I was out to meet my friend who lived nearby when I found this ravaged mannequin head. Her exquisite hazel eyes and pencilled brows, lifted towards the sky as if mannequin heaven was there.
In reality her mutilated head lies in the tall grass. A used beer bottle leans against her face, an empty red cigarette package nearby.
If she was alive I think she’d be wondering how she ended up here? Why she wasn’t the modelesque mannequin in the window display for Holt Renfrew or at least for H&M. Who had tossed her out like refuse and left her to this fate?
Phallon watched the fish swim in the pond his Grandpa had installed in his backyard. He enjoyed visiting his Grandpa each Saturday. Grandpa had put the pond in because young Phallon loved the fish so much as a toddler; ‘fishes’ had been his first word.
Now he sat with Grandpa who asked him about school and of course the girls in his school. Uncomfortable, Phallon wished Grandpa didn’t ask him about that.
Grandpa simply laughed,”Phallon, I’m only teasing you. It’s good you have friends who are girls and that there are girls you like. This Jennifer, have you asked her out?”
Phallon’s face turned red, “Yeah we’ve gone to a movie together and bowling. I want her to be my girlfriend but her parents say she’s too young to have a boyfriend.”
Grandpa nodded a smile on his face, “You’ll find the right one when you’re older. When I saw your Grandma the first time, my heart lept out of my chest. I wonder if I will ever meet that right girl of yours and see you marry her?”
Phallon felt uncomfortable again, “Why wouldn’t you be there Grandpa? You’re only eighty-one?”
Grandpa patted Phallon’s hand then squeezed it, “You know, my boy, I’ve been sick a long time. It’s a battle I’ve mostly conquered, but my strength is waning these days.When you get married someday, think of your old Grandpa, okay?” Phallon nodded feeling a lump in his throat.
Two-years later Grandpa succumbed. Phallon was sixteen and felt raw inside. He returned to the fish pond in Grandpa’s back yard. He noticed the fishes were floating and the reality of life made tears wet his cheeks. In the mess of the last two weeks including Grandpa’s funeral, no one had remembered to feed the fish.
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!
Patriots was a genuine fifty-style’s diner. Darla a new waitress, was thrilled to have her first job part-time there. Off to the side of the diner was a jukebox near a small dance floor.
On Friday and Saturday nights, elderly couples could be found dancing here to their favourite fifties tunes. But Christmas Eve was the ‘big ticket’ event. Tables were cleared for a larger dance floor and a diner-style feast was served.
Darla watched once WWII-era toddlers, dancing in fifties garb with pep. She was only fifteen, but as she waitressed throughout high school, Christmas Eve would become by her favourite night at Patriots. She hoped one day she would meet a guy she could still dance with when they were eighty.
” You never do anything halfway,” Lorna complained. “I used to think how wonderful it was that you were so committed to your research. Then, I realized you were so focused on it, everything and everyone else in your life became second place.”
“That’s not true,” Kostos said. “I always took you out to various events I had to attend. I spent Sunday’s with you and our boys whenever I could. I’m positive we went on family vacations.”
Lorna sighed. “You don’t get it Kostos. You gave your family scraps, not the main focus of your attention.”
“I was discovering new ways to cure cancer. It’s a vital job and it takes a huge effort directing those technicians and researchers working under me, and securing more funding and grants. There were speeches to be made and proposals to be filled out. What’s more significant than curing cancer?”
Lorna didn’t know how to maker her husband of thirty-years understand her anymore. She gazed past Kostos to her stunning blue pet parrot. Her friend of many years, Oliver. She wished it was only her and Oliver now.
“Don’t make me out to be the bad guy Kostos. I never kept you from your work. I supported you, accompanying you to all your events. I watched you spend time with strangers, more than you did your own kids.”
“What I don’t understand is where you were inbetween, when you weren’t at work, at meetings, home, or even at the gym. So many times I called to talk to you, to meet up with you as we used to do. But in the last ten-years, most every time I called, Jane would tell me you were out.” Lorna remarked.
“What are you accusing me of?”
There was silence but for Oliver who drew himself up and squawked, “Cheater, cheater. Oh baby, oh Simone. Cheater, cheater. If only I’d married you Simone. Cheater, cheater.”
Lorna stared at Kostos, eyes wide, ” You brought Simone, your colleague here? To our home?”
“No, I wouldn’t cheat . . .”
“Cheater, cheater. Leaving Lorna for Simone. Cheater, cheater.” Oliver parroted.
Today’s prompt is to use a quote to begin our writing.
The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved. – Samual Smiles
“I’m sorry to tell you this Auntie, but Ethan had a mistress whom he had eight children with,” Edgar told Talise. The news broke Talise and she wept.
” I have always loved Ethan deeply,” Talise told her nephews, ” I never questioned his ardor and his faithfulness. I’m certain Ethan loved me as much as I had loved him.”Simon was more sympathetic to Talise’s situation.
” It had nothing to do with you Auntie, not at all. Uncle Ethan told us he did not love his mistress, only the children he had with her. He didn’t feel right not carrying on his father’s legacy. He wanted a legacy of his own, (besides us). Those children are his immortality.” Simon begged Talise to understand.
” The children of Ethan’s mistress are bastards” Talise told Simon and Edgar. Both men shrugged and appeared uncomfortable.
“It’s the 1900’s now, Auntie. Uncle Ethan’s children will have a good chance to do well in life. He made sure they inherited from his shipping company. Some of them work for us. Don’t worry Edgar and I are the one’s who Uncle Ethan passed the company down to,” Simon said to Talise trying to calm her down.
“And of course, Auntie, Uncle Ethan left a third of his fortune to you his beloved wife. You are well taken care of Auntie Talise. We will make sure you want for nothing,” Edgar said trying to placate Talise.
Ethan had resembled many men Talise had heard about from her women friend’s gossip; he had a second family on the side. Talise was angry with her nephews. She was enraged they hadn’t told her about Ethan’s mistress sooner. Edgar had tried to hide the fact he was laughing at her. He thought she was only acting as a silly old woman. As if Auntie Talise had any say in what Uncle Ethan did, Edgar thought. As he thought about his own wife.
Simon admitted to Talise,”we didn’t want to hurt you Auntie and neither did Uncle Ethan. You were his first and only love always. Ethan wasn’t perfect Auntie, I’m sorry.” Simon looked ashen. Talise had patted and kissed her nephews as she left them for the last time. She felt mostly responsible for Ethan’s decision to have a mistress so he could have have children. Talise couldn’t bear Ethan any children, so Ethan had looked elsewhere.
Talise faded away from her old life as Ethan’s widow when she transformed back into a beautiful young woman. She traveled the world, returning to the Sirene, having lived a human lifetime, and another lifetime experiencing the wonders of many lands.
She viewed the world disparagingly. She had seen the poverty of children, the world’s factories where people laboured endlessly, people’s wastefulness and destruction of the environment, and she had acquired a vast knowledge of men.
Talise never felt more than a passing affection for any man, next to Ethan. Throughout her long life she valued her magic and what she could do with it. She tried her best to help people in need but so many people needed a great deal of help. Talise didn’t have the power, nor did she care for spending her life bettering the world as Coralia — her Grandmother — had hoped Talise would.
More importantly, Talise wanted to be loved again. She didn’t want to feel she wasn’t woman enough because she could not have children. Thankfully, for Talise the modern world had arrived.
It was more than a hundred years since Ethan and her life with him in the Victorian age. It was the twenty-second century and woman were not required to have children in order to be judged a good wife or to be valuable in society. Feminism had arrived in the 1960’s and it was now 2008.
The city of Adare had grown in that time. The city become a booming metropolis only next to it’s rival city in British Columbia, Vancouver. The same beach Talise had met Ethan on still existed, belonging to the owner’s of gigantic designer houses. Talise frequented the beach on her return to Adare. To her joy and relief, she had seen John Eric one day as she lay on a towel sunbathing. Talise’s lush body was in a sea green bikini, no repulsive wool bathing dress that she loathed.
“Well what have we here? A gorgeous woman sunbathing alone on the beach. I can’t have that,” John had said to Talise grinning.
“Well you could keep me company?” Talise had flirted with John, removing her sunglasses to flutter her eyelashes and showcase her jewel green eyes. John had looked stunned for a moment.
“What’s your name, beautiful girl?” John asked Talise. “My friends call me Tia, Tia Shell” Talise said arising and posing in her swimsuit as John shook her well-manicured hand seconds too long.
“I’m John Eric” John had told Talise. “Would you like to come up to my house for lunch? I’ve got some beer, wine, or I can make us some margaritas. I have some comfy furniture we can lie out on on the porch.” Talise had smiled at John and shaking off the sand from her towel, followed John to his designer home where they had drank margaritas all afternoon and fallen into bed together.
Talise had an apartment of her own then and a job at a clothing boutique. She had many human friends and her mermaid friends in the Sirene. Twenty-five-year old John reminded her of Ethan but she had thought John’s face more honest. Because he was younger, she had thought John more malleable than Ethan. John was also a man from a different time in history, where many men did not mind if a woman took charge.
How wrong Talise was concerning John. John was enthralled with Talise and he was generous and exuberant in bed. But John had dreams for his career and was building a business. He loved Talise but had not considered her wife material. He couldn’t admit to his own brothers that he loved Talise. She had hated John for his betrayal as she hated the part of Ethan that had betrayed her. However, this time Talise could do something about being betrayed by a man she loved — she cursed John in a brooding rage.
Talise had not expected John to ever break the curse. She observed his life through the looking glass in her cave. Sometimes, she followed John and was near him when awful events occurred around him. Talise ensured these events kept happening. She wanted John to live his life regretting what he had done to Talise and always wishing he’d been wiser.
However, Talise had not expected for John to find a woman who could potentially end the curse. She had planned to return to John when he had come across Nina. Talise loved John still. She didn’t know why she loved John other then that he reminded her painfully of Ethan. She had hoped John would jump at the chance to have ‘Tia’ back. She dreamed John would apologize to her after all the suffering he had endured.
Instead, Talise found John enraptured and in love with a human woman called Nina. Talise had not despised Nina at first. She had sought Nina out attempting to save an unknowing woman from John’s curse. Talise hadn’t thought John would truly care about another woman within a week. Talise wasn’t pleased John was protecting Nina from his curse’s consequences, from Talise’s powerful magic.
Nina had refused to believe Talise’s warnings about John. Nina had become the competition and ended up preventing Talise from taking John back. She was destroying eight-years of Talise’s well-laid plans.
Nina had something Talise had never had, a sweetness and a powerful connection to John Talise had always hungered for. Ethan had been the only one Talise had felt this connection with. Talise had told herself she experienced the same connection with John. But when John had seen Talise at the farmer’s market he was truly appalled. He hated Talise for the curse she had cast on him. John was drawn to and cared for Nina and was protecting her with all his might.
Talise was furious with Nina for her interference, in Talise’s dreams. Talise wanted Nina dead. Talise had hoped a strong wind and a table to Nina’s head would do the trick. It hadn’t work and Talise had faded out of John and Nina’s life while she thought about how to deal with John’s new whore.
After consulting with sea witches who were into darker more dangerous magic, Talise decided she would kill Nina and she would take John’s heart. She would keep John’s heart in her secret cave in a clam. Without his heart, John would do what Talise desired him to do. She would control John and John would be Talise’s slave. For months, Talise had been stewing in her rage.
She had let John think his curse might be broken by not having horrible events occur as they had the past eight-years. Talise had waited until Nina healed. A hurricane was most dangerous when one thought they were safe, but really they were only in the eye of the storm. This metaphor applied to Talise who hadn’t even begun to take revenge on John and Nina. Talise felt this tremendous rage which had been brewing inside her for over two-hundred years. John was going to suffer for Ethan’s sins too, and Talise felt no pity for him.
Through the looking glass Talise saw Nina and John watching TV. She heard Nina’s plan to go out next Saturday, to gather her friend Rianne, and John’s brothers, to try to stop Talise — how quaint of Nina.
Talise was tired of loving men, who couldn’t be trusted. Ethan and John were both not faithful. It was hard for Talise to hold back tears of hurt and anger when she thought about them, especially Ethan.
Talise’s reaction to John would be different then her reaction to Ethan because John was still alive. Talise transformed her magic into something increasingly dominating, dark, and destructive. Talise became exactly what Coralia, her Grandmother, would have disavowed. She became an evil sea witch who would murder Nina and control John the rest of his life.