Newhart’s Inn

Last weekend my husband and I fulfilled one of my dreams and spent the weekend at the Stratford Inn (AKA Waybury Inn). I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Newhart and all his shows, especially Newhart. So a few years ago, when I googled “Stratford Inn” on a whim, I knew I had to make the pilgrimage.

The town of East Middlebury was much like the town of Norwich depicted in the intro to the show. But then we saw the bed and breakfast, and pulling into the parking lot, I thought Waybury Inn didn’t look much like Stratford Inn.

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 But I think that was because we were approaching it from an angle.

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We stepped inside, and the lobby and tiny front desk looked nothing like the lobby and long front desk in the show.

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I mentioned this to my husband, and he said, “Of course none of the episodes were filmed here, they were all filmed on a Hollywood set!” And so I asked the front desk clerk. She said only the exterior of the Waybury Inn was filmed, and that was for the intro to the show. She also said Larry, Darryl, and Darryl had visited the inn, but not Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart).

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We had a charming time regardless, and enjoyed the scenic countryside and small town atmosphere. But before we left, I took a look around the nooks and crannies and saw Dick Loudon’s Stratford Inn…

039.JPG Shining Through… 

Snowpocalypse 2015… and Beyond!

Snowpocalypse2015backdeck Is it spring yet? Not here, but that doesn’t matter. Snowpocalypse 2015 has (hopefully) ended, and those of us who survived can celebrate by stocking up on iron (more about that further down). Or diving into reading and writing projects. I’m doing both. Care to join me? Here is a list of writing and reading activities I’ve either done in years past, or plan to do this year:

  1. Read or write poetry. Join a progressive poetry group.
  2. Reread a favorite book from your childhood.
  3. If you have children or are a caretaker of children, read to them.
  4. Buy a book for a child.
  5. Watch a movie based on a favorite book.
  6. Get a writing or reading buddy.
  7. Create a book cover for your book-in-progress.
  8. Map out a publication timeline for your WIP.
  9. Watch youtube videos of your favorite authors reading excerpts of their work and giving lectures or talks. I highly recommend Stephen King and Harlan Ellison.
  10. Read chapters of some of your favorite books out loud, and make notes of how you would improve the writing.
  11. Get involved with a local library event during National Library Week, April 12 – 18, 2015 (USA).
  12. Support your local bookstore by shopping on Independent Bookstore Day, May 2, 2015 (USA).
  13. Donate books to a book charity. If you don’t have any books you want to donate, buy some new or used and donate those.
  14. Attend a local author reading.
  15. Take a free online class. It can be a creative writing class, a literature class, or any class.
  16. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Commit to strengthening the strengths, and improving the weaknesses.
  17. Start or join a writing or reading group.
  18. Commit to writing a set number of words per week, or per month.
  19. Submit a story to a call for submissions for an anthology.
  20. Apply for a residency retreat.
  21. Write a book review and post it on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, make one.
  22. Attend a writers’ conference.
  23. Read an edited and polished excerpt of your writing out loud at an open mic night.
  24. Enter your writing into a contest.
  25. Join an association, like the Independent Book Publishers Association.
  26. Write or read a novel outside your usual genres. If you do that already, then check out my genre list.
  27. Go on a solitary writer’s retreat of your own making.
  28. Read banned or challenged books during Banned Book Week, September 27 – October 3 2015. Tell people.
  29. Go on a literary pilgrimage to visit a place where a favorite author lived or wrote about.
  30. Write the draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo.
  31. Donate books to a juvenile detention center, homeless shelter, prison, half-way house, rehab center, or place of worship. Call to make arrangements first.
  32. Get a Fisher Space Pen and keep it next to some paper on your nightstand!

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And so I’m back! And at a less frenetic pace than last year. At the end of January I had to go to the ER for severe anemia… Then spent about a week at home just managing to crawl in and out of bed… After countless blood tests, and a month of recovery, my iron count is almost up to human level. Next month I have a hospital visit for even more tests. Maybe they’ll find another part of my internal parasitic twin (I’m assuming I have one. Where else is all my iron going? They already found my twin’s kidneys, so I assume I didn’t fully ingest her in the womb. Live and learn.)

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In the meantime, I (rather, my hubby) dug myself out of Snowpocalypse: Snowpocalypse2015frontyard

(This is my front yard. The snow is still over my head.)

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And I found (actually, I won) this: CMStewartBWP

Horror author J. Thorn gives away scary things at his Dark Realms website.

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And HDWP Books was hacked, but our fearless leader Charles Barouch saved the day! Check it out, I have a short story in every Theme-Thology anthology so far…

Theme-Thologies

Authors

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Speaking of my stories, my over-arching project this year is working on the novel I wrote during the last NaNoWriMo: MEATFUL THINGS. I feel like I have a solid draft, and I’ve been steadily improving it as my own health improves. I have some beta readers lined up, but could always use more. So if you’d like to provide feedback on a complete supernatural horror novel of approximately 52,000 words, shoot me an email (click on the “Who is CMStewart?” link), or leave a comment below. I’ll be sending the draft, along with a few book critique questions, to my beta readers at the end of March. Thanks!

My First Very Own Garden

I remember…

the 21st day of September…

like it was yesterday. Here’s a selection of what happened this past summer with my first very own container garden* at my very own place…

Sunflower sprouts.

Sunflower sprouts.

Sunflower with bee.

Sunflower with bee.

I'm pretty sure these are carrots.

I’m pretty sure these are carrots.

My glorious non-GM organic tomatoes! They are still green on the vine today. Do you also see the purple green bean? That was my most abundant crop.

My glorious non-GM organic tomatoes! They are still green on the vine today. Do you also see the purple green bean? That was my most abundant crop.

Corpse Plants growing near my compost pile.

Corpse Plants growing near my compost pile.

Next year I will expand my garden with more containers and more plants. In the meantime, my compost pile continues to grow…

*I live 1000 feet from a former Superfund site, so all the gardens in my neighborhood are container gardens.

Signs of the INVASION

_CMS0076Drat! This one got me. I was completely caught off-guard.

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_CMS0083Rampant animal-kissing. One of the prophesied signs of the INVASION. It’s in my cult’s holy book (visible only to me).

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_CMS0088Mass casualties. An obvious sign of the INVASION.

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_CMS0084What? Mough? What mough? Whatmough? An INVASION of WHATMOUGH!

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_CMS0094The word “vegan” at a state fair. Yea! A hippie INVASION!

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_CMS0095A solar power INVASION overthrows The Establishment! Gonna stick it to The Man!

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_CMS0079The horns. We’re doomed.

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_CMS0078Poor kid got a flesh-eating bacterial infection through a scape on his hand, probably.

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_CMS0087An INVASION of bovine butts.

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_CMS0096Sunflowers infected with sunspot slime.

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_CMS0099Tomatoes infected with Joe DeWitt disease. They still look yummy, though.

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_CMS0098ALIEN PODS!

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_CMS0101This semi-infected bunch of greens was selling for 20 bucks. I spared you the photo of the fully-infected greens.

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_CMS0104This is what GM pathogens do to a grape.

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_CMS0110So I opted for a fried pickle instead, and spotted 2 furries and a green-faced zombie.

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_CMS0086Charles Caleb Colton rose from the dead. He’s now a zombie. We had a nice chat about the anthology I’m in before I had to whack him with a shovel.

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_CMS0093The Gideons were raptured in a rare reverse-INVASION.

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_CMS0092An INVASION of PEZ!

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_CMS0109Implements of threshing.

*_CMS0107And impalement.

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_CMS0106Yes, we are experiencing an INVASION. But you may be able to save yourself…

In time for Halloween, Amazon has an anthology of 15 stories documenting the INVASION, including a story by yours truly!

Check it out: INVASION

INVASION-Graphic2

American Gothic

My American Gothic

American Gothic

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have seen my last post, vaguely describing my alleged extraterrestrial abduction.

Since that posting, I’ve regained some memories of the event, and even discovered I had the wherewithal to take some photos immediately after my abduction.

(I was immobilized during my examination in the extraterrestrial spaceship, so was unable to photograph the aliens or the inside of the ship.)

On or around July 10, 2013, I was beamed aboard a spaceship from the planet Saturn. I spent the next month or so being forcibly restrained and studied, as many Earthling have been studied by Saturnites before me. I was probed with needles around my feet, ankles, and lower legs. The needles were tiny, but I suspect I had an allergy to the antiseptic, as the resulting pain was lasting. I still bear the scars from the needles:

Note the probe injection marks and the bruising from the restraints.

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I took this photo in night vision mode. This is the extraterrestrial spaceship which abducted me:

This is a spaceship from Saturn, I'm pretty sure. Note the scale distortion caused by plasgravitid waves.

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Also taken in night vision mode, this is the extraterrestrial spaceship landing strip across the street. During the daylight hours, it is disguised as a lawn ornament display:

Though I was abducted by Saturnites who most likely used this landing strip, I believe my neighbors across the street are Mercurians.

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My abduction and probing was stressful, but I am honored that the Saturnites chose me as a test subject, and am forever grateful they returned me to Earth in an infinitely more suitable and pleasant environment. I can now plant my garden, and include Earth’s most perfect fruit, the non-GM tomato. (Photos next summer.)

My old new abode is at 0:25

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My American Goth

American Goth

That GM tomato was evil, I tell you, EVIL. I had to do it.

Stewart Royalty at Dunnottar Castle, part 2

AKA

Schoolgirl Photoshoot

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Here’s how this project started:

Stewart Royalty at Dunnottar Castle, part 1

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So Christmas New Year’s Day Valentine’s Day Easter has come and gone and I’ve finally finished my tartan jumpers. I am pleased with how they look, and proud that I made a couple outfits I can wear in polite company.

I made each jumper by sewing 2 pieces of material together- a bib and a skirt. The skirts are wrap-around and fasten with 2 buttons. I pleated the 2 tartans differently according to the pattern of stripes. This resulted in the red jumper wrapping around my waist 1 1/2 times, and the blue jumper wrapping around less than that. The result was unattached side corners on my blue bib. I remedied this by sewing Velcro to the inside of both sides of the waist, securing the bib corners to the skirt. You can see the Velcro stitching to the left of my thumb.

To go with the outfits, I altered my husband’s tuxedo shirt (with his permission). I re-hemmed the bottom and re-seamed the sleeves and sides to make it fit me better. Then I cut off the collar and sewed on a new collar I made from scrap material from the bottom of the shirt. The cuffs were floppy, so I folded and sewed those as well.

To top it all off, I sewed a couple matching headbands.

Because I didn’t use a pattern, and knew very little about sewing, I climbed a steep learning curve with this project. Many of the pleat stitches are redundant, as are some of the hem stitches. The waists don’t perfectly match up when they’re wrapped around, and I have some bare corners where I didn’t extend the bias tape all the way to the edges. On close inspection, the shirt collar looks like a mad spider sewed it. (I ended up sewing several passes of zigzag stitching to join several layers of bias tape with pleats on a curve). My seam ripper got a good workout. But overall, I’d say this project was a success!

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Here I am extensively modeling my tartan jumpers:

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And now a BONUS KITTY PHOTO for those who scrolled through to the end!

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Presenting Stubby & Ting for Your Viewing Pleasure

These are my kitties. They are my raison d’être.

Happy New Year to all the cats and cat lovers.

Immerse Yourself in the REAL World

Many writers tend to write in solitude, behind closed doors. They do better without the distraction of the “real” world. I know I’m like this. I’m most productive when I’m alone in front of my computer with the curtains drawn and the TV off. No music, no background chatter, no people vying for my attention. I’m able to focus on the settings, characters, motivations, and actions in my novels in clear and immediate detail. And that’s exactly what I need to do to produce a quality story. But sometimes I need a break from my solitude (vacuuming the floor or fixing dinner or saying “Hi” to the UPS guy doesn’t count). A break- defined as an unusual “real” world experience- can inject energy and newness into our writing. Even simple experiences can heighten our perceptions:

Are you a life-long city-dweller? Visit a family farm. Always lived in the country? Grab a friend and wander the streets of the nearest big city.

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Attend a country-western music concert if you’re a headbanger. If you prefer classical, try techno. Listen with a playful attitude and an open mind.

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Plan ahead and visit an unfamiliar environment- the beach, a cave, the desert, a forest, the mountains . .

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Eat at a restaurant which serves a cuisine you haven’t yet tried. Or try cooking an unfamilar dish yourself.

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Commit to reading a novel in a genre you normally skip, and read it outdoors.

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Whatever- just do it!

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And let’s take it a step further. The next time you take a break, bring along a pen and notepad, a voice recorder, or a camcorder:

1. Sight- Look for something nobody else sees. Describe it in a way nobody else would.

2. Smell- Note the over-riding odors in your environment. Now note the underlying scent.

3. Sound- Pick a repetitive sound, close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus only on that sound. Keep focusing until your mind creates a vivid reaction. Describe the reaction.

4. Taste- The next time you’re hungry, drink a glass of water and go for a walk. On your walk, imagine preparing and eating your favorite food. Describe the taste. Then imagine preparing and eating your least favorite food. Describe the taste.

5. Touch- Choose 7 different inanimate objects along your walk (for example- tree, mulch, brick, etc.) As you pass each object, touch it and describe its personality.

Remember- simply reading about these exercises doesn’t count as actually doing the exercises.

So pick one- or all- and get out there and do it!

Then, if you’d like, share your experience below.

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p.s. If you’d like to catch up on my first flash-fiction-or-other challenge, click . . . . . . . . . . . . . HERE.