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Every year, when school starts, I get hits on my site from people searching for “mother essay” or some variation thereof. There’s at least one site for students of English as a second or foreign language linking people searching for already-written essays to the short story in my blog extras.

What makes this so sad is not that people are trying to scrag somebody else’s work instead of writing their own, but the possibility that they might actually print out my “essay” and turn it in. I’m envisioning classes full of students turning in the same “essay” and a highly disturbed professor packing his bags in the night and running away rather than returning to a class in which all the students’ mothers have snakes for hair.

I didn’t write or post the piece in order to make life harder on students or teachers. You would just think that web sites established for the purpose of connecting lazy students with pre-written assignments would do a better job of it, wouldn’t you?

Life is full of unexpected obstacles, disappointments and betrayals, isn’t it?

And it’s chilly and drizzling, too.


writing prompt: Have a character take a “short cut” that turns out to be not such a short cut.

First, there’s a new post up at Beyond the Classical, which is always a cause for celebration. This one is a lovely short-short story called Cartography.

Next, our #4 daughter flew to England yesterday, and called at 4am to tell us she had arrived safely. This may seem a minor thing to you and, if so, I congratulate you. Your sanguinity is another thing for you to celebrate. Me, I have a depressive/anxiety disorder, and anyone being safe in any circumstance at any time is a matter for celebration to me. Does that make me unfortunate or fortunate, if I have so many moments of dread matched almost totally by moments of relief and joy?

Yesterday was Meatless Monday, which I’ve come to see as a celebration of how good meatless food is, and what a vast variety there is of veg/dairy combinations. I love meat, I’m the first to proclaim that, but I find that, when I’m having meat in a meal, I tend to focus on that and build the meal around the meat. Everything else is just a side dish or a stretcher. When I make a meatless meal, it isn’t just so many side dishes with a hole in the middle of the table where the meat ought to be. When I make a meatless meal, it’s interesting to make, pretty to see, pleasing to the palate and usually nutritionally balanced. I started participating in Meatless Monday as part of a health/ecological movement, but now it feels like a weekly theme party. Will I have to TAKE UP eating meat for Lent this year?


writing prompt: Think of three things that make your main character feel like he/she has something to celebrate.

Charlie is finishing my office. We’ve lived here for 26 years, and my floor is plywood and my walls were, until a couple of days ago, untaped drywall. Not that I minded. Having the room unfinished meant I

Computer Corner

Computer Corner

didn’t have to worry about scuffing up the floor, and I could stick push-pins into the wall to hold up quotes, pictures by the kids, photos of friends, maps of places I was writing about, my rubber chicken, and so on. Finally, Charlie talked me into letting him finish the room. I took a couple of pictures of it in transition–I forgot to take pictures before he started. Just take my word for it–it was worse!

This empty corner is where the computer was parked. It’s the only place the monitor, which has a body the size of a Mack truck. I told Charlie I plan to buy a flat-panel monitor so I can park the

Big Mess

Big Mess

computer anywhere. Once I decide where, I’ll have him cut a hole in the “desk”, which is a bunch of slabs-o-wood over braces and file cabinets, and park the tower case on the floor. Room! Room!

This is most of the stuff that was on the desk, all shoved to one end of the room. I haven’t even snapped pictures of the bookcases–it would be too much dreadfulness for one day. I need to clean them out, and they’re floor-to-ceiling. Not just books, but pictures, toys the grandkids have given me. Coloring books–when I’m sick, I like to color pretty lady pictures, okay?–and office supplies.

I’ll take more pictures next week. He says he plans to finish over the weekend, while I’m gone. Oh, btw, I’m going to Context sf convention in Columbus, Ohio this weekend. Charlie is not an speculative fiction fan, so he’s happy to stay home. I can’t wait to see it when I get back!

Check out yesterday’s Fatal Foodies column, with a short story based on a true conversation in the library the other day. Goodness gracious.


writing exercise: You find something when you’re cleaning out–something you forgot you had. What is it? How does it make you feel? How does finding it make a turning point in your story?

I came into town and met our #3 daughter–well, when I say “town”, I mean this small town. It isn’t what we used to call a “one-horse” town, it’s way too cool for that, but it’s really small. It was sort of a 1 1/2 horse town, but then somebody opened a coffee house with live entertainment and free wi-fi access, so now it’s more 1 3/4.

Anyway, I have another meeting to go to later, and I didn’t want to drive in from the country, drive back home and drive out again, so I made a sammich and I’m sitting in the coffee shop eating it and drinking Peach Mango Fuze (mmmmmmm….) and contemplating a cream cheese cranberry muffin as big as my head. Tough life.

I’m blogging on a group blog called Fatal Foodies. We write about mysteries and food, not necessarily in that order of importance. We’re having an “open mic” night on Tuesday, July 15 at 8:45pm Eastern time and giving away books to the first four guests.

I finished my ghost story. It’s called Elinir, and it’ll be in the Southern Indiana Writers’ SPIRITS ON THE SQUARE–AND ELSEWHERE anthology, out by this October. I’m taking it to the meeting tonight to read for critique. Pray for me.

Oh!–I made a store at CafePress! I write a tiny little flash fiction story every month for my web site, and I put a year’s worth together and put them on the back of shirts. And on a barbeque apron, tote bags and a mouse pad. it’s at the MA’s Flashbacks 2007 store. Wheeee!


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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