Real fiction by a real woman!

Word Edge publishes Stilson’s Second Novel

9780997416312coverThe Long Home series by Jan Stilson continues with book two, Consuming Fire, now available in paperback and ebook. In this installment of the series, Adam, Nim, and Pete (aka Rocky) have been reunited in a new world and their past grievances have been resolved. Adam has embraced his new role as teacher and innovator, and soon he and Nim become fascinated with science research and rediscovering technology. There’s much to uncover about the new earth they inhabit, which has different universal laws they must face and decipher. Prince Kristos has established his realm but hints of insurrection trouble him. Can he preserve the peace?  With Teufel out of control it will take all Kristos’ strength and wiles. What will happen next? Available in paperback and Kindle format on, in paperback and NOOK book from Barnes & Noble, and look for it at other online booksellers. And while you’re there, pick up book one, The Long Home: Now & Then. (Word Edge is MP’s parent entity and wholly responsible for bringing you all the great content around here.)

We’re baaaaack!

And we want your stuff. Your writing stuff and your artsy stuff.

We’ve been gone for far too long, obviously. Life got in the way of publishing, so we took a really looooong break. But Menopause Press is back to bring you awesome stories and poems–real literature for real women. Tell all your writer and/or reader friends. If we can get some great submissions, we plan to publish in July 2016.



That says Emote, not Remote. As usual, life here in the Great Midwest has been hectic—but in a really good way. We’ve all been busy, happy, relatively healthy (long as you don’t count those age-related nuisances like plantar faci-whatever and aching backs), and left wondering where time gets itself off to when we’re not looking. I sometimes suspect I should just stop sleeping and see if a little gnome comes at night and steals a few hours, but I can’t seem to stay awake past 11:30 unless I have an iced coffee about 4 PM. (It’s all a complicated balance when you reach a certain age, isn’t it?)

So what’s this got to do with emoting? A whole lot. Whenever I hear writers lamenting that they don’t know what to write about or they are plagued by writer’s block, I just want to scream in their faces: Emote! Honestly, how can anyone have nothing to write about unless they live in a vacuum or on a peak in the Himalayas (and even then they would probably feel something about at least the weather)?

I know part of this sentiment stems from being early-menopausal and dealing with the flux of hormones (or lack of them), plus two children (ages eight and ten—roll eyes), pets (who have fleas, no less—‘nother story altogether), self-employment, and goddess-knows-what-else. Bottom line: with all I’ve got going on, I’m always encountering some emotion from love to loathing, frustration to exhilaration. And, darn it, if any or all of these, and the events and people connected to them, can’t become fodder for some sort of story or poem or, hell, even a blog post! (I know, I’m reaching now.)

My advice? I read a blog post recently where the author discusses the adage: Write what you know. I’ve heard other versions, slightly or severely modified, but the one I prefer is: Write what you feel. In fact, even if you’ve never been anywhere, you’ve experienced emotions and desires, and longings all alone inside your mind and heart. Why not take advantage? And if you don’t consider yourself a writer, it’s useful to capture your daily reflections and observations on paper. Just jotting out this little bit, right now, is offering me clarity for not only writing fiction, but for recoding my thoughts and feelings in a way that will help my children know me years from now, when they might actually care what their old mom thinks and why.

Gad, I think I’m depressed now. Probably a good time to write something…

On a very happy personal note, I’m thrilled to share with you that my dear, bright, marvelous friend Louise will be visiting from Australia next week! As I write this, she’s winging into California on a bird of steel. She’ll be visiting the wonderfully talented Leslie Ann Moore, author of the Griffin’s Daughter trilogy, for a while. (Louise is quite talented, as well. MP has been privileged to feature her poetry and art.) After California, Louise will spend two fun-filled weeks in the Midwest with me and another dear, dear friend and sister of the heart, Margaret, aka Maggie Carlson. Perhaps while she’s here, we can ask Louise to pen a guest column and share her impressions of America’s heartland.

PS Margaret and I are so excited we can hardly wait nine days!

New Dog Blues?


Isn’t he cute? That’s August or, as we usually call him, Augie. Yes, that’s right, you’re already-busy editor and her family have accepted the challenge of a new dog! What are we crazy? Yes, probably. But, I ask again: Isn’t he cute? Well, yes, he is!

Augie is an American Brittany. We found him via the American Brittany Rescue. Now, while having him join our family has been a challenge—we all have to adjust to the new rules and needs—he’s a marvelous dog, full of energy, loving, and a barrel of laughs. Adopting any pet always guarantees an adjustment period where emotions ride the Screamer and we ask ourselves what the hell we were thinking. Still, I think it’s more important to say what a great experience it is to adopt a rescue pet. All the minor troubles and oogy dribbles will pass into memory. Really, they will…

We have three cats—two of them are elderly—and two children (none of them elderly). I can’t stress enough how essential it was to find a dog ready for that environment. In the past we’ve gotten shelter dogs—and with great results. But things were a bit dicier this time.

Rescue dogs are thoroughly checked out by the rescue group, fostered in members’ homes, assessed by veterinarians, and loved. It’s a great way to adopt! Don’t get me wrong, choosing a shelter dog who might be euthanized if not adopted is important, too, but there are many rescue dogs out there—some purebred, some mixes—waiting for homes. If your family has special needs or you’re looking to adopt a senior dog, you can’t miss.

We’re grateful to the ABR and its network of wonderful foster families and volunteers. Augie is too! And even if you’re not in a position to adopt, there are rescue groups for nearly all breeds, and they need your help. If you can’t adopt, please donate!

For Paul

In celebration of 19 years with my sweet, sweet husband.


For love and lilacs…


Often, I don’t say much of anything

A My thoughts and words  are mummy wrapped

in obligations, to-do lists, and oops-I-forgots

A I can be tired, cranky, achy, and bitchy

A (hard to believe, right?)

Some days I feel like I’m temping for Atlas

A and he’s left the building

A (and being a typical man, gave no forwarding address)


But I want you to know,

A no matter how tyrannical, crazy, ambivalent, and bifurcated

I am about life and all there is to be done

A I still love you, and every May

when the lilacs come into bloom,

A it’s you I’m thinking of

And on that rare day when bountiful

A pale purple blooms from our backyard adorned a church,

they framed two hearts’ love shared

A and bound delicious memory with delicate scent.


Love you.


Lilac image from Wikipedia used under Creative Commons Generic License. To learn more visit:

Sitting here

As I sit here, gazing at the bones of this issue, I keep marveling at the talent found in each submission. I’m going to pat myself on the back here and gloat over my fortune. This publication has been truly lucky to find and be found by amazing writers who not only grasp our purpose but embrace it. They knit the flesh and fill the arteries of MP with their own blood to entertain, move us, and spark the world with their vision.

I have to admit–seems like I’m ever confessing something!–the last six weeks have been a bit of hell. Busy with projects, adjusting to new meds from my doctor (who is a divine woman, btw!), and assorted this and that. Some days I feel pretty overwhelmed, but my friends and family get me through. Where’d I be without my sisters? (And my brothers, too!)

Anyway, it’s time for lunch as I’m sitting here in the heart of the Midwest. And while I eat it, I think I’m gonna be enjoying Kathy Carr’s intense, personal, and real “Phantom Pains” (it supports an argument I’ve made for years), as it graces MP’s front page. I’m also gonna ponder Davon Loeb’s poetry. He really gets us thinking. And the fiction by Tobi Lopez Taylor? Don’t even get me started. The emotions are gloriously real and the story so unique.

So, dear friends, have a fine April. Enjoy spring or autumn or whatever sort of weather is coming your way, but most of all:  enjoy life, divine in it, live it with joy!

See you next month!

Where’s the time go?

Okay, I’ll cop to it: Even though I only post here about once a month, I sometimes (heh-heh) have trouble finding a topic. This is not to be confused with insufficient topics; it’s about the inability to focus on one of them long enough to present it with a side dish of, what? Wisdom? Sage comments? Perky advice? Hell, most of the time I’d just settle for the coherent thought, all by itself. To heck with that fancy stuff.

I dunno about all of you but if my life was any busier or complex, I’d have to give notice and move to sunny Florida. Honestly, between work, writing, family, kids playing sports, selling GS cookies, cleaning the house (hey, I do it sometimes!), enough fundraisers to raise your hair, reading, the husband’s wacky winter basketball schedule (and never-homeness because of it), I can’t barely hardly single make lucid thought have day in a I which. (If you can decipher that sentence, I’ll give you a prize:  one free cat paw massage on each shoulder, but due to limitations of the time-space continuum and lack of a Star Trek transporter, it’ll have to be virtual.)

So, to all my dear friends out there whose lives are equally burdened: I salute you! Forge on, sisters! Keep that chin up (the skin looks firmer), and for the Goddess’s sake, enjoy yourself! Have some fun. Breathe and allow your mind to expand as well. Reclaim the power of coherent thought. Write, read, dance and dream! Spring’s coming here in the north, get ready to absorb the mighty sun!

Now, as topics go, this wasn’t so bad was it? I think it even sense almost made…

Write, write, write…wrong

What the heck? Wrong? What’s wrong? Nothing that a hard, cold boot in my backside wouldn’t fix. Look, I’ve been writing off and on since I was a kid. Started to be a serious thing for me when I was in my teens. Then I took almost twenty years off–hardly wrote much at all by way of fiction. Slowly over the last dozen years or more I  have again increased my volume of words written.

Shameful as this record is, it’s not that unusual. Unless a wannabe writer is able to arrange their determination early, lots of times making a living, having relationships, and just living in general can get in the way. It happens.

For about five years now, I’ve been working from home, taking care of my children, and running a small business offering editing and other services ( Last year I started MP because I thought it would meet a need I had to pay forward all I’d learned about writing and not writing and allow me to meet and showcase other writers and hopefully a few artists. And in a place that would appeal to women like me who were exploring a new phase in their lives.

At the beginning of my work-at-home journey, nearly five long years ago, I wrote ferociously. A lot of it still was riddled with crappy characters and cliches, but some of it was kinda good too. (Spoiler: That’s the way it is for most writers, even the pros. It’s just the pros ratio of good to crap is much better.) I kept at it, joined a writer’s web site or two, got accepted into an on-line critique group. Learned a whole bunch…and got published!  Even met the glory of winning real cash money in two Writer’s Digest comps.

So what do I do now, aside from my Word Edge projects and Menopause Press? Not a whole lot. I’ve written only a little fiction in the last six months, and I haven’t ‘finished’ anything. And I don’t write much else either. An email now and again, and my blog here, but not much else. I’m in the doldrums. A sad, unproductive writer’s place that just makes me mad. And so, in my futile anger, I’ve been whipping myself for not having a solution to this problem. (If you know me, you’re nodding your head, because you know that problem solving is my number one game. In another life, I was probably a detective–or would’ve been if I believed in reincarnation…oh, whatever.)

Today I had an email from a dear friend who, it seems, is also whipping herself for not writing enough. She’s given herself what I’d like to call a New Year’s Ultimatum: Write every day. She calls it a resolution, but I say if you’re a serious writer, it ought to be an ultimatum. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer.

So, I’m telling myself, Margaret (the smart friend with the resolution), and all of you wannabes to just write, dammit! Write junky romance scenes, cruddy poems, practice typing, DO SOMETHING! Journaling, fiction, blogging, whatever–write every damn stinking solitary horrible blessed wonderful crappy depressing joyful day. Or else.

Now, I want you all to email or message me tomorrow and ask how I’m doing–because if I’m replying to you that means I’m writing. And who knows, maybe those little replies will lead to something bigger. After all, replying to Margaret today got me to write this!

Silence is troublesome

Or not. Sometimes silence is just the sound of ourselves thinking.

Holiday greetings, cats and kittens. Just an old mama cat here today. The kids are home for holiday break, I’m up to my armpits in projects (from writing to wrapping), and there’s this birthday thing impending that I’m not quite sure about yet.

Yup, that’s right. Little old me is turning 50. I guess I don’t feel very strongly about it. Not really. In some ways it’s just another birthday. One I’m too busy to probably enjoy very much. That is often the case, as the date and celebration get lost in the holiday rush. So is my lot. I’ll take what celebrating I can with a glass of fine red and family and friends at my side. Just as it should be!

I have a sister-in-law who not only didn’t greet her 50th with joy, but continues to conceal her age from her kids. Why? I don’t know. I’m thankful I’m not in that mode. I’m proud to be an ‘older’ mom. (My girls are 9 and 7.) And I don’t think my age diminishes me in the eyes of my children one bit. In fact, I think it shows my girls that age or anything else should never stop anyone from fulfilling a dream they are driven to accomplish. For that SiL, I give her a holiday wish to stop pretending and just start embracing. Hell, arriving at this age, when things begin to sag (just a bit) and the youthful blush is obviously mellowed to mature beauty,  entitles us to a new respect and a wide berth. Take those new perks and run!

So, I guess that’s what I’m going to do for this landmark year: Look for the bright things in life. Gather energy for present and future. Write and help other writers. Focus on family. And always remember: age, even this milestone one, is just a damned number. We are what we feel, what we accomplish, who we love, and where we make plans to go.

In the meantime, for anyone who wants to take a moment to experience a bit of melancholy (okay, I’ll admit it, I have some) about a 50th birthday, read this month’s featured story. I know it’ll touch you as it did everyone here at MP.

Show Don’t Tell – Ugh!

I belong to several writer’s sites. I enjoy interacting with fellow writers, critiquing, and sharing what I’ve learned (and I pick up a few new tidbits along the way). One topic that repeats itself in its excessive, stripped-down, over simplified version is the advice: Show don’t tell. Of late, in a new mutation of this, I’ve even seen lists of words that have been branded as ‘telly’ words. As in: if they appear in your sentence, it’s a signal that you’re telling instead of showing. Yikes! is what I say to that.

So, for all of you who are interested in the truth on this topic, I’ve a few words to say:

How is a word ‘telly’ in any way? A single word? Telling in narrative is about how you construct sentences and paragraphs, flow action with revelation and internal character workings. Single words alone are not ‘telly.’

The perception that ‘show don’t tell’ is a universal axiom is incorrect. A novel or story written entirely in ‘showing’ is laborious and lacking in character development. A solidly written narrative will have elements of both. It must, or how else can you ‘tell” the reader how a character thinks and feels? You can’t possibly show thoughts or assumptions or judgments. They must be told to reveal character. The caveat: tell them creatively and with meaning.

Use of a word like  ‘then’ is akin to an adverb or adjective. Used with thoughfulness and an eye toward avoiding excess, it’s an effective part of the language. A far worse crime is over the top melodrama which comes of trying to show everything and reaching deep into the thesaurus to construct contrived ‘writerly’ sentences that dash credibility.

This week’s challenge: Study a chapter or two of a published novel and see how a pro handles showing and telling within a narrative.