All posts by dremadrudge

Announcing: Writing All the Things!

After nearly a year of plotting, planning, and tweaking, Barry and I are happy to announce the launch of our website, Writing All the Things!

You can explore our (evolving) website at There you’ll find a slowly unfurling study on writing and reading literary fiction, a bit about us and the writing services we provide, and more content to come.

Writing All the Things b and white and blue


Our aim is to make reading and writing literary fiction less mysterious and reveal how enjoyable it can be. We want literary fiction to be more accessible to those who are intimidated by it, and more fun for those who already love it. While there’s certainly a writing focus to our study and analysis, there’s definitely a reading component as well.

We have other fun side projects for the website planned, too.

Please follow our blog and us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook (see our website for links). And share with your friends and writing pals!

Let us know (over there, or here) what topics you’d like us to take on, what aspects of literary fiction you’d most like us to delve into.

Let’s start Writing All the Things! (

There Should Be Tech Support For Writers!




I’ve been doing lots of “techie” tasks lately on my website, and while it’s been challenging, for the most part there’s a person to contact or a video to watch to solve most technical issues. As a result of all of this back and forth, I found myself telling Barry that there ought to be tech support for writers! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

But in reality, how would that phone call go?

“Tech support.”

“Yeah, um, I’m writing a novel and I need help.”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“I don’t know. The middle doesn’t flow.”

“Flow? Let me check my manual.”

The sound of typing.

“Ma’am, I can’t seem to find anything. Can you be more specific?”

“Flow. You know, it seems choppy. Like, the first hundred pages are fine, but then it seems to sag.”

More typing.

“There’s something here about middle-of-novel problems being common, especially in first-time novelists’ work.”

The sound of flames would come out of my mouth, no doubt: “I am not a first-time novelist, and there is something WRONG with the middle of my novel. Can you just get someone to come take a look?”

Typing, typing, typing, then.

“If you had sentence fragments or comma splices, maybe I could help you, maybe, but a middle problem? I’m afraid the best you can do is find a writer friend to troubleshoot it or hire an editor.”


Sometimes I wish novels were widgets and you could at a glance know when they’re finished, know when something’s out of place. As someone who has helped others with their novels, I can say with all confidence that yes, there are ways to make books much, much better. And thankfully, I do have a way of knowing when my novels are finished. I’ve learned when it’s time to walk away from my book for a few days or weeks. I’ve learned when to persevere. 

Wouldn’t it be great, though, if there were tech support for novels?








Pssst…This Blog, it is a Changin’

I wanted to show you my new desk because for one thing, it’s currently clear. The sweet Kate Tilton  over on Twitter challenged me to clean my clothes-littered desk in the new year. I sent her a pic of the empty desk top before the end of December — challenge crushed.

That said, maybe I should explain my humble desk. I have a place I can buy all manner of suitable, sturdy furniture for decent prices, but I wanted an inexpensive desk that I could totally ruin with spray paint and not feel guilty about it. Because, well, you’ve already seen the fun I’ve been having with paint this year. So I visited our local thrift shop and bought both the desk and the chair for $10.

The painted desk is not the shade I expected, but it’s fun. (Hardware change still to come.)


My thrifted desk and chair after hitting them with spray paint. 

But what’s this post’s title all about, you ask?

Many of you know I’ve been a freelance writer in the past. I’ve continued some of that, but this year will see a greater emphasis on it. To that end, I am going to revamp my site over the coming weeks. There will be less of the personal, more on writing, my published projects, etc.

I know, I know, no one likes change. But you know me — I’ll manage to make something I really want to discuss relevant, one way or another.

Remember, you can always find me on social media. And here, just in a different manner.

Because I do enjoy new projects, I’m kinda excited to take new photos, get all artsy, etc. here. Hey, we’re all works in progress. Why shouldn’t a website be? This blog, it is a changin’.

If you visit this blog because you’re a writer or are interested in the writing field, please feel free to leave a comment saying what you’d like to see more of from me in the coming year. I’ll see what I can do.

As always, thanks for stopping by. May 2018 bring the fulfillment of your most cherished dreams.






UPDATED: “Never Too Poor to Give” to be Featured on Chicken Soup for the Soul Podcast

I wanted to let those of you who don’t follow my social media know that my story, “Never Too Poor to Give,” will be featured on the Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast on Monday, December 4, 2017.  You can find it on iTunes or anywhere you listen to podcasts. I’ll try to embed a link when it comes out, but if you miss it on Monday don’t worry, because you will be able to find it later in the archive.
How honored I feel that they are going to broadcast this story of mine from the Count Your Blessings book, out a few years ago.

Here’s the link:

If for some reason that doesn’t work, it’s episode 148. If you want you can look it up. 😁

I don’t want to spoil the story, but nonspecifically, it’s about a student at the Learn More Center where I taught who gave me a Christmas gift when she could ill afford it, and the desire to give it prompted in our household.

This is a great time of year to count your blessings, and one of mine is certainly that my story has been chosen. Recalling the circumstances that brought me to write it brings me back to a time and place I enjoyed, a pleasant reminder of the many students and colleagues I worked with who were and continue to be a part of my life. I could write stories about them for years to come.

Aside: Am I the only one, or does the title of the book remind you of the hymn “Count Your Blessings?” It’s a fun, bouncy little song that I hear in my head sometimes, but it bears considering.  Just in case you wondered, if you’re reading this, I count you among my blessings, too.



Lofty Goals and Musings

Today, I feel the need to spend time evaluating my writing life and goals. I do this periodically to be sure I’m on track. Because let’s be honest — I’m ambitious, and idk how else to know whether or not I’m even coming close to approaching my goals.
So much about publication, about remuneration, about our writing legacy, is out of our hands. All we can do is write, consult the best sources we know about what to do next, put ourselves out there, and maybe whisper a prayer to our higher power.
One of my overarching goals is to be a part of literature today, a vital, intertextual, integral part of the voice of my generation. To not only interact with but to elevate the art, if possible. To cause others to pause, think, and live more fully. To speak for those who do not know how to articulate their experiences.

I strive to do this through fiction because there I have license to more fully tell the truth.
Oh, and if I can entertain and transport others while doing this, well alrighty then. No pressure, right?
I try to remember that attempting these lofty ambitions means sacrificing things I’d enjoy. Like bingeing on Netflix. Wait, I still do that but I want to cut back. Like ever getting around to spring cleaning. Except during the times I’m stumped on what to write. Like thinking I will ever organize my books by the Dewey Decimal system or the aesthetically-pleasing-but-confusing-because-how-do-you-find-anything-color-coordinated system.

Neck-twisting transition(s) ahead alert.

So, unless you don’t know me at all you know I’m obsessed with Virginia Woolf. Look at what Barry bought me for my birthday! I just BAWLED when he gave Woolf and company to me. And just check out Vonnegut! That hair!
We had another Woolf encounter earlier in the week. Barry has wanted to go to a Robyn Hitchcock concert for, well, ever since he started a “Twittermance” with him. (Shh…don’t tell either of them I said that.) We had the opportunity to go to a show in Indy. And after the show, at the informal meet-and-greet Mr. Hitchcock replied “Drudge?” when Barry said his first name. Robyn recognized Barry. *Fan squee.*

My point: while the opening act was on, Tristen, who had some unique lyrics, much to my delight, my muse starting tick, ticking. I had no paper with me and my phone’s charge was low, so what was I supposed to do with all of the ideas that started flowing? Eventually, I dug out a yearly planner I had just picked up at the bank and wrote a couple of sentences in the back of it in the dark. (And I scammed juice for my phone off the helpful sound engineer, Chris. Good folks, those guys. I recommend getting to know the person at the sound booth, especially if you are a musician.)

Then my muse kept talking and talking during Robyn’s opening songs, while Barry and I squeezed up front to get a better look at that dapper shirt Robyn was wearing. (Photo credit goes to Barry.)


My muse started screaming, though, when Robyn played his next-to-closing song: Virginia Woolf. Which I was familiar with, of course, but was delighted and surprised that he would play in concert. Want to hear it? By all means.

Here’s the thing I finally realized: my muse loves live music! It’s got to be music I am free to drop in and out on, focus, then daydream. Live music. My mind fills and twirls. I am there, not there. (Same thing happens at some movies for me.)

Lyrics suggest other words, ideas. Heart-felt performances remind me that this is my tribe, my people, all artists, and I get them and they me and we share the same struggles, ambitions, heartbreaks.

Same thing happened when my DH filled in on keyboards and vocals (and bass for a couple of songs) the other night for a local band. Because there wasn’t a table available up front at the venue and the music was too loud to talk over much, I was free to listen, think, feel. My mind soared, and I wasn’t even drinking.

That being said, I now have the next-next subject for my novel after this one, thanks to live music. I have a title, too. I am excited about it, though the realization of it’s a year or more down the road. Wish I could share more, but that’s not a great idea for incubating concepts. I am making notes for both it and my next novel to keep track of it.

 So if I am to hope at all to tie this post together, let’s sum it up this way: pursue your passions, feed the muse, and sacrifice when it’s called for to attempt to achieve your goals. 

And play. That’s what the literary finger puppets are for. I pity the overly serious, I really do. I used to be you. And I was miserable. 

Maybe I’ll fail to achieve any of my goals. Maybe I’ll blush when I read this a decade hence. 

Then again, maybe I won’t. 



Join Our Facebook Writing Accountability Group!

account quote photo

According to Gretchen Rubin, September is the new January when it comes to making life changes. Since my September was busy, I’m calling October my January.

Determined to put better writing habits into place, I said those words my husband surely dreads because I utter them so frequently: “I have an idea.”

While I’m good about working on my novel (except when I’m stumped or terrified of it), I’m not so good about polishing my short stories and getting them sent out. I’m not great about applying for grants and residencies. I could do better about pursuing freelance opportunities or following up with writing clients. Then there are other writing forms I’d like to continue experimenting with, but I just don’t.

I decided that what I need is accountability for those writing goals that I never accomplish. I need a place to record my goals that others will see, because if I do that, I suspect that the likelihood that I will write, apply, or submit will go up exponentially. I’d be embarrassed or feel as if I’d let my accountability partner(s) down if I didn’t do what I said I would.

To that end, Barry and I created a Facebook group for both writers and aspiring writers who want accountability. Whether you have already been published or have always wanted to write but haven’t, you are welcome.

The idea is that members post a goal and check in when they’ve made progress towards it or have completed the task. It can be a mini goal: “Buy a journal and start writing down ideas,” or more along the lines of “Finish my novel.” (That’s my big picture goal. But miles to go…)

Or, if members are just feeling stuck or unable to write, they can get a dose of encouragement from other writers.

The group is low commitment by design. Members are encouraged to post and follow up, but there’s no pressure. They’re also encouraged to cheer other members on, but again, only as they have the time or inclination to.

The already double-digits group is buzzing with supportive energy, which thrills Barry and me, because that’s what this is all about. If you are interested in writing and want to join, you’ll need to message me over on Facebook because the group is currently set to secret to weed out bots and the idly curious. My name there is Drema Sizemore Drudge. Say the word and I will add you.

I’ve already seen a rise in my own writing productivity, as well as being spurred on by both the goals and pom pom waving of my writing friends. It’s only Thursday, and I’ve completed several of my goals and am on task to finish the week writing strong.

Now if only I had a keto buddy. It would make sticking to my fitness goals so much easier. Sigh. Hey Barry, I have an idea…;-)


A Passion for Patchett and Parnassus

One of the things we did in Nashville last month was visit Parnassus Books, the bookstore that Ann Patchett co-owns. It was our first visit to the store, although Barry remembers a bookstore in that same location when we lived in Nashville. Alas, I remember paying our cell phone bill in the plaza but nothing else about it.

I trust his memory more than mine any day. I blame my lack of memory of the store on not have the extra funds for books when we lived in Nashville. Don’t pity us too much — we had access to all of the branches of the  Davidson County library system and could and did have books from them all shipped to the branch closest to us.

Our daughter was into physics at the time, and she would order stacks of books that I found admirable but incomprehensible. (The pictures of fractals were mesmerizing.)

Barry and I were homeschooling both of the kids, so I ordered texts for Zack’s schooling from the library as well. Many an afternoon Zack, Mia, and I sat around (poor Barry was usually at work) and took turns reading aloud the book of the hour, usually classics or Harry Potter.

Along the way (beware an oncoming, tenuous segue), I had somehow missed Patchett’s books until Sena Naslund, the beloved co-founder and director of  Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing recommended Bel Canto to a group of us in a novel writing workshop. (Crawling back under my rock now.)

When I got home from that workshop, the book was lurking on our library’s secondhand books shelf, and I bought it for fifty cents. I have this rule: if someone mentions a book to me and I come across it right after or see/hear about it three times, I not only get it and read it, I read it right away. So I did. Swoon.


This post isn’t meant to be a love letter to Patchett’s writing, and yet it can’t help but be at least a love Post-it. Let me hold off a bit longer, though.

While Barry and I waited for the eclipse on the 21st (we were at Percy Warner Park EARLY), we discussed what to do after it. I mentioned Parnassus, and he immediately started Googling, though we both figured it would be madness to travel anywhere but where we needed to go after the magical sun/moon tango.

My husband is an adventurous driver. I don’t even like to ride in a car, much less drive one. But because he’s the vehicularly brave one, we ended up at Parnassus. Actually, the traffic wasn’t that bad. Until later. That’s another story, and I have the photos to prove it.

We did the geeky, touristy thing and took photos of ourselves outside of the store.  IMG_6032IMG_6033

Once inside, I became overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by being in the very space where authors I know and love lecture and sign books. I sat at the desk and Barry took a photo of me, though by that time I was so overcome it was hard to sit still. (My makeup had long since melted from being in the sun and I’m wearing an eclipse tee shirt, but whatever. I hadn’t anticipated this opportunity. Note the book I’m holding!!)


And the book I’m holding comes from another delightful surprise. Honestly, I think I discovered this but it may have been Barry who pointed it out. Not sure:


Sweet Sena’s marvelous Ahab’s Wife recommended by, gasp, Geraldine Brooks.  That along with everything else totally caused me to have a full-blown Stendahl’s Syndrome reaction. Remember that thing I wrote about years ago where when you are overwhelmed by art you feel dizzy and disoriented ? It’s the first time it’s happened to me in a bookstore.



Suffice it to say that before we left Nashville we bought three of Patchett’s books. Did you know that all of her books for sale in her store are autographed? (Insert clapping emoji here.)

Oh, and we went to Grimey’s after lunch, which is one of Nashville’s best vinyl and more music shops. Just an aside, but an important one to us.

(Below: photo of a window in a nearby Chinese restaurant where, regrettably, we ate lunch after our visit to the bookstore. Because it was close, because we keep thinking there’s more than one place that can do General Tso right. There isn’t. But this sign amused us because it reminded us so much of the tortured English we often saw in China.)


Now, my belated tribute to Patchett.

One of the books we bought was Truth and Beauty, a memoir of her friendship with the late author Lucy Grealy. As amazing as Patchett’s fiction is, this book had me crying more than once. Even though I don’t know Patchett personally (Despite my peering into every office in the back of her bookstore when I went to the restroom, I did not find her. Trust me when I say I do not EVER celeb stalk, so that tells you something about my regard for her.)

Especially if you’re a writer, or if you want to hear about the greatest capacity for love and endurance in a friendship outside of maybe David and Jonathan in the Bible, read Truth and Beauty.

Once home, I read The Magician’s Assistant. I have one burning question for Patchett: did she do any research for it? Because it’s hauntingly beautiful and incredibly convincing. Lyrical. There’s a bit about the main character doing a trick with an egg that I can still feel in my hair as if she did it to me. So specific. So inventive.

It describes a nontraditional marriage that works spectacularly, and a woman who discovers she’s capable of so much more than she ever suspected. It’s about love in unexpected places, too. Gorgeous ideas.

Ah, and then there’s her most recent novel, Commonwealth. It begins with an illicit kiss that destroys two families but creates, (SPOILER ALERT) in the end, a novel. Or that’s my take on it.

Patchett has admitted that it’s her first real autobiographical novel. Though it’s a departure from her usual style, it works. In ways large and small, from the out-of-order storyline to the information tantalizingly left out that somehow ends up saying more than it otherwise could have, what prevails is a real sense that people, regardless of society’s expectations and labels for relationships, can care about whomever they want, for as long as they want.

And perhaps most importantly, that it’s fine, even desirable, to be human, in every sense of the word, to recognize and accept love wherever you find it.

Ok, enough. So much more I could say, but this is not meant as a review but as a way of memorializing a moment in our lives, a day of celestial wonder that will forever now be tied with our first visit to Parnassus Bookstore, a place that I, for one, wish we lived closer to. Isn’t it a good thing that we have her books, portals of a sort to that mind that conceived not only lovely literature, but Parnassus Books?






Issue 1.2 – Fiction

Proud to have my story published by the Same!

Let us pausefor a moment and pray. (10)

The examination table hurts my goddamn back.  I sit up straighter but it doesn’t help much. You have to have ab strength to stay in this position for any amount of time. This exam came about because I bled after sex last week, twice, and I knew immediately that something was wrong. I haven’t had my period for three years now.

“Don’t worry, Diana. You’ve probably just got an infection,” Robert, my husband, had said.

I have an unusual gift of sorts. I win things. No kidding. Last night I won a book at a writer’s group, a book I had been salivating over but hadn’t been able to afford. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. They’re usually small, not terribly valuable things, but I win. When I was still in school, I won not one, not two, but three hats using different family member’s names…

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Proud Parent Alert: Mia’s Commissioning Ceremony

I tried to find some literary way to write this post, but no go. No matter what I try to write, it comes out all proud and “parenty.” So be it. I don’t want our daughter’s accomplishments to be “eclipsed” by the past few days, so despite our having been in the path of totality, today I prefer to write about her commissioning. More on the rest of our trip later.

This weekend Barry and I celebrated with our daughter, Mia, her graduation from the Tennessee Army National Guard Class 60 Officer Candidate School, an eighteen-month journey filled with muddy treks, the eating of too many MREs, and more pushups, pullups, and situps than I will ever do in my life.

Mia is now a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. While she may have had her doubts during this arduous (a mild term for what she went through!) experience, we knew that she would crush it, because that’s what she does.

We don’t get to see her enough, so the excitement and frustration of arriving on Friday night but not being allowed to see her until Saturday was maddening. So Saturday morning we were on campus as early as we were allowed to be.

After introducing us to the other candidates, Mia took us on a tour. Of particular interest was The Pit, the place for exercise, congregating, and, apparently, discipline. Despite the heat, I kinda found myself wanting to at least do some planks with her. (I resisted the impulse.)

Mia’s motions are always crisp and executed with, well, military precision. She reminds me of the fitness models in Oxygen magazine. Pardon me if I post WAY too many photos of her below, because it was a pleasure to take photos of her in motion.

Fitness Model Mia! She’s a record setter, though I need to ask her the details again.
Wish I could do even one! I lost count of how many she did.
She cranks these out!


Look at that form!


The next class responds to the lunch menu with a backwards dip.


Class 60 joins in the exercises they assigned the rising class. Doing pullups to encourage? Above (no pun intended) and beyond!



Mia and Barry putting the shiny on her uniform.
I photobomb their tender moment.
MRE! Mia pointed out that the directions tell you to lean it on a rock or “something.” Specificity. Gotta love it. 
I think someone’s trying not to cry…I didn’t even try not to!
There she is, officially commissioned!


Beautiful posture! Her husband, Heiko, is on the left.
That face! That smile! That certificate!
Proud, proud parents!
These photos are clearly out of order. Look at that elegant bearing as she descends the stairs. You can see my hair to the left as we wait to pin her. P.S. I’m not sure who took this photo — credit to Heiko maybe? 

During a tasty cookout sweetly sponsored by the class, the three of us spent precious time catching up and talking about her future plans at a picnic table to the side. I admired the creek and the forest beyond, but since it’s where Mia had to camp and hike in mud I’m not sure she could see it in the same way I did.

Over lunch she (at my request) formulated a fitness program for me to try as I recover from my present health challenges. I can’t wait to do her proud! (Fingers crossed…)

Later we went shopping at Target, which doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you don’t see your hija very often it’s those everyday things you miss.

We ate supper at my newest burger crush restaurant, Five Guys (holla!), because there happened to be one nearby. We did ask if she wanted to go somewhere nicer, but she just wanted to spend time with us. I wanted that AND fries. 🙂

Besides the shiny, specially minted class coins she presented us with (Which are still in the suitcase or I’d take a photo!), she brought an MRE for us to share. She set the timer for 10 minutes because that’s all the time they were given to eat them in the field and she had us try to figure out how to open, hydrate, heat, and eat the meal.

With her help it still took all of the time we had for Barry and I to share the meal. How can one person do it?

It was beef stew, a strawberry shake, and applesauce. (See the package above.) While it was edible, it wasn’t something I want to eat again any time soon.

Mia was able to spend the night with us at our hotel, which we cherished. We all talked until we fell asleep, one after another. Then in the morning we got up with her and saw her off because she had to be at the barracks by 6:30. Mercifully we weren’t due there until 9!

Heiko drove in for the ceremony, as well as a friend of Mia’s. Since her friend doesn’t like having his picture taken I won’t mention his name either just in case. Suffice it to say he’s a good friend of hers and we have met him before. It was nice to see him again.

After graduation (and throughout the weekend), we were bombarded with officers and other candidates telling us how hard working and talented Mia is. We thanked them profusely but they weren’t telling us anything new.

There was a reception afterwards, and then we took her and Heiko to lunch before they had to return to Chattanooga and we had to find our way to the next hotel where we would stay awaiting the eclipse the next morning. (Finding a hotel over Eclipse Weekend was not easy, and we actually had to move to another for the next couple of days. We were just glad to find one.)

While for some this commissioning ceremony will be the apex of their lives, and of course it’s a huge accomplishment and should be viewed as such, if the past is any indication, for Mia it’s just the beginning. But then if I start talking about her accomplishments I might be writing all day.

Told you this post would be nothing but parental pride. I would ask for your forgiveness but I don’t think I will.

Congrats, Mia, and go, my lovey, go!


Barry and I recently traveled to Edinburgh. While I have lots to share about what is now my third favorite city, I honestly don’t know where to start. Let’s try it with photos instead. Maybe I’ll elaborate later. 🙂

Sir Walter Scott Memorial, visible out the window of the restaurant where we ate breakfast every morning at our hotel: IMG_6971

Robert Burns’ desk:


And Burns’ birthplace:


The Scottish National Gallery:IMG_7014

The Brigadoon:


Scottish Parliament Building:



Arthur’s Seat:


National Portrait Gallery: IMG_7364



Culzean Castle:


The Ferris Wheel just outside our hotel, Elephant House (Rowling, anyone?), and Dolly, the first sheep cloned. Below, a rando bagpiper.