Shades of Memory


Once upon a bright Californian desert, I lived in fear of the sun.

That fear might have been inspired by an incident with a seat buckle when I was a toddler. Back then, car seats exposed more metal than what’s allowed today. I don’t remember the incident but know I witnessed my sister burn on her seat that heated in the desert sunlight coming in on her side of the car. The babysitter said she screamed and screamed. The burn left a permanent scar on my sister and (maybe) emotional ones on me.

I’m not sure I liked direct sunlight or heat before that. My parents insisted that I stay out in the sun on decks and beaches long enough for my skin to burn, and I remember wanting to stay inside. I do believe the incident in the car intensified my fears.

We moved north to green woods and valleys deepened by whitewater rivers. My family complained of the overcast skies that lasted for months. I explored the cool shadows of the forests.

Sure, animals that could eat me lived in the shadows, too. I knew to avoid routines while outside during the dawn or dusk, those glorious times between night and day when shadows filled with rainbow colors. Those were hunting times. I hunted for beauty.

I’ve known since early childhood how to avoid dangers where the light is dimmer. Don’t look like prey. Feel for each step. Know the difference between a baby oak and poison oak–I mean, know what’s actually dangerous. These are important lessons for living in the shadows.

foggy mountain rang at dusk

In my twenties, I learned to live in cities. The human to non-human ratio is higher in urban environments than it is in the country. Most of the dangerous predators are of the same species as their prey. Construction interferes with routes as much as weather does. Toxins are everywhere in higher doses than one finds in an old-growth forest.

Shade can take on new meanings* with greater exposure to human cultures. Shadows are cast by the people who attract the most notice.

As a writer, I like to take the places and types of characters hidden behind stereotypes. They’re buried in history. They’re too alien/unfamiliar. The characters aren’t the typical age or gender, or they’ve blurred the lines between heroes and villains. I blend the light and the dark. That looks familiar to me.

These days, I also try to fill shadows with rainbows.

That’s what I’d needed when I was younger.

* Just Wanna Share: “Throwing Shade”

What is the correct usage of ‘throwing shade’?” on Stack Exchange

bird of prey in flight

A Few Ways to Get Publishing Agents

bird of prey in flight
photo source: Pixabay on Pexels

Though my focus this month remains on my short stories, I know many of the writers I see online are holding on to completed book manuscripts in need of homes.

Are you ready for an agent or content editor?

Manuscript Wish Tracking

I came upon resources for querying publishing agents that is now in Www-writing resources! This is a permanent addition unless I hear of problems with the programs.

An agent takes on much of the market research for books. Find ones looking for your manuscript at Manuscript Wish List. The online QueryTracker can help with organizing submissions to agents.

Pitch Events

Many publishing professionals and hopefuls meet up on social media. One of the ways writers can find interested agents is through Twitter hashtag events known as pitch parties. The next Twitter pitch party for unpublished fiction and non-fiction is –tomorrow (July 18)! Learn more about the event at Kristin D. Van Risseghem’s #Pit2Pub page.

This Thursday’s event is , by Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Hashtag-based pitch parties coming up later this year:

  • on Thursday, September 6
  • on Thursday, October 25
  • and on Wednesday, November 7
  • #PitMad (mentoring match-up by Pitch Wars) on Thursday, December 6

Other Writers

Let me know if this post helps you catch a good marketing partner. Best wishes!

Alberta, Canada scenery

On Posts’ Status and Comments

Maybe no one else knows. I was trying for Weird Science in the News on the last Friday of the month and a weekly post with one of my poems or stories every Saturday. That didn’t work out this weekend.

Focusing on the past won’t change it. I’m moving ahead with plans for this next week.

One thing, though. I clicked Like instead of responding to a few comments on my posts. That continues to feel as if it needs to be addressed.

A Like shows a response (I like this!) but not an interest in conversation. Please know that while I’m not quick at responding, I do think about visitors.  What’s really nice is when people feel comfortable commenting.

Comments help me know how posts are receieved, and anyone else who has taken time to read my thoughts might benefit from yours.

Thanks for reading!

PS: Happy Canada Day! Thank you for all that you do for yourselves and the world, Canadians. Your country’s existence brings hope to many in the U.S.A. in our darkest days.

Empty seats in an industrial office setting

Water Cooler and Other Writing Forums

Does anyone else remember chats at the office water cooler? I was looking for images for this post and realized that mainstream corporate culture has changed so much that maybe people hovering in a corner at breaks for a chance to talk about personal issues with less of a risk of a disciplinary meeting is unfamiliar.

Anyway, this post is about other types of changes. I’ve removed a note from my Writing Resources page, which is under “processes –> links go to new spaces”.

Which sites host good forums for writers?

Note: I recommend avoiding Absolute Write until they complete their security updates.

Absolute Write (AW) updated their server to add encryption to their Water Cooler forums. That means they’ve better secured the information you give them–for example, at registration, when you share your birthday and email address.

Read more about What Is HTTPS, and Why Should I Care? (at How-to-Geek).

My web browsers seem happy with the new encryption, so I’m happy with AW’s security. Absolute Write Water Cooler is a new addition to my list.

Also, I’ve registered as a member!

My current concern is that AW appears to be no more active than most writing sites, including the relevant forums at SFFWorld. I’m tempted to go outside of the regular, year-round forums and join a cabin at Camp NaNoWriMo for conversation next month.

What about you? Are you a writer? Do you frequent a writing forum online?



lightbulbs in the dark

Vision (or, Menu Labels)

lightbulbs in the dark
Photo by Nita on

Happy Monday! That’s still today where I live.

A friend commented on my site’s navigation menu. I know, the labels are strange, and I’ve realized that an explanation might help visitors–like you!

Here’s what I mean by the current, cutesy menu titles.

thoughts: my main blog page.

glimmers: flash fiction, tiny essays, poetry, novel excerpts (one of these days), and story notes. These are the blog posts about my creative writing.

processes: non-fiction for writers. This contains a sub-menu:

  • links go to new spaces: list of external writing resources.
  • science inspires: my Weird Science in the News posts.
  • story formatting matters: formatting guide for short story submissions.

contact: a webform that will send your message to my email.

Make sense? Please let me know below if it doesn’t.

Thanks for playing in the Shadows.

Grounded crow with wings spread

Settling Into a New Webspace

Welcome to Shadows in Mind

This new blog is starting fresh after more than eight years of false starts and interruptions. Did you notice the URL for this site? It’s finally instead of a .wordpress domain name.

Grounded crow with wings spread
something to caw about

What to Expect

Most of my content should show up later this year under to category pages. If that doesn’t make sense now, that’s okay. (I’m confused in the chaos, too.) What should happen is that you’ll see simpler menus and regular posts, some familiar if you followed the old site but some entirely new.

For example, tomorrow’s scheduled blog post is Weird Science in News, which will link to articles from the past week of popular science news. Saturday’s post will feature an old story of mine. That story will be categorized as a “glimmer”.

I’m expecting to blog a story every week through the summer. Please let me know if you want to see anything in particular on this site.

Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to follow for updates!