I wrote this last year for FFftAW and it’s my piece of Flash Fiction with the most likes ever. It’s a strange story, maybe that’s why? Anyways, I’m entering it for a 200 Word or Less Writing Contest on Hey Look Writer Fellow’s Sully Award Competition. It’s open until March 28, 2017 and the rules are in the link above. Thanks to Michael for sharing the contest, visit Michael’s awesome blog Morpethroad HERE.
“Look at those cows, incredible,” Dorothy said.
“This entire gallery is full of painted cows. Is this the artist’s ‘thing?’ Dorothy’s husband, Stanley, asked a gallery employee.
“Hi, I’m Theresa,” the woman said. ” How do you like The Moo Gallery? Isn’t Shaunda Rose talented? I’m not sure why she chose cows but I adore how every cow is a unique work of art, don’tyou?”
“Cows? Really? Who wants a painted cow in their home or office?” Stanley asked.
Theresa smile was unnatural, “You’re right,” she said nodding at Dorothy. “Cows are Shaunda’s specialty. In fact, these cows were once alive. She has the cows sent to a taxidermist and then has them resurfaced so she can paint them. It’s why they’re so authentic, a fabulousexample of Modern Art. Each cow sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Dorothy’s enthusiasm for the painted cows evaporated and she gazed at Stanley alarmed. He simply shook his head at her and smiled because he’d known all along Shaunda Rose was crazy. Theresa attempted a sales pitch again but he held up his hand to stop her.
“ Shaunda Rose is a nut. Tell her Stanley Manet said so. Manet was an authentic artist, he was also my Great-Great-Great Grandfather.”
Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview withMicheleVecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.
1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?
I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.
One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore calledThe Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.
2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?
I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.
My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life.My husband and I have been married just over five years. Markis an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.
Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.
On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.
Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.
“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto
3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging?
I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.
My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.
When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.
4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.
I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.
Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).
“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere:a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.
As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.
6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?
I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.
“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.
My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!
8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?
I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.
Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.
I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.
“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto
9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?
My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.
The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.
If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.
If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.
I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.
11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?
I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.
My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.
I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy inspirational pieces as well.Both of these kinds of writing have their place.
“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto
12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.
I’ve also started aFacebookpage and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitterhas been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.
13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?
I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running calledBelle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.
14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:
Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”
More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:
Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times. I try to live my life as described in “The Choice”and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.
Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blogone more time: Steps Times Two.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page.See you in two-weeks!
“Look at those cows. They’re incredible.” Dorothy said.
“This entire gallery is full of painted cows. Is this the artists ‘thing?’ Why has the artist painted all these heavy plastic cows?” Stanley asked an art gallery employee.
“Hi, I’m Theresa. I work here at The Moo Gallery, isn’t Shaunda Rose talented? She painted all these cows. I adore how every cow is a unique work of art. Don’t you?”
“Shaunda Rose is incredibly talented. Who would’ve thought of painting plastic cows? Brilliant woman.” Dorothy declared.
“Cows….” Stanley said shaking his head.”Who wants a painted cow in their home or office?”
Theresa smiled plastically and said: “You’re right, cows are Shaunda’s speciality. In fact, these are ‘actual’ cows Shaunda painted. She has the cows sent to a taxidermist and then she has them resurfaced so she can paint them. It’s why they’re so authentic; a great example of modern art. Each cow sells for several hundred -thousand-dollars.”
Dorothy’s enthusiasm for the painted cows evaporated; she felt alarmed.
Stanley shook his head. He knew Shaunda Rose was crazy. Theresa attempted pitching to Dorothy again but Stanley held up his hand.
“Theresa, Shaunda Rose is a nut. Tell her Stanley Manet said so. And yes, Manet was a Great-Great-Great Grandfather.”
Prompt: Write about a single image.
In the tangles of tree trunks, twigs, and pine needles behind my Grandpa’s house, there is small clearing. The trees guard a sacred place. In the Summer their is a smattering of grass and weeds, and in the Fall a layer of dead leaves blanket this space. Fireflies guard it at night and create snatches of light in the deep blackness.
If you go beyond this place not far their is a cottage and my Grandpa told me when I was young, a witch lived their and she ate children. Perhaps, he was simply teasing us with his modern version of Hansel and Grettle, but he was very adamant that we never go into this clearing or by that cottage.
The cottage was old, grey, tumbled down, and in need of repair. If indeed a witch lived there, she didn’t use her magic to keep her home in a presentable condition. But perhaps, she had no children visiting so she could not bake them into cookies and treats to make her home look like a gingerbread house.(This last part I thought snidely because I never believed there lived a witch there who ate children, not ever.)
When my Grandpa passed away I was willed his house and property back in the woods. It stretched for many acres. I also was willed the tenancy of single woman in a cottage. I decided to finally go to this cottage despite my Grandfather’s pleas that we never go there even as adults.
So, Monday when I drove out to Grandpa’s house to assess the shape his house was in, I went first to the cottage. The light of the sun was muted in the woods and when I knocked on that cottage door dust and dirt rained down as a young woman opened up the door.
Her eyes were blood shot and grey like stones and rocks. Her house smelt dusty and I think she could have used a shower. Her brown hair was matted, growing a long way down her back. Underneath a dirty face, her skin was perfect and pale. She was unkept but I don’t believe she looked like any witch I imagined.
“Hello” she rasped, as if it were hard for her to speak, “would you like to come in Thomas. Your Grandfather spoke highly of you, perhaps, that’s why he left you his home. I haven’t had visitors in a long time so you’ll have to excuse the mess.”
“Oh, alright. I guess I could come in for a bit” I said wrinkling my noise at the musty smell. “What’s your name and how long have you lived out here, you seem young to be living out all alone here.”
” I use to live here with my Grandmother and my name is Ivey. I am twenty-three-years old and I know how to handle myself.”
“Oh I see” I said “But maybe I could help bring your home up to a safer and more attractive level. It’s such an old cottage and the nights are cold.”
“I’m fine, Thomas. I plan to start working on repairing the house shortly. But for now let me go down to the creek and wash myself, then I will make us some supper.”
I agreed and sat in the disgusting house as Ivey fixed herself up. When she came back I thought she was quite beautiful her washed damp mane was a glossy brunette, her eyes enchanted me. Her skin was as white and beautiful as I imagined.
Ivey hummed a song as she cleaned up the dusty kitchen and wonderful smells came from the stove as she chopped vegetables fresh from her garden. She was making stew. I enjoyed the dinner heartily with wine and Ivey was quite entrancing. That night I left her house thinking, how could Grandpa have ever thought she was a witch.
I loved my Grandfather’s house and the trees within that secret clearing. And as I was a writer I set about to write a story using details from my Grandpa’s life for some parts in the book. As I sorted through his life in that house, some things I kept and others I gave away. I spent many nights with Ivey, she always insisted on cooking me dinner. I brought her little trinkets, clothes, and items most other woman liked. She would always smile at me and kiss me, grateful for the present.
When she became pregnant I tried to marry Ivey but she would have none of it.
“At least move into the house” I said, “that cottage can’t be good for the baby. Or let me get it fixed up for you?”
Ivey finally consented to having the cottage remodelled. We could preserve nothing but the skeleton of the cottage and everything else had to be redone. It was modernized with a bathroom and a kitchen with an extra-large oven in it, Ivey’s only request.
I was happy to do it for her. I loved her, that is why I could not understand it when one night I came over supper, she gave me too much wine and watched gravely as I held my daughter. Then she asked me to check that the oven was working before pushing me in. She had been fattening me up to eat for months. The last thing Ivey said to me was:
” I cannot be better then my Grandmother, I’m sorry Thomas, but I will take good care of our daughter. I’m not like my ancestors, I do not eat children. But I make men into sweets to decorate my house and eat.”
It was a horrifying thing to hear from my beloved Ivey. But no matter, it didn’t hurt due to Ivey’s magic. I am the post and lentil around Ivey’s door, some kind of short bread. And I can see out to that magical clearing and remember what my Grandpa said in vain: never go out to the witch’s cottage.
Jadea’s Grandfather had believed the woods to be a magical place full of herbs, cures for illnesses, and food to eat. Jadea had loved going into the forest with her Grandfather and learning about what kinds of plants were good to use and which plants were poisonous. She had disliked hunting for animals.
Grandmother had never minded that Jadea had went into the woods with her Grandfather saying even the bears were afraid of him. Grandfather was a mystical man and he brought protection with him through magic wherever he went. But one day Grandfather had disappeared as twilight had began to fade and the dark had crept in like a lion looking for his prey.
Jadea had yelled and screamed for her Grandfather but all she could find was his white staff. Jadea had hung onto it for dear life as she had run out of the woods through branches that seemed to rip at her hair and roots that tripped up her feet. She could feel something chasing her so she hurried, holding out the staff in front of her as if it were some talismane. It was the last thing she would have of her grandfather’s and it protected her from the beast that chased her. When she finally reached home and ran into the house she cried and told her Grandmother what had happened. Her Grandmother told her to never go into the woods again.
“Jadea listen to me” said Grandmother, “You must never go into the woods alone, ever. It’s not safe now little girl,”
“But Grandfather showed me everything. I know what’s good and bad about the forest” protested Jadea but Grandmother shook her head.
” Never go there Jadea. Promise me.” so Jadea swore to her Grandmother that she would never go into the woods again although it pained her to do so.
But one day years later, having long moved away from the cottage her grandparents had lived in by the forest, Jadea remembered the night her Grandfather disappeared into the woods. It was daylight and Jadea had a mind to go into the forest and explore. She was pleased to remember which plants and herbs were good and she gathered them as she went but it wasn’t long before Jadea realized she was not alone.
Every step Jadea took something dogged her foot steps and then as Jadea rested from picking out herbs something terrifying came towards her. She could not identify it it was invisible but it sat down beside her and bound her feet and hands. Then hands made of air cut off the breath from her lungs and Jadea knew no more but as she was asphyxiated she recalled her Grandmother’s words: ‘ Never Go into the Woods Alone.’
Grandfather, your pearl is tarnished, crystallized and shattered.
Do you hear her heart beating, the wings of doves fluttering gone soft.
Her heart is the beat of a techno dance song – hard staccato rhythm to drum with the throngs.
Grandfather, the things they’ve come out with in this world.
Maybe your heart would still be thrumming, but you were ready to go home.
There’s technology so thin and advanced, books we read without feeling the weight of rough paper.
The special effects in movies are more real, and the stories so enthralling.
But I don’t know if the stories compare to Clarence Day’s or Harper Lee’s novels.
I don’t know if there’s a Paul Newman or Audrey Hepburn hiding in the cinema today.
But Grandfather, I know you would say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
There’s nothing new under Heaven and people make the same mistakes.
In Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan — so many places enraptured in war again.
And you’d be in shock just to hear that they want to take God out of ‘ Oh Canada.’
Grandfather, this world is still in ruin like the morning you left it.
And Grandpa I’m in ruin, it’s best for you to know.
Your eldest Grandchild an adult several years became ill, and she’s still fighting a sickness she’ll never win.
Medicine is slow, and the ache of a long tired wretched day felt all the more keenly under illness and you would know.
Grandfather, I guess, you don’t feel a thing.
Because down here we feel pain and up there, there is no such word or feeling.
It’s quite a concept just not to know suffering as innocent as Frost’s lamb.
Knowledge came at such a price Grandpa, Eve and Adam, had little clue what they unleashed upon a world.
All this for an apple or a pomegranate.
Juice pouring down our faces as we each share in the deed.
Spitting seeds out as we munch, the greatest flavour, for a wily wretched bunch.
Grandfather, do you hear my prayers, or do they only ascend to God?
Because I talk to you quite often and wonder if you know us down here?
Is there such a thing as memory in Heaven, or will you not know me until you see me on your plane of existence?
Do you remember tractor rides, gardens, apples, raspberries, hot summer sun, and VBS.
Do you think of left over wedding mints, a pulpit, a large pipe organ, all your sisters and brothers, do you remember where the good goes?
We’re looking for it down here, and I wonder if you could spare us just a little to melt away the density of snow the crowds around our hearts when it’s blowing, snowing, cold?
What do you see when you look down here or do you only experience the present?
Do you know how pearls catch the light in glory, and crack under pressure?
Have you seen those who have come and gone, and forgotten those who have fallen?
What have you seen in your gaze, do you see beyond the eternal realm, touch the sun and stars and everything that ever was, do you know the answer?
We flounder in existence, do you remember you did too, and still another winter comes and I cannot see any wisdom past the ground I walk on.
Grandfather, what you see someday I may know, but now I’m barely energized and wishing hard for sleep.
I cannot find a moment to rest, I wonder if I truly slumber, and I wonder about eternity, a time when time becomes timeless.