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Susan Sleggs

Reflective observations to inspire conversation

Healthy Green Leaves

So what is your opinion of Spinach? I happen to like it, in a salad, cooked with a little butter and vinegar on it, or when it is used in a dip. Thinking of artichoke-spinach dip I’m willing to bet that when someone came up with that idea the consumption of both vegetables increased. Humans are funny, they won’t eat something on its own, but when stirred into a dip with lots of salt it becomes desirable, especially when it’s hot and bubbly. Makes me smile just thinking about it. Continue reading “Healthy Green Leaves”

Gotta’ Follow My Own Dream – Flash Fiction

Angry white caps filled the Puget Sound waterway I could see. The wind howled and rain was going sideways. The fury matched what I expected from my father when I told him I had decided to follow my own dream of becoming a pilot in the Air Force. Especially since he expected me to become a doctor like family tradition deemed. The storm also matched my own emotions how my decision would affect my mother. In no way did I want to hurt her but I felt she would understand and accept what was best for me. Sorry Mom.

In response to Charli Mills March 22, 2018, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.”  Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 27, 2018, by leaving a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Rules are here.

These National Days keep me on my toes. I’ve never heard of a day designated to allow someone to Goof Off, though I think it’s a grand idea. The whole reason for the day is to not work and do something different just for fun. I can’t imagine any boss thinking it was acceptable if you called in and said it’s National Goof Off Day so I’m not coming to work. I also can’t think of any teacher that would accept that excuse for a student not having their homework done. But it sure is fun to think about what you would like to do. Continue reading

My First Guest Post

Raw Literature: Support System

by Charli Mills

By Susan Sleggs

I have read and heard in classes a writer should be able to condense a raw piece of literature down to one word or subject. That’s easy to do when I write flash fiction from a prompt by Charli Mills because she gives us the one word as a starting point. I find it challenging and fun. I love reading all the different takes on that one word. We certainly think and write with a different slant. When applying my craft in other venues such as poetry, memoir or other fiction that one word isn’t so easy to decipher. What is easy is to give credit to my support system for any writing I may accomplish. They encourage me with praise, and sometimes a nudge.

I first met my now husband in 2001. I told him I had a novel running around in my head but didn’t know how to go about writing it. He listened patiently for almost ten years then one evening while we were out listening to a Frank Sinatra impersonator, he noticed tears running down my face. He asked why. I told him I had just figured out how I could tie my story together. On the way home, he firmly said, “Now you have the missing piece, sit down and write it or quit talking about it.” I knew he was serious and I wasn’t about to quit talking about it. Halfway through the two-and-a-half-year writing process that started in 2013, he wished at times to never hear me mention it again. It became my total focus. Another nudge happened when I became frightened about the fact all my characters are a part of myself. I wasn’t sure I wanted my readers to know me so well. He assured me only a few people would be able to recognize that, so I went back to writing.

The first couple of weeks of actual writing I realized how much research I had to do. I wanted to find an Air Force pilot to model a character after. I called the local Veteran’s Outreach Center, and they directed me to the Rochester Veteran’s Writing Group whose doors are open to all vets, family members, and friends. As an ex-Air Force wife, I walked fearlessly into that first meeting on May 2, 2015, and not only found my pilot, but one that flew the exact airplane I wanted information about. The group has twelve regular members; two from WWII, three Viet Nam and the rest from Iraq and Afghanistan. We write from prompts every month and share our memories in a safe, non-judgmental situation, just like at Carrot Ranch. We have become special friends who understand PTSD, sacrifice, brotherhood and share the love of writing. That ex-pilot and I have read, critiqued and edited each other’s manuscripts. He is one of my best cheerleaders.

During the same time, I started taking classes at Writer’s, and Books, a Rochester, NY, based non-profit that promotes writing and reading. I learned about story arc, not using the word was because it tells instead of showing action and that the publishing industry doesn’t like exclamation points. I also joined another local writing group, the Lilac City Rochester Writers which is made up mostly of published authors who are willing to help other writers. I have learned much from their programs. It’s amazing when you put a group of people together who have the same passion how quickly they all become mentors to each other.

People have told me it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a college education, but I disagree. There are so many things I have had to learn the slow hard way that had I more education I would have learned in writing classes like the first draft is not the completed project. Writing is never done; there is always one, or many more adjustments that can be made. At times I find that disheartening and I retreat to my sewing room where I finish a quilt and give it away relishing the fact “done is done.”

In my quest for writing knowledge, the fact you must keep writing to improve became apparent, so I started a blog in July of 2016 (susansleggs.com). I share memories and information based on the National Day of Calendar. That’s where Robbie Cheadle found me and became my first international blogging friend. The Tanka Tuesday poetry challenges she entered grabbed my attention. I didn’t use the prompts for poetry but for the keywords in my first efforts at flash. She also introduced me to the Carrot Ranch. I took a flash fiction class in September 2017, and to my delight learned I could write short fiction. I submitted my first 99-word flash at Carrot Ranch last November and look forward to a new challenge each week. The content of my blog has changed, and my group of national and international friends keeps growing.

When Charli Mills asked if I wanted to share my writing process I was elated and humbled as my journey is far from over. My novel, even at the end of its eighth draft needs more work. I have let it languish for the last year, and since I have learned to write more concisely, I’m thinking rewrites to tighten the scenes might even be fun now. I need to get to it. The problem remains, my story is a soap-opera type family saga, and they are not the in thing right now.

As to my process, there is something I can’t explain. Insights come on a regular basis when I am listening to live music whether it is a crooner, jazz or country. And the irony of the whole situation is I am known for always having an opinion and lots to say, so being recognized for doing something short and concise makes me laugh and want to forge ahead.

Thank you to my support system, especially the folks at Carrot Ranch who keep giving me challenges, are positive, and I’m getting to know better as each week passes.

***

Susan Sleggs is a retiree who blogs from her home in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. She spends as many hours quilting in her sewing studio as she does writing in front of the computer. Memoir, fiction, and free-form poetry are common writing genres, but flash is her current passion.

<<♦>>

Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Charli Mills | March 20, 2018 at 1:29 am | Tags: support networkSusan Sleggsveterans | Catego

Where is Springtime

Spring starts on the Vernal Equinox and National Proposal Day is observed on both the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. It is an opportunity to let the loved one in your life know you are open to a marriage proposal. Where subtle hints have not worked, a more direct approach may be required.

I know sometimes I don’t understand things the way they are meant to be, but the previous paragraph seems to give permission to either member of a couple to pop the question, “Want to get married?” I think that’s pretty cool and I had no idea there is a special day that makes it all right to do that. What will they think of next. Continue reading “Where is Springtime”

Carrot Cake – Flash Fiction

“Girl, you dare put a piece of carrot cake in front of me that’s got bugs in it?”

“Grams, you know those raisins aren’t bugs.”

“Well they look just like the weevils that got in our flour when I was a girl and I ain’t eatin’ that.

“Grams, you taught me to make that cake, pick the raisins out and try it.”

After a tentative taste Grams old face wrinkles. “This ain’t my recipe it’s got hooch in it.”

“It’s not hooch, it’s Jamaican Rum I soaked the fruit in.”

“I guess them bugs are good and dead then.”
**

March 16, 2018, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Quilting is a huge part of my life. When I am not writing, I am quilting in one form or another. That means I might be shopping for fabric, or cutting the pieces for a new quilt, or sewing those pieces together (actually called piecing), or sewing the top-batting-backing layers together which is the quilting process. There is a quilt in every room of my home, yes, one even hangs in the kitchen. Continue reading

Trees in My Life – memoir

Irene Waters asked writers to share memoir about trees. Following is the link if you want to join the fun. She asks for our generation and location so we can compare differences.

Trees: Times Past

Baby Boomer from rural western New York State.
Currently I look out our family room window and delight at the action of many different kinds of birds that visit the feeders. The Niger seeds and suet hang from a crabapple tree. There is a “fake tree” everyone perches on made from large branches stuck into the hole in a patio table (where the umbrella would go) and a large cedar that wiggles constantly because there are so many sparrows and other birds perched in/on it. Keeping the feeders full is a daily job, but the entertainment is worth every penny the seed costs.
In the 1950’s and 60’s my parents owned an acre of pine trees that my grandfather had planted to sell for Christmas trees. As the youngest of four girls I can remember going “out to the woods” to cut our Christmas tree. They were not trimmed like today so looked a bit scraggly and were soon to big to be used. Then the trees became the play area for the town children. Both boys and girls had separate forts. Our mother’s would scold us for getting pine pitch on our clothes.
From my sister Paula… “I think Tilley (our cat) would spy on me when I climbed trees and checked on bird nests. Then they would get robbed!!
Joanne and I played, for hours, out in the back left corner. There was a pussy willow tree there we cut branches from each year.
I knew the whole area very well and ventured farther out back, across fields (don’t know who owned them) and on into Uncle Louie’s woods where he had an old sugar shack. On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Snowy Owl. Dee (Our dachshund) would go with me and dig up baby mice and voles, and eat them!
One warm afternoon, Joanne came looking for me and asked, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?’ I was lying on the ground, watching the clouds float by and listening to birds and bugs singing…… near a pile of fence row trees that had been bulldozed up to make more space for growing crops. Dee loved snooping all through the brush and would chase rabbits, howling as they scooted away, because she couldn’t keep up.”
Trees have always been an important part of my life, like good friends.
Thank you Irene for the walk down memory lane.

Who? Me?

Yes, by all means, you! I can hear you thinking, I’m not famous, why would I write my story? I used to think that too until I started blogging. We all have a story to tell and what may seem boring every day happenings to you are not to someone else who lives in another hemisphere. Yesterday I wrote about earmuffs because it was their special day. A friend in South Africa had never heard of them. By sharing our personal information, via blogs or books, we are learning from each other. It makes the puddle we call our life more interesting and larger. Continue reading “Who? Me?”

Protect Your Ears

After a day of ice skating in the cold, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood came up with an idea to keep his big ears warm. Partnering with his grandmother who sewed tufts of fur between loops of wire, Chester soon had a working model of earmuffs. On March 13, 1877, he was awarded a patent. He was a prolific inventor, but this is the invention he is most known for. For almost 60 years, Greenwood manufactured these ear protectors, which provided jobs for the people in the Farmington, Maine area which is now known as the “Earmuff Capital of the World.” [courtesy National Day of Calendar] Continue reading “Protect Your Ears”

Be Prepared

The Girl Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” and their slogan is “Do a Good Turn Daily.” With ideals like that how can you not want your daughter involved. I have read that boys and girls learn differently because of the way they think and organize in their brains, so a group of girls learning together is more advantageous to them than when in mixed company.  (I’m sure some will disagree.) Continue reading “Be Prepared”

Hot Air Balloon Ride – Flash Fiction

My boyfriend glumly watched it storm. Why was he so upset we had to reschedule our hot air balloon ride over Letchworth. We had the whole summer. Even our parents called to commiserate.

Finally, two months later the brilliant sun made spray from the water falls sparkle and bend with rainbow colors visible. The reflection from the gorge rocks glinted so bright we had to shade our eyes. Suddenly others in the basket turned their backs. My boyfriend presented a dazzling diamond ring brighter than the sunshine. Oh my. Yes!

Our parents treated us to dinner after we landed.

 

Note: Letchworth State Park in western New York state is known as the Grand Canyon of the east.

 March 8, 2018, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a balloon. It can be a party balloon or a hot air balloon. How does it add to your story? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 13, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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