Lots of changes afoot in my life, and all for the positive! I hope to post more about that soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a recent publication. After the Pause published one of my short flash fictions in their September issue. Additionally, this same story was highlighted on 101 Words' Flash Fiction Sunday feature where Grace Black chose four flash fiction pieces (including mine!) and had lovely things to say about them. I highly recommend reading the other three stories she selected in addition to mine. She found some stunning writing ,and I am so flattered that mine was among her choices. Hoping to get some more updates around her very soon, but in the meantime, happy writing!
A story I wrote years ago was accepted into an anthology about siblings. I wrote this story when I was in college and the inspiration came in part from the balloon festival that happened every Labor Day weekend in my hometown when I was growing up. At the time that I wrote it, my older brother was not really a part of my life. As this was a couple years after we'd lost my father, I was struggling with the realization that the time we have to "fix" relationships with loved ones is limited. Years later, we unexpectedly lost my brother. I am happy to say that my brother and I had started building a relationship at long last, though it was nowhere to the point that I would have liked it to have been, it was at least in a positive place.
The story I wrote back in college came from a place of love for my brother, and it sat untouched for years before I felt like I could dust it off and send it out in the world. I am happy it found a home in an anthology that celebrates siblings. You can order your own copy of this beautiful anthology here.
Melusine has been so kind as to give one of my flash pieces a home in their latest issue. It's a great little magazine and I highly recommend you check it out here.
As way of an update on my life, I've been writing a lot and in general figuring out my next career steps that will allow me to keep writing at the center of my focus.
I've only ever submitted on poem for publication in recent years because, let's face it, I am a fiction writer through and through. But a couple years ago, I wrote a whole series of prose poems that together serve as a memoir of sorts. I submitted one of those prose poems to Ginger Piglet for their Chicago themed issue, and I am thrilled that they accepted it. The sad news is, that the Chicago Issue is actually their final one. But it is an amazing issue and you should definitely check it out. Especially take the time to admire the photo art on the cover. A friend of mine took the picture!
In other news, I am currently in transition career-wise, but hoping to turn my focus back more toward writing, which hopefully will mean more frequent updates around here. I also have another flash piece slated to be published sometime this month so keep an eye out for that update as well.
In the meantime folks, happy writing!
I am extremely late in announcing this, but the life of a teacher leaves little room for much except. . . well, teaching, of course! However, I am very pleased to announce that my short story Golden Delicious was published in Issue 6 of Graze Magazine. This food themed local magazine is gorgeously delicious and overflowing with brilliant writing. I am ecstatic that they chose my work to grace their pages. Check them out here.
So it is obviously not an unusual thing around here for me to go a long time between posts. I've been in grad school and it pretty much sucked up every free moment I've had for the last two years. But it's totally been worth it because I feel ready for the next adventure in my life. I am so excited about the prospect of starting my first teaching job in a few weeks. Wherever that happens to be. :)
So, just to let you know how I've been filling my time instead of sitting here blogging, I compiled a list of what I have done (so far) on my summer vacation.
10. Reading, reading, and more reading!
I've been checking out a lot of YA literature especially and hope to get some reviews up for you next week. But let me just say, you should go read Bird by Crystal Chan. Just go do it. Trust me!
9. Shopping for my future classroom.
In the hopes that I will find an upper elementary school or middle school language arts teaching position, I hit up Open Books for their annual 50% off sale and scored some good finds for my classroom library.
8. Keeping a dream journal.
This is something I started doing back in 2012 at the beginning of my grad school adventures when I was having some interesting stress dreams, but with my busy schedule, it didn't last long. I have always loved dreams though and often get some interesting story ideas from them, so I wanted to get back into the habit of writing down my dreams now while I have more time to do so.
7. Volunteering with the Chicago Force.
Most people aren't even aware that Chicago has a women's professional tackle football team. But we do and they are amazing. They are also the current national champions and we'll be hosting the championship here in Chicago this year. You can usually find me in the ticket booth during games and I am proud to support such an amazing organization which is doing its part to break down gender barriers in professional sports as well as inspiring young female athletes every day!
6. Rediscovering forgotten writing projects.
I think every writer has those forgotten files saved somewhere on a random flash drive or taking up space in their Dropbox account, and I recently started exploring all these files I haven't opened up in years. And some of the things I found were quite inspiring! Can't wait to blow the dust off of these unfinished stories and flesh out these untouched ideas.
5. Cleaning and Organizing
My office (and attached closet) is truly neat and tidy for the first time in months. I know where everything is and I have found oodles of great supplies that I can bring into my classroom this fall -- opening up more space in my office!
Vegan Shepard's Pie topped with polenta was a great success and now probably my favorite comfort food. But we've also made some great fish tacos and I have oodles more recipes I plan to try out in the coming weeks.
3. Meeting with my writing partner every week.
This has been such a great source of happiness for me to reconnect with my writing partner so we can support each other through our current projects. Because of her motivation, I am writing almost every day again!
Almost two weeks ago, me, along with my 20 amazing classmates, all gave our Master's Presentations and celebrated the fact that we are done, and we are teachers! It was a great day and I am so proud to be part of such a talented, smart, wonderful group of teachers. Yay, Cohort 10!
1. Finishing my novel!
And last, but certainly not least, last week I wrote the final sentence to my WIP. This will actually be the third novel I have finished in the last five years, but this is the one that I feel is ready. The one I know I can send out into the world and be proud of. Just as soon as I finish those pesky revisions. . .
And so, that is how I've been spending my summer vacation so far. What do you think? Spending my time wisely? How about you? Whatever you've been up to, I hope it involves some relaxation and fun!
Happy Easter for those of your who celebrate it. This is posted a little late in the day, I realize, but I thought this would be a good time to share one of my older stories that was published in March 2008 in Johnny America. It has always been a favorite of mine and today seems like the perfect day to share it again. Happy reading!
Diane D. Gillette
Word traveled fast at school on Monday. Emma Jakowski had actually captured him. He was being held in her dad’s tool shed. Anyone who wanted to see him had to be in the Jakowski’s backyard by 3:15 that afternoon, chocolate bunny ears in hand.
It was no secret that Emma loved chocolate bunny ears better than any other form of Easter candy. She immediately ate the ears off of her chocolate Easter Bunny every year and discarded the rest. It just didn’t taste the same without the ears. She also woke up early every Easter and ate the ears off of all five of her younger siblings’ bunnies. Her siblings had never even tasted chocolate Easter Bunny ears. They always complained to their mother, of course, but Mrs. Jakowski could do nothing to get their bunny ears back. She could only take away the rest of Emma’s candy and divide it between the siblings. This was really no great punishment since Emma didn’t have any interest in jelly beans or marshmallow chicks or even goo-filled chocolate eggs. It was bunny ears or nothing.
Somewhere around her eleventh birthday, Emma finally decided she could no longer live with having bunny ears only once a year. She wanted bunny ears every day. Of course that meant she was going to have to go to the source. She would take him by force, if necessary.
There was much speculation about how she actually intended to capture the Easter Bunny, but Emma refused to reveal her plan. When pressed, she pointed out that the Easter Bunny probably had spies everywhere and she didn’t want word getting back to him. She spent much time up in the Jakowski tree house building some sort of trap. The rest of the Jakowski clan was strictly forbidden to even so much as peek in the tree house and not one of them dared to cross Emma. They knew she would make good on her threat to cut them off of all Easter candy for the rest of their lives once she had the Easter Bunny as her prisoner. Only JoJo had been let into the tree house and given a very special job to do, so the rumors said. But he wasn’t talking.
One part of the plan was clear. Anyone who wanted to see the Easter Bunny had to pay with a set of solid chocolate bunny ears. Hollow ears would not be accepted. Only solid chocolate bunny ears were worth a glimpse of the Rabbit himself.
That Easter, all across the neighborhood, chocolate bunny ears were lopped off and stashed away in sandwich baggies or wrapped in tissue or aluminum foil. They were hidden away in backpacks so they wouldn’t be forgotten Monday morning. There were those who received hollow bunnies and burst into tears, much to their parents’ distress. There were others who really didn’t believe Emma could do it and so ate their bunny ears. Bunny ears were traded or stolen as needed. Having a ticket to see the Easter Bunny was worth making an enemy or three.
JoJo stood at the back gate and held a huge Easter basket while a line formed. Under Emma’s watchful eye, JoJo examined every set of bunny ears before they were accepted. Any ears that were deemed faulty, whether they were too small, hollow, or had markings suspiciously similar to bite marks, were tossed into a smaller basket and that unfortunate kid was asked to leave. Once all the worthy ears were deposited in the big basket and the chosen children were allowed in the yard, Emma signaled JoJo. He handed the smaller basket to the younger Jakowski siblings to dispose of as they saw fit and disappeared into the house with the large basket. He came back out into the yard and gave Emma the thumbs up sign. She cleared her throat and silence fell over the back yard.
“I won’t lie to you,” she began. “Capturing the Easter Bunny wasn’t easy. I appreciate your generous donations while we’re in the process of negotiating.”
She paused a moment and the crowd inched closer to the shed.
“I promise that as soon as the Easter Bunny and I come to terms, you will all be paid back with all the chocolate you can eat.”
A cheer arose from the crowd and Emma allowed the noise to continue for a moment before she held up her hands. As the crowded quieted down, she waved JoJo forward and asked him to open the shed door. He was painstakingly slow.
When the door was finally open, the children frantically searched the darkness for the Easter Bunny. Finally someone spotted movement in the far corner and as all eyes followed that person’s finger, a small brown bunny took a couple of hops towards the door.
“JoJo,” Emma hissed, “You were supposed to put him in the cage!”
JoJo looked wide-eyed at his sister and stuttered a little, unable to respond. All eyes were on the bunny. The air was thick with wonderment and the bunny seemed paralyzed with fear. Finally, with no warning, the bunny leapt to life and zigzagged through the crowd before anyone realized what happened.
“After him!” Emma shouted. Instantly the crowd of children took off through the neighborhood after the Easter Bunny. Emma and JoJo followed the crowd to the end of their driveway. They came to a slow stop and watched the crowd of children follow the bunny into the park down the street where they veered out of sight.
Emma turned towards JoJo. Both were grinning. She gave her brother a high five and turned back towards the shed where her youngest siblings stood waiting. They wore chocolate smeared smiles and already held the huge basket of bunny ears between them.
“I told you they were the best, didn’t I?” she asked as she helped herself to a pair of chocolate bunny ears.
This is a few days late, and that is indicative of my week, really. But still there was many joyful moments to be had despite some sorrowful news later in the week. Here are photo representations of seven of those many happy moments.
Happy (belated) Friday!
There is an interesting project that caught my eye last week. It challenges you to notice what makes you happy every day for 100 days in a row and document it in picture form each day. The biggest challenge it would seem would be actually taking the time to upload your picture with the appropriate hashtag every day. I like the idea of this project a lot. Being aware of what makes us happy can only lead to more happiness. However, I know my schedule and sometimes I barely have time to look at my email, let alone upload a picture every day, so I am not going to sign up for their project. But I thought I'd do my own version of the project by making sure I snap a picture every day and then creating a slide show to post here every Friday so I have a record of what made me happy over the past week. I feel I can commit to one happy blog post every week and taking my phone out to get a picture of something everyday seems doable. The biggest challenge I ran into was that sometimes the thing that made me happy wasn't really tangible enough to take a picture of, so I had to come up with something to represent my happy moment, but I am committed to having a visual representation each day. . . So here's seven things that made me happy from March 28-April 3, but certainly not everything that made me happy. :)
After one week of tracking things that made me happy, I observed a few changes.
1. I was generally pretty happy this week. Maybe I would have been anyway, but because I was looking for things to be happy about, I think it helped me focus on the positive things that were happening every day.
2. I began to anticipate what would make me happy the next day and the next, so I was always looking forward to something and making sure there was guaranteed to be a happy moment each day.
3. I really appreciated the little things all week that I think I sometimes tend to take for granted.
4. I had few instances of feeling down this week and was generally fairly productive compared to the previous few weeks. Again, maybe this would have happened anyway, but focusing on happy things definitely didn't hurt.
So what made you happy this week?
My name is Diane D. Gillette. My two passions are writing and teaching. If you are a writer, I hope you will find my blog useful and/or entertaining. If you are looking for a private tutor or assistance with your writing in the Chicago area, please feel free to stop by the My Services tab to find out more about my qualifications and what I can do for you. Happy Writing!
Happy Writers and Readers!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.