Archive for the Life Category

The good old summer time

Posted in All posts, Life, On writing with tags , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by Trina

My short story The good old summer time is up in the April issue of  the Dead Mule.

I may not be a moonshine drinkin’, sweat-drippin’, pickup drivin’, yankee hatin’ redneck who eats greasy bacon, runny eggs fried in lard with grits, and sits on my neighbor’s sagging porch drinking beer and smoking cigars, but I like to write about them, and I do enjoy an occasional meal of shrimp and grits.

That’s only part of my southern legitimacy statement. Click on the Dead Mule link to read more. 

Harry has five poems in the April issue. The husband and wife team strikes again! The last time we were together was in Chiron Review in 2008. I saved the envelope our acceptance letters came in.

The good old summer time is set in spring, not summer. It’s about change: coping with loss, winter turning to spring. I wrote this story two years ago after my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. Her funeral was on the first day of spring–see my previous post: March

Because Harry’s mother had been sick for quite some time, I wondered how she could have hidden it from her family and friends. Connellsville, Pennsylvania is,  after all,  a small town. And then I realized, maybe she was aided in the deception. Perhaps the entire town played a part in the conspiracy. So the original title of The good old summer time was Conspiracy of Silence.

As stories often do, this one took a different course than I had planned. It veered from a town conspiracy to two men finding friendship through grief. Throw in a piano playing spirit and you’ve got The good old summer time.

Enjoy.

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The return of Pig in a Poke … call for submissions!

Posted in All posts, Life, On writing, Pig in a Poke with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by Trina

Announcing  Pig in a Poke— a literary magazine of poetry and fiction. New and resurrected! Brought to you by Harry Calhoun, the publisher of the ‘80s underground magazine Pig in a Poke, and guess who? Little ‘ol me: fiction writer Trina Allen.

“The Pig” featured work by Charles Bukowski, Jim Daniels, Louis McKee, lyn lifshin, Judson Crews and many more.

This new literary journal in electronic format is looking for writers with passion — poets, storytellers, essayists and others. Harry will pick the poems and literary essays, and I will select the fiction.

I am now a Web master. Wow! I spent the last week learning how to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to develop Web sites. I learned enough to start up Pig and a Poke and also find out how much I don’t know about CSS. I hope my first attempt at using CSS is successful. Let me know what you think. I’d love suggestions. I now know that the pages look different on PCs, laptops, and probably Macs. Let me know if the home page doesn’t look like the image above on your computer.

Go Pig!

I’ve also organized a fiction writing group for Raleigh area writers. I’m looking forward to the discipline the group will give me. Perhaps now I can post more often about my publications. I have a new story out in April. More on that next time.

I hope I have time for it all. Maybe sleep is overrated.

Sick dog

Posted in All posts, Life, On writing with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by Trina

I had planned on posting about my work over the last year–I am working on several short stories and a novel that I’ve given the working title of THE RIPPER. But life intervened in the worst way–assuring me I’ve chosen an appropriate new title for this blog.

Harry and I woke at three in the morning yesterday to a very sick dog. It was the smell that woke us: dog vomit in the living room and worse wafting from upstairs. Harry and I followed the scent upstairs to discover that Alex had used Harry’s office carpet as a bathroom. Normally he would never defecate in the house–he is very housebroken, so he must have been so sick he couldn’t make it outside, poor guy.

Harry immediately called the emergency vet in panic–what we saw on the carpet let us know that Alex was excreting blood. The vet said that bloody stools can be a reaction to Ramidyn (Carprofen), the anti-inflammatory Alex had been taking for his broken tail. Although she couldn’t promise he’d be okay, she thought Alex could wait to see his regular vet at 9 am.

Meanwhile, neither of us could eat anything. The smell was too nauseating. The odor from upstairs permeated the whole house, even the bedroom and kitchen. So I made soap water and we tried to free the carpets of the worst smell I can imagine. It was so cloying that my gag reflex kicked in before the job was even started. Harry did better.

At 9 am, thinking we had gotten the worst of it, we loaded a groggy Alex into the car and headed for the vet.

“It is probably a reaction to the Ramidyn. Some studies are now showing that some breeds, particularly Labradors, are more susceptible to Ramidyn. We’ll need to test his kidneys and liver function . . .”

I stared at the veterinarian in shock. Alex could not have kidney failure. I couldn’t even get my head around that. Worried, we left Alex with the vet and headed home. I toyed with the idea of going to work, but decided to take the day off. I knew I would not be able to concentrate on developing science test questions. Because I work an 80 % schedule, I have one day off per week, normally Friday, so it is just a matter of switching days. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be ecstatic with my decision.

We opened the door of the house to the pungent odor of dog shit, vomit, and chemicals–the worst of it wafting down from upstairs. There was no way Harry could work in his office–he works from home as a marketing writer. I couldn’t even draw a breath up there. Harry called a professional carpet cleaner who said he could be here within the hour, and he was.

I considered going to work to avoid the smell, but I knew I’d be useless there. I gave Harry my office for the day and brought my laptop down to the bedroom. I often write there, so it was no inconvenience. I got as far as opening the document containing my novel in progress. My head immediately started pounding. I suddenly felt too tired even to sit up in bed. But I didn’t want to waste my day off, so I compromised with myself. Instead of turning the TV on and vegging out, which is what I wanted to do, and what I did later in the evening, I did something writing related that didn’t take much concentration. I uploaded the prologue and chapter one of my novel in progress onto my Website. I’ve been wanting to upload and excerpt for weeks, just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Alex is better this morning, although he still does not want to eat, which is very unusual for him. He usually wolfs his food at record speed. He spent the entire day at the vet’s yesterday. He got a shot to stop the vomiting, medication to stop diarrhea and an injection of pain medication. His kidney and liver function are good–we got the results of that test this morning. Long term, Alex will probably not be able to take anti-inflammatory medication. We’ll have to cross that bridge another day, if and when Alex develops arthritis.

The carpet in Harry’s office is now clean and fresh. I cannot believe the carpet cleaner got all of the smell out, but I am pleasantly surprised. A happy ending all around.

Broken Tail

Posted in All posts, Life with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2010 by Trina

I’m back after a year of learning how to balance writing while working a high-energy day job –sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. When I am most proud of my work, when I feel the writing is sharp, the characters interesting and the plot flowing, something is always sacrificed: working out, time with my husband, chores around the house–who needs clean clothes anyway, or energy for the day job. After trying various schedules and even abstinence from writing for awhile, I decided to start up this blog again with a different focus: how to juggle it all. But most importantly, how to be happy with the consequences. Can I live with an extra pound or two if I give up my work out to finish a challenging chapter? I have learned to say yes, but not every day. I will admit that I’ve given up too many workouts recently, so I’ll be posting about my weight loss challenge.

I hope that what I have learned about finding balance in the writing life will help other writers. This blog should also help to keep me honest. I have learned that I need the structure and goals that blogging gives me. I think I was most productive as a fiction writer when I knew I would have to be accountable to myself and my readers by writing about my progress on a regular basis.

broken tail

A broken tail-only a Labrador can do it well!

It was a timely weekend to begin this blog because yesterday afternoon Alex (our black lab) broke his tail, poor guy. Harry and I spent the afternoon at the emergency vet in Raleigh. The vet had to give him a shot of pain killer just to be able to examine him. It must be very painful. We learned that there is no treatment for a broken tail. The vet can’t splint it because dogs wag their tails so much. So Alex is taking pain medication and an anti-inflammatory. He’s pretty listless.

BTW, the emergency vet is on Vick St. in Raleigh. That address seemed like bad karma.

Because we lost the afternoon, Harry and I both decided to take some time yesterday evening to write–instead of watching TV. I managed to get 900 words of a new story written and 3 submissions out. I was happy with my progress. That’s where the balance– which is really a euphemism for sacrifice– comes in. I had planned to take a long walk with Alex, but the walk didn’t happen. The writing did. And so it goes.

Farewell

Posted in All posts, Life with tags , on January 3, 2009 by Trina

It is finally time to say goodbye to WORLDS THAT NEVER WERE. As my blog posts become more infrequent, I realize that it is time for me to take a hiatus from blogging. When I started this blog back in September of 2006, over two years ago, I intended to post about science and education, a platform for my educational writing. It grew to something completely different as my fiction writing became my passion. My posts turned toward the process of writing fiction.

This blog took me from a novice fiction writer, and I’ll say it, an untalented–or perhaps just inexperienced–story writer, to a novelist who has finished her first young adult fiction manuscript. I think parts of that novel are exceptional, while other sections still cry out “novice”. Still, THE MAGIC QUILT was how I cut my teeth on fiction. I believe my next novel will be better, and the next even better as I grow as a fiction writer.

As I move on to writing my second novel, I will continue to write short stories as my muse hits me. I love writing. I can’t imagine life without it. So even in the face of numerous and sometimes daily rejections, I will continue my journey toward becoming the best fiction writer that I can be. I will love every minute.

May you find your passion, as I have through my writing.

Goodbye for now.

Happy Holidays!

Posted in All posts, Life with tags , on December 22, 2008 by Trina

May your holiday season be filled with all the things that bring you joy.

Working at home

Posted in All posts, Life with tags , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by Trina
Alex with Squeaky

Alex with Squeaky

Four years ago Harry and I got married on Smathers Beach in Key West. Harry and I are going to dinner tonight, but neither of us is much in the mood to celebrate after the crazy day we had yesterday.

I had decided to work at home because in addition to doubling the dosage of my blood pressure medicine, my doctor had prescribed a diuretic. I didn’t want to drive until I found out how I reacted to the new medication. The prescription bottle said it may cause dizziness and to be careful driving or operating machinery, so I didn’t want to chance the 20 mile commute to Durham. Turns out, it doesn’t make me dizzy, just sleepy. I feel like I’m walking in a fog, must be what it feels like to have normal blood pressure.

It should have been a relaxing day working at home. Since Harry works at home, I was looking forward to spending the day with him. Except that we had scheduled John, from Triangle Handyman, whom I highly recommend, to come and replace our hot water heater. It took all day to change out, which meant the water and furnace where shut off. So, here I was at home, first day on a diuretic, and I couldn’t flush the toilet. At least it was warm outside so the lack of heat wasn’t an issue.

That would have been bad enough, but about 9:00 AM, as I was reviewing a batch of science test questions from a writer, my cell phone rang. I was upstairs in my office; my cell was in my purse downstairs. I decided to let it ring. Then the landline rang. Seeing a 607 area code and thinking my daughter must be in trouble, I answered. The call was from Binghamton, New York, but was not Lynn, instead her landlord. He started the conversation with, “We’ve got a problem here.”

I felt my blood pressure rise, new meds withstanding–I had cosigned Lynn’s lease. It turned out to be a misunderstanding. I called Lynn, she called the landlord, and now everything’s hunky dunky, except the rise in my blood pressure.

When the handyman left to go to lunch I let our black lab Alex out. By the time I noticed the open gate, Alex was to hell and gone. I called him, but the blockhead had other ideas, like frolicking in the mud. Harry walked trying to find him and John drove his truck (thanks John) and I drove my car, calling him. I found Alex in his favorite escape route–the yards of an adjacent street where he’s been known to get mucho affection from our neighbors. What fun for him.

The excitable boy put muddy paw prints over most of the exterior of the driver’s side of my “new” car–it’s about six months old–before I could get the door unlocked. Alex then got mud all over the back seat before I got him home. Meanwhile our water is still shut off. I can’t make a soap water to clean my car, so I used Windex and paper towels. I was outgunned by Carolina mud and soon gave up. It is now no secret to anyone who sees my car that I have a dog. I love the blockhead anyway.

Alex was restricted to the house while John was working on the heater outside. Otherwise Alex would have supervised and generally gotten in the way. But he wasn’t happy inside while John was outside. Alex paced, barked and made it clear he wasn’t going to tolerate John out in his yard without him. His continual barking kept me awake–I was tired all afternoon from the medication–but made it almost impossible to work.

Then, when John turned the water back on, water started leaking from the hot water faucet in our kitchen sink. The handle was stripped. It had been loose for a while and Harry and I had procrastinated fixing it, maybe just a coincidence that it chose yesterday for its final gasp. So, I turned off the hot water to the kitchen sink and John gave Harry instructions in how to install a new faucet. We’ll see how that goes Saturday. Meanwhile we have no hot water in the kitchen and won’t be able to run the dishwasher unless we run it on cold.

When John was ready to leave, he realized he had left his tape measure in the shed, so he went outside to get it. When he tried to come back into the house, Alex wouldn’t let him onto the back deck, let alone the back door. We certainly don’t have to worry about anyone breaking into our house.

This morning I took my blood pressure and amazingly it’s normal.

Happy anniversary Harry. If we survived yesterday, we can survive anything!