P 203 “Is it too reductionist then, to suggest that a major reason for creative writing is an abstracted version of the same biological urge that causes you to cry out in sorrow or anger? Let us call it the need theory of self expression. I cry out because some primitive part of me believes that when you cry out, someone warm and helpful comes. What do I need? It is not to have those tiny babies back. They were too small for me to remember; they have vanished like soap bubbles. I have two real children now. Nor do I want to return to the sunny, uniformly lit mental life I used to have, although there are aspects of that life that I miss.

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I've been away from this blog for awhile. Hope you are all well. Been working on a new adult book for St Martins called BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL and awaiting the publication of LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING from Holt in August. Will be traveling to ALA in Chicago June 30th, Decatur Georgia Book Fest 9/1 and the Brooklyn Book Fest 9/22. Because of all the travel I'm cutting down my private live and online classes for now except for a one day August 4th with award winning mystery author Denise Hamilton in Culver City (francescaliablock@sbcglobal.net for details).
And please join me in Idyllwild this summer?
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Sorrow arrived in Boston and there was Kindness, waiting for her, tall and solemn, and she felt immediately calm, as if she were seeing a friend whom she had known for her whole life.  He took her bag and they walked to his truck with a picture of a tree on the side.  He drove her to his home, a Victorian three-story building with a weeping willow in the front yard and a latticework arbor in the back.  Dogwoods with white flowering branches and clustered birch trees and impatiens and peonies.  All this he had put in the ground with his hands.
They went to dinner at a small restaurant near his house and had wine with their vegetable risotto and Sorrow grew softer and less afraid.  Kindness held her hand a bit awkwardly on the walk home.  Back at his house, he kissed her cheek and handed her a fresh towel; she took a bath and got in bed in an attic room with antique wooden furniture and a Persian rug the color of a good Syrah, and slept heavily as if she had drunk the whole bottle of wine.
In the morning, Kindness took Sorrow out for oat and corn meal waffles with fresh berries and then they walked around the arboretum as a soft rain fell.  Kindness volunteered once a week there, teaching first graders about plants.  He showed Sorrow the different forms of weeping trees and opened a pod to reveal small white seeds hiding inside. 
Later, Sorrow went to a bookstore where she read from her latest graphic novel in the Sliver Lake series, Saturn’s Return.  Young women came up to her with bouquets of flowers, bottles of pomegranate ginger lime tea, letters written in glitter and arms covered with tattoos of quotes from her books.  Kindness sat quietly in the back and watched this. 
The next day, Sorrow and Kindness went to the Boston Gardens and walked among the smiling roses and weeping trees and rode on the lake in a boat shaped like a swan.  They went to Fenway Park and bought a Red Sox jersey for Lennon.  They went to the Museum of Fine Arts; in one room there was a large statue of Quan Yin, paint faded, palm upraised, long eyes filled with compassion.  Sorrow stood before her, trying not to cry, thinking of Saturn alone in a room with a needle, morning light harsh through the glass ceiling on his upturned face.  Sorrow wondered if Saturn had been the one dimming the switches or if it was the poltergeist of her own guilt that had done it.
As night fell blue, she and Kindness walked the cobblestone streets of an Italian neighborhood and ate bruschetta and pasta with pesto and then had cannolis for dessert in a pastry shop with marble tables and the hockey game playing on large screen TV’s.  The Bruins won and everyone cheered.
“You’re good luck,” Kindness said.
Back at the Victorian house, Sorrow took off Laine’s necklace and the tiny charm fell into the sink.  Clink.  Sorrow reached down the drain for it and realizing it was gone, called for Kindness. He came into the bathroom and told her he would get it for her, not to worry. She stood hovering over him as he reached in with a pair of chopsticks and tweezers a number of times.
“Maybe you should go upstairs,” he said kindly and she did; she got in bed and closed her eyes, visualizing Kindness’s deft hands retrieving the key and heart charm.
He was unable to do it with the tweezers, so Kindness, who had told her he didn’t want Sorrow to go back to her best friend without the charm, sawed off the pipe in his bathroom.  She lay upstairs in bed with her eyes shut tight, waiting for him to come in and say the necklace was gone. Bad things. But instead, she heard his laugh, gruff and soft.
“You numbskull,” he said tenderly, entering the room. “It was on the floor.”
He had sawed off the pipe and then found the charm on the floor!  She jumped up and down beneath him, gripping his shoulders.  “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” he said.  “It’s no big deal. I can replace the pipe.  It’s just a small piece of plastic.  I’m just glad you have your charm. Nothing was lost or broken and no one was hurt.  Nothing bad happened. ”
That night she left the guest room, crept barefoot through the darkened house, got into his cherry wood bed and nestled against him.  His body felt tense but warm and she imagined that his heart, beating loud in his chest, was larger than other hearts she had known.  He lifted her face to his and kissed her firm and soft on the mouth and between kisses they spoke, though they did not make love.  They spoke about being alone for a long time, and forgetting how to touch another person and about how far apart they lived and how sometimes love could feel like death and that perhaps, if you got it right, in the end, death could feel like love.
“All I know is that, when it’s time, I don’t want to hang around messing with dimmer switches,” Sorrow said. 
Bless you, Saturn.  Rest in peace. 
She flew back to L.A. the next morning, leaving behind the winning team and the swan boats, the dogwoods like clouds and the rugs like wine.  Blue heart strung around her neck on a chain, the key dangling down.
There are no happy endings, with only good things, because we all, eventually, die.
For the same reason, perhaps, depending on what you believe, there are no sad endings. 

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this spring is like that man in the white
radiating heat even from his thumbs
standing so close we steal each other's air
a wedding band glaring on his finger

the air is overstuffed with white
just as my head feels too full of words
and there's a rawness in my chest a hope
mixed with resignation
that this will be my final chance
for poetry and...

winter was easier in some respects
watching the branches bare
in too much pain to feel desire
shivered in an empty tub

spring--like the words "my marriage is trying
to find a graceful way to die"
making me realize there's still a thing
that beats in there
and also wishing
i had never learned this fact

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well you had a cruel mouth and i should have paid attention
when my son said he didn't like your picture
i was glad you shared his birth sign
but my interest in astrology could be part of why you checked me off your list

i kept myself from scaring you away
with poetry, even ate a little dairy
but somehow didn't measure up

i wonder when you made the call
was it at dinner, when i ordered sparkling wine
or said not that many movies make me laugh
maybe it was about my wounded eye

you mentioned jennifer
lawrence twice
in the two times that me met
as if that bit information would reveal something true about your soul
perhaps it did
but i tried to see it as revealing something about me
the insecurities
that needed to be managed

i knew that i was up to this task
and looked forward to another dinner
where i strayed from my vegan diet, listened to you rhapsodize on starlets
and waited to be kissed

cruel mouths can kiss
they just can't speak
the things i want to hear

but my hands can type
letters you will never read

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since when did i become this numb
my arm a-tingle
like a phantom
since when?
i’ll tell you

holding my mother in my arms
pulling pink cotton clothes off stiff arms and legs
dressing her for the pyre
wrapping her in a sheet
watching as the men took her away
driving home alone
climbing into bed alone
knowing i’d have to tell my children in the morning
dressing for work the next day
smiling in a flowered blouse
fighting with the bank
being fucked by one who never kissed
getting the key back in the mail
putting a strong young seizing dog to sleep with no one at my side
slipping on a wet floor
in high heeled boots and getting up like nothing’s wrong
getting up again and again
like nothing’s wrong
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you are less real than the people in my head
the mad antlered king the one-eyed heroine, the girl with the silver hand
the tattooed androgyne the cruel fae the dead friend
you are only a face that reminds me of someone i once loved
lit up by torches against the window
your black coat collar turned up around your well-formed neck
your dancer's shoulders your bearing like a spanish king
you are only a story you told me about a one-armed woman who had to learn
that she too deserved love
and this made me think we knew each other in some way
but you are only a salty voice a liquor sipper a man with a silver watch
and who do you see
when you look at me
do you see the entourage of my imagination
the radiance of my children
a tiger
a warrior
a lover
or only a woman with a lost eye
a numb arm
a split heart
a hobbled foot
and very little time

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My answers for #thenextbigthing
Q: What is your working title of your book (or story)? The Elementals #theelementals
Q: Where did the idea come from for the book? I’ve been writing it in my mind and in bits and pieces for so long that I can’t remember. I was inspired by the story of Tam Lin, by Patrick Harpur’s THE PHILOSOPHER’S SECRET FIRE, by Keats and Yeats.
Q: What genre does your book fall under? Adult fiction but it is quickly gaining an older young adult audience. It also has elements of urban fantasy and murder mystery.
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? A young Charlotte Gainsbourg for Ariel. A young Joseph Gordon-Levitt for John.
Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Ariel Silverman is a freshman at U Berkeley investigating the disappearance of her best friend when she falls into the secret world of three beautiful and mysterious strangers.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It is published by St. Martin’s Press and my agent is Laurie Liss from Sterling Lord Literistic.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About nine months and then I revised it a lot.
Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt. IN THE WOOD by Tana French. At least these were all inspirations.
Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book? My mother. The Faerie Queen. The death of a girl I knew as a child.
Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I started the story about a young woman whose mother has cancer a few months before my mom found out she had cancer. I finished it sitting on the floor in the doorway of the room where my mother died. She told me “Everything is going to be a fine,” held my hand and looked into my eyes and then she smiled.

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