Back In The Saddle???

HORSE & SADDLE -- James DeMers -- PX

James DeMers @ pixabay.com

Well, my three-week hiatus from writing for any websites — and focusing on my art instead — has done me some good. I’ll try to get back in the saddle now and focus on some things that have to be written out in words. But even if I’m back in the saddle, I think I’ll move forward at a trot, rather than racing speed. I’ll work my way back to writing publicly in as relaxed a manner as possible — beginning with this light-hearted poem:

Writing
Can be a joy,
Except when it’s a drag.
Words must be disciplined,
And that’s the gag.

Therefore,
I took a break
From writing anything.
And gave myself to art,
And had a fling.

So now,
I’m in the mood
To write a thing or two.
Thoughts that have been backlogged
Are now in queue.



 

What Happened to ‘The End’?

BOOKS W. END

Over the past decade, the publishing world has experienced an interesting, but, in my opinion, sad phenomenon. Almost all fiction authors and/or publishing houses have started leaving out the words “The End” on the last page of novels. It’s now become passe, and I guess in some minds, even unsophisticated to write those two iconic little words below the last paragraph of a story.

It’s sad. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. My earliest happy memories involve reading stories and having them read to me, and I started writing my own in elementary school. In fact, I wrote my first full-length play in the 6th grade. I get totally immersed in the books I read. I can pass hours and even go without food — even chocolate and coffee — once I get entrenched in a story. I live the experiences with the characters — laughing with them, crying with them, loving with them, fighting with them — and rejoicing in the final resolution of the climax in their favor. ( I do not read stories where the main character ends up defeated.)

But when I come to the end of those stories, I’m generally so much involved that I need closure in order to let them go and move on. Those two little words — “The End” — have always given me that. Now, many have been the times when I hated to see them come. I didn’t want the story to end, and I would have pushed those words forward for another twenty pages or so at least. But eventually, all good stories have to reach their resolution, and when they do, I’ve always found a quiet acceptance and even a serene pleasure in reading those words. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve leaned back after reading “The End,” closed my eyes, and taken a slow deep breath and relished the fact that all was resolved and every loose end securely tucked away.

Those two little words close a story and let me know that it’s all right to let those characters go and move on to the next story — the next adventure — the next romance — the next journey. Yes, I know that any reader of average intelligence is able to figure out that if there is no more text between the covers, then the story has come to an end. But that doesn’t satisfy me at all. Somehow, those two words typed onto the page just make the reading experience complete, and finishing a story without them is not the same. Perhaps I’m the only one who feels that way. I don’t know. It’s not a subject I discuss with other writers — or readers. But it’s something that touches me powerfully enough that I continue to type “The End” at the completion of every novel I write.

And I will continue to do so from now on. The publisher that I have worked with for years is in agreement with me, and, of course, any books that I publish through Amazon don’t require my considering anyone else’s opinion. So I’m free in both situations to do as I please. And what pleases me is to be able to say to my readers  — in effect — “Well, now, we have come the distance together in this story; thank you for sharing it with me; I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have; we’ve solved the problems for the hero and heroine, and they are satisfied and secure;  I’ve taken great care to leave you in a good place; All is well = The End.”



 

Weekend Coffee Share 5/16/20

COFFEE & COMPUTER -- Engin Akyurt -- PX

photo courtesy of Engin Akyurt @ pixabay.com

Hello again, everyone. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to participate in the coffee share, and I’m feeling happy this morning that I have time to just sit here and talk to you as I’m enjoying my coffee. To be honest, there are several things I need to be doing, but they are not pressing me very hard, so I’m ignoring them and choosing to visit with you for a few minutes instead.

I can’t say that I’ve had any important experiences this past week, but I am looking forward to what I have planned for this weekend. It’s related to a victory in my life that took place a few months ago, and I’ll share a little of that with you so you can rejoice with me.

Some of you are aware that about 2 1/2 years ago, I lost my very best friend in an accident. I’ve shared a little about that experience from time to time, but not anything recently. Not only was he my best friend, but he was also my best editor and had such a vibrant, creative mind that he had been enormous help to me in my writing. He was at times my toughest critic, but at all time my greatest champion.

And he was the kind of person I could call on the phone and say, “Hey, I have this character who needs to end up so-and-so, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how I can set him up for this experience.” In no time at all, my friend would come up with at least one and maybe three or four possible scenes that fit right into where I needed to go in my story. And he was available to offer feedback at any time of the day or night.

So, as you can see, when I lost him, I lost someone very personal and emotionally supportive, but also a great catalyst and creative inspiration at the same time. As a result of that loss, I came to a place where I was unable to write any novels at all. I had been working on three when he died — and one of them had already benefited from input from him. Every time I tried to go back to any of those novels, I ran into a brick wall. It wasn’t what some writers refer to as “writer’s block.” It was a deep sense of emptiness that I couldn’t seem to get out of enough to bring words and scenes to life again. I struggled against that barrier repeatedly, but to no avail.

I’m very grateful that the Lord allowed me to write more poetry during that time. It was interesting to me that, while I could not write any stories, I could still write non-fiction work that is part of my Christian ministry, and I could write poetry. In fact, writing poetry was the most healing experience I had during that time, and I even created a brand new poetry website where I could share it. That creativity was powerful blessing.

But, thanks to the Lord’s healing work in my soul, I finally came to a place a little earlier this year where I was able to pick up one of the novels I had been working on and finish it completely. In fact, it was just birthed into the marketplace in April. What a great victory that was. As the author of 20 books before that time, I can’t even put into words how it felt to sit for two whole years and not be able to write one complete story. But victory is mine, and now, I believe I’m ready to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and finish some of the other novels that have been waiting a very long time.

Now, back to this weekend. My plan is to take this weekend to finish one of those books. Sadie Rose Donovan: Coed Detective is actually a little different from most of my other novels. This book is more of a young adult novel, but I’m hoping and believing that mature adults will enjoy it as well. If I can’t finish it completely this weekend, I’m thinking about posting it one chapter a day on my website and promising to post every day until it’s done. That procedure has helped me push myself to finish novels in the past. We’ll have to see how things go today and tomorrow. But, for sure, the book is coming to its rightful conclusion this week!

Personally, I love the story. It was inspired almost exclusively by a photo of a young friend of mine who snapped a selfie while standing in a hallway in one of the main classroom buildings on a local college campus. She was posed as if involved in some clandestine activity, and the moment I saw it, the story sprang to life in my head. I’ve told her that I consider her my inspiration, and I’ll be dedicating the book to her — Hannah Herron.

The main character is named after a sweet young lady who waited on the table at a restaurant I visited a couple years ago. My cousin and I were eating supper there, and Sadie Rose stopped to visit a while. The conversation led to how she had come by her first and middle name. I instantly fell in love with that name and told her I knew it would be perfect for a story I’d be writing. I told her I’d let her know when it came out, but I don’t think she works at that restaurant any longer. See the sad pitfalls of taking so long to finish a story???  Anyway, I hope I can locate her and let her know when her namesake is finally on the bookshelves.

So, that’s my weekend coffee share for today. And that’s my weekend plans: I’m going to get out of my robe and start pounding the keys to finish Sadie Rose’s story. And I feel sure there will be plenty of pots of coffee involved as the work progresses.


To participate in “Weekend Coffee Share,” visit our host’s website: Eclectic Ali.

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When Violets Aren’t Violet

VIIOLETES - Anelka -- PX

Roses are red;
Violets are ———- purple!

Doesn’t it bother anyone that numerous poets for centuries have painted those innocent little violets blue?  Of course, I know that there are, indeed, some strains of violets that are more blue — and even some that are pink and white. But I have to believe that they are the exception, because, after all, the very name of these flowers is spelled  v-i-o-l-e-t.

However, I’m not really complaining about the color of violets. I just got to thinking about that particularly well-known poetic line and about how we as poets really do feel we have our own kind of literary license. What is it about poets that makes them think they can write just anything they want to write as long as it rhymes and keeps the meter smooth and uninterrupted?  Well, I’ll tell you what it is about us:

We love words — the sounds of words — the rhythm of words — the music of words. And we love playing around with lots of different numbers of syllables. We love to hear consonants repeated, vowels repeated, digraphs repeated. And if we need to turn a sentence around backwards to get the right rhythm — or leave out a couple letters replaced by an apostrophe — or go beyond the norm with hyperbole — well, it’s all part of what we see as our job —— and to be honest —— it’s part of the FUN of writing poetry.

True poets follow rules of meter and rhyme and correct use of figurative language. But we also follow rules of emotion, yearning, and imagination.  So, yes, we do believe that it’s okay if we altar reality a bit here and there or say things backwards. If it helps make the poem touch a heart, grab the imagination, take the reader to another realm, or tickle his funny-bone, we figure we’ve done our job well.

And, personally, I think that’s why a poem can speak to readers in such unique ways. People don’t always realize it when they are reading a poem, but it’s those quirky kinds of things — those little excursions away from what is generally the “accepted” pattern — that has caused many a poem to grab a place in the reader’s mind and heart and stay there.

So okay … here’s my version:

Roses are red;
Violets are blue;
We don’t always stick
With only what’s true.
We’re looking for words
With meter and rhyme,
And if we can’t find them,
We might tend to whine.
So cut us some slack;
We’re doing our best.
If a poem gives you pleasure,
It passes the test.



 

My Dad’s Book ‘Following In The Father’s Steps’ now available on Amazon

DAD'S 87TH BIRTHDAY - NO TEXT -

My dad, Ted Pavloff, spent his whole life ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a multitude of places, using numerous methods and media. He’s with the Lord now, having left us at the age of 88, but before he went to receive his rewards, he had served the Kingdom of God for more than 70 years.

When he was 12 years old, he was walking home from church one night, crossing a little bridge, when the Lord spoke to his heart so strongly that Dad stopped right in the middle of the bridge and surrendered his heart and his life to Jesus. There was never any looking back.

He preached his first sermon at the age of 15, and a year later, he was licensed to preach by the denomination he belonged to at the time. Right after Pearl Harbor was attacked, when Dad was only 17, he joined the U. S. Marine Corps, but even during his years of service on the battle front, he continued serving the Lord and helping others know about Him. As soon as he got is first paycheck from the Marines, he sent his tithe to the main headquarters of his home church’s denomination, asking that they make sure all of his monthly offerings got put to the right use on behalf of his home church. And he sent those offerings faithfully every month.

After the war, Dad sought an even deeper walk with the Lord and his ministry took on even more energy. In the decades that followed, he served the Lord as an international evangelist, a pastor here in the States, a Bible teacher, a Christian journalist and author, and a Christian radio and TV speaker.

He had a strong anointing for teaching God’s Word, and he wrote a lot of articles and a few books in which he shared a great deal of revelation from that Word. His books that were published before his death are currently in out-of-print status, but I now own the copyrights. So I decided it was time to re-furbish them and get a second edition of them into the public.

Our family has done all we could to keep my dad’s teaching available to help people, by continuing to publish his work in periodicals, on his original blog, and even through YouTube. One of the YouTube videos on my Radical About Jesus Ministries channel — in which my dad reads about 40 minutes of healing scriptures, along with a word or two of DAD'S AMAZON BOOK - LIGHT GRAY TEXT - front coverexhortation — has now been viewed over 90 thousand times. I’m sure he’s watching from Heaven and is thrilled to know so many people from all around the world are receiving help through his faithfulness.

This past week I finished getting one of his books, Following In The Father’s Steps, refurbished, reformatted, and published in its second edition. I’ve already received orders for copies of the book, and I’m currently working on one of his others as well. Although his first publications were with a traditional publisher, this time around, I’m focusing on the online markets and will eventually offer a great deal of his work in both paperback and digital.

I will most likely do a second post soon with a couple excerpts from the book, but if any of my readers are interested in knowing more about this particular book right now, or in ordering a copy for yourself of a loved one, you can find it on Amazon at this link.

 


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11 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

2020 LOADING -- Elisa Riva - PX - purple letters

I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  But each year, I do look to the Lord and seek His face and His heart to learn what His plans are for my upcoming year, and what He wants from me during that time.  And, of course, there are things that I want for myself as well. This year, I decided to just make a list of all the things I’m wanting to accomplish in 2020. Some of them are on God’s list as well as mine, and some of them — well — they’re probably on my list only —  but God will tolerate them out of His merciful love for me.  🙂

Here’s my list — so far:

1.  Eating lots of chocolate  No surprise there, right?)

2 . Drinking gallons of great coffee  You didn’t think I’d forget coffee, did you?

3 . Finishing the three novels that got shelved after my best friend/best editor died. I’ve recovered from the grief of losing my best friend, who was also my most trusted and efficient editor — and my reservoir for all kinds of creative ideas. But even though I don’t deal with the intense pain of the loss as much, I’ve still found it impossible to let my creativity flow back into those projects that he was working on with me. I know I’ll be able to do so eventually, and I’m trusting the Lord that this year will see a breakthrough.

4.  Writing scores of Cinquain. I do love Cinquain — as most of my readers know. And I can’t wait to dive into all kinds of subject matter that can be disciplined into this wonderful poetic form this year.

5.  Writing scores of Tso’i.  This new poetic form that I created last year is still a challenge. Of course, it had to be somewhat intricate in order to be a genuinely “new” form. If I had followed the disciplines that are comfortable, I’d have been staying in the same groove of all the forms I’ve written in all my life. So, I accept the challenge to write loads more Tso’i  in 2020.

6.  Writing a new series of Christmas stories  I haven’t written anything holiday-themed in a couple years, and that’s surprising, considering how much I love Christmas. I did put out my Holiday Planning Journal last year, and that was loads of fun. But this year, I want to do some more short stories that relate the special excitement, warmth, and love that belong to the Christmas season.

7.  Painting more than I did last year and arranging for a showing of some of my work.  During this past year, some people have been encouraging me to do a showing of my artwork at a couple local places, but I haven’t had the confidence in my work that they seem to have. However, I think it’s time I considered it seriously.  This venture is more a “maybe” than a sure thing, but I’m definitely going to consider it.

8.  Making connections with more Christian artists. I’ve taken the first steps in getting this goal accomplished by creating a brand new Facebook group called “Art From God’s Word.” It looks like there are quite a few other Christian artists out there who want to participate. Twice a month, I’ll post a scripture prompt on that FB page, and all the members will meditate on that scripture and then create artwork that the verse inspires. They are free to use any medium and form of art that they choose, as long as it relates to the scripture passage. It’s a way to focus on God’s Word and fellowship with others who are like-spirited and want their gifts to glorify the Lord.

9.  Teaching more”Writing Poetry” classes.  It’s been hard to get people to sign up for the “Writing Poetry” classes. They come to other creative writing classes, but the poetry always lags behind in enrollment. It’s such a fun class, and if people realized that, they’d want to come. So, I need to work more diligently this year at making them understand how much fun it really is.

10.  Taping a number of live videos, where I teach in front of the camera.  Except for a very few, my Bible teaching videos are mainly audio teaching — with the help of a few pictures or graphics for people to look at as they listen. I’ve never been photogenic, and have a complex about being on camera — video or stationary cameras either one — so I’ve held off on this venture. But I do believe the Lord says its time — maybe past time — that I got this part of the ministry off the back burner. As long as I don’t go back and look at the old live videos that I do have of myself, I think I’ll be able to accomplish this goal in 2020.

11.  Increasing my focus on the Lord and becoming more conscious of His presence within me.  This desire is last on my list in this post, but it is certainly not least. In fact, it is the most important thing I will do this year. And, in truth,  unless I do manage to accomplish this one, most of the others will probably fall by the wayside unfinished. But I have faith that this year will be a year of new growth — even great growth — for me spiritually. So, with the Lord’s help, I’m expecting to get this last item on the list accomplished, as well as the other nine.

If you’d like to share your goals, desires, or plans for this new year, please do. Use the “Comment” windows below to tell us about them — or put a link there to a post on your own blog where you share in more detail.

HAPPY 2020!!!


Graphics courtesy of Elisa Riva @ pixabay.com (edited for this post)
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Weekend Coffee Share — 11/2/19

COFFEE, TABLE, RESTAURANT -- Zaccaria

To participate in this week’s “Coffee Share” click on this link and visit Eclectic Ali for the details.

If we were having coffee together this weekend, I’d probably tell you about my book signing gig today. It was the kind of book signing that every author hopes he never experiences even once in his whole career. Not only did no one ask me to sign a book, but no one even wanted to buy a book. In fact, only two people even went so far as to pick up any books to look at them closer.

Yep, as sad as I am about it – and as embarrassed as I am to admit it – that’s the truth. My last book signing was pretty successful. I had a good time with people taking real interest in the books and asking intelligent questions – and most importantly – buying books and asking me to inscribe and sign them.

So why was this event such a failure? Well, as all authors know, we have good times and not-so-good times when it comes to book sales, but there are some specific circumstances that can lead more to one result or another. I was talking with my sister after the sad experience today, and she reminded me that the event took place in a county of our state that is known for its illiteracy, poor educational system, poverty, heavy drug use, heavy crime, witchcraft, and financial and political corruption. What does that fact mean in terms of selling books? Well, to begin with, the majority of people in that county are not interested in reading books much, period. But even when they do want to read, they are not looking for books with Christian-based themes and the propagation of the Gospel. Those two facts gave me an automatic two strikes against me before I even set up my table.

“So,” you ask, “why did you even participate in that event?” Well, my answer is two-fold. One: I’m an author who believes I’ve written books that will help people and make their lives better in a few different ways, and I naturally want to sell those books. So any possible market is worth at least considering. Two: I believe everybody, no matter what their culture or past experiences, should be given opportunities to choose to step out of what is negative and into something positive. I just believe that, given the opportunity, many people who live in a negative culture want to change that experience and will take advantage of such possibilities as reading good books in order to do so. I’ve been proven right about that theory in the past, and even though no one stepped up to make any of those choices today, I still believe there are people out there who do and will in the future.

So am I sorry I took part in the event – that I paid money for my place in the vendor’s fair that hosted us – that I spent hours getting all my materials together, traveling to the event, setting up everything, and then taking it all down and hauling it back home? No, I’m not. It was an experience that will have its own rewards for me it its own ways. However, when the coordinator of the event asked if I would come back to do another similar event before Christmas, I said no. I have to be a good steward of my time, my energy, and my finances, and when the evidence is staring me in the face as it did today, I’m smart enough to recognize that one of the lessons learned today is that this particular venue is not good stewardship.

Now, on the other hand, while we were sharing over coffee, I would also tell you about how I received shipment today of my first big order of the HOLLY JOLLY HOLIDAY PLANNING JOURNALS. I love these journals, and I’m so glad I decided to create them this year.

HOLLY JOLLY RESIZED
Moreover, half of this first batch is already spoken for, and that’s a pretty happy situation for an author and book creator to be in. With only half of this batch left in stock, I have to order more for the next book event that I’m participating in – in a totally different county, by the way, with a much more educated and literature-conscious culture. It takes place in a couple weeks, and by then I will have licked all my emotional and financial wounds from today, and I’ll have a great time interacting with potential readers at that event.

So — you win some, you lose some. As authors, we know that’s how life goes. It’s like the old song says — with a little paraphrasing from me:
You’ve got to give a little, take a little …
You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little …
You’ve got to win a little, lose a little …
That’s the story of – that’s the glory of – being an author.

 


Lyrics taken from “The Glory of Love,” written by Billy Hill


 

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The Music of Words

Exif JPEG

I’m a musician. I play keyboard instruments mainly. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of using my talents to entertain audiences, to minister as organist and choir director for two different churches, to help facilitate weddings and funerals for scores of families, to compose and orchestrate numerous songs, and to teach others to use their gifts and talents to bless the world with music from their own keyboards.

These days I rarely sit down to a musical keyboard. Instead, I’m nearly glued to the kind of keyboard that is attached to a desktop or laptop computer. For,  you see, I’m also a writer. Now, some people feel that I have left music behind as I’ve devoted so much of myself to the writing. But you know what?  I’ve discovered a truth that, ten years ago, I may not have even thought about:

I’ve discovered that music — true music — doesn’t come from a keyboard on a piano, an organ, or an accordion. Nor does it come from a horn, a guitar, a violin, or any other instrument. On the contrary, music comes from the soul. It’s the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm of life that courses through our beings and finds its release through any number of avenues. Frequently, it is released through instruments constructed for that specific purpose, but the music of the soul is also released through words.

I find that I’m releasing the music of my soul constantly as my fingers whisk over the letter keys of my laptop. I’m letting all those melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of life course through me to touch every reader. And when those readers are touched, my words create emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions as surely as the strains of sound vibrating from a piano or a horn. I’m calling to and capturing the soul of the reader as surely as the chords from a guitar call and capture the soul of the listener.

It is not the instrument that creates the music. In truth, the music is created from the deepest part of our being and simply seeks an avenue — any avenue — of expression. So, personally, I believe I am offering music to the world through the words that flow from my soul onto the page as surely as I have offered it in the past from the keyboard that sent forth vibrations of sound.

So, my fellow writers — let your music flow.


 

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Weekly Smile 7/29/19

I love taking part in Trent’s Weekly Smile, but for the past couple weeks I’ve been bogged down finishing up this term’s writing class and preparing for a ministry meeting at a local Civic Center. But this week, I’m starting to wind down from those two event — both of which made me smile — so I have a little extra time.

COFFEE JOURNAL COVER FRONT ONLYHowever, my post is not about those two things. It’s about another smile maker. My brand new DAILY GRIND COFFEE LOVERS JOURNAL. It’s just out and, I’m grinning from ear to ear about it — partly because it’s now available for purchase — and partly because I just can’t keep from smiling when I look at all those delicious coffee photos and think about how those captions popped into my mind for each one — and partly because I’m enjoying doing my own journaling in my personal copy of the book.

Now, I know this sounds like an advertisement, but truly it is the thing that caused my biggest smile this week — and last week.  I’m having a great time running around delivering copies of the journal to other coffee lovers who want one for themselves or to give as a gift. And to be perfectly honest, I’ll probably be smiling pretty big over this event for the next week or two as well.

Not only that, but I’m working on the next journal, which has a writing theme and should be out next month. That project is putting a smile on my face as well. Of course, it’s also causing me some hours of serious thought and a tiny bit of aggravation, but after all — as we all know — that’s part of the program when you’re creating a book.

Hope you all have a lot to smile about this coming week as well.

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Weekend Coffee Share – 4/7/19

COFFEE - YELLOW SMILEY -- Hans PX

photo courtesy of Hans @ pixabay.com

I’ve missed taking part in the weekend coffee shares, but my schedule just didn’t leave me much time for posting. If we were having coffee on this Sunday evening, I’d tell you that this weekend has been a wild ride. But I did manage to get two important things done.

The most important was planning and officiating at a funeral for a cousin. I’ve officiated at many funerals, but this one presented a particular challenge. Many members of the family (not the ones I’m close to, thank the Lord) have been having disagreements and considerable strife about a number of things. There are so many factions who are angry with one of the other factions that one other family member who traveled with me to the service said she was concerned that after we left there might be an actual fight break out.

You can imagine what it was like to try to plan and carry out the service, when so many of the people don’t want to speak to or cooperate with others, and when almost anything you say could possibly inflame touchy feelings even more.  One woman, who stood like a stone right in my line of vision through the whole service, had such a look of hatred on her face the whole time that I was amazed she could even maintain the look and stance for such a long period. She came to the service, but did not speak to any of her brothers or sisters.

Whew!  I lived through it, and I’m trusting the Lord that some of the things I shared will actually help bring some healing to those poor troubled people.  But I’m very glad it’s over.  I cannot understand a person allowing another person’s bad treatment of him to cause that first person to become so angry and bitter that it makes him physically sick. Why hold onto bitterness and resentment?  It certainly doesn’t hurt the person one is bitter against. It hurts only the one who feels and feeds that bitterness and hatred.

But, as I said, it’s over now, and I at least did what I was supposed to do to try to help.

The other accomplishment was a new video in my “Audio Short Stories” series. I managed to get that done late Saturday night, so I’m inserting it into this post so that — just in case you’re a person who enjoys sitting back and listening to a story rather than having to read it for yourself — you can listen to it right here.

I hope all the rest of you had relaxing weekends. I’m planning on my next weekend being more quiet and laid-back. Maybe I can get some painting done. Goodness knows I need to de-stress.  🙂

Oh, I almost forgot! Another happy thing happened on Saturday: a good friend came by with a gift for me. It was a lovely, fancy white cup and saucer with a silver fleur de lis design on it. It came complete with a little silver spoon — and a huge truffle inside to go with the coffee I was undoubtedly going to have in that cup. It was such a delightful surprise and a welcome positive addition to my troubled weekend.

Here’s the story I promised.  Kick back, prop your feet up, sip your coffee, and enjoy.

 

 

To participate in Weekend Coffee Share, visit Eclectic Ali for the details.

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 3/3/19

COFFEE PLOPPING -- AnnieSplatt -- PX

If we were sharing a cup of coffee today, I’d tell, first of all, that the only reason I’m able to share this morning is because it is snowing too hard for me to get to church. I go to a church that is about 30 miles from my house, and right now the visibility is way too low to make a trip like that — especially with the roads rapidly being covered with snow and the temperatures dropping. I did go out and clean off my car (from the earlier morning snow), thinking it would let up, and I could go, but that didn’t work out at all.

Anyway, there’s not a whole lot to tell you about this week. I taught my “Writing Fiction” and my “Biblical Pathways to Health & Wholeness” classes.  The students seem to be enjoying both classes, so that’s always a good thing.

Actually, I did have one student who complained a couple weeks ago because the Writing Fiction class didn’t give him “what he wanted.” He had taken that class from me a few terms ago, and complained then as well. He seems to think that since he wrote non–fiction for years that a lot of the writing basics we cover are way too elementary for him. The course description made it clear what we would cover, but that didn’t seem to register with him. Not only that, but a good deal of the things we’re covering are things he is not nearly as proficient in as he seems to think — as evidenced by the work he turned in for the assignments.

The first time he took the class he decided to drop it after about 4 weeks. Then when we offered it again this term, he suddenly e-mailed me to see if this class would offer something he could use. I told him clearly that I would be covering the same things I covered in the class he had dropped, which includes all the basic skills needed to write good fiction: developing good strong plots, developing believable characters and learning how to introduce them into the story in interesting ways, learning to use dialogue and body language well, learning how to develop and present setting, learning how to edit, and learning how to choose the best publishing options (along with several other helpful tips). Now, I ask you: what more could a student want from a Writing Fiction class???

But I suggested to him that since I would be covering all those same things, and he didn’t find them helpful a few terms earlier, I didn’t think he’d be interested in this class. But he enrolled anyway. He came to class long enough to be an aggravation and then dropped the class again. It turns out that what he’s looking for is some kind of writing theory and philosophy — whatever that is — and for what purpose, I can’t begin to figure out.

I told him that, in my opinion, teaching theory and philosophy did absolutely no good for the students who want to learn to write good stories that will entertain people and sell books. Theory and philosophy don’t help you plot a good story or create engaging, true-to-life characters, or help you jump through all the right hoops to get those stories published.  I can honestly say I’m relieved he dropped the class. I hope he finds what he’s looking for.

Well, it looks as though I’ve taken our coffee time to vent. Hope you don’t mind. And, guess what: it has almost stopped snowing!  Yay!  I think I’m going to get a fresh cup of coffee and a cookie to celebrate.

Hope you have a great week. And if you’ve never taken part in the “Weekend Coffee Share,” visit Eclectic Ali , check out the easy instructions, and share about your week.

 

 


 

New Writing Challenge: Write a Story Using Nothing But Dialogue

Okey-dokey, folks, it’s time for a fresh writing challenge. I’ve been doing this exercise with some of my creative writing students to help them get a better grip on using dialogue creatively and successfully in their stories. It’s a challenge for sure, but it’s lots of fun.

So here’s the only rule. Write a short story (anywhere between 100 and 500 words) using nothing but dialogue. No introduction, no tag lines to identify speakers, no narration of any kind.

Two Helpful Hints:
1. Since you can’t use tag words to identify speakers, you’ll be restricted to only two characters so that the reader can follow the dialogue easily.
2. You’ll need to make sure your dialogue reveals the identity of the characters because you can’t narrate their identity or description to your readers.

Just post your story on your own site and hop over here and put the link into the “Comments” section for this post.

No time limit: This challenge is open-ended. Anytime you read this post and want to try your hand at a dialogue story, go for it.  Do more than one if you like. And don’t forget to come back here and leave your link.

My own story is below:

GIRL DRAWING HEART ON WALL - cropped -- SFerrario - PX

FAMILY PICTURE

“Mandy, what on earth have you done to the wall?”
“I’m drawing a merle, Mommy.”
“A what?”
“A merle. You know, a picture that covers the whole wall.”
“Oh, you mean a mural.”
“Right, and this is a picture of our whole family.”
Our family?”
“Yes. See this really big person is God, because our Sunday School teacher said that all families come from God.”
“I see. And, yes, Mrs. Osgood is right.”
“And then here’s Daddy and you and me and Francis and Baby Daniel.”
“Well, I understand God and Daddy and me and you and Francis, but who on earth is Baby Daniel?”
“My little brother.”
“But, Mandy, you don’t have a little brother.”
“Not yet, but he’s coming. God told me today.”
“Ooooooh ….”

`

`


Once Upon A Time: A Story In Any Language

More than three years ago, I did a post discussing how so many of our stories have characteristics and qualities that are both generic and universal. That fact is so true that we’ve even cultivated phrasing and syntax patterns that fit specific themes and plots.  The whole concept is fascinating to me. (Naturally it would be, considering that I’m not only a writer, but also a creative writing teacher.) 

So I decided to experiment a little with writing a story using nonsense terms instead of normal nouns and verbs. — to demonstrate the fact that any avid reader would be able to understand the story with very little trouble. The reason readers will understand is that the pattern, plot, and emotional tone all fit a specific type of fiction. The experiment was fun, and I often use it in my writing classes as an example to my students that many times it isn’t just choosing the right word that matters. It’s also how we put those words together that makes the whole piece a good story.

I decided to share the experiment again on this site. Hope you enjoy it.


DRAGON - PUB DOM TOTALLY -- Friedrich-Johann-Justin-Bertuch_Mythical-Creature-Dragon - TALL

Public Domain — Artist: Friedrich-Johann-Justin-Bertuch 

`
THE BONDO DELAFOR

The young delafor wandered through the cogem, wishing he could find a delafora to be his rhuba. He’d heard the fonders tell of bondo delafors who had won the hands of delaforas by zonering the terrible goganbulls. He knew the goganbulls were threatening the cogem, and many delafors were terrizon of them. He didn’t know if he were bondo enough to zoner a goganbull or not, but he hoped he’d have a chance.

One day the great kinba of the cogem announced that a goganbull had been spotted just outside the cogem. The great kinba porsayed that he would give the most beautiful delafora to the delafor who zonered that goganbull.

So the young delafor raced to his stetsa, hopped on, and took off to find the goganbull and zoner it. When he found the goganbull, it was maxma!  It was so maxma that the young delafor’s stetsa reared up, threw the delafor off, and ran away. Now the only thing the delafor had was his pontier. So he looked the goganbull in the eye, stood up straight and tall and shumed toward him. Keeping eye contact, he shumed all the way to within two feet of him. The goganbull gloamed and hot smeltz came from his buzzle.

But the young delafor rememberd the beautiful delafora who was porsayed by the great kinba. The delafor wanted that delafora for his rhuba very badly. So he aimed his pontier and shumed the last two feet toward the goganbull; then he flumed his pontier right into the goganbulls corva. With one horrible gloam, the goganbull fell over, and black smoke roold from his buzzle. Then all was quiet.

The young delafor took his pontier and whapped off the goganbull’s henda and carried it back to the great kinba. That day the young delafor won the most beautiful delafora in the cogem to be his very own rhuba. And they both lived schnookumy ever after.

TE  FUND

 

~~~

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share – 7/7/18

COFFEE MAN WITH FLOWERS - resized

If we were having coffee today, I’d most likely tell you about my creative writing class that got underway last week at the local college. It definitely got off to a robust beginning and then continued to make records for the most unusual writing class I’ve ever taught.

The first class met June 28, and about half-way through the class, the students’ phones began going off with a weather warning signal. The report said a tornado was headed our way and we needed to “take cover now!”  Since it was the first class of that term, and my classes last year had not been in that particular building, I did not remember exactly where the “safe” rooms were, so I had to hunt for the building map. I found it in the tray of the whiteboard, and immediately located the closest “safe” room for students to move to. My students weren’t actually frightened or panicked, but since one whole wall of our classroom is glass, they did want to get out of that room.

Well, when I tried to open the door to the “safe” room, it was locked. So I told the students I’d check the alternate rooms listed on the map, but then, suddenly — as if out of nowhere — one of the main custodians appeared with a key. However, as he opened the room, he also told me that a different room on the other end of the hall was actually safer, so I directed my students there instead. One woman’s husband was sitting in a lounge area reading while he waited for her.  So the custodian went to get him and have him join us in the “safe” room.  I was praying, of course, but I did feel responsible for making sure my students were as safe as possible.

Before we got to the safe room, some of the students stopped to look out one of the windows. It was pretty black outside — even though it’s normally still quite light at that time — and as they were looking, suddenly the wind took down a tree. We learned that another tree on the campus was also uprooted as well, but we didn’t see that one.

With class interrupted, we just sort of sat and conversed about other topics for a while, and two students kept tabs on the weather updates. One of them read a report that a local Kroger store had taken all their customers into their meat locker for safety. One of the students commented that if her daughter had been in that position, it would have been like a nightmare because the daughter is a vegetarian.

Everyone was pretty upbeat during the waiting time, and after a while, they decided they’d like to go ahead and continue the lesson. So I went back down to our original room and got all my teaching material so we could have the lesson while we waited. There was no whiteboard, but I was able to give them some of the material without it. When the warning time had expired,  with our building still in one piece, we packed up our stuff and moved back down to our regular room and continued our class, no worse for the wear.

One of the students had ridden a motorcycle to the class. So he had about a 20-mile ride home in the rain after we let out. But the winds had died down, and the warnings had expired at least. He had come prepared, though. He had brought along a rain suit, so I guess he’s been caught in that kind of situation before. He made it home okay and was in good shape to come back this week.

Now, to this week’s chapter: When I got to the classroom Thursday, two of my students were standing outside the building — in 100-degree heat. As I stepped from my car, I yelled to them and asked if the door was locked. They said it was. So I got back into my car and drove over to the security and maintenance building. I couldn’t get anyone to answer my pounding on the door at the security office. I couldn’t get into the maintenance office, and I even stopped at a shop area where they were welding to ask for assistance. They just sent me back to the security office, but that second time, an officer FINALLY came to the door.

Evidently, because our class was meeting the day after the 4th of July, we were one of only a few classes that were meeting that day. I guess several of the others had dismissed for the rest of the week, and the officer said his list of buildings that were supposed to be open for classes did not include the one we were trying to get into. However, he drove over and opened the building for us. It was a little strange to be the only class meeting in that great big building, but at least all was quiet weather-wise, and we had no interruptions.

All in all, I’d say this term’s writing class has been less that boring. And if nothing else, maybe it will give students something to write about. However, I do hope next week is TOTALLY ordinary.

Have a great week, everyone!


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our weekend coffee share.

 

 

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Share Your World 7/2/18

I haven’t taken time in the last couple months to “share my world.” So this week I thought I’d make an attempt to do so. (You can share yours too if you visit Cee’s blog where she gives the details of taking part.) Here are her questions for this week.

Question # 1: Tell us about your first bicycle or car. 

Well, I never owned a bicycle. I did learn to ride one — using my cousins’ or neighbors’ bikes, but bicycling was never one of my favorite activities. I do drive a car, although that activity is not one of my favorites either. I’m not one of those people who enjoys “going for a drive.” I simply get into the car to get from one place to another more easily and comfortably than I can get there by walking. Of course, with my air conditioner on the blitz in my current car, that isn’t too comfortable.

But I’m digressing. I’m supposed to tell you about my very first car. It was a Honda — pale yellow with gray interior. I loved it. It was used, and cost me a whole $700.00, but that was way back in time — more than 40 years ago. I vividly remember my test drive. My dad went along to give me his opinion of its virtues and problems. The car was in good shape and I drove it about three years before trading it in for a newer and slightly bigger car. I’ve owned 9 different cars since then, but I’ll always remember that little Honda with love and affection.

REDBIRD CHRISTMASQuestion # 2: What fictional world or place would you like to visit?

I’d like the opportunity to visit — or maybe live in —  a place called Lost River, Alabama. Now, in general, I don’t like Alabama. And, in general, I’m not a fan of Fannie Flagg’s novels. However, Ms.Flagg did write one novel that is an absolute delight to read — in fact I read it about once a year — and it is set in the peaceful, friendly, life-affirming community settled on the banks of a clear, quiet river known as Lost River, Alabama.

Even the mail is delivered by river in this little community. Everyone living there knows everyone else — and cares about everyone else. The weather is not too cold or too hot. The flowers, birds, and other natural wildlife are pleasant company. And the whole attitude and atmosphere is one of optimism.

I keep intending to write a review of this book for my blog, but, somehow, time just keeps getting away from me. But in case I’ve whetted your appetite for a visit to Lost River, I’ll tell you that the title of the book is A Redbird Christmas. And if you enjoy reading about second chances and happy endings, you’ll love it.

Question # 3: If you could have someone follow you around all the time — like a personal assistant — what would you have them do?

I’d have them stop following me around.

 

Question # 4: What did you appreciate, or what made you smile this past week.

Three things made me smile this past week. One was my hairdresser, Scott Brown. Scott is one of the most pleasant, courteous people I know personally. He really cares about people. He chooses exactly what is right for my hair every time a decision has to be made about it, and he genuinely enjoys making people feel good about themselves. When I’m in the mood to change my style and I’m being super picky — which I almost always am — you know — I want this cut, but I want the back a little different — and I want the top a little different — and I want more of this and less of that — he takes it all in stride, gives me what will actually work, and tells me honestly when something is out of the question. I really like this guy.

The second thing that made me smile was some videos of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show from the 1970’s. That was a time of several important decisions and events in my life, and that whole decade has a very strong place in my memory — in mostly happy ways. One of my favorite memories is watching that show every week. This week, as a way of relaxing, I watched several hours of those old re-runs, and I was amazed at how much I laughed out loud at some of them. It was a fun experience.

The third thing that made me smile was getting back into the book I wrote for my great-nieces and nephews about 4 years go. I wrote the original story just for them, using all four of them as the main characters of the book: Taming The Dragon of Calvert Kingdom. I’m getting ready to let the book go into the marketplace now, and as I re-read it and remembered how thrilled they were to have a whole book written about them, it made me happy. I hope it make them as happy when the book is published for the rest of the world to read.