Writing 101, Day 10

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

So, food.  There wasn’t a real celebration food in my house growing up.  My mom wasn’t a very good cook, and never wanted to be bothered with it, really.  I can’t really think of anything my grandmother made that was particularly memorable, either.

It’s my grandma June that I talk about the most when talking about food.

Grandma June was particular.  Near the end of her life she didn’t eat or drink anything but oranges and diet, caffeine free Pepsi out of a can with a straw.  But the whole time I had her in my life, she always had white tic tacs with her, wherever she was.

She had a little garden in the back yard, and she’d grow tomatoes.  Then she’d slice them, and make tomato sandwiches with mayonnaise, salt and pepper, on bakery bread.  She’d never buy pre-cut bread, my great grandma.  She always went to the bakery, and bought rye bread there.

Then, there was the stuffed cabbage she made.  It was the best thing ever, and she’d make it any time I was coming over to stay the night.  She’s also the one who taught me to make cookies from scratch, and not out of a box.

The best thing, the closest thing to a traditional seasonal meal, would have had to been her pork and sour krout, every New Years Eve.

But the thing I remember most is the tomatoes.  Even to this day, I can’t bite into a tomato without thinking of my Grandma June.

Writing Prompt Saturday- Write a Renga Poem

Ready for some group fun?  Continuing my love of Japanese poetry, I’m so excited to introduce the Renga poetry form.  Which can basically be called a poetry party game.  So, grab some friends and play.

Here’s how it works.  The first person makes a three line stanza, with 17 syllables.  It can either be a haiku or a senryu, either one.

Then, the next person makes the next stanza, attaching it to the first.

Being a great party game, I thought it would be fun if we did it here.  I’ll start

Petals on the floor

mixed with broken bits of glass

in the morning sun

Alright, anyone who wants to pick it up in the comment section, go!

Writing 101, Day 9

Rough draft, mostly playing with this idea.


It was warm out finally, and thank God for that, Marcey thought.  At 72, the cold was no fun.  But finally the winter chill had gone, the wet grass was dried by the late May sun, and she could take her work to the park.  So she packed up her knitting supplies, and took herself down to the park.

She bought herself a cup of coffee, and settled into her work.  She was making a little red sweater for a client who wanted something more personal for her nephew’s second birthday.  It made Marcey’s daughter laugh whenever they talked about her little ‘side hustle,’ as  they called it.  It wasn’t like she needed the money.  She wasn’t hurting like some her age.  She just liked to keep busy.

As she made her way to the chest of the sweater, a young couple walked past.  The woman was keeping up a constant stream of chatter.  The man, however, stopped in his tracks, and stared at Marcey.  Specifically, he stared at the sweater.  She was starting to wonder whether she should yell for the police, when the man burst into tears.

“Sorry,” the woman said to her, pulling the man away.  “I’m really sorry.”  She hurried away from Marcey as quickly as she could, still dragging the sobbing man along.

“What was all that?” Marcey muttered.  Since she knew she wasn’t likely to find out, she sipped her coffee, and made a mental note to tell her daughter about it later.

It was a warm day, but Jordan didn’t feel very warm.  There was never such a thing a good weather for a funeral, after all.

She’d put a lot into helping Paul plan it.  There was no one else around to do it, and hadn’t he always been her best friend?  So she pulled on her black dress, and went to his apartment to pick him up.

Paul was dressed when she got there.  Well, that’s a step in the right direction, she thought.  He even managed a smile for her when he came to the door.

“Did you eat?” she asked him.

“Not yet,” he replied.

“Let’s take a walk through the park, and go to the diner,” Jordan said.

“Yeah, okay,” he agreed.

Jordan felt triumphant as they started along the path.  They’d talked about nothing but the funeral for days, so she thought of anything she could to talk about now other than that.

“So that Rick guy called me again,” she said.  “Just out of the blue, like our last date went well or something.”

“No kidding,” Paul said, and actually managed a laugh.  “After spending half the date talking on his phone?”

“I know,” she replied.

They were coming up on a bench.  There was an old woman sitting there, drinking a coffee and knitting a red sweater.  When Paul saw her, he froze.  Then he started to sob.

The woman looked scared to death, which made absolute sense to Jordan.  Generally, people don’t start crying at the sight of art projects.  “Sorry,” she said, and started pulling Paul away, “I’m really sorry.”  She drug him down the path, trying to figure out what about that old woman had made Paul so upset.

If it had only been Maureen, Paul thought, maybe he could stand it a little better.  He dressed in the bedroom they had shared for three years, where her side of the bed still smelled a little like her.  He had loved her since the first day he met her, and when she died it broke his heart.  But if it had only been her, he supposed it would have healed.

Jordan was pulling up.  She’d been so great though all this, the only person he’d had to rely on.  He had put so much of this on her, even though he knew she must be hurting too.

So when she suggested a walk through the park and breakfast at the diner, he gave her a smile and said yes.

And at first, he really did feel better.  Listening to Jordan babble, walking with her in the sunlight, he felt warm for the first time since Maureen died.

Then he saw the woman, knitting a sweater with red yarn.

Maureen had laughed at him when he brought her that red yarn and a pair of knitting needles.  “I hope those are for decoration,” she’d said, “because I don’t knit.”

“Yeah, but you’re going to be a mommy now,” Paul had told her with a laugh.  “Everybody’s mother should knit.”

He couldn’t help it.  He started to weep.

If it had only been Maureen, he supposed he could have healed.  But knowing there would have been a baby, and now there never would be?  He didn’t believe he would never be warm again.

What I’m Reading This Month, April 2015 edition

A long time ago, I participated in the monthly online book club run by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Did it for two months, had a lot of fun, the I forgot. And every month, the fifteenth would roll around, and the posts would pop up on my feed reader, and I would say, “Well, it’s okay that I forgot, because I am reading nothing new. Just Half Blood Prince for the fifth time. Really don’t need everyone knowing that. Better that I just skip it is month.

But then the new year started, and one of my goals was to read all new books. And I’ve kept it so far. Haven’t had much time to read, but so far I’ve gotten through Uncle Montegue’s Tales of Terror, and Divergent. Uncle M is great if you liked those Scary Stories books with the wicked awesome illustrations by Alvin Schwartz. Divergent is great if you, you know, breath.

This month, though, I tackled a book I have been wanting to read for a few years now, but every time I start I get distracted by something. It’s The Great Hunt, book two of Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan.

I know, after all my fangirling over Brandon Sanderson, you would think I would have already read his favorite series, and the one that he was so honored to finish after Mr. Jordan passed away. Well, here’s my little secret. I am a fan of Sanderson, the writing teacher. I haven’t even read Mistborn. (It’s on my list, I swear!)

Getting back to Great Hunt, I’ve really been loving it so far. The amazing array of point of view characters is handled really well. At no time do I not know what’s going on, *cough cough, George M. Martin, cough cough*.

More important than that, I am interested in all the different story lines. Never is there a chapter where I’m like, “This loser again? Dude, nobody cares what’s going on with him!” Bran Stark. Not even any fake coughing this time, I have read almost the whole series and skimmed every Bran chapter.

Long story short, read Great Hunt if you haven’t already. Read Book One, too.

Have you read The Great Hunt? What did you think?

Check This Out- Preditors and Editors

Really, the only excuse I’ve got for never mentioning Predators and Editors before is that I must have assumed you already knew about it. Predators and Editors is a must read before you submit to any agent or editor.

The way the website works is this. Let’s say that you’re looking into agents A and B. Both seem really good, the websites are pro level, but you can’t see a whole lot of publishing credits. Maybe the agent is new. Maybe they prefer to keep their client list exclusive. Or maybe they are a big old scam artist.

How is an innocent writer to tell?

Well, first we’ll look at agent A. We check their name in P&E, and find a $ sign. This is good, it means this agent has a recent sale with a reputable publishing company. Oh, look, it also tells us that this agent is part of the AAR, a well respected literary agent group. Well, this agent checks out. Great.

What about agent B? Here next to their name, in big red letters, are the words, “Charges reading fees. Do not recommend.” Well, that really says all there is to say. No reputable agent asks a reading fee, ever.

Consider Predators and Editors our Better Business Bureau. It’s not a flashy sight, and it’s not meant to be somewhere you can just lose yourself in for hours. But it’s got your back in this world of thieves and liars. So check it out every time you’re considering an agent. Remember, an agent has to accept you but first, you have to accept them. Be sure of who you’re working with.

Have you ever been burned by a bad agent? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Writing 101 Day 8

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Ironically, I went somewhere today that is right out of my childhood memories, but I didn’t remember until my husband pointed it out.

Our kids don’t go to normal school, they attend cyber school.  This means they attend live classes online, in my living room.  This is great fun, because it means we get to chime in on all their lessons.  It also means that they have to go somewhere else to take there standardized tests, known here as the PSSA’s.

This year, they’re taking them at the local Days Inn.  It just so happened to be the same place I’d had my ROTC ball in high school.

Of course, I didn’t remember.  Of course he did.  And of course, since we’d both attended the ball, just at different times, we had to go see it.

There was a business fair today, but I could still see how it had looked that night.  I wore a gold gown, petite white gloves, and more make up than I had ever had before that day.  And I went with my best friend, instead of a guy.

There were chandeliers, and a terrible catered dinner.  But the best moment of the night?  I got a medal.

it was the first time I remember getting awarded for doing something.  We’d had a big national inspection a week before, and it was discovered that not all of our Class A uniforms had a required patch on their arm.  I came in early armed with thread and needles, ready to baste stitch as many of these jackets as humanly possible.  A few other cadets joined in, and we got it done.  I mean, some of them were sort of crooked, but damn it, they were there!

I got to walk up and get my medal, which I then got to wear on my class A uniforms every time we wore them.  Now, it wasn’t as cool as the cadet who had preformed cpr on a lady and kept her breathing until the ambulance got there.  No, that was way, way cooler.  But I got a medal for doing something I was good at, and volunteering.  It also set a precedent for the rest of my life.  I was a girl, in ROTC, and I sewed.  I was and am, exactly who I am, and my gender has not a thing to do with it.

All of that from walking into a ball room I hadn’t been in for over a decade.


Okay, so I didn’t write a response to the Writing 101 post today, because I was busy finishing this instead.

Photo by Garrett Luttrell
Photo by Garrett Luttrell

That pile of five composition notebooks is the first draft of Starting Chains, book two of Woven.  After working on it since November, it is finally done!

Oh, and that’s my sort of creepy cat, Harper.  She’s not always so glowey, as my husband puts it.

The Writing Life- A Prayer for My Agent

Lord, please look after the agent
upon who’s desk my manuscript is placed
Let her have a good cup of coffee, and an empty bladder
Let her be in a peaceful frame of mind
Let her not be rushed, or tired
Let her not be jaded
Let her put away preconceived notions and bigotries
Lord, I do not ask that the agent rushes to represent me
I do not ask that she get me a million dollar contract
or make me famous
I only ask that when the agent reads my manuscript, that she be in a positive frame of mind
and that she see its merits, and know how to correct its flaws


Writing 101, Day 6

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Wow, just one person?  No way, can’t do it.

See, here’s the thing.  I work in tech support and billing, which means I have the amazing opportunity to talk to brand new people all day long.  Here’s the thing, though, I never see any of them.  All I have is their voices, and their stories.  Oh, and let me tell you, the stories!

For some reason, people want to open up to someone when they’re stressed, and the tech chick on the other side of the phone is really non threatening.  So I get to hear all about what’s going on in their life today.

There was one woman, though, that stuck out in my mind.  After I fixed her tech problem we just talked for awhile, because she seemed like she needed someone to talk to.

Her husband had died a year before, but when he was alive they owned a Cesna, and she told me all about flying it all over America.  They’d started out working class, just like me and probably you.  But they’d invested so carefully and faithfully over the years, that they retired early and spent their retirement flying all over visiting their family.  She kept me on the phone for half an hour, and encouraged me to invest.  (I’m trying.)

People who are getting divorced, getting married, kids are about to leave for college, college kids just starting out on their own.  Every one of them has a story to tell, and sometimes they tell them to me.  And I love to listen.

I hear about the great new jobs, and I love that.  I had a gentleman call me to cancel his account with my company because he was moving into hospice, and it made me cry.  If you don’t know, hospice is the end of life portion of the hospital.  I talk to baby sitters who managed to break something, and moms who don’t know how to unhook the game system so they can watch their shows.

If you’re an aspiring writer, and you’ve got to have a day job, try to have one where you’ve got to handle people.  Because if you’re friendly, and ready to listen, you will hear more stories than you ever thought were there.

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