husband and I enjoy a peaceful, quiet life caring for our animal family and any stray that happens to stop by.

Below are Carmen’s responses to a Q&A interview about her work as a writer and published author.

Carmen BacaQ. What genre do you work in?
A. The majority of my works are literary regionalism with a touch of magical realism. My first book, El Hermano, is a historical fiction based on my father’s induction and subsequent rise to leadership of our community’s brotherhood of Hermanos Penitentes. My second book, Las Mujeres Misteriosas, is a ghost story mystery, which pits La Muerte against la Llorona in a fight over the soul of a young woman. My third book, Cuentos del Cañón, is a short story collection. It’s a companion book to the first because it’s comprised of the backstories of characters featured in the first book. My fourth, Viajes con Fantasmas, is a sequel to the second, which will publish this summer. My fifth, a short story cycle, is called La Quinceañera. It’s a parallel narrative of three plots which intertwine in 12 separate short stories. It is currently in the editing stage. I have also published 17 short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, in online literary magazines since 2017.

Q. Why that genre?
A. I found my voice in the first book and discovered that my readers appreciate both the stories I tell and the style I use to tell them. The realization that I could be a small voice whereby I could inform, educate, and entertain those who are interested in my culture is why I love writing regionalistic literature. It’s what I know, what I love, and what I want to leave behind as my legacy to New Mexico’s literature. We New Mexico Hispanics have a rich history, but we are not well-known. We are distinct from Latinos of other countries, and I want to tell everyone I can reach about our uniqueness.

El HermanoQ. What inspires you?
A. A locked wooden box, which revealed the secrets of los Hermanos’ brotherhood, inspired my first book. I was disappointed with the way their religious practices were sensationalized in other publications. I wanted my book to show readers that the brotherhood is so much more than what people think. That box gave me the historical information I needed to set the record straight – so to speak – without revealing private information none of us has to know, since we are not of them. Now, I’m inspired by elements of my culture in addition to religion: dying traditions and customs, superstitions, folklore, and beliefs, lifestyle, dialect — all of which I include in most of my works to show younger generations how our ancestors lived, to remind those my age and older of the old days we share, and to preserve the past. I’m inspired by life and death, real human struggles, my career — so many themes in life to write about. I’m also inspired by a variety of writing genres. This allows me to experiment in writing.

Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. I worked as a teacher for 36 years, leaving my beautiful home built by my husband on the land of my ancestors. I retired in 2014 and am living the life of my dreams: working from the comfort of my home surrounded by mountains and meadows. Several times already I have caught a movement in the reflection of my PC, which turns out to be elk or deer peering in the window next to me. There is nowhere I’d rather be.

Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by this individual?
A. That’s a hard one. I can’t focus on anyone, other than Jesus Christ. I admire those who persevere, who are honest, and humble, and who attain their goals through willpower and courage — too many to name individually.

Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. All my books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Goodreads; they can also be found on a variety of other websites as well as local venues: Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, Op.cit in Taos, Bookworks in Albuquerque and several other locations.

Follow Carmen on Facebook


For Writers

Thunder Prime Hunter's Light

Sitting in the eye of the storm,
in front of a handful of skeptics.
Will it be an epic fail,
or an open door to converts?
Readings are a test of a writer’s mettle,
something you must do… and do again.
Writing is but half the battle,
sales and reviews become your goal.
The fun is over. Now the work begins.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central