Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Losing Track of Time

  I guess, since this is my blog, and it is free, and I am not under obligation to write, that I shouldn't have to apologize for not posting for about a month. So I won't. I still feel a bit bad about it, but hey, my routine has been interrupted, and I didn't react well to it. I spent a lot of May battling myself, trying to get the will to, well,  keep on keeping on. A depressed writer is a bad writer. Or not a writer at all.
   However, I am pulling myself up from my bootstraps, and jumping back on the bull. I am going to find some things to be positive about, because, in all actuality, there are a LOT of them. I guess May slipped away faster than I thought it would. I wish I had more to show for it, a whole 1/12 of 2013, but maybe on the end, letting it slip away, I learned something more. If I can prevent myself from letting that happen to the rest of my life, this past May will have been worth the waste.
Note: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern was a fantastic read, well worth the second glance! With a little romance, a dash of mystery, and a whole lot of magic..I recommend it to any fantasy reader.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Garlic Infused Olive Oil

   Sometimes the things that inspire you to live creatively are the ones that inspire you to write as well. Today, I was inspired by a bottle of Garlic Infused Olive Oil and before I knew it, I had an entire recipe mapped out in my head. Boy, my husband is going to be one lucky man tonight!
   Garlic Infused Olive Oil is a great way to get the gentle richness of garlic across in a recipe, without overwhelming any of the other ingredients in a dish. It can be used simply, as a dip for fresh baked focaccia, in an everyday way, as a drizzle in a salad on a home made pizza, or uniquely in any dish that could benefit from a lovely, smooth, hint of garlic.
   Tonight, I am using my Garlic Infused Olive Oil in a dish of roasted vegetables, sea scallops, and pesto chicken sausage. It is going to be delicious, fresh, and unique. I am inspired to cook today, and maybe a great dinner tonight will inspire me to write tomorrow. Who knows? At the very least, I'll keep the vampires away for a while.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Keep on Reading…


   Sometimes, having a “grown up life” allows me less free time then I had as a teenager. I always enjoyed reading, and would often devour a book every day or two back then. Nowadays, I cannot keep up with that volume, of course, but I still try to read as often as my busy life allows me to.

   This week, I am reading a graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (v.1), as well as a novel, John Dies at the End. When I cannot get the words out to write, I resort to reading. It is a great way to find inspiration. By studying other author’s voices, one can help hone their own, and realize how they’d like to write (or, what they want to avoid sounding like).

   If it turns out that you haven’t read a book in a while, (whether “a little while” is a week, a month or a year), I hope that you are inspired to pick one up and start reading! You never know what you may find.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Trying New Things


   Today, I did a few things that I had never done before. From the outside they may not seem like a lot. However, they made my day sparkle with a new and exciting glow, despite how “normal” and “blasé” they might seem.

   Firstly. I got contact lenses. After years of glasses, on a whim, at the eye doctors (where I was fully prepared to get new frames), I decided, why not? Previously, the idea of them had freaked me out a little bit, but there I was, in the chair, being fitted for contact lenses. Before I knew it, I was putting them in, and taking them out, and I’ve never seen so well in my life. I mean, my eyesight isn’t that bad, but still, crystal clear peripheral vision is something I never knew that I didn’t already have. I never knew how gorgeous my own eyes were, seeing them clearly for the first time since childhood was amazing.

   The second small thing was a new ice cream parlor. One that Christopher and I didn’t even know existed. We drove around a part of town (Kingston, NY) we never had before, again, on a whim. On his lunch break. We went inside, and just looked. We didn’t even get anything. Still, this small foray into a ice cream parlor bedecked with frogs and Yodas was an interesting, and refreshing, part of my day.

   The last new thing that I did today was go through a drive through totally alone. I realized that I had never done that. When I had gone through drive through restaurants before, it was always with at least one other person. As soon as I made that connection, I turned into the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts and got myself an iced tea. Man, that was the sweetest iced tea I’ve had in a long time, and it had no sugar in it! 

   My point is that it is important to take the time in our daily lives to try new things. Even if they are tiny new things, like trying a new food, or watching a new TV show, or really, really big things, like your first time at a rock concert or on a roller coaster, these are the things that define our days, years, and lives. These are the things that make life interesting. I mean, yes, there are plenty of things that I will do over, and over again. There are books that I will reread, trails I will hike again and again, and I will probably keep eating my favorite cereal (Blueberry Morning)at least once a month. Still, it is often the NEW experiences that make life sparkle a little more and shine a little brighter.

try new things

Monday, May 6, 2013

Daily Inspiration: A Dose of Color

   The winter is long over, and the spring is nearly summer. I am in the process of moving my winter wardrobe to the back of the attic closet, and bringing out summer things bit by bit. Doing this, I realized that the winter blah, though gone from nature, was very present in my black-and-grey wardrobe. The same chic clothes that were so perfect for wintertime are now depressing in the spring. Today, I inspired myself with a coat of tangerine nail polish for my fingers and toes, and a pretty peach sundress. Now. with a floppy sunhat and a ton of sunscreen, I feel like I can enjoy the beautiful, bright weather outside.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Incredible Dreams


   Anyone who has ever had a dream that was long enough and good enough to actually be translated into a novel (or miniseries), understands how wonderful that experience can be. Seriously, having an overloaded imagination is a great thing. Today, the thing that inspired me most was the dream I had just before I woke up.


   In a dream, nothing is impossible. That is a great lesson for a writer to learn. When you write, anything is possible. The only limit is your own mind. Whether it is a flock of winged, bubblegum colored crocodiles, a flying VW Beetle, or an epic battle against Nazi-zombies,(yes, my dreams are nuts) you can accomplish anything that you can imagine.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Stacks of Dusty Books

stackof books   Today we woke up earlier than we normally do, in order to attack the attic before the heat of the day casts us out with it's merciless and choking warmth. The objective: Organize the boxes of books that wouldn't fit in our tiny one bedroom apartment. My husband, Christopher, had recently toted all of my books that were in my parent's attic, and moved them into ours. Now, we had to go through them, organize them, and sadly, repack most of them until we move next year into a larger place.
   The result was a nostalgic trip through dusty volumes of all sizes, ranging from the first Fairy Tale Book of my childhood, to compendiums of plays that I treasured in high school and college. The smell of leather bindings, the familiar faces looking out from covers of paperback favorites, and bookmarks left exactly where I had left them tucked along familiar pages. From David Copperfield and the Arabian Nights, to the Nancy Drew books I so treasured in the third grade, to my beloved fantasy and science fiction collection, the volumes I had collected and treasured growing up were all there.
   Perhaps there is no better inspiration for a writer than remembering, and rereading, the books that first inspired them to write in the first place. Inside those cardboard boxes in my attic is enough inspiration to last a lifetime, and I plan on using it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Jules and Felicia

Just like last week, this story is for another Flash Fiction Challenge! This time, the idea was to pick one of the five given sentences, that were taken from a random sentence generator, and write an approximately 1,000 word story with that sentence in it somewhere. Indeed, RANDOM they were. Mine is "The portrait cat sneakily gestured at everyone." To see the others, go here:

Jules and Felicia
- Billijean Martiello, 2013
The only point of contention between Jules and her boyfriend was his cat, Felicia. At first, Jules thought that she hated Felicia because she wasn’t what you would call an “animal person”, or perhaps because Felicia was so obviously a one-person sort of cat. Still, she had never outright hated another person, let alone an animal, and it was a strange, new feeling for Jules.

   When Jules and Chandra first started dating, Felicia snubbed her.  In fact, the cat acted like she didn’t notice that Jules was any more than a figment of Chandra’s imagination. However, it was as if the more serious things between Jules and Chandra became, the more possessive and jealous the fat tabby got. When Jules stayed over for the first time, Felicia noticed. The cat went from ignoring her to boring holes in the fabric of her being with sharp dagger stares. When Jules mentioned this to Chandra, he only laughed.

   “She will get used to you.” Chandra always said, “Felicia is just an old girl. Give her some time.” Jules gave her plenty of time. She mostly stayed out of Felicia’s way, and even tried tempting her with treats. She really had wanted to get along with her boyfriend’s cat, and the more she got to know Chandra, and the more they began to care for each other, the harder she tried. Felicia was the only family that Chandra had, and Jules wanted the cat to like her. Felicia wouldn’t eat the tuna Jules brought her, or play with the catnip mouse she dangled in front of her face. She just sat on Chandra’s lap, eyes locked on Jules’s throat.

  Last month, over dinner at their favorite Greek restaurant, Chandra had asked Jules to move in with him. They had been dating for a little over a year, and he felt like the time was right. He would have asked her to marry him, he said, but he knew how Jules felt about that. She wanted to say yes. She wanted to start packing that night, and move in on her next day off, but the thought of living with Felicia weighed in the back of her mind. Jules felt so silly, not wanting to live with a cat. There were no allergy issues, and it wasn’t as if Felicia had ever menaced her. All she did was sit and stare. No, glare. That was a better word for it. Still, Jules was the only one to notice, and Chandra insisted that Felicia was getting used to having her around. So, instead of saying yes, she said that she would think about it.

   That night at Chandra’s, it was as if Felicia knew that she was considering moving in. She rubbed her body against Chandra’s legs as soon as he opened the door, mewing sweetly. She is good at sugar coating that voice, thought Jules. Then she thought, I must be nuts. Felicia is just a stupid cat. Felicia looked up at Jules as Chandra bent down and petted her fur, as if to say. Yes, you are crazy Jules. Crazy if you think you are going to move in here, with us. This is my house. This is my family.

  Jules narrowed her eyes and stared right back at Felicia. “I have been thinking, Chandra.” she said, “I will move in with you. I really want to.” Chandra stood up and swept Jules into his arms, smiling broadly, his white teeth shining against his brown skin.

   “I love you, Jules.” He whispered, “We will be one happy family here, you’ll see.”

    Two weeks later, Jules had moved out of the apartment she had shared with two roommates, Melinda and Bryce, and moved in with her boyfriend, the love of her life. It was a hot Saturday in June, but she didn’t notice the heat. Her roommates and Chandra’s friend Kevin helped them move her things, and by evening, everything she owned was sitting in boxes on the carpet of Chandra’s third floor walkup. Chandra ordered everyone Thai takeout, and they sat amongst the boxes in the living room, laughing, drinking Corona, and relaxing after the long day. Felicia hid herself under the sofa and wouldn’t come out. Jules was happy about this, she felt victorious.

   “Is that your mother?” Melinda asked, pointing to a small photo in a gold-plated frame on Chandra’s end table.

    “Oh, yes! Thank you for reminding me. I got this out to show you, Jules. You said you wanted to see my parents. I don’t have much of them, but I managed to find this picture.” Chandra leaned over from his position on the floor, and grabbed the photo, warmth filling his eyes as he looked at it. “See, Jules. Mother was a beautiful lady.” He held it out in front of himself for the group to see.

   Jules saw the lovely woman in the yellow sari, sitting in a wicker chair, but all she really noticed was the cat on the woman’s lap, a big, old tabby cat with a familiar cruel leer. Everyone told Chandra how beautiful his mother had been, and how he had the same silky black hair, the same white-as-snow smile. The portrait cat sneakily gestured at everyone. It seemed to unsheathe its claws, and promise death to those who crossed it. Only Jules noticed.

   “She is lovely, Chandra.” Jules managed to say, words stumbling awkwardly from her lips. “Is that Felicia?”

  Chandra turned the picture back towards him, wrinkling his brow. “This picture is older than me, and taken in India, so no. But now that you mention it, the cat does look a lot like Felicia. Funny coincidence!”

   Jules was unnerved. For the first time that night, she noticed the cat’s eyes glinting from beneath the sofa, and the feeling of victory was diminished. I’m waiting, and watching, the eyes said, and Jules wondered if rat poison would kill a cat, or if a fall from a third story window would be enough.


Daily Inspiration: Chai Tea with a Cinnamon Stick

   When one is in the mood for Chai Tea (in a very serious, only-Chai-will-satisfy kind of way), and one makes a nicely brewed pot of aforementioned Chai Tea (of very good quality...Teavana's Samurai Chai, in fact), what could possibly make it any better? My answer: a Cinnamon Stick.

   It seems so simple, so trivial, so insignificant. After all, why would a Cinnamon Stick make much of a difference at all, in a very good and satisfying cup of tea? Maybe because you can stir the tea with the Cinnamon Stick, (and sip the tea through the Cinnamon Stick) and it adds just another layer of flavor. Relaxing, soothing, all-will-be-well flavor. It is like the playfulness of childhood accompanied by the complex, yet simple pleasures of adulthood. It is perfection.

  Some writers drink booze. I drink tea. Nothing refreshes my brain more, nothing makes my soul sing, like a cup of freshly-brewed, good quality tea. So, I am off to enjoy another cup of Chai (with a drizzle of Agave, and a Cinnamon Stick)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Watching Cartoons...They're Mathematical!

Teatime is great
   When life seems too serious, sometimes you have to act like a kid again. Turn on a cartoon, put your feet up on the coffee table, and enjoy some Pop Rocks. Seriously, it is a perfect cure for those days where you feel "too adult", or when you haven't relaxed in a while. After a few episodes of Adventure Time, I feel a whole lot more whimsical, wide-eyed, and can seriously conquer the world (let alone a story...come on, writing is fun!).

   It is important, as a writer, to remember where you came from. Face it, everyone, even the most serious, crochety, foul-tempered sourpuss in the universe was a kid once. Childhood wonder is something I never want to completely lose. I want to remember a time when love was innocent, dreams could all come true, and monsters could be slain with a karate chop. Whatever your formula for recapturing the best parts of childhood, make sure to take a dose of it from time to time.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Breezy Drive to Nowhere and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

my hometown (taken from Daily Freeman website)

   Sometimes your house just starts getting to you. Especially when you are trying to write, and can't clear your head, and you get sick and tired of staring at the cursor blink on the screen. At times like that, you just need to get out. That is what I did today. I just went for a drive.
   Clipping down the NYS Thruway, (at a legal speed, I am a bit of a granny), windows rolled down, all alone in the world except for my Green VW New Beetle and the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing Snow, I was the most content being in the universe. The sun was shining (Hey oh), the grass was green (Listen what I say oh) and the breeze was warm. Best of all, when I pulled into my driveway, back from my drive to nowhere, I had inspiration. That alone was worth the gas money.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Resurrected, by Wife

This short story is written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge (a story of around 1,000 words) posted here : The object is to write a short piece using one of the given titles. My story clocks in at 997 words. Let me know how I did!

Resurrected, by Wife
-Billijean Martiello, 2013

    Afternoon tea was an elegant affair for Helen Brightly, whether it was held on a Tuesday afternoon alone, or during a special holiday celebration with a group of friends. Each day, Helen prepared the tea the same way. First, she laid out the tablecloth, freshly pressed and smelling like lavender fabric softener. Next, her grandmother’s china was carefully placed, dainty saucers and rose-patterned teacups finding homes near the matching dessert plates, and pretty pink napkins folded like fans were placed on top. Then, she placed the silver, which was always freshly polished. Helen liked to look at herself in the spoons as she made them sparkle and shine, smiling her red lipstick smile, pleased with her appearance. Before she brought out the plump little teapot, nestled in its cozy, and a tray of whatever cake, cookie, or biscuit was to accompany this daily ritual, she arranged the flowers. The flowers, Helen thought, were the perfect touch. It was the little personal things, her grandmother always said, that really mattered. Nothing could be more personal than home grown flowers, prettily arranged in a crystal vase, and Alan was sure to appreciate it.

    Alan pretended not to enjoy afternoon tea, but Helen knew that he was just bluffing. Alan was a masculine man, unaccustomed to delicate things, and it was her job as his wife to introduce beauty and gentility into his life. After nearly twenty years of marriage, Helen could not be fooled. Underneath her husband’s engine grease and sawdust mechanic’s exterior, was a gentleman.  “Just give me a damn sandwich, woman!” he had always grumbled, if he was at home during teatime. “I don’t need none of that fancy-schmancy tea cake crap!”  He was such a joker, her Alan!

    “I hope you have washed your hands, dear!” Helen called from the kitchen, in her soft, songlike voice. Men loved a lady with a sweet, soft voice, and Helen made sure that hers was just that. She placed the lemon bars she had baked that morning on the silver serving tray, atop little paper doilies. She had to make some extra effort today.  Alan hadn’t been to tea in such a long time. Helen knew that he had been busy; supporting a wife and a home was no easy task. He needed this small respite from the stresses that plagued a man’s life, a sort of relief that only a good wife could provide. Helen arranged the serving tray on the teacart, alongside a perfectly brewed pot of Early Grey, Alan’s favorite variety of tea. She straightened out her well starched apron, and gave her visage a once over in the mirror that hung over her kitchen sink. She smiled warmly. There was not a hair out of place, her curls were neatly pinned, and the new blue dress made her eyes stand out. The dress was a worthwhile investment, in celebration of Alan’s special afternoon tea.

      Alan was already in his favorite seat when Helen pushed the little cart into the parlor. “It is so nice to have you home for tea, Alan.” She told him, picking up a lemon bar with tiny silver tongs, and putting it on his plate. “I have missed you, dear. As you can see, I baked some lemon bars, with fresh lemon from the tree in the yard. It was clever of you to plant one there, it has grown quite a bit since you’ve been gone.” Helen gestured out the window, where a scrawny lemon tree was growing in the middle of the well clipped lawn.

She poured Alan’s tea, skipping the sugar at first, and then deciding to treat him after all. It was a special occasion. “One lump shouldn’t hurt, and the doctor doesn’t have to know!” Helen smiled at her husband, and patted his hand.  Alan had always been a man of few words, and Helen didn’t care how quiet he was, not so long as he was there.

Helen took sugar and milk in her tea, always had, ever since she was a little girl. Three small stirs, and it was done. She took a sip, enjoying the peace and the company of her husband. She glanced over at his plate, his dessert remaining untouched. “You know, dear, I am watching my figure, but if you don’t want your lemon bar, I am tempted to take a little nibble!” Helen reached across the table with her fork, and cut off a small corner of the sweet confection. The tartness of the lemons was perfectly balanced by dusting of powdered sugar on top. She patted her husband’s hand again, feeling so glad that they were together for tea once more.

“You always did have poor circulation, Alan” Helen said, “I had quite forgotten until now.” She glanced up at her husband’s face, shrouded in the shadow of the winged chair. “You should get some more sunshine. I don’t mean to be a nag, but you really do need a bath, Alan. You smell simply awful!” Helen wrinkled her nose as the sour, foul smell rose up toward her tea. She would have a hard time getting used to it, but that is how things were with a man. If she bossed him around too much, he would crack under the pressure and she would lose him again. Helen’s eyes left his face, and trailed down to the floor beneath his feet, dirt and maggots writhing on her antique Turkish rug. Helen sighed. The things she did for love!

“I think this tea has been very successful, Alan. I am so glad to have you back.” Helen brushed the dark hair on her husband’s temple, ignoring the buzzing of flies and the smell of corpse, “But tomorrow I am going to set up afternoon tea in the garden. The fresh air and sunshine are just what you need.” With that, she smiled her blood red smile, and began clearing the table of china and crumbs.

Daily Inspiration: Blueberry Bark

   Yes, Inspiration is often delicious...and today, it is also sweet. Dark Chocolate Blueberry Bark is the reason. It is easily one of the most delicious things I have every eaten. I bought some this past weekend from a local chocolatier, and I couldn't resist a nibble at breakfast time.
   Even this morning, when my kitten is hungry for my feet, my bunny mysteriously escaped the pen and is currently holding herself hostage underneath the couch, and I cannot find the notebook I need to complete a poem I am working on (perhaps Sophie is holding it hostage as well under there)...Blueberry Bark has managed to put a smile on my face.

   Hopefully there will be a completed poem up here sometime today...if not, then you know how the rest of my day went!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Bathroom Cat

Oscar...bathroom cat!

   Coming back in from a walk, I went into the bathroom, feeling a bit down about the progress of my book, and lo and behold, there was Oscar, my nearly 5 month old Himalayan kitty. He smiled serenely up from the white porcelain, as if to say that everything would be fine...and then slyly dared me to wash my hands. (Don't worry, I did).

   Oscar may be "just a cat", but he is more than that to me. He is my buddy, hardly more than a yard away from wherever I am, always ready for a cuddle, and quite the little muse. I couldn't ask for a better pal to write with. By the way, typing well with a fluffy kitten on your laptop is a skill WORTH learning.

Writing is a Tangled Web

   Sometimes the things in my mind drive me crazy. Absolutely insane. The ideas, the characters, the words-phrases-sentences-paragraphs-chapters, the tangled plotlines and scattered images as they all struggle to emerge from the recesses of my cranium and breathe fresh air.

    The problem is, I can only let one free at a time. One poem. One painting. One word. Hopefully, this blog will help me do just that. Hopefully, whether you, my dear readers, actually exist, or not, I will be able to purge some of this pent up creativity, and free myself little by little in the process.

   Off I go, to conquer a story. After I slay the beast, I will mount the carcass here for you all to enjoy, or pick apart. In a word (or three), beloved readers (both real and imaginary), adieu (for now).