Monday, January 31, 2011

Here We Go! Waiting on Snow!

My fight or flight meter is raging. My heart pounds like a tympani, and my mind whirls. Why? Because there is a blizzard a coming! I always loved the thoughts of gathering around the hearth like Laura in Little House on the Prairie, making popcorn over an open flame while wrapping up in a grandma’s quilt. Snow days home from school were prizes to be won even when I was a mother with children. When I taught, wow, I loved the gift of a snow day! When flakes would first start in the afternoon, the two storied school building nearly titled with students racing to the windows. I, their teacher, beat them there!

I took this new storm warning with a grain of salt. So many storms here this winter have spilt and gone around us, leaving us with cold temps and snow but nothing deep. Local forecasters were vague and fluctuating about what we would get here, although the forecast for north and east of us sounded dire.

This morning I got up and made tea, read a chapter, exercised, and then heard the TV say that our area was in the bull’s eye of the storm. Oh, that sounded bad. Even with out the falling stuff, the temps are to be -5 with wind chills down to -20. Yikes! They got my attention!

I was not in major need, but I decided to get out while I could. I stopped for gas, got cash at the bank, took a load to the post office, and stopped at the grocery store. People were on the move and my sense of hustle and hurry increased. While picking up my few things, I began to toss in extras. Ham for bean soup would be warming, and a new cracker looked good. Cabbage for soup, oh and some fat baking potatoes, the red jelled candy hearts looked cheery, and cheese and crackers for tea time. Better throw in some extra butter for a batch of cookies for a treat. Potato chips were on sale, a real no-no, but DH loved them so. Ah, my carb survival switch had been activated.

The drizzle began while I was in the store. Coming out to the moisture just made the forecast seem very real. I was glad to think one of the fire trucks was on its way to Kentucky, a copy of Rosebud was headed to Kansas City, copies of stories were on the way to St. Louis, and a book for a nursing home bound mother in law was making it way to Kansas. I knew all these places were in line for the same storm…maybe everything would be a nice perk to the snowbound at the other end.

The fire trucks were last week’s find. I had a doctor’s appointment, and though I have tried to not shop for anything anywhere during January, I drove right by Goodwill. The car just nosed itself into the lot making me check for tea cups! No cups but these two fire trucks were perfect for $2.50. All they needed were batteries. The one has a wailing siren. The other is a flashlight. When the child pushes the button the headlight of the truck lights up, but it won’t stay on without a finger. I sent the flashlight one since a wailing siren in the hands of a two year during winter might put Grammie in some real trouble!

So here we go…I hope I can have a reading and writing marathon this week. We will see!

WELCOME: I see I have three new followers, a nice pre- snowstorm pleasure! Welcome to Sara Katt, K-9 friend, and Elysabeth42. Glad you are here. Thanks for checking in and deciding to stay a while.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Centus, Sweet Endings

It is Saturdy Centus again and I love doing these. It is another bright sunny day before the coming storm, but again the mail box held issues that I don't want to think about today. So I threw myself in to the prompt, trying to really reach for soemthing different. I hope it works. The prompt today is she lifted the stack of letters from the ancient chest


                                                             Sweet Endings

Tears trickled down Marcella’s rouged cheeks as the sheriff eased the door shut, his boot heels cuffing each wooden step down the stairwell.

Lambert dead. How alone she felt already. The sheriff hated to break the news, but she knew it wasn’t harder than advising her against attending the funeral. The town wanted no scene for Mrs. Lambert from his tart.

Her hand flicked the teardrops away as she lifted the stack of letters from the ancient chest. The deed for the gold mine rested between envelopes. She tied on her bonnet and headed out, thankful for Lambert’s provisions.

Friday, January 28, 2011

End of January Gift

Oh, yes, the end of January held a nice gift today—a sunny day with temps squeaking up to near 60. DH had lab work due so this was the day to get out and do it. This last week has held ups and down, disappointments, frustrations, and the potential for deep sorrow that won’t be known for sure for a few weeks. It was a great day to take a drive, soak up vitamin D sunshine, and accomplish a necessary chore.

We rose rather late for us (me) and slowly meandered towards Springfield. The sun coming in the windows and windshield made the inside of the car as toasty as a Florida beach! Taking exit 75 we went to Willard, a very small berg just three miles off the interstate where we stopped for lunch at the Back Porch Tea Room. We had never been there but thought today’s timing was right for a visit. Sitting in a strip mall, the Back Porch is done in Shabby Chique and is built into a florist’s shop along with a handful of antique booths. The décor was simple and spare but was done in the true flavor of a back porch.
The food was good but nothing extraordinary. Then again most tea rooms follow the same quiche, sandwich, soup routine. The Back Porch did the same. My salad was Greek and good but the chicken was sparse; Ritz crackers were nothing special. DH had soup and sandwich, choosing corn chowder that he said was very good. We both were shameful and ate dessert, Italian Crème cake. It was good but again not an outstanding version. DH had hot tea and was pleased to have a truly hot pot of water; I had iced tea and was disappointment since it was so weak I could have read the newspaper through the beverage.

Then on into the city where we stopped at Breadsmith, another naughty stop for us. (See a pattern on this warm winter day?) The special bread today was apple pie bread which will be for our supper with a pot of hot (and dark) tea. I also got a loaf of sourdough and Tuscan Herb Formaggio with cheese.

Then the lab work and right on to a stop at Barnes and Noble. DH poured over Solar Power magazines while I went mainly to get a copy of Glimmer Train. (Do any of you submit to Glimmer Train?) However, I was disappointed to learn the store no longer carried it. I also saw a good chunk of the story is now devoted to children’s toys, games and books along with another chunk going to sale of The Nook. Ah, not pleasing to me. I meandered and moseyed through the new books and the poetry and the sale books…I just was disappointed with it all. Could it have been me?

No, it wasn’t. Either I had read the books out on the tables or the ones they were pushing were just not enticing. I saw the pattern of novels around quilting, divorce, and Amish life themes. Biographies went to alcoholism, mental illness, horrid childhoods, or lame tales about second rate celebrities. I did pick up a paper back novel called Deep Down True, another story about a divorce and an awakening. Since winter is not over, I thought it might be a good story to have on hand for the next winter round.

That winter round comes this weekend as the forecast is for a wintery mix and 15 degrees on Sunday. NOT looking forward to that. But sunshine on the passenger side of the car today allowed my mind to rove and maybe some writing seeds were planted. Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tea Cup Tuesday, Gifts from Wales

January moves along with cold, snow and dark days just like a January is supposed to do. Right before last week’s snow storm, the mail brought a Christmas box from John and Gay in Wales. Wow, what great timing…a wonderful package right before the storm because it held numerous boxes of tea. Note the assortment and what looks like a year’s worth of drinking!

Also in the box was little lovely Royal Daulton creamer. I have nothing like it and am thinking of ways to use it. I think when spring comes (or maybe before by visiting a florist) this would be lovely with small blossoms, maybe even rose buds in it. Of course it could be used for cream or breakfast milk or syrup…so many ways.

 Although I have done “fairly well” to stay out of flea markets and thrift stores, I did have one day’s backsliding into my habit. I had visited stores all over town trying to replace my Rubbermaid drain mat and to find a suitable bathtub mat. Okay, why do they have to change what was working perfectly well and substitute a lesser item in my book? I was so frustrated at the last stop, I found myself walking in the flea market next to the hardware. I promised myself only three rows of looking—and fast.

But I saw this cup and saucer, bone china and slipped. I brought it home. I thought it looked familiar but I had nothing in this pattern. Then I remembered; I think I saw someone post a picture of it on Tea Cup Tuesday a few months ago. Well, it is pretty anyway! And with all the new teas from Wales, I did need a lot of different cups for a lot of different teas. Well, didn't I?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hooray for Rosebud!

I have often lamented here about the demise of magazine fiction. Some of it was romance, some of it sci-fi, and some of it literary. I remember waiting for Redbook to come in the mail, waiting for the short stories but also a novel. It was in the pages of Redbook that I first read Kate Chopin’s classic The Awakening. You can still find pleasant short fiction on a regular basis in St. Anthony’s Messenger and in the Saturday Evening Post.

Essays and memoirs have also disappeared. I used to buy Woman’s Day, Traditional Home, Country Living, and a few other decorating magazines just to get the essay. When my magazines came in the mail or I retrieved one from the grocery bag, I started reading at the back because that is where you would find an end piece, a short essay or personal thoughts. You can still find an essay in Southern Living and in Victoria magazine. Most other publications have a filler page or a full page photo, nice but cuts out markets for writers and pleasurable reads for booklovers.

The literary journals are about all that is left for printing short fiction. I have begun to seek them out, and I have found some too experimental for me. Others deal in fantasy or shocking stories. I am looking for simple, heart rendering stories that captivate my imagination for a short spell, for an escape but not to a weird world. Right now I am sampling all the journals I can find. I have submitted to a few and had a success here and there. I recently submitted to Rosebud even without being able to find a sample copy in any local book store.

I was pleasantly shocked when editor Rod Clark called me on a November evening and said he would like to use the story I had submitted to him. He wanted to use it in the winter issue for December. I had submitted a short piece that I had created for blogger Donna Volkenannt’s ( writing contest several months earlier. I decided to go ahead and subscribe to this publication. Well, the issue was late getting out, and I began to worry that another publication was facing termination. I shouldn’t have worried because Rosebud is going strong after a seventeen year run.

So Saturday a lovely package of contributor copies and my own subscription arrived in the mailbox. I don’t need to tell you I was thrilled. But as I have continued to read the issue, I was glad I had not seen the publication first or I would not have had the courage to submit. My story Blood Kin sits among a chapter of Aeronwy Thomas’s memoir about her father Dylan Thomas, poetry by Lui Xiaobo who won a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and a chapter from 2009 Leapfrog Prize winner Billie Girl by Vicki Weaver among others.

Rosebud also has contests. Here is the link for their William Stafford Poetry Contest that is open until July. The magazine includes WORDZ where an interesting word is spotlighted. One in this issue is Judder: to vibrate with intensity. I was juddering when I saw my byline in this magazine!

Rosebud carries a subtitle that says The Magazine For People Who Enjoy Good Writing. I can recommend a subscription to Rosebud for your mailbox. So do you read literary journals? Can you recommend some favorites for readers?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reading Southern

Many, but not all, Southern writers have a wordy style. Think Faulkner, James Dickey, Thomas Wolfe, Flannery O’Conner, Truman Capote, Pat Conroy. It takes a time and patience to read some of these writers. Critics have not always been kind to Pat Conroy, and I will admit following his sentences is sometimes like driving a roundabout with one eye shut. He uses four adjectives where one will work; his metaphors can be correct but convoluted. He sends me to the dictionary with words like kvelled and succubus. But I feel safe with a Conroy title because despite the wordiness, I can count on a good story. Conroy tells good stories, period.

Recently, I bought My Reading Life by Pat Conroy knowing I would get some good stories. I wasn’t disappointed. Oh, he wandered over some topics, became almost boring in a few places, but overall there were both inspiring and entertaining tidbits scattered through the entire book. His essay Why I Write was worth the price of the book. Readers can also see how his Catholic faith influenced his writing life, was a foundation of tradition, ritual, and discipline necessary for a writer.

“Good writing is one form hard labor takes….like some unnamable station of the cross,” pens Conroy. In another place, he describes writing as a form of coal mining. Wow, don’t we all know that for sure! He also says he made it a practice to do heavy writing in beautiful places with beautiful views. Two works were done in beach houses, another in Paris. Well, don’t we all wish we could make that a prerequisite for our stories?

When Conroy tells about all the great works he has read and some several times, one wonders when he had time to do any writing. His list of titles would take a lifetime of reading and studying. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was one of Conroy’s favorites, with the poem Fern Hill much loved. The reference sent me to check the poem out and even to find an audio version. Thomas is hard for me to stick with reading, as he is often over my head. But when you listen to him read his work, you don’t have to understand a single line. His voice is music; shut your eyes and float with the cadence of his composition.

“Stories are the vessels I used to interpret the world to myself,” says Conroy. For stories and leads to great literature, all readers and writers should take a look at this Southern gentleman's latest book.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Centus/Family Matters

It is Saturday Centus again and Jenny almost  knocked me out of play this week with her prompt of "Beam me up, Scottie". But I rallied, found a way, and I am back in the game again! For complete rules go to:


                                                            Family Matters

She helped her mother-in-law through the optometrist’s door. “Hope he doesn’t rip me off for new glasses again,” her shaky voice blared across the office.

Rachel winched, but the biting words were not unexpected. The receptionist ushered Ethyl right back to a room, having learned it was far better that way. Rachel watched the dowager’s hump ease down the hall while her own shoulders felt stooped by burdens.

Why had Frank died leaving his mother in her charge?

“We never liked her, but she’s all I have now,” echoed the stabbing voice.

“Beam me up Scottie”, mumbled Rachel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Breaks Writer's Block

Outside today...

Okay, FINALLY, that writer’s block broke sometime yesterday. I stayed with the theme that was rolling through my head but found a new angle. I went to bed thinking in scenes…I kept coming to consciousness all night long with words and moments of my character in my head. Meanwhile I was waiting on snow. Despite not being related to a school anymore, I still have the angst, the longing, for a snow day. Hearing about the coming snow but not seeing anything yet when I went to bed, I felt anxious. Finally about 3:30 a.m. the flakes started.

So this morning when I saw those first accumulated inches, I smiled. I canceled the trip to Tai Chi, passed on the SAD lamp, postponed my home exercise, and brewed tea. Thanks to our Wales friends sending a Christmas box that arrived yesterday with a load of tea, I had plenty to choose from for the day. I started with English Breakfast, a hale and hearty brew. Then I went to work on my flash fiction. It fell into place; it felt swell to see it take form. I even took a chance and read it to DH later (never a good idea!), and he found it “charming”. Well!

That earned him a lunch with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a green salad including apple and pecans. Another delightful pot of the Welsh tea made the meal complete. Then we put away lunch and locked ourselves away in the family room for a biopic DVD on a French Canadian hockey player. Hum, not my choice, but it was mindless rest for my brain.

Now, just like on school snow days, the day has moved along too fast and is about gone. Oh, there is a chore list for tomorrow and the temps are to be more than merely frosty tonight and tomorrow. But I have a stack of books, lots of tea, and with a piece of fiction, even a short one, under my belt, I feel like a new person today...         

                       Inside today...                                                                                             

Monday, January 17, 2011

Could Deep Shaft Cure Writer's Block?

Today has been almost as pretty as yesterday. Both days have been sunny and warmer than we have seen in days. A slow drive by the river showed broken ice where a fishing boat had pushed up the stream; the city lake still had ice that a large flock of geese were walking on. The forecast is for icy rain and maybe a few inches of snow in a few days.

Yesterday I actually heard song birds. I thought I was crazy until a friend in the next town wrote a note that said she heard the birds singing in the sunshine. The birds were happy to have a break in the winter too, although more ice and snow are coming this week again. Like the birds, I was energized. Put away more greenery, bows, and such from the holidays, but I still could not part with the red tablecloth and the poinsettia tea pot. I KNOW more winter waits, but I did trade the silk greens for some bright red tulips in the front window, my sign to the world that I am hopeful while waiting for spring. Swept off the front porch, took down the winter wreath, vacuumed the floors, shook the rugs, made Teriyaki chicken, did up the laundry, paid the bills, and was ready to write.

Boom, I got up this morning and faced that block again. Flipped through the notes, pondered, let my mind roam and still nothing jumping from mind to page. Finally I eked out a final draft of a Christmas poem for submission to a publication’s call for next year’s poems. Then I shifted gears to reading. I finished a re-read of Stephen Ambrose’s Personal Reflections of an Historian. I found this read just as interesting as the first time read and wondered what Ambrose would have to say of America now if he were still alive. While I don’t always agree with Ambrose, I always love his presentations and observations.

Ambrose was a jogger but he had to give up physical activities when he wrote about Nixon because the subject was so demanding. He wrote over 2100 pages on Nixon and found himself exhausted after researching and writing. When working on Nixon he had to go to bed at 8 p.m., get up at 6 a.m. and take a nap during the day. It was interesting to learn that this experienced writer found the task of writing so exhausting.

I am also working my way through a small publication on Kansas bootleggers. This is full of amazing information and interests me because my great-grandfather had a still in Crawford County, one of two infamous counties known for an extreme amount of brewing and bootlegging that went on after WWI. Once the war was over, the lead and zinc mining business in the area took a dive, and people needed a way to support their families. Many European immigrants had come to the area to work the mines and then were jobless after the war. With both the taste for wine and spirits and experience of brewing in their own stills, the people went to work making moonshine in dry Kansas. Deep Shaft became a big but illegal business. I am sure there is a story to tell here somewhere!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Centus

It is Saturday Centus again and Jenny has a real challenge today...the prompt is "the lottery ticket" and we only have 25 words this week! For full instructions on how to play, go to:

                                           His Ticket Out
He fixed his hair, applied fresh makeup, and touched his bulbous nose. He patted the lottery ticket in his pocket. Soon no more clowning around for him!

Friday, January 14, 2011


No, this is not the scene from my office window, but I wish it were. This is Three Cliffs at Gower Beach in Wales. I hope I got that right. It is a picture on the calendar that friends John and Gay sent from Wales where they live. It is a gorgeous picture, and I can almost hear the winter wind soughing in those beach grasses when my mind wanders, quite often, to the scene hanging over my desk.

January moves along and I have felt busy, but I have nothing new written. That is frustrating! This is the month when I outline bunches to be worked on during the year. I have a stack of tidbits in a folder but that is all. What have I been doing for Pete’s Sake?!?!

Well, trying to stay warm for one thing and living with the Shingle Man (disease, not roof) for another. Then there have been computer problems which meant talking on the phone (three hours solid in one call) to foreign lands, people all across America, and waiting for a service provider workman to show up at the door. Eight to 8:00 p.m. meant 12 hours, no 13 ½ hours, of waiting and then I called at 9:30 p. m. to say he never showed. (He actually arrived 44 hours later.) It seems that constantly there is some issue to tend to around here.

I am tired of seeing snowmen and pine cones about the house; I long for some silk daffodilse or even a pot of fresh tulips, but it is still only mid-January…a LOT of winter days left to go. I try to look another way and concentrate on looking for writing markets, reading a book or a writing article. I have made big pots of chili, vegetable or potato soups; I have made scones, biscuits, and popcorn. I continue to get at those morning exercises and have added a small Tai Chi class one morning a week.

Last night was the first Writers’ Guild meeting of the new year. It was so cold only about half the members showed up and some of them were late. Some were home with frozen pipes. Discussion was lively about the changing markets, e-publishing, self-publishing, Kindles, and conferences. No one had anything to critique; no one had much news. The consensus on the Missouri Writers’ Guild was the speakers were good, the distance far, and the expense a little too heavy for most writers here right now. There was a report on the Call to Write Conference sponsored by Christian Writers Fellowship in Pittsburg, Kansas. The fees are only $60-$80 for two days, lunch included. For many, there is no motel room needed making it less expensive to attend and still informative and supportive for writers.

The one good thing about this winter month so far is our Simon arrived a month early but safely on Wednesday. The doctors had just said he needed at least two more weeks, but baby ignored the instructions and kicked his way into the world. Although a preemie, he weighed 7.6 pounds so I guess he knew best! So the $500 to attend the St. Louis conference is quickly becoming ear marked for a trip to Kentucky I am thinking!

So excuse me while I got back and waste some time drooling over thoughts of this newborn before tackling a stack of books by my chair while Shingle Man naps.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Comfort of Good Words

      “Writing and Reading decrease our sense of isolation.”

“Books help us understands who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; show us how to live and die.”
                                                                             Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

Okay, I’ll admit it. I am on a slide-backwards. All my goals for new beginning and new year are fighting to slip through my hands. In the chest heavings of winter and daily frustrations, I have driven through Sonic for too much drink, ate a greasy hamburger at Steak and Shake with DH, sneaked into a flea market for a fast and brief tea cup fix, ordered a used paperback online, and waved goodbye to my writing muse as she shook her head at my threatened exit.

Going to bed last night, I promised myself a fresh start this morning. But I overslept by an hour and got up to frigid floors, frosty air and dark skies out the window. I knew snow and more cold were coming. I made tea and headed for my SAD light with all intentions of leaping up and jumping into the day. Ah, and then I began to read…..

I picked up a yellowed paperback that has been around here for years. I decided I’d either read it or throw it away. It was Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and I had never read it. It had me from the first chapter. Steinbeck’s sentences have a rocking flow that lures you in like the gentle swaying of an anchored boat near a breezy shore or the easy pitching of a train rumbling down a track. His vocabulary is sharp and vivid and pokes the reader with interesting words.

Becoming lost in Steinbeck’s words, I thought about the worries that books will be come obsolete, of being replaced by digital readers. I have a bigger worry—that vocabulary is being lost by tweeting, emailing and texting. Shortcuts and lost letters take the lead now; the beautiful language, not to mention the metaphoric imagery, we used to use for speaking and writing is becoming a thing of the past too.

I took a break from Steinbeck to watch CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, always a treat with articles of arts and literature. This morning there was a profile of David Sedaris and his popularity as a writer, his great success both writhing and reading his own written words. Ah, something was lost for me. I didn’t get his charm or his vocabulary or his humor. I wish I knew what I was missing. Can someone explain my shortsightedness?

Now though I “need” to do many things, I am going to pour more tea, ignore that dryer buzzer and return to Depression Era California and “see and hear” those days through Steinbeck’s well chosen vocabulary.
The shootings in Arizona, more sorrow and heartache…more indication that we are not the people we like to think we are. How long can we be assaulted by horror and not grow numb to it, not become like characters in a sci-fi book that have lost their emotions?

I won’t rant and rave on the topic as many better qualified than I will speak. But I do have one question in my mind. Can at least some of the issues we face like bullying, hate crimes, even random acts of violence be a direct result of vocabulary or lack of it? Have we narrowed down our speech, our words to ones that are only shallow and hateful and finger pointing? Has the “right” to say what we want, to express ourselves, overpowered that old adage of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

There are no simple answers for sure, but I would like to live in a kinder, gentler world, and I think that it starts with kinder thoughts, gentler words. Yep, I know, Pollyanna at her finest here, but is there really any alternative plan right now?

Moon Over Manifest

It has been a taxing week with little odds and ends that have not gone quite right. No, nothing tragic but a splinter can sometimes irritate as badly as a full board! Things like a computer running too slow, losing a whole distribution list of addresses for the members of the Writers’ Guild, not finding a drain board that fit my sink when the old wore out after ten years, ordering a tea maker that would not work when it arrived (and company with no phone number), DH’s shingles meds running out and no doctor to refill them, etc…shall I go on? I think not!

The one thing I did accomplish was to read the Young Adult novel Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. The story is set in the town of Manifest which was modeled on Frontenac, Kansas. Vanderpool mentioned towns like Scammon, Weir, Erie, and Joplin, Missouri, all towns or bergs from my own life. I bet this is the first time my hometown of Erie was ever mentioned in a piece of fiction!

The time period is the Depression Era alternating with the World War I years. The story opens when Abilene’s wandering father deposits her in Manifest while he works on the railroad in Iowa. Abilene finds a mystery to solve while she learns to love the immigrant residents of small town Manifest where coal mining is the main livelihood. Unfortunately, the mines are owned by a controlling and greedy man and the people who came to America for a better life are trapped in a hard way of life again. Throw in the Klan, a diviner, Spanish influenza, Orphan Trains, and Prohibition and readers get quite a story packed with history on the side.

Vanderpool tells her readers in a historical note that the original town of Frontenac was made up of immigrants from 22 countries in 1918. Today, Frontenac is a bedroom neighbor of Pittsburg where every Labor Day weekend the Little Balkan Days celebration is held. It is a celebration of those immigrant peoples who came to dig out coal, lead, and other things from the earth. Along with crafts and street dances, the community has ethnic food booths, polka dancing, and bocce ball tournaments.

My own family history brushes the area as my great-father had a still somewhere west of the Frontenac area. He also played the fiddle in a music group and owned dance halls. He was an orphan and family stories tell that a buckboard was taken to Topeka to bring him back to the St. Paul, Kansas area as a baby. I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t from an Orphan Train.

So many people have immigrant roots that readers will relate to many parts of Vanderpool’s book. The story holds memories for older readers, information for young readers, and entertainment for both.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Centus/Rotten Fruit

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:

  This week the prompt is a picture Jenny posted instead of a written prompt.

                                                             Rotten Fruit
He looked out the window at the unexpected storm. Work had been everything, how he measured himself. Now, “early retirement” they’d said. At 60, there had been no options. Take their package or be downsized anyway. Forty two years of loyalty and they couldn’t retain him, couldn’t ride out these bad markets, cut somewhere else.

Rod looked out at the orange tree as flakes began to gather. The golden orbs wouldn’t make it in this weather, he thought. The skin would wither and flesh would be pithy and useless. “Like me,” he said aloud. “Just a piece of rotten fruit.”  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ronnie Milsap performing in his
2010 Christmas Show in Pittsburg, Kansas.

                    Aimed at Writers?

Five frogs sitting on a log and one decides to jump off.

How many frogs left on the log?

Five-because there is a difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it!

It is hard to believe, but I found another stack of folders today with aged papers, clippings, old lesson plans, and snippets of stuff. I weeded it down to about a three inch tall stack; I filled a waste basket with trash. Some were story ideas that are at least 20 years old. I tossed some, kept some with the promise of utilizing them. One is a story about my adult friend's wanting a Jersey cow for her own, and her husband finally buying her one as a gift. Surely I can milk this friend’s tale for a story!

Just as I write this, one of my writer’s lists is going wild. Seems as though Dorchester Publishing has hit the skids today in the New Year, leaving writers hanging for information and payment both. I have not submitted confessions or romance for several months because I was fearful of what was coming. If I work for free, I want to choose my places to do so. Months ago payment was already arriving slowly or later than usual.

It is sad to hear of magazines like True Story folding. You don’t have to read or like the publication to appreciate it has been around since the 1920’s. Imagine the longevity of the magazine, the times it has lived through. DH said women don’t read stuff like that anymore because they are out living it. Might be some truth to his comment.

Also one writer said she had heard that Southern Living will cease publication. I hope not since they just signed me up with a 15 issue deal for $10. I have dropped a lot of publications because they are expensive, repeat information, have no fiction or I need to see newer magazines for new markets. However, I only have to pick up two issues of Southern Living at the grocery store in a year to make this offer pay.

While I have been writing and submitting, I have been sleeping through my blog. I noticed I got a new follower making my numbers come close to 50 followers. Welcome to Liz at who became follower number 48 this weekend. We met at Jenny’s Centus…a great place to meet fun writers.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Words on a Cold Day

Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. I thought that might be too early to start 2011, and I rolled over. I did not wake up until almost 8:00 which is very late for me. I padded to the kitchen on chilly floors and flipped the tea maker switch. Thirty minutes later I was still fighting that tea maker! Since I had just replaced the electric kettle before Christmas, I did not want to face replacing the tea maker. While I use my many and varied tea pots the rest of the day, a tea maker works for dawn because can be set up the night before. One flip of the switch and I can jump into the day. It also keeps the brewed tea warm while I read, write, or use my S.A.D. lamp without my reheating things in the microwave.

The rest of the day it was robe, leftovers for meals, and pounding the keyboard. It felt good to make one online submission, prepare another for sending snail mail, to write a rough draft of a new story, and to make up an agenda for the January Writer Guild meeting. I wrote a Saturday Centus so I could “play” with Jenny on the side. Such fun to write the Centus, and it is a good exercise in tight writing!

I slept well last night. It was so cold during the night that air in the house was cool since I had turned down the furnace at bedtime. But a first tea pot of the morning was warming. Then came some inside exercise and another pot of tea with homemade egg muffins that could be warmed in the microwave. A little Sunday Morning on CBS and then back to work with words. I wrote a piece of fiction from a true story a friend had told me about his childhood dog Rusty. Thanks to tip from blogger pal Linda ( I think I will send it to the American Kennel Club fiction contest. They are looking for stories about animals this January.

I am wondering if any readers have seen or read the magazine Still Crazy. It is a publication that caters to the Baby Boomer age group. It is only published twice a year and so the reading times are May and November. If you would like to check it out yourself go to

Between things today I read some in Moon Over Manifest, a young adult fiction by Clare Vanderpool. This book caught my eye because the writer lives in Wichita, and she set her story in 1936 Frontenac, Kansas. Can’t beat those Midwestern gals for a good tale! With familiar towns like Frontenac (by another name) and Joplin and even a mention of Erie the book is fun to read. I think I will go read a little now at the end of the day…tomorrow’s dawn is heading my way. The first Monday of 2011 is on the way!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Plans of Mice and Men...

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:

                                  Today's prompt:Her crumpled up list of resolutions

Plans of Mice and Men

Kate followed Ronnie up the basement stairs, her heart still pounding like a bass drum. Gray light showered her dining table, now dusty with sheetrock crumbs. Cold air wrapped around her shoulders as she counted the four walls that still stood. Looking out the kitchen window she saw her neighbors huddling where their house, now a pile of matchsticks, once stood.

She looked down and saw her crumpled up list of resolutions still clinched in her fist just as Ronnie’s face began to register the damage.

She smiled slightly, reached for his hand, and found her voice. “I guess I will have to rewrite these.”

The scene is inspired by all those unfortunate people who lost their homes in the St. Louis area and Arkansas yesterday in a very freakish New Year's Eve tornado.