Season’s Greetings 2016

Abbie-1

This year has been busy as usual. I took a trip to Florida in March to visit my brother Andy and his family. This trip was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect, and highlights include a food truck festival in downtown Jupiter, a canoe trip along the Loxahatchee River where we encountered an alligator, and a trip to the beach.

At the beginning of April, I planned to fly to California to attend my uncle’s wedding, but I developed a bad chest cold. Two days before I was scheduled to leave, I woke up and could barely talk and decided to cancel my trip. I didn’t want to travel when I felt so miserable and risk passing my crud on to anyone else. I was sorry to miss the wedding. Andy told me about it later, and it sounded fun.

In the middle of April, my Third Thursday Poets group gave a reading at the local senior center to commemorate National Poetry Month. We were joined by twenty-five high school students, some of whom shared their work.

At the end of April, my friend Rose Hill, who was our state poet laureate last year, and I drove to Riverton to attend the WyoPoets annual workshop at the Holiday Inn. The night before the workshop, there was a reading at the Riverton public library, during which Rose unveiled WyoPoets’ newest chapbook, Labyrinth: Poems from Wyoming and Beyond. Yours truly and others featured in the book shared work.

In June, Rose and I returned to Riverton for the Wyoming Writers conference, held at the Wind River Hotel & Casino. This was more of an adventure than most conferences we attended. In order to get from our hotel room to most of the meeting rooms, we had to cross the casino, full of noise and cigarette smoke. Needless to say, “Luck be a Lady tonight,” was going through my head all weekend.

A couple of months earlier, I finished my new memoir and contacted Leonore Dvorkin, of Denver, Colorado, who, along with her husband, David, helps authors publish their work online through Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, and other sources. She encouraged me to send her my manuscript but said she wasn’t sure they could get to it until possibly after the first of the year.

At the end of June, though, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Leonore, saying that she’d read through my manuscript, and because it was so well written, she thought it could be published this summer. To make a long story short, Leonore and David were true to their word, and in August, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was published.

Also during the summer months, I started taking a poetry class from the Hadley Institute, a school that offers free correspondence courses to those who are blind and visually impaired. You may wonder why I’m taking a poetry class when I already have two poetry collections under my belt. Well, there’s always room for improvement. Because of my new book’s publication and other activities, I haven’t been able to devote as much time to it as I would have liked, but I hope to finish it next year. I’ve already written several poems as a result, so maybe I’ll have enough for another book. Who knows?

In July, Andy and his wife Christina spent a weekend with me. They also visited friends and relatives in Colorado and hiked in Yellowstone Park. While they were here, we attended the rodeo parade, explored our old neighborhood, got ice cream in the park, and ate dinner with friends and relatives. I had such a great time while they were here, and I hope they’ll come again next year. I’m planning to spend a week with them in January.

On July 20th, fellow poet Christine Valentine and I were featured as part of the weekly Vaudeville program at the Wyo Theater. We performed a poem Christine wrote, “Driven Insane by Mitzi Gaynor,” which talks about songs that get stuck in your head. The songs mentioned here were “101 Pounds of Fun” from South Pacific and “Go Home with Bonnie Jean” from Brigadoon. Christine read the poem, and we sang the songs together when she got to them. It was a lot of fun, and the audience loved it.

In August, my brother’s in-laws from Florida came to town one day. They’d been traveling across the country for several weeks, and they took me out to dinner at Frackleton’s. The food was delicious, and I had a great time visiting with them.

On October 8th, I participated in a national event for independent authors at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library. Many libraries across the country hosted this program which was open to the public.

We watched a digital presentation featuring leaders in the publishing industry giving advice to authors wanting to self-publish. After that, several authors, myself included, participated in a panel discussion where we shared our experiences. We then sat at a table and tried to sell books for about half an hour. Although I didn’t make any sales that day, I enjoyed networking with other writers.

On October 20th, my Third Thursday Poets gave another reading at the Sheridan Senior Center to commemorate National Poetry Day. Several poets, myself included, shared work. Some read poems by other authors. I performed a poem I wrote about my memories of listening to music with Dad when I was little.

My Thanksgiving this year was pretty quiet. I had the traditional turkey dinner at the senior center, came home, took a nap, and did some reading and a little writing. It would have been wonderful to gather with family for this occasion, but it was nice spending the holiday alone. As far as I know, my Christmas will also be a quiet one.

Of course I did my share of singing. My group, Just Harmony, performed at various functions in the past year, and we’ve got several Christmas performances lined up. I’ve also been singing at nursing homes, an assisted living facility, and an adult day care center on a regular basis. I enjoy doing this and will continue to do it as often as I can.

Well, I believe I’ve gone on long enough. Speaking of singing, I leave you now with my Christmas wish for all of you. Click on the Dropbox link below to hear it. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year to come.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/merry%20little%20christmas.mp3

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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News from Abbie’s Corner June 2016

Last month, I was busy with singing engagements. I played my guitar and sang at two nursing homes, an assisted living facility, and an adult day care program. I’ve decided to space out these performances so I’m not doing them all in one month. I won’t do any this month except for Westview where I’ve already committed to doing it once a month for the monthly birthday party. I’ll start in July, doing just one of the other facilities each month so I’m doing only two per month instead of four every other month. That way, each of the other facilities will have me every couple of months, and it won’t be quite so hectic.

The first weekend of this month, I attended the Wyoming Writers annual conference in Riverton which was quite an adventure compared to other such conferences. It was held at the Wind River Hotel & Casino, and as I usually do, I traveled with Rose Hill, Wyoming’s current poet laureate, and we stayed together in a hotel room.

At about ten thirty on Friday morning after getting up at the crack of dawn and driving for hours, we arrived at the hotel to discover that we couldn’t check in until four o’clock that afternoon. Being on the Wyoming Writers board, I had a meeting to attend on the other side of the casino. Rose wanted to accompany me so off we went. As we wound our way through the maze of slot machines and black jack tables, the song “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls popped into my head. We needed luck to survive the barrage of noise, flashing lights, and cigarette smoke.

After the meeting and lunch, it was back through the casino to the hotel where conference registration was taking place. When we got there, we were told we could use a golf cart to get around the casino, instead of through it, and to the meeting rooms on the other side. It came with Austen and Garland, two friendly young drivers who took turns shuttling people around during that weekend. The cart only held one person besides the driver so Rose and I had to take turns using it. I felt sorry for those poor guys, having to run back and forth and decided to attend Saturday workshops on the hotel side so I wouldn’t have to press them into service as often.

I’m glad I made that decision because the workshops I attended were led by poet and University of Wyoming instructor Lori Howe. In one session, she had us choose seven words from a list and write a poem about a particular moment in life. In another, she asked us to write a poem about an event from more than one perspective. Needless to say, I wrote two poems that day. I’ll submit them for possible publication in an anthology she’s editing that will consist of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by Wyoming authors.

On Saturday night, there was a banquet featuring Native American historian and storyteller Joseph Marshall III as keynote speaker. I must admit that writing two poems in one day is exhausting, and I dozed off during his presentation. However, I downloaded one of his short story collections, The Dance House, and will read and review it here later.

After the banquet, an open mic session was scheduled in one of the large meeting rooms on the other side of the casino. I’d already promised friend and fellow poet Christine Valentine I’d do a duet with her so there was no turning back. It was nearly nine o’clock, and Rose said, “Do you think we could hoof it over there without calling those guys to help us?”

“Sure,” I said, confident that if Lady Luck was with us the first two times we traversed that den of iniquity that is the Wind River Reservation’s main economic source, surely she would be with us a third time. I needed the exercise, and I figured I was already a candidate for lung cancer since my mother probably smoked while I was in her womb.

When we arrived at the Cottonwood Room, Rose huffing and puffing, me smiling with another sense of accomplishment, our conference chair said, “Why didn’t you use the cart?”

“We figured the guys were off duty,” I answered.

“Well, they’re not,” she said. She then produced her phone, made a call, and said, “Austen will be back to pick you up at ten o’clock.”

The duet Christine and I did was a poem she wrote about being driven to distraction by two songs. The first was “101 Pounds of Fun” from South Pacific. In the poem, she writes about how she and her husband kept singing that song together after watching the musical on television. She even sang it to the postmistress who probably thought she was crazy. In the end, she explains how she purchased Brigadoon from Netflix. Now, they’re singing ”Go Home with Bonnie Jean.”

Speaking of earworms, “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” stuck with me all weekend. Often, I found myself humming it in our hotel room. Finally, Rose, a Methodist grandmother, in exasperation, countered with her rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” (Here’s my version.) All in all, despite the hassles, this year’s conference was pretty good.

Now, here’s some good news. I originally thought my memoir, My Ideal Partner, wouldn’t be published until the end of this year or the beginning of 2017. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive an email from Leonore Dvorkin, saying she and her husband David were ahead of schedule. It looks like the book will be out sometime this summer. Meanwhile, she has been copy editing. The email messages that would normally have been flying fast and furious have not been because she says this book is well written. I guess it had better be since it’s my fourth one. When it’s published, it’ll be available as an eBook from Smashwords and Amazon and in print from CreateSpace.

This summer, I’ll be taking a correspondence class in the elements of poetry from the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I’ve never taken a course from them but have heard good things about their classes so am looking forward to the experience. You may wonder if it’s necessary for me to take a poetry class when I have two poetry collections under my belt. Well, there’s always room for learning and improvement.

As Garrison Keillor would say, that’s the news from Sheridan, Wyoming, my home town. Have a great month. I’ll have more news for you in July.

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems