Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The day after Thanksgiving...

Blue on Rust, Leaves (Sumac on Maple)

Briar and Weeds

Fossils and Weeds

A Solitary Leaf

Shell and Leaf

Pale Green Viola Leaf

Viola Leaf on a Rock



I got up at 6AM yesterday morning, and had the nigh 20lb bird stuffed and in the oven by 7AM, the routine is a familiar path, I plodded along all through the morning making preparations, then got halfway upstairs to change, and ran back to the living room to turn on the Macy's Parade just in time to see Santa Claus...(it wouldn't be right to miss Santa!) Although we had a fraction of the family around the table than in past years, yet still keeping to the tradition as we've known it...my Fred's mother passed away almost two weeks ago, and so it's been a time...as our niece insisted, "Grandma would have wanted us to be together today." And so we did gather around as a family to begin the process of moving on, and we enjoyed our company and talked. It was lovely in spite of moments of missing her...and missing Grandpa (our second Thanksgiving without him.) We're still in that emotional period of loss, slightly numb, yet sharp in feeling...we're seeking a foothold on the latest version of "normal". Time will tell. Today I'm in that fatigue zone...painfully tired, which is typical FMS, I'm used to it, and push through it (how easy it would have been to go back to bed and sleep the day away!), but in spite of it, I worked on my paintings today, for some reason, on days when I'm this tired writing is impossible, but the act of painting flourishes in that intuitive flow that is beautiful, and it felt right. If anything, I am thankful for my determination.

Leftovers for dinner tonight...mmmmm...and tomorrow TURKEY SOUP! (I love that more than the dinner.)

I haven't been able to keep up with the last three Literary Blog Hop activities through the Blue Bookcase, but have enjoyed the conversations that have emerged since the first one I hooked up with earlier this month. As I noted in the side bar of my blog, Dusty Waters is now available as an e-book on the B&N Nook (as part of the B&N PubIt! program, released on 11/19.) It took well over a month to accomplish it, I had slowly worked my way through both books to get them properly formatted, but only put up the one. The Fractured Hues of White Light will be saved aside for release at another time since I'm still in the early giveaway mode of the paperback at Goodreads. I downloaded the Nook app for my laptop so I could sample the technology, and purchased Virginia Woolf's early novel Night and Day just for fun (since my most favorite paper back is falling apart) ...it is a temptation to buy more books, but I will restrain myself for now, and make selections of old favorites in due time. No matter the convenience of the e-book and all the other arguments that make them the bees knees I still love the intimacy of a solitary book made of paper, and will gladly make room for more of them on my to-read pile. Will I purchase an actual Nook? Probably...I've become slightly smitten with the gadget during my careful investigation of gadgets. Will I convert one (or both) of the books for Kindle? Eventually, it is quite possible with all the available conversion tools out there to 'make it so'...I'm in no rush (if there's anyone who wants it bad enough for their Kindle they can send me an email and say "pretty please" and I'll see what I can do about it sooner than later.) For now, the Nook is the test...it is one more test in my indie publishing experiment, I'm going to see how it goes as I continue to muddle along at my own pace. It is just how I am...it is how I do what I do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is Literary Fiction? And a reading from my book, The Fractured Hues of White Light...

This is how I see it from my size 6 1/2's...(yes, I know, they're untied...)
What is literary fiction...what is "literary" about literary fiction? (This Literary Blog Hop has gotten under my skin.)  My tongue in cheek response is "Well, it's got everything and the kitchen sink in it fiction..." Indeed. Pull on the waders, honey, we're going in...it gets mighty deep in the pond of 'literary' fiction, so we are going to go fishing.

Listen, I know this literary stuff isn't for everybody, which is unfortunate, I feel they're missing something beautiful. Not everybody has the attention span nor the patience to read classics like (a few from my bookshelf) Moby Dick, War and Peace, Bleak House, To Kill a Mockingbird, East of Eden, Ulysses, The Idiot, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Corrections, Water for Elephants, Small Island, The English Patient, I Know This Much Is True, Dandelion Wine, Watership Down, Winesburg Ohio, Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, Out of Africa, Enchanted Night, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Wuthering Heights, The Hours, As I Lay Dying, Bellefleur, The Master and Margarita, Howards End, Ursula Under, ...and what about Porius?(I only know of four people who have read that tome (I'm one of them, my Fred, my sister, and some dude on Library Thing). I could keep fishing, but I'll stop...

Goodness knows I wouldn't want to force anyone to read a book they won't enjoy...and I'm not going to judge anyone for not liking the kind of books I love to read...or the books I love to write. Why do I cringe when I hear someone being hyper-critical about the books I love? Why do I cringe when everyone raves about Twilight? (I read my share of Anne Rice and loved "Interview", I have nothing against vampires. I cut my teeth on Dracula...but the Twilight saga? I can't do it...sorry. Why am I apologizing? Hell if I know.) To each their own, if people like it, fine, who am I to tell them what to read? Books, art, and music are all subjective, and I've found over the years that they are just as polarizing as politics and religion...people will love what they love and hate what they hate. They'll especially hate it if they don't get it...and for some reason, if it's especially "clever"...OMG, your name is mud! Yes, I've experienced this...I feel bad about my neck, I dared to stick it out there and oy vey...

Hi, I'm Laura, and I'm a writer of literary fiction.

From the time I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to write books that matter...books with a deeper meaning... (Still got your waders on? Good.) I wanted to write what I call "human documents". The complex relationships in my novel The Fractured Hues of White Light evolved through time, the ties that bind through an overlapping history. The book took a long time to write (about eleven years, on and off, I juggle manuscripts for fun), much of it came into being during the rough draft that formed during the "sweet spot" in 2000-2001 when I fixated on writing it all down, but time and experience offered up insights that I would have missed if I didn't take the time to go deeper, or ignored them. The first line in the excerpt that I'm going to give you here was produced only last year in November...probably on a dark and stormy night with the wind howling, making our old farmhouse creak...or a bleak gray day that had the smell of snow on the wind...when I wrote it, I knew I was getting closer to finishing, and I cannot express the joy I felt knowing this...and the sorrow when I realized what being "done" with it meant. It is a fine line writers walk.


From Chapter 7, pages 162-164

“I will die in November — it’s as good a time to do it as any, I guess — why not, eh? Everything else is dying — I’ll just be one more thing.” Whitley blurted out while we watched the golden October sunset over the salt marshes — Sylvester was driving my father’s Caddy; Whitley and I sat in the backseat, enjoying the view. The conversations with my father during the weeks before his death always had grim tidbits like this, punctuated with a wink to take the edge off. Often our talks were threaded with memories of Lenore and Guthrie; these reminisces grew like seeds sown in a freshly turned garden of composted grief. “I loved them both, you know — I knew what was goin’ on and it devastated me inside when I first figured it out. If Lenore wanted to leave me for Guthrie, I would have let her go — it would have been right. But they would have wanted you — I would have never let them take you away from me — you were mine — my daughter — I love you with all my heart and soul.” After his tender words, he then shook his head. “What kind of father am I? I have never forgiven myself for how I treated Guthrie — I kicked him out during a time when we needed to heal as a family — but I was too proud — too angry — too hurt. I loved that boy and I turned my back on him.” He then leaned on me and cried; it felt so odd that I could ever be a source of comfort to him — for the first time in my life, I felt stronger than my father.

On the day before he died, Whitley charged me with the task to find Guthrie. “I could never face him — I’m a coward — that’s hard for me to admit, you know,” he said with a gleam in his fading eyes. “Once I’m gone — you’re going to need him. He’s still living at Margie’s house in Cleveland — Pinkerton knows where to find him.” I didn’t know for sure if he’d come.

On that day after the funeral, Guthrie and I took the long chilly walk during low tide from the beach to Salt Island; we were silent most of the time, but it was our sunset return along the narrow sand bar that he reiterated his disappointment that he wasn’t my father. “When you were born, I wanted to believe that I was your father because it was the only way — in my mind — the only way that I could conceivably express my love for you.” I listened to him reason this out, and I felt sorry for him — the enormity of the letdown seemed to crush him. Then he went on to explain that my resemblance to Lenore is complicating his former paternal feelings; the weighty tokens of my being there, every gesture I made reminded him of her too much, and he said that he feels revolted by his thoughts. I persisted with a steady stream of how come questions, which he evaded by making dumb jokes or lighting a smoke. I poked at him until he finally growled his answer. “Jeezus K. Ryst, girl, you don’t give up do you? You’re a pain-in-the-ass just like your mother — okay, I’ll tell you how come — it’s just wrong, that’s how come!”

His mustache failed to hide his angry mouth; I remained silent, waiting — what next?

“I’m sorry for barking at you, Buttons,” he muttered after awhile. “I should have come home a long time ago.” His entire face squinted against his emotions as he sent the words adrift into the November wind filled with ocean spray as the tide began to make its return to the beach. We laughed when our feet received a soaking during the last twenty feet of our trek on the sand bar. We’ve always cut it close — pushing our luck — Lenore always warned us “One of these days, you’ll be stranded out there until the tide goes out again — I’ll kill you if she gets poison ivy because you sent her to pee in the weeds!” It never happened, but once he had me climb up onto his shoulders as he waded back, falling down twice because the undertow tried to suck him out to sea. I never doubted for a second that he wouldn’t get me home safe that day — I held on tight just like he told me to — we only lost one of my flip-flops, no big deal.

Once we reached higher ground, Guthrie turned back to look at where we had been, the waves now nearly covering what remained of our path to the island. “But I suppose it was just as well that I stayed away,” he said to finish his thought.

Although he said nothing more, I could tell by the cast of his brow that he thought a lot. To comfort him, I hugged him as hard as I could — he sagged as he clutched me to his chest, and it seemed as if he, like Whitley, had also lost his strength. My image of him as Atlas withered in the pale twilight beach — he is just a man, not a myth. He appeared far from perfect on that sullen afternoon with a gray sky, gray ocean, and his gray hair — but he was my Guthrie; he has come home to me at last and I will not part with him ever again.


It's always a mystery to me how my characters develop and then have the audacity to do the things they do or say the things they say... and it's so strange how the things I write about conflict with who I am...goodness knows I feared that I bit off more than I could chew with this one. The ghosts of the past haunt these people, they are conjoined through layers of relationships: Guthrie's relationship with his stepfather, Whitley; Guthrie's affair with Whitley's young wife, Lenore; Whitley's paternal feelings for his children (Guthrie, Helena and Samantha). Guthrie's feelings for Samantha, as a child, and then how they changed when he returns to her life, no longer a child, but as a grown woman. Samantha's feelings for Whitley, her mother, Lenore; and Guthrie, who she didn't see as a brother or a father, but as a friend who came home to stay now and then. And then there is Sylvester and Helena in the mix...there is so much...is it too much? But just when I begin to doubt myself, I read it again and know I've done a good thing telling this story as written.

Writing this book was difficult...but it was probably one of my happiest times.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November...sun, gray, frost and snow all in one day...

Viola Leaves... there is such beauty even in death...these dead leaves are so delicate, I must've snapped off at least fifty photos just in this spot of my garden where the mayflower viola's grow...

Grape Leaves

Frosted Chicory

Grape Leaves Tangle

Sunshine through mock orange leaf...happily, I caught the glow!


Moody November, a bittersweet time of year... the smell of snow in the air last night, flurries in the air...the ground this morning sugar coated with a mix of snow and spikes of frost...I went out with Max and my camera at the time that was once 8AM and now 7AM (dang I need to adjust to this too! I really wish they'd just leave it alone, compromise, set it in the middle and let it be.) The sun was up over the ridge and the last of the clinging leaves were drifting from the trees, blue jays swooping in the feeder, a chipmunk scurrying for her share...the crow watching from the top of the highest tree, gleaming black in the morning light (she wants a peanut)...my walk was done as soon as I ran out of memory on my camera...oops, my fault, I should've emptied it yesterday after the download...so I missed the rest of the acre wrapped in its shimmering frost...another morning will come...


The Blue Bookcase is having a Literary Blog Hop, asking bloggers to ~ Please highlight one of your favorite books and why you would consider it "literary." 

On my side bar I have posted my favorite literary fiction novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Bellefleur, and the review that I wrote back in 2002 for Amazon. This book is a literary classic, it has everything and the kitchen sink going on in there, it has gorgeous language, and it is timeless...readers either adore it or despise it...they might read it multiple times or pitch it across the room within the first five pages...I can pick it up again and read it cover to cover and love it more.

If you read literary fiction then perhaps you would like to join?