Weathering Under the Cat Chapbook

I’m a poet and not a salesperson, but I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to ask again to pre-order my upcoming chapbook from Finishing Line Press. My chapbook, Weathering Under the Cat, is a collection of poems that I’m proud of and am so excited to see get published. However with that said, Finishing Line Press (FLP) requires enough pre-sales to guarantee it will have a decent press run. If I don’t hit a certain mark, it may not happen…at least with FLP. I’m only 50 short of that mark. I certainly appreciate all of my friends, family, and colleagues that have already purchased my chapbook during pre-sale.

 

Incidentally, my pre-sale deadline did pass (Jan. 20), but with my parent’s health issues, etc., FLP has extended my pre-sale period for two more weeks. So, if you intended to purchase my chapbook during pre-sale and missed the deadline – you have a chance to purchase it now. The chapbook will be published in March, and I will be happy to sign your copy! I also have planned readings in and around Indianapolis and Toledo so far – with hopes of adding a few more places as well. Thanks in advance for your continued support of my poetry!

 

FYI, these poems are all cat related – so if you’re a cat lover, as I am, or if you know of one – I believe these poems are right up your alley. They certainly aren’t ones you’d find on a tame greeting card!

(Incidentally, for Writing Prompt Pit Stop fans – I will be back posting writing prompts soon! I’m also in process of collecting the prompts I already have and combining them into a small book! Look for that in the near future!)

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/weathering-under-the-cat-by-lylanne-musselman/

Cha-Cha-Changes

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! What would life be if it was not filled with changes, conflict, and growth? It appears that the older I get that I have not slowed down when it comes to any of the above. Again, I find myself moving…and not just across town…but out of state. I’m packing up my books, my art, and my three cats, and hitting the road. Well, the cats won’t be packed away, but they are in for a long ride of 4.5 hours in their crates. It’s all good, as I am going to my home state, Indiana, and it actually feels right to be “going home” to Indianapolis. If you’ve read many of my blogs here, you know that I’m an adjunct writing instructor. I love to teach, but it’s not gotten any easier to make a living at doing so. It would be grand if I could say I was going home because I’d finally snagged a full-time position, but that isn’t the case. I do, however, have secured adjunct positions for at least three colleges for this Fall.

Yes, I could have stuck with the two or three colleges that I have here in MI/OH, but to be honest, I’m tired of driving across state lines to make a buck, and then losing what I made (read saved to get through the summer months) to state/city taxes (in the state that I don’t live in)…with no guaranteed income during the summer; plus, I just plain miss being nearer my family and a plethora of friends I left behind when I set out on this adventure in my life six years ago. I most certainly will miss the many friends that I have made in Ohio and Michigan, the vast majority are all in my creative tribes: poets, visual artists, playwrights and actors. And, because of those connections, I know we’ll all keep in touch in this social media society that we live in. Not to mention, I really do like to drive and will make the trip back north whenever possible. This is my last weekend in Michigan as a resident, and I will make the move with my howling cats next Friday. Wish me luck! And, who knows – maybe that full-time job is right around the corner…

Because every writer knows that conflict is an integral part to telling any story, or that  tension is needed in poems and plays, here are a few related prompts that might help you get something written regarding your own conflicts or changes in life:

  1. Write about a time that you had to make a decision to change something big in your life. It could be moving, changing jobs, ending a relationship, or going back to school. Mine that writing for an essay or a poem.
  2. If you’re so inclined, after writing about yourself with the above prompt, consider that same conflict/change in regard to a character that you’re working with in a story or a play.
  3. Write about a time that you’ve traveled with your pet(s). Was it a cross country move? Was it bringing the pet home for the first time? How about a funny or crazy time that you took your pet to the vet?
  4. Use these three words in your story/poem/play: packing/money/anxiety.

Have fun with the prompts. If you get anything that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post your work in comments, or send me an email at lylanne@lylanne.com

I’ll see you after the move!

Keep writing,

Lylanne

 

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: PoMoSco # 14 Survey Says

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Here is the day 14 PoMoSco prompt, out of order, because I didn’t get my poem posted until two minutes till Midnight so I did make it on the 14th instead of the 15th…so I’ve actually made it a poem a day written and posted – and it’s halfway through the month! It’s going fast! For the “Survey Says” poem we were to come up with 5-10 questions to ask others, it could be family, friends, or complete strangers. I came up with 10 questions, but when it came to writing the poem I only used 6 of the 10. I did survey 10 friends/students/strangers, and they at least got some words or an entire line in my poem. When you go to my poem to read it, you will see the actual questions that were asked. Here is my poem, “Monopoly: To Confound The Wise & Strong.”  Enjoy!

Here is the Day 14 prompt, Survey Says:

Create a questionnaire about a given topic that contains between 5-10 free response questions. Ask your family members, friends, or even complete strangers to complete the survey.

The Found Poetry Review. PoMoSco. Prompt 14. 14 Apr 2015.

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Burglars, Cats, and Clouds, Oh My!

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! So, one week ago today when I posted earlier in the day because I had to leave the house for a while, it was never in my wildest dreams that that would be the last time I would see my beloved laptop. A device that was nearly my left hand as often as I used it. If I could see into the future I would’ve done several things differently, but I’m not a clairvoyant and as they say: hindsight is 20/20. When I returned home around 9 PM…one of my three cats did not greet me, which was unusual, but not unheard of. I came into the house and noticed that a cabinet housing some books was open a bit, and I had not left them open…but silly me, I thought the cats might have done it while playing or something. The thought never crossed my mind that an intruder had been in my home. Then I walked up the few steps to the landing by the two bedrooms…and I saw my jewelry box dumped on my bed. The panic set in. I ran to the other bedroom where my cat (the one that didn’t greet me) likes to sit on the bed and look out the window…that window was wide open…and no Graham in sight. I shut the window so the other two cats wouldn’t get out, and turned and saw my laptop was gone too! It felt like I was in a nightmare. I dialed 911 and reported the break-in as I was heading out the front door to look for my cat…in hopes I could at least find him.

The woman on the phone took my address and said the Toledo police were notified. I called for Graham and turned on my cellphone flashlight in hopes of seeing his eyes shining somewhere. Nothing. My heart was breaking. I called my best friend, Glenn, who was over to my place within 10 minutes. We both looked for Graham and he asked if I’d used the treat bag…as Graham doesn’t miss a treat. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I went inside to get that as he still looked for my kitty. As I came out, he came from the backyard saying “Look who I’ve got!” It was Graham! That was a miracle to me as I was afraid they’d stolen him, hurt him, or worse (since he’s a black cat), or I was afraid he’d gotten lost…or hit by a car since he’s not an outdoor cat. (Yes, I’m a writer, so my imagination runs wild!). So, in the big scheme of things…besides a loss of a sense of security, the loss of my laptop with many new writings and various other things I’d saved on there and had not taken the time to backup recently, the loss of a few jewelry items (more sentimental than of monetary value), and the loss of an indoor security camera (and no, I did not have my system on because it hadn’t been working correctly when I was out of the house and I’ve not had the $ for a house call, ugh!) I feel pretty lucky. They could’ve taken so much more…they could’ve destroyed things, they could’ve harmed the cats or let them all outside, or I could have lost Graham forever – but I didn’t. So for that I’m thankful.

The cats (and I) were very skittish for several days and nights…where every noise from outside, or any “normal” house sound we heard…we’d all jump…but little by little, we’ve all settled down. I’ve found (and always knew) that I have some of the best friends around, near and far. Thanks to my best friend, I’ve got new locks on all windows, thanks to two other friends I have the loaner laptop that I’m writing this blog on, and my security company is coming here tomorrow (free of charge!) to fix my door lock so I can lock it when I’m away and feel secure again, and replace that stolen security camera of theirs.

I’ve gone through the five stages of loss (usually thought of as a loss of a loved one through death or divorce, but I think the loss of security is right up there with one’s well-being)…I’ve been in disbelief that it happened (and have kicked myself a few times for leaving that back window open a crack…thinking it was too high off of the ground for anyone to bother with); I’ve been terribly angry…and I’m usually such an easy-going person, but thieves truly do suck, and I do hope they get their comeuppance; the bargaining…thinking, and over-thinking, of what I could’ve done, should’ve done, and what I can do; I’ve been depressed…I’m already hanging on by a thread financially and this just seemed like the last straw, I’ve mourned over writings lost or the time that it will take to recreate files, etc. And, then I’ve finally gotten to the place of acceptance. It happened. It can (and does) happen to most anyone (I’ve also found that it’s happened to more people I know than I ever dreamed…it’s way too common!!). I will write and re-save what I lost, and it will be better. I will be more vigilant about everything…

And that brings me to Writing Prompt Pit Stop #48 or better known as this week’s prompt(s):

“Save, Save, Save, and Make Yourself Secure!”

1) This is not so much of a prompt as a reminder: Save your writings! Diligently. Not only to your laptop, or a flash drive, but to a cloud of some sort. I always saved my work…but always to my laptop, and maybe once a month I’d remember to stick in the flash drive and back up my work…well, not anymore. It’s getting emailed to myself, saved on a flash drive religiously, and I’ve chosen to keep work on Dropbox. There’s many services like this out there, but a friend recommended it and it’s free…so there’s that. There’s also Google Drive, iCloud, etc. There’s also places that will back up your work for a small fee, and if you can do that…that’s a good option as well. No matter what you do, do save your writings as when they’re gone…it’s too late.

2) This is not writing either, but it’s important. I was someone that saved passwords on emails, FB, Twitter, etc., just because it was easier and I knew no one else had access to my laptop. Well, now there’s the possibility that someone does. So, I’ve had to go in and change all passwords (that I’ve thought of) and I will never save them for easy access again…maybe it will save me from Alzheimer’s by having to remember them all, who knows? But at least I feel more secure. So don’t save passwords on your laptops (or other devices)!!

3) Now let’s do some writing…I know I have a whole lot of new ideas for poems, plays and stories from this horrendous incident. How about you? In your daybook, write about a time that you or your personal space were violated. How did that change you? What would you say (or do) to the violators if you had the chance?

4) Besides theft, there are other ways that writers and artists lose work…through fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. Have you ever had one of those horrendous things happen to you? How did you cope? How did that change you? What do you do differently now?

5) Take any of those bad/sad incidents of loss, and turn them into something positive…a poem, a story, a play, an essay, a memoir. Send it out into the world! Or just simply share it here in comments.

No matter. If we’re writing and creating, we’ve survived. That is a major positive.

See you next Wednesday!

Oulipost #16: Chimera

Today’s 16th Oulipost prompt found me scouring the hard copy of The Blade for articles to replace nouns, verbs, and adjectives in a primary article. It took a lot more time than I expected, as I ended up changing the article I intended to use for verbs as the actual article I used for the primary article. Confused? It sure kept me on my toes. As I was replacing nouns, verbs, and adjectives in my poem – I tried to keep the same nouns consistent throughout the piece…which also got harder as I went along. I would have to go back and count where I was in my “new” version to catch what noun I used several lines before…. Nevertheless, as tedious as this one was just finding the words, I did have fun once I started replacing everything with the “new” word choices. Even my title sticks with my new words from the article! The only major changes I made was to change a few of the verb tenses so they fit a bit better…otherwise, I tried to keep as true to the article and the order of the words found as I could. So, below you will find my Chimera poem, the sources used, and the Oulipost prompt:

Toledo Animals Held Surprised Morning Investigators

The Toledo Area Humane Society and few of its good cats

propelled wins for nearly three neighbors on Friday

by a Toledo-better “organization complaint” on its

obvious birth, dogs, and long-term records of litters.

The week-Labrador, shelter-dog-wife organization

complaint, which hits at the morning investigator’s

comment for the fifth female at the Animals of Society

of the Toledo Mother Cat, pitched the society’s

humane Labradors, case kittens, and city case puppies

on conditions of food piles not prepared injuries before

last food walked July 1; dominance of space kennels;

offspring skirmishes among Society Labradors and

The Blade; floor avenues; snapped numbers,

and a surprising season of fresh adoptions.

 

Sources:

Primary Article:

Messina, Ignazio. “State Group Chastises Local Elections Board.” Toledo Blade 16 Apr. 2014. B1/B2. Print.

Nouns:

Mester, Alexandria. “25 Rescued Animals Strain Shelter.” Toledo Blade 16 Apr. 2014. B1/B2. Print.

Verbs:

Blade Staff. “Toledo Gets Hits, Not Victory.” Toledo Blade 16 Apr. 2014. C4. Print.

Adjectives:

Chavez, Jon. “Focaccia’s Market Gets ‘Great Response.'” Toledo Blade 16 Apr. 2014. B6/B7. Print.

Oulipost Prompt:

Chimera

The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! We’re two weeks into November, and this is our second week of writing about something that we can be thankful for since it is the season! Last week’s prompt asked you to think about your friends and how thankful you are for them, whether they are old friends, new friends, close friends, lost friends, etc. Last week’s prompt didn’t include one group of friends that I’m certainly thankful for: the four-legged friends. In my case it’s cats, but I’ve had dogs in the past and am certainly a fan of giving pets a good home.

I’ve always been cat crazy, even as a child – yet, I wasn’t allowed to have a cat (or any pet for that matter) until I was nearly ten years old. So, it was a dream come true to have a cat of my own, and my first one was named, Kitti Tom. As an adult, I didn’t own a cat for many years (exes that hated cats…and they’re long gone…the exes that is!), then the first one, Scribbles, came to me when I was thirty-one. Scribbles was with me for eighteen years, and she had many other cat siblings along the way. I’ve not been without a cat since, and never will. My cats (right now I have Graham, Tink, and Fiyero) give unconditional love, and are a great comfort to come home to after a long day at school.  I’ve written about various cats in my life, but “Unexpected Visitor” was published in the book that I co-authored with Jayne Marek and Mary Sexson: Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and was about one of my favorite cats of all time, Jonathon. He was another that lived to be eighteen years old! Here is that poem:

Unexpected Visitor

Lovers came and went,

but for eighteen years you graced my lap,

you slept next to me, and followed me

around the house. You didn’t care

if the dishes were done, or if

I gained a few pounds, or shed a few tears.

You were there, a purring anchor –

even as your spirit was leaving me.

 

Jonathon, you came to me

in a dream last night, strong,

healthy and handsome. You

ascended the wooden stairs

coming up out of the basement,

ran into my open arms.

You reveled in my touch,

I cried your name –

my one constant. (47)

My pastel portrait of Jonathon:

Image

With your four-legged friend in mind, whether it be cat, dog, ferret, horse, rat, etc, here is your twentieth prompt:

“Fur-ever Friends”

1) In your daybook write down a list of every pet you can remember from your childhood until the present day. After you have your list, some will have pages, others will just have a few, write down the descriptions and some memories of each one. This will give you tons of writing to work with. You will also see that as you start working with your memories of your pets, other memories of that time period will come rushing back as well – write it all down. Then the next time you think you have a “writer’s block” (of which I don’t believe in as long as you write SOMETHING every day) then you’ll have a list of memories and subject matter to use anytime.

2) You should have a list of pets…even if it’s two or three, that’s enough. Now take that list and concentrate on writing about your favorite pet, the funniest pet, the pet with the best personality…or the worst, and as you write down certain traits other ideas about your four-legged friends will come to you, and jot those down as well. One of the hardest things to write about, yet is very rewarding, is writing about a beloved pet that has crossed over (like Jonathon). You will find a lot of tears while writing, but it’s nice to have a tangible memory of your pet when you’re finished.

3) Find photos of your pets, write to those photos. Who is in the photo with the pet? Where was the picture taken? What year? How old were you? Your pet(s)?

4) With your favorite genre in mind, take any of these prompts and write as much as you can for as long as the material is coming. When done, take your work and revise it – cut out unneeded words or memories that don’t fit in this particular piece (but make sure to save those memories somewhere as they might fit in some other future piece!) By the same token, add material/images, if needed. And just revise, revise, revise!

As with all writing, this “Fur-ever Friends” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne