Wednesday, August 01, 2018


It’s here! At long last, Sister Mysteries is between book covers. Besides being a murder mystery, the novel is a 19th century #MeToo tale.

Set in 1883 in California, the book focuses on a young Dominican nun -- Sister Renata -- who is accused of killing her cousin Antonie. This is the same cousin who writes erotic fantasies about Renata, portraying her as a seductive flamenco dancer.  The web of words Antonie spins incriminates Renata directly in his murder.

More than a century later, a writer named Gina Rinaldi is lured back to the past by Antonie's housekeeper, Señora Ramos. Señora wants Gina to rewrite the nun's story to reveal the truth about Antonie's death. Is Gina as delusional as Antonie, or is she living a past life reincarnated as the nun? Is she whisked back through time on a mission to save her soul, and the nun, or has she begun to unravel?

In 
Sister Mysteries, says one reader, you are in store for "powerful drama, passionate writing, well defined and compelling characters, erotic passages, religious fervor, the metafictional presence of the writer and her problems, a heady mix of narratives and voices, suspense...and more."
To buy the book in print, I encourage you to purchase directly from me on my new website, via Pay Pal, as Amazon takes 50% of the book proceeds. And buying from me you pay no shipping fee.

You can purchase an 
ebook or a hard copy from Amazon. You can also purchase a hard copy from The Troy Bookmakers.

For those of you who live near Great Barrington, MA, I'd love to have you join me at a 
book party on Sunday, August 26, 2018, from 4 to 6 p.m. My home is at 5 General Knox Lane, in North Egremont. Please RSVP by August 20th.
I hope you'll join me and Renata in the mystery of the golden hills of California!





Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Brimming

Buttery yellow lilies
glow in the sun.
A lime-bellied,
ruby-throated
hummingbird
thrumming the air,
slips its needle-like
beak into the roaring red bee balm.
Birds are whistling
their piercing chirps
and one makes a metallic
sound like a xylophone.
The morning breeze
floods through the open window.
I sit in meditation,
breathing, my energy brimming,
each cell of my body waking
up to the cool air.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lessons from the Garden Wilds

By Sharon Flitterman-King, Ph.D.
My flower garden -- overgrown with weeds and thistles, gloriosa daisies, hollyhocks grown lush and wild, roses faded, finished, yet unclipped, and baby’s breath—is teaching me in ways the most carefully tended garden never could.
Last summer, for example, it was home to a family of rabbits. How long it had been a haven, I don’t know. But when I’d finally gotten there with my trug of unused garden tools, I came upon them quite by accident.

I caught, out of the corner of my eye, a quiet scurry as I was tugging through the mass of weeds and vegetation, and looked up just in time to see a tiny, furry bottom—small round end of mole or mouse. Little enough to be a sparrow, except it didn’t fly.

Curious, I crept along the garden’s border, following my sense of where the thing had scrambled, over to the far rosebush. I got down on my hands and knees and peered into the grasses. There, half hidden by the weeds and huddled up against a jagged leaf, I saw a baby bunny holding very, very still. Its ears were two tiny daisy petals, translucent like two small shells, pressed back against its head, a bright white spot as if a bird had left its mark on its tiny forehead.

I held my breath and watched; it did the same. This infant rabbit could not have been more than a few days old—still small and helpless, but old enough to have its baby fur. I longed to reach into the weeds and pet it. But I’d heard somewhere that mother rabbits fear the human smell, and so I crept back to my spot and continued with my tugging—gently now, not wanting to disturb it.

But just as I was reaching in again I sensed another shiver, looked up, and saw a second rabbit (same tiny bunny’s bottom, same bright white forehead mark). I checked on bunny number one, but he was where I’d left him, small and still, tucked beneath a dandelion leaf, brown eyes closed and sleeping peacefully after his big fright. That made two babies that I had disturbed with my clumsy hands and sandaled feet.

I’d had enough—no use causing more distress. I went indoors and fixed some lemonade. I dreamed away the rest of the hot day sitting in the shade of our big spruce, watching pine needles shiver and hollyhocks sway with each small gust of wind.

My wild things keep teaching me each summer—to live at peace with nature’s processes, to recognize its frailness, to be tender, patient. Not to fear. To realize that this nature that we live with—are a part of—has its laws and rhythms, and that we cannot intervene.

These creatures, all unknowing, are teaching me to recognize there’s little I can do about my garden snake, the one I saw last week, jagged into pieces by the mower’s edge.

I felt a sadness when I came upon it dead and quiet in the grass. Mute, I stared at it, half in horror, half in awe, for the life it had lived so vigorously in my garden eating bugs and insects, and weeding in its way. I felt a quiet fascination, a sort of helpless reverence for this also helpless thing.

I’m growing more accustomed to what happens in my garden, more patient, more accepting. Like just this morning when I opened up the curtains in our living room to let in the early morning light and saw a tangled clump of gray partly hidden in the unmowed grass. In an instant I knew it was our oriole’s nest, downed by last night’s thunderstorm.


I felt a little shock as I remembered how I’d seen it every morning before this, hanging so precariously on the edge of a dead branch, high up in one of our old maples, swaying with each ruffle of the leaves. I’d always been concerned when I’d seen this ragged, scraggly thing—wondered over, worried for our brave, bright birds.

But this morning when I looked across the lawn I felt a small wave of relief, because I realized that the nest must have been empty, bright flash of orange and sharp, whistling chirps having been but just an echo these past few weeks.

I start out every summer worrying over wild things—the baby rabbits that we have about, our helpful garden snakes, the nesting orioles whose house hangs by a fragile filament. I think I’m learning, slowly, to be at peace with this precariousness, to love my wild things. To let them be.

I’ve learned to be content with the little that I can do: creep quietly into the house so a small brown thing can nap; gather up my snake and bury it beside a quiet birch; pick up the ragged nest and gently place it by our back step. Watch and wait and feel that thrill of wonder when the orioles return, flashing brilliant in the lilacs, and start to weave again their fragile house.

This piece appeared first in The Christian Science Monitor.
Sharon Flitterman-King, who holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of "A Secret Star." She resides in Hillsdale, New York, with her husband, writer David King.



Friday, July 13, 2018

God's Thief


Art by Jeff Blum Copyright 2018
 By Lynne Spigelmire Viti 
God sees me carry the stones from the seashore, smooth
gray rocks I cradle two at a time, pulling them close
to my belly, carrying them like the physical therapist said to.
If it’s against the law to carry these rocks home
to my garden, well then, I’m God’s thief.
God sees me snap off the forsythia branches, try
to speed up spring, make sunlight and  water
push out small green leaves, butter-yellow blooms.
They brighten my Spartan workroom.
God sees me out among the weeds and the damp spring soil
when I should be writing.
God knows the faces of our friends are drawn tight
in those last days before their bodies give out, their souls
still burning hard and bright in our memories.
If only God weren’t so silent, so distant with us,
if only God would pull up a chair, act like
a parent imparting advice, say, When I was your age,Rome wasn’t built in a day, keep your friends close
I’ve gathered so many rocks now, each time wondering
when God will show God’s self, or give me a sign—
not a miracle exactly, but a perfect rose, then another,
a summer of roses, safe behind a wall of sea-smoothed rocks.
Acknowledgement: This poem originally appeared in The South Florida Poetry Journal, August 2016.

Lynne Viti is the author of Baltimore Girls (2017) and The Glamorganshire Bible (2018), both  from Finishing Line Press. She blogs at stillinschool.wordpress.comJeff Blum has been a life-long peace activist and community organizer who took up painting after he retired from USAction, which he helped found.  He is a regular in art classes and seeing where it leads him.  




Monday, July 09, 2018

A brilliant idea

I told her
I didn’t
have enough
to do. 
I said,
“I am not
accomplishing
anything.”
She said,
“What do
you need
to accomplish?
Where do
you need
to get to?”
And then, 
she had
this brilliant
piece of
advice:


Make it
your 
achievement
not 
to
do
anything.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

When in Doubt

When in doubt
just
think
about
each
and
every
miracle

your
brain
your
body
the birds
the grass
the sun
the stars
all of
your
words
your
loved
ones
your pets
sunsets
redwood
trees
and
giant sequoias
and
sparkling
green
ocean
waves

There
are
so
many
many reasons
to
rejoice!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nothing 
needs doing
in this moment.
Just because there is
time on the clock
that is not occupied
by assignments or art
or dirty dishes or
weeding or anything
else
Don’t panic!
Sit in your rocking chair
and stare up into those maple trees
outside the window.
Feel your breath slip
into your nose
and fill your chest.
Remember what they
say:
you are not a
human doing.
You are a
HUMAN
BEING.
In this moment
just be calm
and observe.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Taking the Plunge, Submitting Paintings to an Art Show

Not long ago, I decided to do a very large painting (3 x 5 feet) for my dear friend Nancy S., who refuses to take a cent to care for my dog, Poco. (Her dog Burt and Poco are great pals.)

I had a fabulous time doing this painting, knowing that there was a person waiting for the end product. (Other paintings can be seen here.)

It was exciting to hang the painting over my friend's sofa. It was wonderful to discover that you can see the painting as you walk up her driveway. It was delightful to hear Nancy say how much she is enjoying the painting.

That partly explains, I think, why I decided to take the plunge and submit three paintings to a juried art show sponsored by the Housatonic Valley Arts League here in Great Barrington, MA.

I chose two large canvases, and a small collaged painting. When it was time to drive the art over to the show location, it was raining torrents. I mean serious rain. We -- my husband and I -- wrapped the paintings in a sheet and then in a moving blanket.

After depositing the canvases, I felt happy. I wasn't expecting to get accepted, but I was glad that I was putting my art out into the world. Finally. After 16 years painting, I am now starting to think about how I might show and sell my work.

Today I got word that the judges chose two of the paintings to appear in the show. The first is called "Westerly," and it is three by four feet.


The second, smaller painting, is called "Patience." It reminds me of the work of Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still, whose paintings appear in a Denver museum devoted exclusively to his work.


I can't imagine that the pieces will sell. But to me, today, it's enough to know that the paintings will hang for a month in town.

The organizers asked for a bio, and this is what I submitted:

I came to painting via my first novel, Dreaming Maples.  The story features several women who are passionate about their art. I spent a lot of time doing research for the book at the Clark Art Museum.  The novel is set in part in North Adams, MA, not far from the Clark. And the climactic scene in the book takes place at the Clark, beneath Renoir's "Blonde Bather."

The way I write fiction, I see every scene before I can write it. Many people say that when they read my books they feel as though they are watching a movie. So as I wrote, what I kept seeing were paintings. My journals from that period are filled with drawings and small paintings.

Two months after the book was published, in 2002, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease (lymphoma.) The chemo was ruthless. I could barely function. I wrote poetry to get me through. But I also started to wander around the house in a chemo-induced fog, cutting out pieces of paper and making colorful collages.

One week, when I was headed to Sloan Kettering, a dear friend who had an art store handed me a fistful of colored pencils and a small art pad. She picked a Black-eyed Susan growing outside the door and she told me that I should draw while waiting for my chemo at Sloan.  I did. It helped so much. Art cured and healed my soul just as the chemo and radiation healed my body.


At some point during that summer of chemo, I painted my first large canvas. I remember standing beside our pond, surrounded by the green lush of summer. My painting: a hillside of fir trees against a beautiful blue sky.  The painting was OK, but I quickly realized that I didn't have much talent as a realistic painter. So I started throwing paint on the canvas, the way Jackson Pollock used to. (My paintings have been compared to those of Joan Mitchell.)

I continued to paint outdoors beside the pond. Whenever a painting wasn't working, I would simply hose it down and start again. Over and over and over, I tried to let the PAINT AND THE DESIGN HAVE THEIR SAY.  My goal always was to just STAY OUT OF THE WAY!

That was 2002. I have been throwing acrylic paint on canvas for 16 years. What have I learned? That painting is alive. More alive than writing. AS VIBRANT AS DIVINE LIGHT! 

You write a story or a novel, and it is made of paper (or it's an ebook.) One sits on a bookshelf and the other resides in your iPad.  Paintings on the other hand are lively and pulsing. The colors heat up your soul. When you are done, you can hang them, store them in the basement or give them to your kids and friends. I think of people who have my paintings and I smile at every one. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sister Mysteries: a MeToo# Movement Story

The MeToo# movement is thriving and it’s here to stay. The days when women sat back and suffered in silence while they were being systematically abused and violated and demeaned are over.
It’s still a bit of a mystery to me – and I’m sure to others – why exactly the movement caught fire when it did. Feminism isn’t new. Nor is sexual abuse.
Maybe we have to thank Trump. His blatant sexism, his disgusting comments and his morally-corrupt attitude toward women sent millions of women (and men) into a tailspin.  The resistance movement was born literally the day after the 2017 inauguration when so many Americans marched across the U.S.  protesting the election.
The momentum continues as more and more women are running for elected office, at every level. More and more women are talking about feminism and the power that women have to excel in every part of society.
So maybe there really is no mystery there.
Where there remains a mystery, for me, however, is how it is that I am finally publishing my novel Sister Mysteries right in the midst of this swell of feminist activism. How is it that this book will appear in a matter of weeks, as people are thinking and talking (and talking) about women’s power? 
The nun at the center of my novel endures extreme sexual abuse. The man responsible is her own cousin, but for reasons I won’t spell out here, she is the one who ends up in prison because of his elaborate lies about her.
I started writing this book way back in 1995, as I was finishing up my doctorate in English at SUNY Albany. My area of concentration? Feminist Narrative Strategies. I wrote my first novel as a feminist story. Sister Mysteries appeared about this time as well.
I’ve got no good explanation why after 23 years, I finally managed to finish the book that I never thought I would finish. Why this year? I can’t attribute it to Trump. Or can I? Who knows what lurks in the subconscious mind?
All I know is that the novel offers one more rather elaborate story about sexual harassment. About women being objectified, vilified and violated. Physically hurt and psychologically destroyed by men in California in 1883. (I first wrote the word “destoryed.” There is that too!)
Stay tuned. The book is due in mid-July.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Morning Moment

Now comes
this moment
when pink
petunias
the color of
cotton candy 
tremble
the wind is
cool against
my shoulders
birds gurgle back
and forth the
sun glows on
the sea of
yellow and
white flowers

in the meadow
the blue of
the sky is so
clear so hard
to describe
the moment
is too full 
words always
fall short 
just close your eyes
open them and

breathe.