Category Archives: Cat To Be Named Later

Flash: Box of Rox (Edited)

Light it up blue for Autism Awareness!

“Dumb as a bag of hammers.” Harvey Feasler snorted, pointing at her.

“No, dumb as a box of rocks!” The other kids howled laughter when Monte Lyman spoke up.

Roxanne heard them in the distance. They weren’t far away, but if she listened, she’d hearseefeel everything. They stayed in the distance like all the other stimulation. Mr. Sattler called her name, but got no response. He waved from a few feet in front of her and waited there. He knew she felt safe that way.

Easing him into a space of her awareness, easing him out of the miasma of colornoiselight, Roxanne took a slow breath and prepared to engage in conversation. “Good morning, Mr. Sattler.”

“You having a good morning, Roxanne?” She searched his face for cues. A slight smile, widened eyes that might be happy rather than scared, hand palm up. That last one confused her, but he seemed to be friendly. He always did.

Trying to mirror his expression, she looked a little frightened when she responded, “It’s good.” She was busy making the colornoiselight absorb the children’s continued laughter and chanting. Was that concern on Mr. Sattler’s face now? “Thank you for asking,” she belatedly finished. His face slackened into what she recognized as calm. Filing away the information, she tried to offer a calm smile back.

Knowing better, he didn’t chatter with her on the way to her classroom. His position of authority quelled most of the abuse heaped on the poor girl. She seemed oblivious to it, even when a rowdy jock called out, “Lookie now, here comes the box of rocks!” Sattler didn’t understand her lack of reaction, not really, but decided it was a small mercy. When he held the classroom door open, Roxanne hesitated only a moment before awkwardly sidling into the room. That’s progress. He nodded, waved to the Spectrum Class Block, and quietly closed the door.

“Dumb as a box of rocks, my butt,” he muttered before shooing late students toward their classrooms and sending the rowdy jock to the principal’s office. Not a very glamorous job, being middle school vice principal.

Standing at her locker in the SCB, Roxanne peered into the shadowy space and frowned. Miss Emily watched her shrug her shoulders and knew it had nothing to do with dismissing a thought. Roxanne didn’t do that. She couldn’t do it. Giving the girl a wide berth so she didn’t startle her, Miss Emily waited patiently to be noticed. Roxanne stopped shrugging and shaking her head. She waved to her teacher and waited.

“It’s too warm for a sweater or jacket, Roxanne. You don’t have one to put in your locker,” she explained patiently. Watching the girl process the information and then light up with relief made happy bubbles dance in Miss Emily’s belly. It’s times like this when Roxanne gave a spontaneous smile, eyes alight with understanding and connection, Miss Emily knew Roxanne was meant for more than the SCB had available.

Settling in at her seat alone at a table, Roxanne began her customary decompression with paper and pencil. Miss Emily left her to it and circulated in the classroom. Nearly each student had a personal teacher’s aide who helped with monitoring and helping them with their tasks. Roxanne was able to work with little supervision, only a reminder to focus on the worksheets or computer from time to time. As she passed Roxanne’s table, Miss Emily noted the girl wasn’t writing equations as expected. Words filled the page.

She got Roxanne’s attention with a little wave from several steps away. After getting a wave back, she sat across from the girl. “May I look at your paper?” Roxanne looked blank and nodded. Nearly every line of the page held the words “box of rocks.”

“You are writing very well, Roxanne. I have a question.” She paused until Roxanne tilted her head slightly. “What is a box of rocks?”

“Dumb,” the girl replied flatly.

Miss Emily caught herself, stopping the frown before it could form. “May I show you something?” Roxanne tilted her head. Extending her hand over the table, Emily showed her rings. She pointed to her engagement ring. “Do you see this?”


“It is shiny, yes. It’s called a diamond.”


“Diamonds are rocks, Roxanne. They’re bright and shiny.”

Roxanne tilted her head one way and then the other slowly before her shoulders relaxed and she put down her tightly gripped pencil. “Diamonds are bright.”

“Right. Diamonds are bright. Diamonds are rocks,” Miss Emily nudged.

“Bright as a box of diamonds,” Roxanne said slowly.

Miss Emily smiled, her head tilted slightly to engage Roxanne more closely. “That’s very good. Bright as a box of diamonds.” She gave a little nod. After a moment, so did Roxanne. “Would you like another sheet of paper?” Another nod, another piece of paper. This time, the equations flowed.

When Mr. Sattler walked her to the bus as he did at the end of each school day, she walked along quietly as always. The colornoiselight was thick. “Dumb as a box of rocks,” Monte shouted from down the hallway, ignoring the vice principal’s presence in his enthusiastic delivery.

The voice squeezed out of the colornoiselight and Roxanne heardsawfelt it. She stopped after a couple steps. In an even tone, she turned and commented in a firm voice, “Diamonds are rocks. Diamonds are bright.” Continuing on her path, she was unaware of Monte’s face turning red as the other kids heckled him about getting burned back.

Mr. Sattler didn’t understand, not really. He decided he didn’t have to understand. “Very good, Roxanne,” he told her.


Inspired by my younger son, who has autism, this story is presented for Autism Awareness Month. The character of “Miss Emily” is a tribute to one of my son’s favorite teachers. Although he’s an adult, he remembers his elementary school teacher often.

Everyone on the autism spectrum is different, but all face challenges, as do their families and friends. Please know your kindness is deeply appreciated. 

Fall Cleaning


Blog Fall Cleaning


Nice to see you again. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I’m afraid politics has been a shock to our heroine’s system, stopping me from being able to do many of the things I love. I’ve been in ostrich mode for a little while, though. Keeping my head in the sand (only to some extent) has allowed me to reclaim some of my energy.

It’s that time of year when an old writer’s mind turns to NaNoWriMo. As such, it’s only right to blow dust off the keyboard and get ready to give the blog its annual fall cleaning. Oh, I know, most people do spring cleanings. I’ve always done mine in the fall, from household to blog. There’s something magical about Autumn, when the air turns crisp along with the changing leaves that skitter and scuttle about as little eddies of breeze waft through.

I had once again hoped to have a collection of my spookier stories together and up on Amazon in time for October’s Halloween / Samhain season, but it is already mid-September. I think that ship has sailed, but I raise my fist to my rallying cry, “Next year, by the gods!”

Can you think of any themes in my flash fiction which might lend themselves to a collection? I’m probably going to dive into the uncomfortable position of reading through my blog and trying not to edit everything to shreds as I explore that topic.

In the meantime, it’s the mop, bucket, duster, and vacuum for you, Girl Meets Words! It’s almost time for NaNo, my friends.




Politicizing the Girl

A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance


You may have noticed our heroine’s twitter feed has much less to do with writing and much more to do with politics these days, Dear Reader. Fear not, I have not forgotten about writing. I’m trying to pace my outrage and get back to writing.

When I was quite young, my parents were grooming me to go into politics. Specifically their politics. They were stoic Republicans, very conservative Nixon backers, and therefore so was I. In our house, it was unheard of to think for yourself. And hey, I was 9 years old. So I went to the political meetings in my area, I campaigned with my local Congressman and did photo ops with him, and I thought I was doing my part for the country.

When I was 14, I was perhaps the youngest person to intern in a Congressman’s office in DC. Everyone thought my high school class ring was a college one and assumed I was older. I was served along with my co-interns in other offices when we went out to clubs. My Congressman, who knew me from the campaign trail, was a leader in the Conservative Union. He led the way in a treaty with the Soviet Union. While in his office, I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was what he and my parents stood for.

I was appalled.

That summer, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” was popular and it spoke to my anger and disillusionment. I could not tell my parents how learning what their values were had sickened me. I dreaded going back home after the internship ended. Luckily, I didn’t have to get my Congressman’s approval of the research project I did for the internship program. My position was polar opposite his stated one. (Perhaps it’s small of me to note, but I’ll do it anyway: this same Congressman, who violently opposed gay rights, was later disgraced when he was arrested for propositioning a minor male for sex and left office. He went on to come out and, as far as I know, is a liberal who champions LGBTQA+ rights.)

That’s the history. I could go on, such as talking about my future involvement in campaigns after I left home for college at 16 and was no longer forced to hold my tongue. When Reagan was elected, my friends and I shared a few bottles of cheap wine and formed a small procession through the campus, carrying candles to the flagpole, where we extinguished our candles in a dramatic gesture of dismay for the country. More recently, I campaigned for Obama and helped people who were voting for their first time, young and old, to be prepared for the ballot process. I confess, I teared up with some of them, both nervous and excited to be electing him. Oh, looks like I went on after all. Sorry. Stream of consciousness blogging.

None of this prepared me for what’s taken place in our country, our world, over the last year.

My outrage is too great to let fly here. It seeps through my Twitter feed. I believe we need to stay aware of what’s going on, stay involved in the process however we can, and fix what’s wrong deep down in our country. Hearing others and healing the great rift this election exposed is a primary need for the United States. (Brexit voting shows similar trends and other countries are facing conservative backlashes. A nice way of saying racism and other bigotries are influencing the world in horrifying ways.)

But writing. I got nowhere with NaNoWriMo in November. The election devastated me. I was sick almost immediately and then both my older son and I were hospitalized at the same time. The story remains to be written and it’s entirely escapism, especially for me as the writer. As yet it is untitled. I call it the Historical Romance Trope Novel.

The real issue is getting my head out of my outrage, into my hopes for our world, and into my story world. I’m taking advice from Gareth L. Powell, who wrote a great blog post: How to Keep Being Creative in a Crisis. He writes: Art doesn’t stop for history. In some ways, art is history. That has become my reminding mantra. (Thank you, Gareth.)

Of course, when I really need a kick in the ass, there’s also Chuck Wendig‘s Art even harder, motherfucker!  (Thank you, Chuck.)

I’m going to continue to be politically active. I can’t imagine not being involved to the best of my ability. Keep making those calls. March if you can. But take time to be creative, too. It’s healing, both for you and for our world.

Are you struggling to be creative in this climate, no matter where you live? How are you coping – or ARE you coping? I’d love to hear from others who are doing well, not doing well, or just getting by day to day.

Hella Year




Thank you for being so patient with me!

It’s been hella year for our heroine. Mostly health related and don’t worry, I’m not going to kvetch about details. We also just moved in a hurry after at the last moment being offered a ground floor unit in a nicer apartment complex. Snagged it in a hurry!

I have not been writing. I do plan to do NaNoWriMo, so I need to get started on at least some planning and flash writing to build traction. The NaNo I began last year is in such dire need of revision (as in the first six chapters need to go!), I may use that as my NaNo and write it from word one. There are characters I didn’t develop who would add great texture to a rewrite. No cheating, though. Some plotting/planning and then writing from word one.

I’ve had some interesting ideas for writing lately, but unusually, they’ve just gone up in puffs of smoke when I consider writing. I’m beginning my own storystarters file so I can get hold of them properly. Here’s hoping I have something new to show you soon.

In the meantime, I wish you great words, great fortune, and really shiny worlds!



Casting Call


My Cast Was Pink



Our heroine got her cast off Wednesday after breaking her wrist six weeks ago, dear Reader.

Very lucky in that it was my non-dominant hand. I could type well enough with the first cast to keep up occasionally on Twitter. The second one was tighter and went further up my hand, keeping the knuckles from bending enough to type. One handed typing was possible, but frustrating. Naturally, I found speech to text in Windows this past Monday. Grf.

A better, more determined writer than I would have overcome it all, no doubt. Between the pain and hurdles typing properly, writing seemed out of the question. I touch type rather quickly. Many keys on my keyboard are blank now, I discovered. Picking about on the keyboard for the right key, backspacing repeatedly, and muttering curses added up to me giving up on the idea of writing. Writing anything, really. The few emails I wrote, always late, were merely a few lines with little capitalization. Writing a story or, even worse, trying to edit one? Right out.

Suffice to say I was dreadfully aware of what I could not do in all areas of my life. Not an boon given a bad mood already going on and bad stuff in local and world events.

Now I’m in a hard brace which was custom molded and is held on with a velcro strap. I’m home from the hospital for the… fourth? fifth?… time since I broke my wrist and am feeling more optimistic. My larger challenges for right now are a) figuring out what to write and/or edit and b) resting my wrist often enough that I don’t overdo it while writing. Maybe a timer for when I’m at the keyboard? I’ll borrow Son’s R2D2 kitchen timer. Excellent idea, dear Reader. Thank you.

What sorts of excitement have I missed in your lives? Any wtg to pass on? Maybe you could use some good thoughts passed your way. I’d love to join. Please let me know. Either way, please be aware you’ve been missed and I thought of you often. In a good way, I promise.



Not a New Year’s Post

Not a New Year's Post by JC Rosen

This is not a New Year’s resolutions post. Really. It’s just bad timing, so it looks like one.

It’s been a rough patch. I didn’t complete NaNo because of rolling illnesses, not the least of which had me hospitalized for over a week. I’m not going to complete the final total rewrite of a certain novel as I planned. My home is a pit. Granted, given the circumstances, all these things and more are understandable. They contribute to my general sense of discouragement, though.

Rather than wallow (okay, so I wallowed – I’m moving on), I tried to look at my life with realistic expectations. I figured it was the springboard for any goals and plans. Makes sense, right? Easier than it sounds.

When being brutally honest with myself, I focus on the brutal part or shy off the realities as they are. Happy mediums are challenging. When I feel like being brutal and I rein myself in, I feel like I’m being a Pollyanna. When I’m ignoring things and I try to be more aware, I become a stubborn ostrich. Either way, my natural instinct is to fight being dragged out of my ridiculous truculence.

As I write this, I feel weak from a combination of illnesses and the side effects to a medication. It would be easy to put off dealing with this issue. I’m starting to think perhaps this is an opportunity to make the most of a bad situation, though. My natural instincts to fight against logic are fuzzy from exhaustion. It may be a slog, but I’m coming up with what seem to be realistic expectations.

Problem I keep tolerating: Son is fixated on playing online video games during his holiday and I can do little, so the apartment is becoming even messier.

  • Proposed Solution: Change tactics. He likes to cook, so I got him an R2-D2 kitchen timer. I’ll make an agreement with him to set the timer for a one hour block of work a couple times a day. It’s amazing what he can get done in a short time with his music blasting. I can do a little bit at the same time and then do little things he missed along the way.

Problem I keep tolerating: Finances are out of control.

  • Proposed Solution: Get organized and get them the hell under control. A recent huge reduction in our monthly budget will create huge problems if I don’t stay on top of things. I’ll get a few inexpensive tools and create a system for keeping track of bills and payments rather than the haphazard system known as barely controlled chaos.

Problem I keep tolerating: I’m not writing.

  • Proposed Solution: Write. Gee, that sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Yes, I’ve been sick and it often makes writing pretty impossible. Even when I could push myself to write something, anything, I didn’t write because it wouldn’t be good enough. Good enough? By whose standards? Who the hell am I, some literary phenomenon who churns out awe inspiring prose every day? Feh. Okay, that was a little of the brutality sneaking in. In simple terms, I must write whatever I can, when I can. I must set goals and be prepared to make them fluid enough to both challenge me and respect conditions as they exist.
  • I will work on the final rewrite of the novel with an aim to completing its first draft by the end of January 2015. Beyond that, I will set first edit and send to betas goals as appropriate. I’ll also try to blog again, perhaps even doing a flash fiction or two in the next month.

My energy reserves are used up for the moment, so no more. It’s more than enough to begin the process of decrapifying my life.

As for New Year’s resolutions? I don’t do them. Really.

photo credit: andres.thor via photopin cc

SPILLWORTHY by Johanna Harness Debuts

Congratulations to my dear friend, my mentor, Johanna Harness, on the publication of her novel SPILLWORTHY! It’s a remarkable story told in such a clever manner, the reader will inhale it in one sitting. The characters are beautifully exposed in their own writing. As the story unfolds, the suspense builds urgency. SPILLWORTHY is so worth your time. If you found this book, you were meant to find it.


SPILLWORTHY, by Johanna Harness

Surely you know Johanna Harness, at least by name, if you’re a writer or reader on Twitter. She created the enormously popular #amwriting hashtag and community. Whether you know her or not, take a look at her bio at the bottom of this piece.

Have you read the excerpt Johanna posted? Oh, do read it! It’s a choice segment from the start of the story which introduces a charming, somewhat jaded young man. Reading it will make the next part of this blog make more sense. Go on, take a moment. We’ll wait.

See, the fascinating mind of Johanna Harness suggested writers put together cameo appearances of one of *our* characters within the SPILLWORTHY world. That’s what’s coming next. So much fun to write! My character, Dawn Garson, writes in first person. She appears in the first book of my Mirror saga, as yet unpublished.

Did you read the SPILLWORTHY excerpt yet? Yes? Good. Here’s Dawn’s cameo, which does NOT appear in the book:


SPILLWORTHY, Cameo of Dawn Garson

Encouraged by my sons, I took a vacation in this world. Of course, they didn’t know of my sojourns into the other one. Having heard so much about Portland, I chose it as my destination. The last two days proved it was the right place. So green and lovely.

I’m not exactly made for tromping around sightseeing, but my cane and I made good use of the time. I found myself in a little neighborhood not far from the hotel which suited my budget. Glancing around, I caught sight of a second hand store. On impulse, I crossed the street to it and browsed a bit. I found a pretty blouse and a couple of beautiful coffee mugs which would be practical in both worlds.

As I left the store, still stuffing the new items into my shoulder bag, a shop window grabbed my attention. It was a music shop, a lot like the one in which I worked so many years ago. While the medium changed over the years, music store windows did not. This one was plastered with promotional posters, still album cover sized. Rampant images and color gave way to… what was that?

I honed in on the unlikely poster. It was not a poster at all. In fact, it looked like a pizza box top, complete with a couple of grease stains. Dense handwriting covered it. I stepped closer and read about Keats. It was like stepping into a cloud of happiness. The writer not only analyzed Keats’ writing well, the prose was positively lyrical. Clearly, someone with a poet’s soul wrote from his joy. I wished I could meet him or her and share a meal, just jabbering about whatever came up. Giddiness bubbled inside me at the thought.

Hungry by then, I stopped in at a nearby pizza place. I guess I was inspired by that not-a-poster. A couple supreme slices later, I had the rest boxed up to put into the minifridge in my hotel room. As I left, a kid quietly stopped me and asked if I would give him the leftover pizza. Poor kid was grubby and wore clothes made for someone of another size. I didn’t have to think about it. “Yes, please take it and enjoy. It’s still warm.” His face lit up and after thanking me, he walked to the corner and sat next to an old man with a dog to share the feast.

Portland. Such a good choice.


Johanna Harness bio, as taken from Goodreads: Johanna Harness writes middle grade and young adult stories in both Northwest and fantastic settings, often forgetting which is which. She created the #amwriting community on Twitter.

My opinion of her bio? Far too short, but once the writer starts on a complete picture of this woman, it’s hard to stop. Not just a talented writer, she’s a mother, wife, homeschooler, caretaker of critters large and small, and so much more.

You’ll want to read SPILLWORTHY, available in paperback and Kindle format. I predict awards and great things for this novel and for Johanna herself.


Thinking outside the #Flash


Lightning strikes

Photo by West Texan

Our heroine is going through a dry spell, Dear Reader. Grinding and grinding on old work, novels and flash alike, trying to make them better. Is the theme there? Is the hook set? Does each sentence propel the story forward? Are the voices different enough? And heaven help me, is this world consistent in its building?


Recently, I shared a flash with a friend from #SciFiChat and gratefully received her feedback. Before sending it, I expanded it beyond strict flash rules, but it was still flash length. She was charming in her comments, but through them I saw a major flaw with the story as written: it’s too damned short. Given the assignment of a flash, it would probably answer the question well enough with some tweaking. Given the opportunity to tell the whole story? Time to think outside the flash.

I’ll still write flash, of course. It’s a wonderful editing muscle which keeps me in shape for other projects. My novels improved with my editing skills. Giving myself over to the story must take priority, though. Let the story dictate its format. Just. Write. Sound familiar? It should if you read my blog, especially around NaNoWriMo time each year.

Who knows? I might just become a writer again.

How are you doing on your project right now?

Take care,


New Words


See Jon Assink on Flickr

Graphic by Jonathan Assink

Our heroine is still here, Dear Reader. Well, I suppose that depends on what “here” means to you. When I’m not overcome (and sometimes when I am) by a problem, usually my health, I get onto Twitter and chat. I read it more than I chat, lurking a bit behind the drapes. Yeah, see those tips of shoes? They’re mine.

Since I’ve posted here, I’ve had everything from a slightly dislocated shoulder and rotator cuff tear to a stroke. My life is beset by doctor appointments, in home therapists, tests, emergency room visits, and of course my favorite: inpatient stays. Exile. I’ve no new words to share in flash, but I promise to get back to it very soon.

It seemed readers felt the fourth part of See How They Fall was a good place to end it. I tried to let it go at that point, but I so feel there’s a concluding fifth part. What do you think? Ends dangle, daring me to tie them up in one part.

I hope you’ve been well and happy, that your family and loved ones have, too. I’m grateful for each of you. Thank you for your encouragement.

Take care!

I May Have Been Premature

Reports of my returned health were greatly exaggerated. In fact the last two months or so have been ridiculously difficult. Seventeen days inpatient over the last month, in fact. More on the way, perhaps. Keeping a good but pragmatic thought.

I pulled out the manuscript to Book 1 and am back into the revisions as time and strength permit. An idea for a flash is brewing, so I hope to write it tomorrow and post on Friday. All in all, positive signs for getting into the swing of things once again. A relief.

By the grace of a good friend, I will have a new-to-me laptop soon! It means I’ll be able to write while inpatient, brain fogged by painkillers permitting. Hey, maybe the fogginess will bring about great stories, who knows? I’m definitely willing to find out.

Thank you for your support and encouragement. Makes this process much easier to bear. I hope you and yours are well and stay that way.

Take care,


P.S. I’m considering once I’m well starting up a writing review blog. I’d be open to most forms of writing and interested in guest reviews. Are there already too many review blogs? What do you think about it? Thanks.