Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Blurb Friday #3

I had a terrible time getting inspiration for this photo prompt. Finally, I got some wee and weak details for the book blurb this week. Now if I can get Linky to work!

                                                                Daily Passages
Celia brought her to New Mexico for some badly needed mother/daughter time. After being so close, they had gradually grown apart. The nose ring, the flamboyant tattoos on Roseanna’s body gagged her. Celia was old school; thought tattoos were defaming the body or belonged on a sailor.

As for Roseanna, she thought her mother was getting old, her ideas no longer insightful. She seemed stuck in a generation ago. She had been talking too much of the old days, of people Roseanna didn’t even know.

On walks and picnics in the moutain air, both bartered with time. Would they repair the relationship? Would they realize that time was escaping them faster than they knew? A biopsy, a baby, would they share it all?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tea and Toast

A few years ago I decided I wanted a toast rack and went on a search. I finally found one, but it wasn’t as easy to use as I thought. A rack of buttered toast got cold quickly and butter dripped all over the tray. Then I learned the toast rack was used for dry toast in England where they eat their toast differently than we do. Ah, dry toast didn’t fly here because DH and I both love toast drenched in butter, thick pats of yellow that melted in to pools looking like the green Witch of the East when water hit her.

To me there is nothing richer than thick sourdough bread toasted. Some jam might be nice but butter is enough. Lately I have found Smuckers Cherry Preserves which are more than wonderful. I have promised myself this is the last jar I will buy since I can’t leave them alone. As a child I did a spell of cinnamon sugar. In high school my Lenten sacrifice one Easter season was eating dry toast for breakfast. I survived but the habit didn’t catch on.

Toast was originally called burnt toast; it kept longer being cooked than plain bread and it allowed people to be less nomadic when they could find grain, grind, bake and then store bread longer. People propped chunks of bread in front of a fire to toast, eventually sticking then in the fire. Of course, you can skillet or oven toast bread. I tried it the other night when my toaster suddenly quit! It was good but took more butter, and I don’t need encouragement to consume more of something that develops hip pads.

So the next morning a trip to Walmart replaced my toaster very cheaply. In the world of kitchen tools a toaster is an inexpensive appliance. The electric toaster was invented over 100 years ago and is still very similar to the original…only now you can toast four slices of bread at once.

Speaking of sliced bread, did you know that the Continental Baking Company invented sliced bread in 1930? Imagine there being no sliced bread before that, only chunks or home knifed pieces. They called their new sliced bread Wonder Bread. Remember those colorful balloons on the packaging? In the 1950’s the local white, sliced bread was famous as A. J. Cripe’s Town Talk bread.

I can give up cake, pie, and candy easier than sacrificing my tea and toast. Ah, the joys of toasted sourdough bread with dark Irish Breakfast tea can’t be beat—unless there is a scoop of cherry preserves hiding in the back of the refrigerator!!!

Are you a toast and tea person?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Poetry Power

"I think all good poetry is, in a sense, "local" poetry because the only way of getting at the universal is through the particular..."
                                                    Benjamin Myers

The above quote was made by the poet laureate of Oklahoma . I think he nailed the meaning and importance of poetry. A good poem is a window, a shared window, between poet and reader. The poet takes the reader to a place he also knows and recognizes.

I don't enjoy poems that send me to the dictionary or the encyclopedia to figure out what the author is trying to tell me. I like poems that are comfortable like a warm afghan on a winter's day or old gardening shoes in June. Recently I reread Sure Signs by Ted Kooser, one time American Poet Laureate. Such a pleasure to be taken away from the cold, the dark, the tummy ache and be released in the countrysides of the Midwest.

This week my poem "Closure" was posted at Post Card Poems and Prose. I had many welcome comments on Facebook. I wrote the poem a few years ago before my in-laws went to the nursing home. I was pleased with the lines, and I read them to my husband which I rarely do. I finished, looked up, and saw tears in my husband's eyes. He said I HAD his dad on the paper. Two days later I got an email from my sister-in-law that said she also cried when she saw her dad on the page.

I consider this a successful piece of work.


My father-in-law was a reader.
He read books, magazines, and billboards,
The backs of milk cartons, the fronts of cereal boxes.
In late evening, he would mosey up from the rural mailbox,
Thumbing through Saturday Evening Post pages 
While a bundle of bills or a newspaper leaked
From the deep pit pocket of his overalls.
On Sunday morning, pages of newsprint
Gathered at his feet like grey molted feathers.
Often he came to the table carrying a book;
A knife might mark his page until used to spread butter.
Or, he might flee a family dinner right after dessert
To claim his recliner under the tilted lamp shade
And escape into his mystery or a history read. 

Outside the red Farmall tractor now rests idle in the barn,
Weeds crawling up the hefty tires.                
Nearby a plow sits, once shiny blades now inviting rust.
Beyond the barn, pastures rent to other men’s herds.
These days even the book pages are still,
As he turns up the TV--loud--
Rather than struggle through stories and prose.
In the respite from work and toil,
His pleasures, too, have taken flight
In the remnants of his days.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Experiencing Haiku

                                                parade of bright eyes
                                                coming on cement ribbons
                                                dawn on the interstate

At the OWL conference, Jan Morrill presented on writing the perfect haiku, and then she reminded us nothing in the world is perfect. I remember writing haiku in high school because teachers thought it was an easy form to conquer. (Or was it that 17 syllables made for easy grading!)

Morrill has a multi-ethnic background that includes a Japanese mother. Her novel, an excellent read by the way, The Red Kimono is set in WWII and the Japanese internment camps in Arkansas at that time. She also writes a blog titled Life Haiku by Haiku at  Her published book of haiku is taken from this blog.

She shared several points about haiku and then gave the audience prompts and five minutes to produce something. Then she asked for volunteers to share their work. People were eager to do so, and many of the five minute haiku were excellent.

                                           hooves paw loose dirt
                                           whinnies in morning’s mist
                                           conversations shared

The author said that writing a haiku about one’s novel is a great way to begin a synopsis. It narrows the story to its essence. She also suggested writing a haiku for each chapter in a one’s novel. Haiku makes one be in the moment, to focus, to mediate even.

Haiku lines:  First is present tense; Second is brief moment; Third is enlightenment or knowledge of some kind.

She recommends the book Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers by Leonard Koren.                             

                                         porous pottery
                                        cracked, glued, repaired to new beauty

                                         family flaws less so

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February Reading and Writing

Right here in the middle of winter we have had a couple of days of spring! I hope we don’t pay for our bliss later with snow or turbulent skies. After rough personal weeks, I had some pain relief and so the air felt like a rebirth of sorts. Although I had to reduce the writer’s conference from two nights down to the hours of 9-2 on Saturday, it was wonderful to be out. The writerly hours were uplifting with abundant news and inspiration.

The Ozark Writers’ League had three main speakers and a panel discussion among book sales, lunch, shirt orders, and a wine and chocolate grab. The last two were money makers for the group. It takes good funding to keep any group going these days. Printing, postage, incidentals, and of course, interesting speakers brought in take money.

Originally the Missouri Poet Laureate was to speak but he had to cancel due to health issues. So a poet named John Crawford stepped in. Most of his info wasn’t new to me, but his presentation was lively and enticing. Then Jan Morrill presented a program on haiku which deserves a blog of its own later. After the panel ran too long, the last speaker had to cut his presentation short which was a shame because he was fantastic! T. M. Eaton spoke quickly on how to turn our heritage into either memoir or fiction. This was exactly what I wanted to hear so I was devastated to lose a third of his time to the panel.

Eaton has a new book out titled Stories of Mission County. I ordered it this morning. I felt I needed to see it right away! I also picked up some books at the conference by other authors. Not that I needed more books, but I want to support nascent writers with hope someday someone will support me. I also wanted to know more about some of the members, and in their stories they will reveal themselves to me. It is a great way to make new friends.

Meanwhile, I have started Lisa Claro’s new book Love to Believe. Only a couple of chapters in, and I know the rest of this day will be rest and reading with some tea thrown in! I hope the last week in February is filled with good news, good health, and good books for all of us. Happy Monday! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Blurb #2

 My friend Sioux is bringing back Book Blurb Friday that Lisa used to 

do. Check out Sioux's blog for all the nitty gritty details, but basically, 

you write 150 words or less as a book blurb based on the picture. 

My book cover is below and comes in  at  147 words.

                                              Blue Door Knocker
Hank Miller’s new poetry collection, The Blue Door Knocker, is packed with lines of free verse that capture all the doorways he has passed through in his lifetime. He writes of the trepidation of the kindergarten door, the thrill of the one opening to his first kiss, the devastation of the one that slammed on his midlife job, and more. His lines are popular with readers because they are familiar doorways, ones they have also passed through in life.

Miller often sees doorways and entrances that others miss as suggested by these lines.
   He sat on the patio with a steaming cup of coffee the color of black dirt in the vegetable patch.
 Where he watched his wife squatting over the newly turned earth, dropping in miniscule radish seeds.
  Her thighs flexed and he was reminded of his first entrance through that inviting doorway.

Readers, come in without knocking!

Monday, February 15, 2016

February Begins to Pass

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. 
                                                                  Hal Borland


It is the middle of February and now the pastels and rabbits are beginning to appear 

around the house. I am glad to feel good enough to dig in the closet. Last week was 

horrible medical tests and biopsies; this week mammograms and bone tests. Even 

Biscuit has to have her yearly shots this week. It is beginning to feel too druggy 

around here! It feels good to see the spring tea pots, the spring flowers even if 

most are silks.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book Blurb Friday #1

    My friend Sioux is bringing back Book Blurb Friday that Lisa used to 

do. Check out Sioux's blog for all the nitty gritty details, but basically, 

you write 150 words or less as a book blurb based on the picture. 

My book cover is below and comes in right at  150 words.


                                                 Sands of Time

It was an ordinary day at the beach for Sal. She dared to dress in a bathing suit just to save her kids from a treacherous wave if need be. Her heat-treated hair was brittle; her belly fat rolled like segments of a caterpillar inching south. Due to a lumpectomy her breasts, no longer a matched pair, wrinkled like prunes but at least the number was still two! She strolled across warm sand stretching elastic over dimpled butt cheeks. Then she saw the sand sculpture.

Something about the indigenous face wrapped in a sand chain and hugging a huge clock stopped her dead in her tracks. The figure was a cosmic message, a proverbial slap on her own forehead calling her to face life. Suddenly she knew change was coming, that time was running out.

How would Sal face tomorrow morning and the day after? An ending, beginning, or both?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Take a Look at Lisa Richard Claro's New Book!!!

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 1/30/2016

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A woman in a man’s world...
CPA Rebecca Walker wields a hammer and saw with skill, but it’s like fighting tooth and nail to prove to her chauvinistic father that she’s capable of managing the family construction business. Romance is a luxury Rebecca can’t afford.
A man with secrets...
Thanks to his past, romance isn’t in Sean Kinkaid’s future, so when Rebecca proposes ‘friends with benefits,’ Sean agrees. It’s the perfect scenario until love sneaks in—and Sean’s secrets tear them apart.
But Rebecca has a secret too, one she fears Sean will never accept. It will take intervention from an unlikely source to convince these two lovers they have the one thing neither of them ever expected to find ... a love to believe.


Rebecca’s voice poleaxed him and a powerful wave of awareness washed over him, several things manifesting at once: She had the power to slay him with a single word, she sounded shaken and scared, and this must be serious because she hadn’t initiated contact with him even once since their split. A quick flash of their brief, but passionate, coming together at the gazebo stabbed into his gut, as did her statement before she retreated. ‘I can’t do this,’ she’d said, and he assumed she meant she couldn’t cheat on Nate. Which didn’t negate the fact that she’d been as involved in the kiss as Sean had been, but, he reminded himself for the thousandth time, just because he and Rebecca shared history and a powerful physical attraction didn’t mean that Nate hadn’t managed to win her heart, or at the very least, her loyalty. In either case, she didn’t belong to Sean. He needed to remember that.
“Sean? Are you there?”
“You sound upset.” He heard sirens through the phone and his heart damn near stopped beating as icy fear sluiced over him. “Are you okay? Have you been in an accident?”
“No, but I need you, Sean.”
His heart started pumping again and relief flooded through him. “Where are you, sweetheart? I’ll be right there.”
“No, no. Its—I need you, but I’m not asking—I need a lawyer, Sean. I’m about to be arrested.”
Comprehension doused him like an unexpected cold shower. She didn’t need him, she needed his legal expertise. Ouch.
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Arrested for what?”
“Resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.”
A surprised laugh escaped him. “Are you serious?”
“Can I count on you or not?”
“Jesus, yes. Of course. Are you still at the scene of the…uh…crime?”

About the Author

Lisa Ricard Claro is an editor, award-winning author, and Pushcart Prize nominee with published articles and stories spanning multiple media. She resides in Georgia with her husband of more than three decades and counting, is mother to three (a ruggedly handsome son and two stunningly beautiful daughters--Lisa might be a little biased), and dreams of one day living at the beach. Seriously dreams of it. As in, she's already decorating her dream beach house. In addition to an array of sand dollars and seashells, she keeps a framed sign hanging in her office: "Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses Welcome Here."

Lisa is also a lover of dogs and cats, and has a heart for rescues. This is why you will find a rescued pet companion in every one of her books. Sometimes they are part of the story line (Pirate the dog, in "Love Built to Last"), and sometimes they're already ensconced in their forever home with one of Lisa's characters (Pavarotti the cat, in "Love to Win"). As you read Lisa's books, watch for the rescues!

While Lisa is a fan of storytelling in all genres, Romance is her favorite because she believes everyone deserves love and a happily-ever-after. But she adores a little mystery now and then, too, so keep an eye out for Lisa's authorship of a whodunit one of these days soon.

Purchase Links

Book #1 in the Series is ON SALE for $.99 until February 15th!

Fireflies Series, Book One
By Lisa Ricard Claro
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Published: June 2015

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thoughts on February after Phil

"February, a month of despair, with a skewered heart in the center."
                                                                                              Margaret Atwood

I have no trouble with January as it is SUPPOSED to be winter. But when February and March play with my mind, I lose. I hate the bouncing back and forth, the promise of spring, the tease of buds, and then a snowstorm. Apparently Margaret Atwood had an issue with February too!

I should be writing today as it is cold and to be frigid tonight. I can’t settle my mind. Some of that is the hopeless feeling of writing markets. I got a notice from a writing contest that I could enter as many times as I want for $18 an entry. Well I guess so; if I had $60 or $80 dollars to toss about, I would certainly pay it to win $15 prize money or maybe be printed for free!

I have read ten books since the first of the year. I have reduced my stack but not eliminated the pile entirely. I have made my eyes and mind sore though. I know I am not moving enough and reading too much. Ah, put that is the nature of winter months, right?

The groundhog told us yesterday that the spring is coming and winter about over. Sorry, Phil, I can’t trust you. I will lean on my weatherman who sometimes fails me too, but I am faithful to him anyway despite his shortcomings. When I was a kid, my old weatherman at KOAM was a man named Earl Ludlum. He was old to me, must have been 50 years old! His face seemed severe and unyielding like a dried prune; his droning voice sounded as tedious as weather and news were to me then. He wore wire frame glasses that reminded me of the local doctor so I often felt like the weatherman might have a needle hidden behind his back for me. But Earl was steady and no nonsense about the weather. He also gave the temps for La Junta, Colorado every night which was as far away and as exotic to me as Zanzibar. Little would I know then that someday I would drive through this small Eastern Colorado town many times; maybe it was old Earl that ignited me to want to see the West so much.

"February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer." 
-  Shirley Jackson, Raising Demons

Today our weathermen and weatherwomen have lots of info and technology to help forecast the weather. It all sounds about the same, and still not always right. However, I have a weatherman idol at KOAM again. I always thought Doug Heady was good and capable giving his weather forecasts with stunning good looks. Even in the face treacherous storms, he maintained a level voice, warning listeners to be ready without frightening them. Then the night of the Joplin tornado I fell hard for Doug Heady. In the face of horror he remained steady, remained calm. Then when that F-5 hit, even his voice wavered a bit and we knew this was something truly sinister. With slightly quivering vocal chords barely under control, he guided listeners to remain calm and proceed to take caution.

So my family accepts that now I listen to ONLY Doug Heady, searching through channels to find that stable presence and ceaseless professionalism. He dresses in crisp business suits, often with vest, that fit perfectly. His sleeve length is impeccable, his shirts and ties harmonize like morning sunrises, and his demeanor is as flawless as his dress. In a world of relaxed and sometimes sloppy presentation, this weatherman surpasses the ordinary. Too bad for Phil and old Earl because they have stiff competition in Doug Heady!

So on a winter’s night that is cold and maybe despairing, there is always the warmth and promise from a good weatherman on the nightly news, especially one more reliable and not as ugly as Phil was yesterday!

                              Doug Heady from KOAM News