Take a chance and cast your line!

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

This week…

Back in March, I tried my hand at writing a piece of flash fiction at thestoryshack.com, which features a new writing prompt generator. I had been alerted to this wonderful feature by Luanne over at Writer Site and was eager to try it out.

Story Shack, founded in November 2011, is an on-line literary magazine featuring illustrated flash fiction. Its focus is to bring together the worlds of fiction and illustration by fostering relationships between authors and visual artists.

Using the writing prompt generator, I wrote a story titled “The Baker’s Tale” (apologies to images.jpegMr. Chaucer!) Afterwards, I checked out how to go about submitting the piece and decided I had nothing to lose, so–following the stringent submission guidelines–I sent “The Baker’s Tale” on its merry way for possible future publication in the Story Shack on-line literary magazine.

I didn’t think anything more of it, except to share it with readers in a post I wrote about the experience and how much fun it was to use the generator as a means to kick-start one’s writing, especially on those mornings when nothing seems to be inspirational or the ideas and words just won’t pop.

Fast forward several weeks to this past Tuesday when I received the following e-mail:

TO: Mark Anderson

SUBJECT: Your Story Shack submission

Hi Mark,

Thank you for submitting your story 'The Baker's Tale' 
to The Story Shack. I'm happy to tell you that it has been accepted.

The piece has been scheduled for publication on Monday, August 29, 2016. You will be placed in touch with an illustrator at least three weeks before it is due to go live.

Have a great day!

All the best,

Martin Hooijmans



Needless to say, I was surprised and delighted at this piece of good news and am looking forward to seeing how the whole process plays out. No, I won’t receive any compensation for having it published, but that’s not the important thing here. Instead, I will have the opportunity to work with an artist and, hopefully, gain some valuable exposure “out there!”

It proves once again that if we take a chance and cast our lines, we might really catch IMG_0544.jpgsomething!

And for this week, that’s One Good Thing…





Hey, thanks for everything!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
This week…

I didn’t post last weekend due to being away from the old “writing machine” for IMG_1118.jpglonger than I had expected. It has been a stretch of days where the weather has been such that the duties outside took precedence. Besides, when it’s finally in the 70s and absolutely gorgeous out there, I find it very difficult to be inside at my desk trying to concentrate on writing!

At any rate, there are many good things of which to write, and they all rank very high on my personal scale: Weather; grandkids; Carolyn’s job.

Late-afternoon fire on the patio
As I’ve written recently, the weather has finally come around to provide us the opportunity to get outside, to breathe the good air, to soak up the warmth of the sun, and to watch the grass, plants, and trees come alive.

The farmers have begun getting their fields ready for planting (corn or soybeans) and it’s always a good feeling to know that soon new life will be sprouting all over this part of northern Illinois.

The writing front…

Having been a bit lax and negligent of seriously getting work done on my current work in progress, a novel titled Birchwood’s Secret, I chiseled out time this past week to actually make some progress with it. It was a good time to look with a fresh vision at what had been sitting for a while. I was glad to be back among my characters at the resort where I left them. I think I’m ready to move the whole thing along to a conclusion. Stay tuned!

Soccer & retirement…

Saturday morning—a perfect one it was—found us at our grandson’s first soccer game of the season. The event was even more special for my wife, Carolyn, since it was the first time she’d had an opportunity to see the boys play soccer–or anything else, really–on a Saturday because she’s always been at work during those times.

After 46 years, a celebratory beverage is in order!
After 46 years of working as a hair dresser, she’s finally calling it quits on May 25th. Recently she began the process by “phasing out” the Saturdays and is now down to just two days a week. She’s excited, yet will miss her many clients and co-workers.

The road ahead…

We will be able to plan more things to do together and enjoy both of our retirements more fully. Her retirement will also mean that this summer will be the first one she will actually be able to spend more time at the lake cottage.

Plans for a trip to Alaska in 2017 are in the planning stages as well as fall and winter road trips and little excursions to see things in our own backyard.

When I sat down to write this post, I wasn’t entirely certain which direction it would take. But after a couple of minutes, I realized that I didn’t have to sweat it at all. It’s quite clear that I have so much for which to be thankful, and that’s always easy to write  about.

Until next time, that’s one good thing…IMG_1226.jpg






Hidden treasure of a book discovered…

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

I haven’t written about things I’ve read lately, so that will be the subject of this weekend’s One Good Thing, since this past week found me finishing a very good “old” book that I discovered by chance in a local second-hand store.

Unknown.jpegSnow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson has been around for a while. Published in 1994, it is a story set on San Piedro, a rather secluded island in Puget Sound. Its main industries are fishing and raising strawberries and various other fruits, and the residents pretty much keep to themselves.

The story is set during a powerful snowstorm in the winter of 1954, where Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is on trial for the murder of his childhood friend Carl Heine. Carl was found dead and tangled in his own net after a foggy night on the water, and the likely culprit is Kabul.

Exactly why he is the major suspect is developed as the story moves along.

Ishmael Chambers, editor of the local paper and childhood sweetheart of Kabuo’s wife, Hatsue, is in the courtroom to cover the proceedings. And it is through his eyes and point of view that we learn the “backstory” leading up to the current situation.

Through a series of flashbacks, which Guterson handles with skill, keeping the reader wondering what the next twist or turn in the story will involve, editor Chambers takes us back to his seemingly lovely island childhood where he and Hatsue discovered first love.

Unfortunately, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Ishmael’s and Hatsue’s youthful emotions and budding feelings for each other are lost when she and her family are banished to a Japanese internment camp.

Hurt and bitter with the loss of Hatsue, Ishmael found himself in the service and sent to the Pacific theater, where he ended up losing an arm in the battle of Tarawa, merely adding to the major losses in his life.

The book is a good one, clearly showing the kinds of prejudice that were prevalent at the time. With Guterson’s clear prose and description of a heartbreaking tale in a lonely place, I can see why Snow Falling on Cedars received several awards.

I’m not sure how I never found this book a long time ago or saw the film adaptation of it, but I’m glad I found it tucked away on a shelf in that second-hand store. It cost me fifty cents, and that was quite a steal for the quality of the writing and overall story which I thoroughly enjoyed.images.jpeg

I’ve decided that it’s a pretty good idea to check those shelves in those old stores. One never knows what hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered!

Until next time, that’s one good thing!

Election Day: Doing my civic duty…

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

Unknown.jpegAfter getting home after our long, long 17-day trip this past Sunday night, I had a day to recuperate and unpack and do all of those things one does after being away from home for such a long time. I knew I had to get some much-needed sleep because Tuesday was going to be an endless day working as an election judge right here in our little town.

This would be my third stint as an election judge, but I had never worked a presidential primary before. Fortunately, the polling place was a mere 200 yards from our driveway, so I didn’t have to travel very far to be there by the 5:00 a.m. start.

The actual duties of an election judge aren’t too difficult, but the setting up and closing down procedures require a somewhat vast knowledge base. As such, there are usually one or two experienced folks who have served as election judges previously and could make things start out smoothly, but this time we were sort of lacking on a deep experience base.

We were kind of feeling our way along from the very beginning, but we managed to open the polling place right on time at 6:00 a.m., even though we seemed to be flying by the seat of our pants for a while.

Everyone anticipated a good voter turnout with the election being an important presidential primary, and that prediction held true to form. From the beginning, we seemed to have a steady flow of voters, which was good because it seemed to move the time along more quickly.

All too often I find myself taking for granted the little processes that make our country the great one that it is, like our right to vote. Working as an election judge has shown me just how beautiful our Constitutional process is. Yet I’m always disappointed at the end of the election day when I see the vast number of people who didn’t show up to vote–one way or another.

We all moan and groan for one reason or another, and yet so many fail to exercise their privilege to cast a ballot—to have a voice in the whole matter—and it never fails to make me wonder why that is. I’m certain there are many reasons people don’t make the effort to get out to vote, but it’s still rather saddening that they waste this very precious right and freedom we enjoy in the greatest nation in the world.images.png

During the day, I had the opportunity to work with new folks that I’d never known previously (mostly much younger than I), and it was a great experience. We had a few problems with counts and getting things to match up exactly from time to time, making for a much longer time on the job following the poll closings, but we managed.

When we synced things up late in the evening, we were able to head for home around 10:30. A torrential downpour with lightning all about had begun shortly before, and I was happy that I lived so close since another drive of any respect would not be in the cards on this night.

images.jpegYeah, it was a very long day, and I will be compensated a bit for my time served as an election judge, but there is so much more to the whole thing then merely earning a $130 check for the day. In some small way, in our very small town, I believe I’m actually helping to move the process of our Constitutional way of life along here. At least I hope so!

Until next time, that’s one good thing…


Florida fun keeps on comin’…


One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

It’s very easy to share what has been so very good during this past week as our Florida trip just keeps getting better.

Since my last post earlier this week, we have continued to log the miles—wonderful miles—and catch up with vey dear friends in Titusville and Naples, following our departure from Saint Augustine.

Just what the “doctor” ordered!

After leaving Saint Augustine Tuesday morning, we travelled A1A, following the coast and stopping for

From Joe’s Crab Shack-Daytona Beach Pier

lunch on the Daytona Beach Pier.

We were treated to splendid weather and tasty seafood and cold drinks, while we watched the beach walkers and others having fun in the sun and surf.

Upon reaching Titusville later that afternoon, and after the usual “updating” of our lives with Richard and Sandy, they drove us around the town, showing us how much had changed and how much hadn’t since our last visit. We lived there for a year in 1986-87.

We finished things off a while later with a visit to the new Playalinda MicroBrewery. The cold Bottomless Blonde Pale Ale certainly hit the spot, as we sat outside in the late-afternoon warmth and watched the traffic roll past.

Moving right along...

Wednesday we set off for another long jaunt southwest to Naples. Our original route on I-95 had to be altered not too far along as heavy traffic congestion–due to road work– brought us all to a standstill.

Refusing to accept that, at the first opportunity, we left the big highway and made our way through the interior of Florida, passing ranches, cattle farms, and various fishing and outdoor spots. Of course, it slowed our arrival in Naples a bit, but really not all that much.

Since this was an entirely new place for us, it was all foreign territory, but our friends, Bob and Martha, had provided excellent directions to their new condo off a wonderfully named street–Rattlesnake Hammock–so we made it without any problems. (I immediately became curious as to the history of that name!)

Something out of a work of art

Quickly settling in after having another grand tour of the place, we made our way to the beautiful Naples waterfront for dinner. We weren’t disappointed in the seafood and the harbor side seating.

Needless to say, it was wonderful to stroll out on the Naples City Dock, under a warm night sky, and dream about all of the large and glorious boats moored there.

Off to see the 'glades...

Thursday morning we decided to drive over to the Everglades National Park and hop on board one of the large boats for a 90-minute cruise out to the Gulf.

The Everglades National Park
On board to see the dolphins and other wonderful creatures

Dolphins appeared frequently in the distance and even followed playfully in the wake of the boat’s twin Yamaha motors.

There were also countless ospreys in their nests, cormorants, terns, and pelicans thriving in this marvelous tract of nature.

Fort Myers and Sanibel...

And then it was time to make the short trip up to our daughter’s in Fort Myers where we spent the night. She had to work Friday, so Carolyn and I adventured once more and paid a visit to Sanibel

Carolyn on the boardwalk with her friend’s condo in background

where one of her clients from her salon spends a good portion of the winter.

A couple of hours there and we were then off to the mainland once again to locate a place for lunch, which turned out to be the delightful Parrot Key Restaurant directly on a marina where charter fishing boats came and went.

On the way there, we passed a sign advertising an express boat to Key West. Oddly, my daughter and I had been talking about this the night before and thought that it would be fun to take the boat sometime. Over lunch, Carolyn and I said that we should look into it and “do it” the next day (Saturday)—if Laura was free to go along.

She was and agreed to join us. And our thinking was that what was a few more dollars spent to make this a wonderful part of our vacation!

And so we made our reservations and returned to Laura’s apartment to get things ready for our next-day excursion. We had to be there by 7 a.m., and would arrive in Key West three hours later. We would be back in Fort Myers by 10 p.m.

In my next post, I’ll have plenty to share about that part of our trip.

IMG_1479 2.JPG
The Gulf of Mexico beckons!
And that’s one good thing…

Special birthday, special person


It’s time for the inaugural post of a new feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 
Birthday Celebration in Ohio

My mom turned 87 on January 22. Hale and hearty and feisty as ever, she celebrated quietly, resting up from her two-and-a-half month stay at my younger sister’s place in New Castle, Colorado. She returned home on the 17th.

Birthday Girl Pat Anderson

I haven’t seen Mom since before she left for Colorado in early November, so it will be good to do so this weekend as we are traveling to Port Clinton, Ohio. And since we weren’t able to be there to celebrate on the actual day of her birthday, we will do so a week late.

We have a cake from her favorite bakery in Western Springs, Illinois, and we’ll enjoy a dinner at one of her favorite restaurants Saturday evening.

It will be good to take her on her errands and the usual trip to the grocery store or Wal-Mart. It’s far from exciting, but the running out and about is important to her all the same, and one of my regular “duties” I tackle during each visit.

It will be a short visit this time as we will be returning to Illinois Sunday afternoon. There are many miles between our houses, but I never dread making the trip to see her. Happy birthday, Mom.

And that’s one good thing!

Until next time, here’s wishing everyone a good week ahead. 🙂