Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In Case You Missed It...'s my flash which appeared in Quiction a couple of weeks ago.


I flow and gloat on high east-west winds blown by the breath of gods. Kilimanjaro is their king, and though he still shines radiance into the world’s gloom, his glory is melting. Long ago he was a volatile youngster, angry and misunderstood, and I watched him cry dry tears of ash, laying down a carpet for the ancestors of man. I watched them, too, loping across the plain in painful evolution. Have you seen their footprints?

I scry a river where the thorn trees grow. It snakes a silver path through grassland and forest. Water is the way of all life here, from the sequestered hippo in his deep green pool to the tremulous waterside wanderings of the shy bushbuck. The earliest humans were not different. They too knelt on these banks and savored the moments between life and death. I saw them in their search for stones, knocking one rock against another in pitiful imitation of the hyena’s teeth, the leopard’s claws.

Smoke rises to the west and I stretch across the savanna, searching the cause and sorting the species below like suits in a hand of cards. I have followed this dance from the earliest days, swaying and stomping to the tune. It began with the burble and squelch of protozoan proto-life,
the thunderous lowing of dino-herds. I’ve heard the hoof beat heartbeat of wildebeest replenishing the land as they suckle it dry, been tempted by the tintinnabulation of tribal song.

Witness to the rise and fall of phyla, I have smelt the decay as they fade, puffing my cheeks in eternal triumph, abiding forever. I spin on the wind and scent the future. It is not unlike the past.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Finish Line

I did it! I finished my (50,718-word) novel yesterday afternoon.

For me, NaNoWriMo was a resounding success. Not because I've come away with a rough (very rough) draft of a novel, although that is a nice thing to have in one's back pocket. No, what is more important than the end result is that this was an incredible learning experience.

Five Things I Learned During NaNo:

1. If you're moving fast enough, that pesky inner critic/editor won't be able to keep up.

2. Writing every day is easier than you think; this is one habit that is good to have.

3. Friends and family who believe in you can make the difference between meeting your word count or failing.

4. You really don't need a plot to start with.

5. Satisfaction comes in many sizes, but 50,000 words feels just right.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is so true of me:

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Poetry and Kids, Part One

A couple of months ago I decided it was finally time to share one of my favorite childhood books with my daughter: Goops and How to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Polite Children by Gelett Burgess.

Originally published in 1900, the poems in this book feature a group of ill-mannered, inconsiderate little urchins called Goops. The illustrations are charming. The lessons are humorous, but not subtle, which is a plus when dealing with small children. And the rhyming verses make the poetry easy to read and remember.

As a kid, I memorized nearly every poem in the book, and as an adult, I couldn't wait for a chance to revisit the world of the Goops with my own children. It took my five year old daughter only two readings to memorize this one:

Table Manners

The Goops they lick their fingers,
And the Goops they lick their knives.
They spill their broth on the tablecloth--
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew;
And that is why I'm glad that I
Am not a Goop--are you?

Another favorite book of poems for childen is Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child’s Garden of Verses. Stevenson's poems are gentle and quaint, with an old-fashioned air that belies their timelessness. Children, after all, still wonder at the rush of a swing, the play of shadow and light, and the view of imagined worlds from a treetop.

Stevenson is particularly adept at observing the world through a child's eyes, as in Bed in Summer, which begins

In winter I get up at at night
And dress by yellow candlelight.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

Plenty of contemporary poets also write for children, including Jack Prelustky, Judith Viorst, Karla Kuskin, and of course Shel Silverstein.

The great thing about children's poetry is that adults can enjoy it too, making it the perfect form to share with your favorite kid. Poems require only small snippets of time - a funny rhyme to wake up in the morning, a quick limerick at lunch, a gentle song at naptime, or a thoughtful, dreamy piece to ease into the night.

Don't be fooled by silly wordplay and sing-song rhythms. The accessibility of kids' poetry means it may be easier to 'get', but it can still open your eyes and your heart and make you see the world in a different way. Just ask any kid!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Head over to this week's edition of Quiction and read my flash "Migrations."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Let's Go, NaNo!

Day 15 of NaNoWriMo. The halfway mark.

If you've been writing for two weeks now, you've likely experienced plenty of ups (remember that adreniline rush of the first few days, as you typed with one hand and downed bite-size Halloween candies with the other?) and downs (how far did you fall during last week's slump week, when even a rerun of Antiques Roadshow was more appealing than your novel?).

This is the time to put all of that behind you and move forward. Week Three beckons with the promise of a plot discovered, characters coming alive, and an end in sight. So grab your keyboard and ride the swell of another rising wave.

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
-- Mark Twain

It also doesn't hurt to have your own personal cheerleader.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


In Monet's garden
light is the lover that stoops
to caress the world

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What's your mood?

Here's mine:

Your Mood Ring is Orange

Stimulating ideas
Full of desires

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Nuts, Cherries, and Innuendo

I was leafing through the Norm Thompson catalog which came in the mail today (along with a billion other catalogs I don't need), and this caught my eye: Nuts Over Cherries Trail Mix. Is it just me and my dirty mind, or does this seem an unfortunate, not to mention risqué, choice of imagery for a food item?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Out of the Chute

NaNoWriMo has begun!

If you're a participant, did you take off like a bucking bronco, explosive and strong?

Or are you still puttering around, playing with pictures for your blog and straightening up that sock drawer while you wait for inspiration to strike?

Whatever your approach, write. Write some more. Keep writing and never look back.

My total so far: 3433

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In the Den

Shhhhhh. While that trickster Coyote was out playing for Halloween, I snuck into the Den. It's quite warm and cozy in there. Thanks, scruffy one!