Honorable Mention

Well, first, second or third place would have been nice.  But even an Honorable Mention is enough to keep me going.

To read mine, go to www.brilliantflashfiction.com



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From A Hundred Thousand Worlds

It’s amazing when a story brushes up against your real life;  it feels as if the characters might pass you on the street.


Bob Peoehl

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Today in the History Of Literature

On August 9, 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden was first published.

There are 144 days left in this year.  What will you publish??


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Lighthouse Writers’ Retreat

Grand Lake is a darling town and I’ve enjoyed several visits here.  So of course I thought I knew all about it when I arrived Sunday afternoon.  (I should pause here to say that I drove from Pinewood Springs 60miles through Rocky Mountain National Park (Trail Ridge Road) enjoying what has to be some of the most stunning views anywhere.)  The exact location of the Rapids Lodge was unknown to me but I decided I’d just drive around Grand Lake until I found it – which in a small town took about seven minutes, it would have taken four minutes but I had to slow down for tourists crossing the streets.  I checked in and got a key to the Columbine room which is over the dining room of the lodge.  The view from my window is rushing water noisily crashing over huge boulders, some of which are nearly submerged.  Yesterday morning, as I stood in early sunlight, two fawns wandered out into the swirl, just feet from me, and took a moment to stare at me.

The actual Lighthouse Writers’ retreat is held at Shadowcliff which has an interesting history and an interesting philosophy.  For those staying in the various cabins, check-in is when you are handed a key and a bundle of sheets and towels, neatly folded and tied with a bow.  The rest is up to the guest.  Meals, expertly prepared using fresh ingredients, are served cafeteria style and guests sign up to help clear afterwards.  The sessions are held in the chapel and time for free write means a chance to sit in the big solid chairs and sofas in the main room.

But the views from Shadowcliff are what sets it apart.  Getting to the main lodge and central buildings requires going up steep steps – but the reward is at the top.  Grand Lake in its entirety is spread out and yesterday morning, a white triangle on the water marked a sailboat gently making its way across the blue-black water.  Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest natural lake and the town has of course grown up around it.  There is lots to see but if you want to see a vista of incredible natural contours and contrasts, a vista that will make you marvel at how Mother Nature has arranged herself and her accessories to create a sparkling ensemble, climb to the top of Shadowcliff.  Walk out on the rocks and just stand and look and try to take it all in.

Oh, the writing session – they’re just fine.

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The Power of a Word

I’m chatting with my next door neighbor Sheri and I ask her, “How was your AirBnB experience in New Orleans?”

“Oh,” she replies, “it was ok.  New Orleans was great and that was the main point.  But the next time, we’ll look for the word ‘bed’ in the AirBnB listing.”

“What?  You didn’t have a bed?”

“We had an air mattress,” she replies.  “When we opened the door of our room the first morning, we saw seven other air mattresses on the dining room and living room floors.  Somehow, we just hadn’t thought to check for a bed and it looks like the other guests hadn’t either.”  Moral of the story:  never underestimate the power of a word.

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Words of Wisdom

“It’s all still here for us all, if we can overcome our fears and summon the courage to trust ourselves, to listen to whatever voice speaks within us…..”

Lee Smith


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The Best Thing

Want to know the absolute best thing about getting older?  Well, here it is:  your children begin to forgive you.  Seriously, that is the apex, the ultimate, the top-drawer best thing.

I always felt I was in essence, the only parent my two children had.  If anything went wrong – they forgot an assignment, their hearts got broken, they fell off a bike, they had a virus or ear infection – whatever it was, I was to blame.  It was my fault.  I was the only parent and I was responsible for what happened and for their feelings about it all.  Yes, that is a lot of guilt for one person and I took on the entire hodful of that guilt.  And I don’t have to tell you that as kids grow up, there are piles of things that go wrong!  (There are also piles of things that go right – awards won, mates found, job success achieved, and so on.  However, these things they earned on their own.  I was not responsible.)

Now they are not children, they are my adult offspring.  And as they grow and mature and have a sense of time and a perspective that only a few years can provide, they are beginning to see things a little differently – and they are beginning to FORGIVE and to love with that forgiveness.  It’s the best thing about getting older –  watching this happen and feeling the sense of a complete circle of maturing emotions.  Ah, the process of life – how I savor it!

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Which Day?

Experts say that if you misplace your car keys, you’re probably just forgetful.  But if you forget what the car keys are for, you may have dementia.  Just thinking about that makes me feel a little less foolish – and yes, stupid.

I went to the Book Project informational session at Lighthouse Writers’ Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately, the Book Project informational session was held on Saturday afternoon.  I was only precisely 24 hours late.  Forgetful?  Demented?  Not sure.

The warm and talented Erika Krouse was leading a writing group, one segment of the Book Project, and they were finishing up as I arrived.  Erika explained I had missed the session but invited me to sit down with her and chat.  In about 15 minutes, she explained the Book Project in terms I could understand.  Erika is a talented writer and I know she would have preferred spending that time reviewing class notes, doing her own work or being at home with her 6year old son.  But she curled her feet up under her in the chair and answered my questions and gave me information to make an informed decision about the Book Project.  She did not make me feel foolish – or stupid – for missing the session, she just jumped right in to help me.

You can bet I’ll keep track of those car keys from here on out.

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With Robin Black at Lighthouse





Robin Black was at Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop here in Denver yesterday.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile, not since her novel Life Drawing and her book of essays on writing Crash Course came out.  And here she was on a rainy day out west.  Here she was brightening up our day and invigorating our work.

I don’t remember the title of the course but it was close to two hours of Robin’s sharp, insightful take on the use of words.  She talked about rhythm and led a writing exercise that gave us an example of the power it can add to our writing.  She talked about verbs – thought you knew all about verbs, didn’t you? – and we learned something new about that part of speech.  She talked about the flow of the sentence leads the reader to the flow of action in the paragraph – “the structure of a sentence mirrors what’s going on.”  She said to us, “Be daring, experiment, find your unique voice, find your distinction.”

Most of all, she encouraged about 40 of us in our own writing.  This woman whose life is words – well, along with her husband, three nearly adult offspring and a black dog named Watson – helped us understand how she uses words, how she shapes her stories with the language, how she takes the same words we might choose and arranges them so they become the lives of her characters, the stuff of her writing life.

“A story is finished when you can point to any word and know why it’s there.”  With Robin, I hope the story is never finished.  Her warmth, her angst, her knowledge, her creativity – she shares it all and her audience – that would always include me – is the one who benefits.


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The Correct Word

Let me help you, Bernie.  The correct word is, “YES.”  When Gwen Ifil asked you if you are standing in the way of history, the correct response is “Yes.”  You are.  You are standing in the path (perhaps not the way) of Hillary becoming the first woman POTUS.

And I also want to ask all of you, what will you tell you daughters and your granddaughters?  Will you say, “I didn’t vote for the first woman President of the United States of America?”  Really??

The correct word here is “YES.”

I’m voting for Hillary.

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