Another Helping of Chicken Soup!

I’m pleased to announce that Chicken Soup for the Soul has chosen one of my essays, “Wake-Up Call” for their newest collection, Dreams and Premonitions. The book will be released on September 22, 2015 and is available for preorder now over at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Since my name is Drema, (pronounced “Dream uh”) you might not be surprised to learn that I often have vivid dreams. My essay in the book centers around a bad dream I had at a time when I was taking my husband for granted and my response. I don’t want to spoil it, so that’s enough for now.  But whether you choose to buy the book or not I hope you’ll never take a loved one for granted, and I hope I will remember that every day as well.

I enjoy writing for Chicken Soup. As a matter of fact, just this weekend I bought a copy of a Chicken Soup book I have a story in at a garage sale. The woman behind the sale table, a mother of one, said that her son bought her the book to console her when he left for college.  I whipped out my license, showed her my name and opened the book to page 97. We were both delighted to share a moment and reminisce about the newly emptied nest.

Living in a small town means sometimes people come up to me and say they saw my name in print somewhere, and I love it. Once I was at the bank and a teller said “I know who you are. What’s it like to write?” I had never met her before, but suddenly we had a common reference point. As a matter of fact, she had me at an advantage, because she knew more about me than I did her.

But I don’t just do it for how good it feels to be recognized for your writing. (I’m not going to lie, it feels great, of course.) I do it because Chicken Soup only publishes feel-good, it-will-be-alright pieces, and though there is much at odds in this world, I choose to believe there is much that is going just fine.

One night I was at a concert with my husband and one of his fans came up to say hello to him. When he introduced me he said that I am a writer, and that I’ve written for Chicken Soup. “I’ve read your work,” she said, tears in her eyes. “You’ve saved my life!”

While I think she probably meant the books as a series and not my own humble contribution, this reflects perfectly why I sometimes choose to share those most vulnerable, scary things. I want to share my story to help others, not to shame or put anyone down (except myself when I deserve it) but to shine a light on the human condition and how we can, mistakes and all, make it through it together. Through communicating privately, honestly, and open mindedly, there’s not much we can’t sort out. Chicken Soup reminds us of that in every edition. Bless them.

chicken soup dreams cover_art_58268

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My Winning Story

 

I was pleased and humbled to learn that I am the winner of Spalding University’s “Leprechaun’s Legacy” contest. I’m sure they received many worthy stories, so it means a lot that I was chosen as the winner. That I was unanimously chosen means even more.  I have been given permission to post my story here, as well as the feedback the judges gave me. But first, a few thoughts.

My parents married on St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s a special day to me.  I don’t really do anything to celebrate (except make green beer sometimes), but I love it that my parents married on a holiday, and what’s more, that they didn’t realize it!  That’s so like my parents.

My mother possibly has a wee bit of Irish in her background, but as far as I know, that’s as Irish as I get. AND I’m graduating in Ireland this summer, so there’s another tenuous tie with Ireland.

ANYWHO…I have added the judges’ remarks below, and then, tada!, the story.

Drema,

 You accomplished so much in such a short story!  We thoroughly enjoyed the fun, at times hilarious and even dark, elements of your story.  The interview approach was a smart decision that gave this story a new feel, and the sarcasm/attitude from the leprechaun was very entertaining and consistent from beginning to end.  Three standout moments for us were the phrase “I want to throw up… so I can hide it in my vomit” the moment when the leprechaun cynically offers his gold and suggests that it might even turn them into leprechauns, and of course the final statement “dumb bastard;”  these moments made us laugh and offered surprise, and such creative, even short moments that are so effective are a mark of a strong writer.  For these reasons, we unanimously decided that yours is the winner of our leprechaun story contest.  Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story with us!

And now, HERE is the story.  I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Interview with a Proactive Leprechaun Lurking Outside an Irish Pub

Could you loosen your grip just a bit? I’m holding my pot of gold out to you, so why do you have me by the scruff of my neck?  Do you see a rainbow?  It’s almost midnight, of course you don’t, so let go, will you?

Please, take my gold, even though I’ve tended sheep for over two hundred years to earn it and now you want to just rob me.  What other group is subject to sanctioned mugging? The police won’t help, not a bit.  And that’s not even the worse part of being a leprechaun.

You ever hear of a female leprechaun?  You know why you haven’t?  Because they don’t exist.  That’s right.  Someone created a species without giving us a way to procreate.  Genius, huh?  Try not getting any action for as long as I have – that will make you cranky.  And forget about having children.  No, we don’t even have that basic right.  Who’s going to get my gold when I die?  I could will it to cats or some dumb shit like that, but you seem like a nice young man with a future ahead of you.   Thinking of college, are you?   I suppose you could use the money.

Do you mind if I smoke?  What do you mean you expected a pipe?  What’s wrong with a leprechaun sparking up?  If you’re going to college you’d better get over those stereotypical assumptions.   I’ve also played beer pong, but I don’t really like beer, especially when they color it green in honor of “my” day.  Do you know what I do on St. Paddy’s Day?  I hide!  All that green – did you ever eat anything that color that tasted good?

Forget all you ever learned about my kind because I hate green.  Despise it.  I want to throw up on all the green in the world just so I can hide it with my vomit.

And oh yeah, I caught you staring at my gold shoe buckles with your greedy eyes — not every leprechaun is a cobbler – I don’t even wear shoes half the time in the field.  What, you want these too?  I suppose I could hobble home, moneyless, shoeless.  Why not?  I’m just a leprechaun, invented for your thieving pleasure.

But my life is perfect, right, because I have this unlimited supply of gold? Then tell me why I’m not happy.  Why am I here in this alley more or less begging someone to steal my gold?  There’s only one way I will count myself lucky, and that’s if  you’re gonna take this gold from me.  If you do, I’ll be free from worrying about it, free from adding to it.  I won’t have to imagine that everyone is out to grab me so that I will lead them to my gold.  I won’t have to fear rainbows might be giving away my hiding spot.

Please, yes, do take my pot of gold.  It’s cursed, but only a little.  I’m not saying that your reproductive organs will shrivel, or that every female of your species will disappear if you take it, but you won’t know unless you do.  Maybe it will make you happy.

What, you don’t want it?  That’s just too bad.  I’ll have to stand in the alley behind some other pub until someone comes along.  Goodbye! Tell your friends I’m waiting.

Dumb bastard.

 

The “Unpublishable” Story

The unpublishable story.  Every writer seems to have one that he or she sends around relentlessly to no avail. I wonder sometimes if editors ever ask one another if they have been sent “that” story yet.

This is the tale of one such story.  I won’t say its title, because I’m still sending it out, and I don’t want to prejudice anyone against it.

I have workshopped the story.  Even though we’re not supposed to talk about the stories with those outside of workshop, everyone seemed to know about mine.  I’ve gotta say, I was proud that it was being talked about, and I (wrongly) surmised that it would be quickly published if I sent it out.  Wrong!

I have targeted it to specific markets.  I have shortened it.  I have sent it in to contests.  Nothing.

Two different film makers have seen it, and one even said he liked it and that he has some specific ideas for it, but I haven’t heard back from him.

The story is creepy and sensual.  It mentions taboo subjects and things in unsual contexts.  It involves one of my enduring passions — food.  All in all, it’s a “Drematale.”  But it hasn’t been picked up yet. Why not?

I could say there’s no accounting for tastes, but I feel a bit more defensive about it than that: “What?  You don’t like my baby?  What’s wrong with her?  No, what’s wrong with YOU?”  She’s got some beautiful eyes and a sweet voice.  I love the way her nose swoops.  So far, I’m the only one who likes her.  But then I’m the one who picks up twisted chairs and odd bits during Spring Cleanup that no one else would touch because I “see” something in them, either a line or a patina that I adore.

This is not a tale of triumph, not yet.  This is a tale of perseverance.  I WILL get this story published, because I believe in her, and because she was conceived in my favorite coffeehouse during on morning when the baristas were laughing and singing and the bread scented the air and it was just the perfect morning, the perfect memory.  I’ll keep you posted.

What’s the story behind “your” unpublishable story?