Thursday, October 18, 2018

How important is a title?

I met with a writer friend the other day. Seems great minds think alike. We are both working on personal collections. I am convinced readers will purchase his book before mine, simply because his title is a hoot. I am not at liberty to share the title at this time, but trust me, if you are a writer, you would laugh out loud.

Do titles sell you on a book?

Do you have a preference for long titles or short?
Do you like titles that sound like a newspaper headline?
Does a title capture the essence of what's to come? Does it entice? Evoke emotion?
Have you ever been impressed or misled by a title?

I am reading three books: Folly Beach, by Dorothea Benton Frank; We Are Water, by Wally Lamb; Save Me, by Lisa Scottoline. Three different genres, two I chose because I like the authors. One book has not lived up to my expectation, one surprised me, and the other is written in my preferred writing style.

One of my favorite books is, I Know This Much is True. I read the jacket flap but had already decided, based on the title, I wanted to read this book.

What is your opinion?

If you were going to write a collection of personal essays based on your own life, what would your title be? Come on give it a try. 


Sunday, October 14, 2018

What are your triggers?

What are you allergic to?

You say you have no known food or prescription drug allergies?

Think about what you deliberately avoid and share a couple.

I used to teach at a school that served children with food allergies. A news crew came to film my class. You wouldn't believe the chatter among classmates who had no food allergies. When they were interviewed they named all sorts of things they were "allergic" to; bedtime, spinach etc.



Friday, October 12, 2018

Did you ever look back at your old stuff?


 Days drag, but years fly by. Wonder why. 

Happy birthday to my bright, grown up now, first grandchild who continues to bring me joy, sometimes annoy, and shares her little boys with me.


Did you ever look back on your own writing? Manuscripts, short stories, essays? 

Were you impressed and did you wonder, " Wow! Did I actually write this? Not bad."

Or did you cringe and wonder how you could have written such fodder?

Both have happened to me. Going through old files, I couldn't believe I made such strong verb choices and how swell I turned a phrase.

I've also cringed while reading some of my earlier writing. I couldn't believe how many unnecessary words I used. 

An example in overwriting: 
I enjoy walking early in the morning when the bright sun rises seemingly from the earth, into the vast sky, climbs the horizon, and lingers until late evening, when it slides back down and makes me equally happy.

An example in cutting unnecessary words:
Sunrise walks and sunset strolls bring me joy.  

An example in creative rewriting:
I'm thrilled at the first glint of sunlight as I stroll in stillness. Twilight holds the promise of a brisk walk and good night's sleep.


Now it is your turn:
If you have a few rotten nuggets on file, go back and rewrite. It is okay to use as many words as you need to get your point across. 

But THEN pare down. 

Does your reader not know that the sun is bright? Seems to rise from the earth or ocean? The sky is vast? The sun seems to slide back down?  

Tight writing makes for good reading. Now, pull up one of your own pieces of writing and slice and dice. If you want to run it by me, I will take a look privately. Let me know.










Thursday, October 4, 2018

It's the great pumpkin Charlie

Last Saturday I joined these and other poets in the park to read at Manchester Arts Fest. The day was cool and breezy, and the poetry was as diverse as the readers. An enjoyable event that included music, a variety of arts, and campfire story telling. 






Wednesday, I spent the day with this cute little two month old doll boy. Charlie is such a jabberer. I wish I could say he was this sweet the entire day, but ...


he wailed when I laid him down to take his picture.
After I picked him up and showed him around the pumpkin patch, he calmed down.

Once he realized he was the star of the day, he chilled and enjoyed himself.

 I am so in love with this little guy and his brothers. Alex is walking, Liam is always running, and I am enjoying my retirement.

How about you? What have you been up to?



Thursday, September 27, 2018

How a wink and smile prefaced Mom's words of wisdom



Read all about how Mom's advice was always accompanied with a wink and a smile.



All of us harbor thoughts of yesteryear, and have lived full lives. Submit your story to Julia, and perhaps your story will be accepted for publication. I enjoyed reading the other stories, and I am sure you will, too.

MANCHESTER ARTSFEST  

Music, Literary and Art
I will be one of the poets reading from 12-2 pm 
I read at 1:40 (outdoors event)

Saturday at Manchester Parks and Recreation
358 Old Meramec Station Road
Manchester, MO 63021


Near Hy 141 and Manchester

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Take a peek





 Nature in our backyard provides science lessons for Liam. We have flowering sedum which attracts insects of all sizes. Bees and butterflies coexist peacefully and share the nectar.

This is what Liam experienced:

 A yellow butterfly (his favorite color) landed on a flower and thrilled him.


A cricket hopped by and he chased it until it hopped away. 

He crept up on a fly, ran away from a bumble bee, and expressed empathy for a dying ladybug.

When an odd-shaped bug landed on me, I told him it was a stink bug. He got down on his hands and knees and tried to sniff it. Oh yes he did! 

Life is good for this four year old and his old nana.



He is becoming such a gentleman. Paw paw Bill surprised him and took us to breakfast at McDonald's. Liam was by himself in the Play Place for quite a while. Then two husky boys, 7 and 10 joined him. Liam is a people person. 

When the boys had to leave, Liam stuck his head out of the playroom door and called them back. He shook each one's hand and said, "Thank you for playing with me. It was nice to meet you."

Their mom, a limited-English-speaking Hispanic woman smiled at him, turned and beamed at us. 


I captured that moment in my mind to remind me that children have no racial biases.

He likes to watch cartoon Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids. I am pretty sure gentle and kind Daniel (based on one of Mr. Roger's characters) taught him how to shake hands and express emotion. I am proud of this little rascal who has too much energy and is too mouthy for his parents, but he's my little angel.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Up, Up and Away!

Friday afternoon I took Liam to the Hot Air Balloon Glow (which was to take place at dusk) in Forest Park. We arrived at 3:30 p.m. to beat the crowds, but parking close was impossible.  It was a very long, hot (90 degrees) walk along winding, gravel paths, that all looked the same. I couldn't imagine how I would find my way back to my car in the dark.

By evening there were thousands of people on Art Hill and throughout the park relaxing on lawn chairs, blankets, and having picnics. But Liam never relaxes!

 He also has never met a stranger. He thinks everyone is his friend, and he asked the kids next to us to play tag and hide and seek with him. I am old and experienced. I brought food, beverages, bug spray, and I packed a wet wash cloth in a zip loc bag. We sure put that to good use.
 About 5:00 p.m. the balloon owners started pulling in and unloading their balloons onto sloping Art Hill, in front of the St. Louis Art Museum, where generations of kids have sledded in winter.

 We went right up to the fence so he could watch the balloons slowly inflate bigger than a house. Liam was so excited and exhausted from running all around. At 6:30 he asked to leave. So we headed back down the gravel paths and across foot bridges. I told him he would miss seeing the balloons glow when they illuminated them all at one time. He said he was too tired.

As we crossed the last bridge, one of the balloons lit up. He was as thrilled as I was. It took us an hour to get out of the park, because at 7:00 people were still arriving enmasse. When we pulled out into traffic we caught a glimpse through the trees of all the balloons glowing. Even though we did not stay until 9:30 for the fireworks display, we still had a thrill!

I told him the balloons would lay flat on the ground overnight, and on Saturday afternoon at 4:15 they would have the fox and hound race. All balloons would inflate again. One balloon would lift off, then fifteen minutes later, all the others would fill the sky as they chased it. He so wanted to watch them, but unfortunately I told him we would not be able to go, because his parents were picking him up at 5:00 p.m.

Liam woke me up at 6:30 talking to himself about the Balloon Glow. When his mom and dad came to pick him up, he was excited to tell them all about it. As they put him into the car seat, I yelled for them to let him out of the car. Off in the distance, the hot air balloons were drifting directly toward us. Liam was one happy little boy. Wind changed their predicted route and they came East instead of West... just for Liam.