Wednesday, June 30, 2010


My wonderful friend, Aniket Thakkar, is hosting a contest at Flash Fiction during the next few weeks, in honor of my forthcoming book, Plum Blossoms in Paris.  I'll be judging, and I hope that many of you will take part in the fun!   

Here are Aniket's contest guidelines:

- Register yourself and sign in, on the login panel in the right sidebar (if you’re new to the site)
- Write a story/poem in 1000 words or less, inspired by the image prompt, and post it in the dashboard available to you, once you’ve signed in.
I will choose two winners at the end of the competition, each of whom will receive a shiny new copy of Plum Blossoms In Paris.

- Contest deadline is July 20th, 2010.

You know, I'm only beginning to get a handle on the promotional leg of my publishing journey.  But with friends like this, I think it'll be a cinch.  Thank you, Aniket.  Your signed copy is on its way to India.  Along with my gratitude. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


As writers, we should never fall back on clichés. 

 But this picture says more than I ever could with words. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I keep looking for him at the back door.

We had a name before we had the dog. Rufus. It was my fiancé's choice. What a dog’s dog name. A promise for the future, after we married and got a house of our own. In fact, one of Paul’s friends toasted us at our wedding by saying, “Here’s to Paul, Sarah . . . and Rufus!” Leading many to wonder, I imagine, whether ours was not a shotgun wedding.

Paul knew he was ours before I did. Immediately after moving into our new house, we went to the dog shelter (where all the good dogs wait) to look around. I briefly fell for a basset hound. Alright--I briefly fell for all of them. But Paul knew. That scroungy bundle of black fur marked by the white stripe down his chest, with the pup-tent ears and frantically friendly way, was Rufus. And so he was. We took him home soon after.

A dog is the heartbeat of a house. Quiet. Steady. Unflappable. There, drumming on, even when we’re not. Too often taken for granted. There were many times I came home and swept past a wagging Rufus, offering a mere pat on the head. I had stuff to do. Or thought I did. If only I had slowed down a bit more and taken the time to look in his eyes. To get lost, and be found, in them again. For a dog’s eyes are the heartbeat of a heartbeat of a home. They are liquid love. No wonder so many elderly folks have benefited from a dog’s companionship in nursing homes. In a world straddling the next loss, a dog will not despair. That tail will thump on. For you. In this way, and in others, they are the stronger species.

A dog threads himself so completely into the patterns of our lives. They are creatures of habit, and mark our days with their feeding, walking, and play schedules. Rufus nudged me out of the house every evening to take him for a long walk. It was good exercise. And unfailingly, I’d have my best brainstorms during these neighborhood strolls. The concept for Plum Blossoms in Paris? The inspiration was almost embarrassingly literal. I saw some daisies on the side of the road. Rufus peed on them. I thought of Daisy Miller. I imagined a young American woman, also named Daisy, traveling to Europe during the most rancorous period of the Iraq War, when the U.S. was pretty well hated by everyone. Voilà. But Rufus led me there, on a leash.

We lost our heartbeat last night.

And I’m writing this when I would normally be walking beside him. Pulling him away from some disgusting thing he’d try desperately to eat. Lately, as the summer heat intensified, he liked to lie down on the grass and rest for a few minutes. His pant turning up like a smile. And I’d sit down beside him, settle back in the grass, and look up at the clouds rolling by. Then I’d reach over and give him a belly rub, until his hind leg twitched and his paws raised in a blissful submission. I told him he was a good dog. He was.

I keep looking for him at the back door. Before I can stop myself. Yet I know it will pass. The roots of endings have a way of shooting off beginnings. And the earth spins us further from the past. As proof of this, our daughter is already looking ahead to the next dog. Which, if I’m being honest, makes my heart recoil. But then, she cried this afternoon that, “a part of my heart has died.” It's understandable she’d want to resurrect it.

I keep looking for him at the back door. Because I can’t imagine this house—this family—without him.

And right now, I don't want to.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Happiness is the surrender of need.

Like a kite takes to air.

It’s sitting in a field of flowers
that don’t aspire.
Daisies and other pretties
that bear no blood
or conscious throb.

It’s the butterfly,
the bees,
the caterpillar’s sticky feet,
the tattered ends of grassy reeds.

The silver threads of spiderwebs,
the rat-tat-tat of downy heads.

It’s a wind that swirls
and sits back down.
Resting for another round.

Happiness is the solitude
when ones you love
are tucked in rooms
or even

And the moment wants
no setting down
to keep its winged glory.


It lives,
with arms
wide open.

No tail
on which
to cling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Parrish the Thought

Aerin Bender-Stone (whose writing I've long been a fan of, and whose adorable kids make my Facebook membership well worth the privacy violations) is throwing a week-long book launch/birthday party at Parrish the Thought. You may have heard about Stephen Parrish and his wonderful debut novel, The Tavernier Stones, on this blog once or twice before.  At any rate, Aerin didn't have to twist our arms too hard to take part in the festivities.  Steve is an amazing writer, great friend, and all-around swell guy.  It's nice to be able to give something back to someone who's given so much to the community. 

Plus (PLUS!) there are prizes to be had!  Including books, critiques and gift cards!  Questions to answer!  Games to win!  And my own pet project--a collaborative writing experiment, in which we put Steve INTO his own stories. 


What're you waiting for?  Swing on by Parrish the Thought.  Join the debauchery.  And make some new friends. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Requiem for the Living

We hide our dead
under verdant lawns
staked with stones
and spires of pine

Where birds may perch
and ply our ear
with strident songs
of insouciant youth

We hide our dead
whom we still guard
but in whose hearts
we're laid long

We say their names
as we drop a bud
mistaking vibrations
for what once was

We hide our dead
under verdant lawns
We hide the dead when
most sorely alive

with heartbeats
too like the birds’
but with footsteps
dusting earth,
a child’s plea:

Touch me
Talk to me
Remember me
Love me


Like many others, I spent some of my Memorial Day in a cemetery.  I hadn't yet seen my granddad's headstone, so I wanted to do that.  And while I didn't bring a camera (this is an old pic of a different cemetery), I did bring a notebook.  I jotted the main of this poem down while sitting on the grass, thinking of all that was below me, and what remained above.