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Month: June 2013

What They’re Saying

“I started with Lucky Critters and your reading reminded me for all the world of the cadence of Larry Brown reading from his works years ago, one of his first, at a Jackson literary festival. It was when Larry was getting to be noticed.”
Lynn Watkins, journalist, lawyer, Mississippi reader

 LISTEN: “Lucky Critters” :

What They’re Saying

“I love Ellen’s stories! Crisp, funny and fresh like a summer salad. They make me laugh and then they make me think.”
Elaine Blanchard, storyteller, writer, actor; co-author of “For Goodness Sakes”

 LISTEN: “Lucky Critters” :

A Card Table Kind of Gal

I sat in the closet surrounded by my obscene amount of clothes. The pants and skirts and dresses and jackets weren’t covering my body. They were buffering sound. My hand-held recorder propped on the card table, I recorded my first set of short stories.
The card table had done extraordinary duty before. I’d used it as the “cash register” at cross shows, knocked its legs into place so I could fashion miniature furniture made from pages of a book, draped it with a linen tablecloth to transform it into the bar at a family wedding.
In addition to this brand-new Target card table, I have an old card table pitted with scissor wounds and pockmarked with glue.This table was my original “cross studio.” A long, long time ago, Bigmama gave me this card table. Growing up, Bigmama would whip out a card table on a moment’s notice. These fine tables hosted us kids at Thanksgiving or made eating on the back porch possible—Bigmama believed in the card table.
I also have a card table from my other grandmother, Mamo: an old green table with uncertain legs that constantly threaten to give way. Mama didn’t give me this table; I collected it when we were closing up her house, post-death. Of all the things offered, I mostly wanted the card table.
This is my continuum of being. I’m happy with a card table. Give me a fresh, proper card table, and I consider myself in high cotton. Undoubtedly, you’ll find me bent over the table working on a put-together, rag-tag, “make that stuff up as you go along” project.
That’s okay. What I’ve come to know—after many, many years—is how to keep from getting bored in this life.
Do it a new way.
Don’t try to follow someone else’s directions.
Do it now, with whatever you have on hand.
For such a philosophy, a card table is a joy.
card table

“Lucky Critters” written and read by Ellen Morris Prewitt

“Lucky Critters”
First appeared in print in Peralta Press, the winner of its 2K2 contest. To contribute to Mid-South Peace and Justice, a charity working in the areas of collaboration and nonviolence, please follow the link here or visit 

Listen to this story here:

      Lucky Critters - Ellen Morris Prewitt

Shaking Off Death

Packed up, we’re lugging our conglomeration of canvas totes down to the car. In my hand I grip a bag of insect killer. This trip to New Orleans has been full of flea bites. Red, swollen knots that itch like the devil and lump up like a goose egg. The insect killer—all natural—was purchased by the apartment manager on her own time, hunting it down in Metairie because the Home Depot and Lowe’s in New Orleans were sold out. I shook the stuff all over the carpet like lethal baby powder. I am returning the unused portion to the manager on our way out.
The elevator dings, the door opens. A gurney emerges, followed by a guy wearing a dark blue EMT suit. A second EMT pushes the gurney, followed by the apartment manager. “You’re going to turn down this direction,” she says.
“This apartment building smells good,” the lead EMT says.
They proceed down the hallway.
They walk nonchalant, like they have all the time in the world.
“Someone’s dead,” I say to Tom. “They’re not hurrying at all.”
On a second trip down, we pass the EMTs again. The gurney has a passenger. She didn’t look good, Tom says. But she wasn’t dead. She lives at the end of the hall. I don’t know her name.
When we turn onto I-10 an ambulance with flashing red lights follows us. Maybe the one from our building. “It’s coming right up our tailpipe,” Tom says.
In between trips to and from the car, I gave the bag of insect killer to the apartment manager. She accepted it. She said the engineer would sprinkle more around the apartment while we were gone. She smiled. She looked pale.
I can’t believe I’m bothering her about fleas.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

“That’s exactly the type of story that wins awards,” a less-than-impressed reader said

Those of you following this blog know I’ve been focusing on process: recording, sound engineering, logo design, burning CDs, saving PDFs. We are ready to switch to content:

Lucky Critters: A lonely young woman reacts to the sudden death of her boyfriend by connecting with his killer. 

Winner, 2K2 Award 

First appeared in The Peralta Press

Come Backs

Well, just crap on a cracker. Tom showed me an article that says saddle oxfords are back in style. People will start wearing saddle oxfords again. I’ll keep wearing my saddle oxfords. Then they’ll stop wearing theirs. They will look at my feet like, girl, don’t you know saddle oxfords aren’t in style any more?
This happens to me all the time. I figure, you wear odd things, sometimes other people start wearing them too. Then they stop. You go on. Nothing to be done for it but struggle forward . . . or backward as the case may be.
On the other hand, I was thrilled to see Chautauqua is making a come back. My mother went to a Chautauqua ten or fifteen years ago, maybe the original Chautauqua in New York state. She returned with great stories. People walking from meeting to meeting in the woods learning in a Teddy Roosevelt type of way. Recently, when we were lost in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, we passed a Chautauqua park. But all it had was picnic tables, no men and women striding through the grounds bent on self-improvement and learning. There’s a Chautauqua in New Orleans and it does feature learning but no campground, just six week courses in a classroom setting. Monteagle in Tennessee appears to have a Chautauqua with both instruction and a campground setting. I might have to check it out . . . if they allow adults.
The blender we own looks like it came from the 1970s. Not the 1960s, which would be cool in a retro type of way. This has a cheap yellow plastic 1970s look. When I finished using it to make a milkshake for lunch (with yogurt, I promise), I yanked the cord from the outlet to prevent vampiric energy loss (it’s a real thing.) The outlet, I noticed, was turning green. A sickly green. I examined the end of the blender cord. It was green. A corrosive green. So now I’m in the market for a new blender. I’m on the lookout for an Oster chrome job with the wavy bottom. Surely those are back in style.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Coming Soon Means Soon

      launch_intro-1 copy

When People Don’t Like Your Work

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back.

I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but not often. This time, “The Revolution of Little Girls,” proved to be one of the funniest books I’ve run across in a while.

After I finished I went on-line to learn more about the author and the book. Because the book was published in 1991—before-on-line dominance—the Amazon reviews were sparse. Of the 9, 3 were negative. On Goodreads, the majority were 3 or below. The novel received enthusiastic reviews when it was released; it won awards. Many on-line commentors, however, did not like its “Southernism;” its structure (“jumps around too much”); or its resolution. To me, the major flaw of the novel was that, about 2/3s of the way through, it actually became too linear after the author had taught us to expect discreet, non-linear chapters.

I am so glad I had this experience. As a woman trying to get my Southern novel into the marketplace, I needed to see the negative reviews of a novel I thought was hilarious. This switches the question from, “Will they like it?” to “Do I like it?” Have I written exactly the novel I wanted to write? Do I love it more than Christmas? If so, then when others say, “Anh, not so much,” I understand they just have different taste. And that’s okay.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

What is Success?

Cds arrive this week. Business cards with download info arrive this week. Final decisions on party food will be made this week. Soon, people will be listening to my stories. They may like them, they may not. The success comes with the listening.

The Painter’s Canvas

My husband stood next to me. The owner of the fancy women’s store stood slightly behind me. We all three stared at the full-length mirror, assessing the pants I’d tried on. Tight-fitting, boldly-colored pants. The owner leaned close. “Enjoy your body as long as you can,” she whispered in my ear.
I thought two things.
One: what is she talking about—I’ll always look like this (I was wrong).
Second, am I enjoying my body? I thought I was deciding whether I liked these pants.
Walking down the sidewalk, I started when a slight, grey-haired lady ran up to me. Gushing, she said, “You young women with the way you dress! Someone is going to jump out of the bushes and rape you!”
I was not young. Unless you call over 50 young.
I glanced down at my outfit. I’d put it together because I liked the shape it gave me, kind of like a pencil. Long-sleeved grey tee tucked into a high-waisted, slim black skirt. When I’d added the black tee-strap heels to the black tights, it did seem somewhat dramatic: tall and lean. But not a smidgen of skin in sight.
When she said it, I thought two things: men don’t rape based on the way a woman dresses. And who on earth would think this outfit was put together for its effect on men?
“Shouldn’t they at least match?” my editor objected, referring to the pink faux fur jacket and red ball cap I had my character don. Worn with her silver lame pants but with a simple white camp shirt so it wouldn’t be too sexed up. “Even in the context of this slightly quirky character,” my editor writes, “shouldn’t they at least match?”
I’d only given my character what I myself would wear.
I add a black sleeveless top to the mustard pants. Over the top I add a black cropped jacket, unstructured, and finish it off with a necklace of a black straw flower. What comes next is crucial. I forgo the black platform sandals and, instead, add my red and black “snakeskin” cowboy boots, pointed toe. We are going to a luncheon at the Peabody Hotel featuring the mayor from New Orleans. I want to bring a bit of Memphis with me to the gathering, hence the boots. When I walk through the famous lobby, a young woman says, “It’s so nice to see someone styling around here.” I am inordinately pleased.
Like a painter with a palette, I scan the closet and choose what jumps out at me—would that work together? I give it a whirl; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to tweak it . . . or start all over.
Some artists work in oils, some take simple ingredients and create amazing dishes. In the mornings, clothes are my chosen medium. Like all artists, I appreciate it when folks like my work. I am also misunderstood (see old lady) which can make me irritable (see earlier blog on “Doctor, my ass.”) Some folks just don’t share my taste (see editor above) and some consider my work ”shallow.” But every day I wake up, I am a blank canvass I get to paint. How can I not enjoy that?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

For Your Summertime Listening Pleasure

On June 27th, in connection with the Download Party at The Booksellers (what has been tagged a “Bookless Booksigning”), four stories from the collection will launch. The stories will be available on this site, iTunes,YouTube, and perhaps elsewhere. They also will be available for purchase on CD at the Download Party if you’d rather access them that way.

After the launch, a new story will be rolled out each week throughout the summer. If you’d like to receive a new story when it comes out, FOLLOW this blog; you’ll get notice of each new story.

As the stories are released, they will be collected on the Stories Page, so you can go back and listen to any you want.

By the end of the summer, all the stories will be launched and available for listening.

If you’re just not a listening person, you can read the stories on the PDF on the About Page.



Now I Know

* subpages

* how to type a registered trademark symbol onto a document ® … and why you don’t need it ™

* editing your own PDF and uploading it to your blog

* other things that I can’t remember right now


© 2017 - Ellen Morris Prewitt |