Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Deed Done

I wrote a poem for a challenge several weeks ago. I've since done a small edit and choose to share it here. Until one of those critiquing the challenge pieces mentioned it, I didn't realize that I'd created an "epic" poem. Color me shocked when I heard that.

I merely wanted to share a summary of my favorite high fantasy book, The Deed of Pansennarion by Elizabeth Moon. Now I bring it here. I hope everyone can enjoy it and try their hand at writing such a summary of their own favorite books.

by Claudette J. Young

A long golden braid coiled around her head,
Kept in place by a warrior’s helmet.
Born of Finthan sheepfarmers, she grew strong.
She ran thirty miles to join the Duke’s men,
And when recruited, she gave her name--Paks.

Paks marched, trained, made friends in the troupe,
A natural warrior, she excelled,
A favorite of officers and troops.
Yet some tainted ones wished her only ill.
Magic framed her for foul deeds she’d not done.

Truth comes with faith, a sign of honor lived.
Good routes evil, strengthens Paks’s rank.
Soon Duke chooses year’s elite recruit group,
Who’ll lead companies south toward a war.
Paks and her squad lead off to great Valdaire.

From Valdaire war’s campaign in Rotengre,
Paks held sword, facing awaiting foes.
Ending with leg near lost, magic cures all.
Ambush on return home costs more friends lives,
Again magic hands, Duke’s intervention.

Rage-filled hearts demand decision--vengence,
Confusion fuels fires, though Paks seeks justice.
Seasons change and wars, mercs fight for money.
Paks marches again, a siege to begin,
Evil demi-gods fight paladin’s might.

Orders come, Dwarfwatch needs protection, too.
Fortress must stand rear guard, Paks goes again.
Treachery takes the unwary by day,
Captain slain under truce, gates drop war tight,
Leaving Paks, Canna, Sabin hiding out.

The three break cover by night, Duke’s men all.
One wounded, two recruits, stealthy woodscraft,
Hiding, creeping, staying low, avoid foe.
Two die so close, so far, just hours away,
Paks finds sentry, gets to Duke, collapses.

That villain, Honeycat, eludes Duke’s wrath.
Duke loses captain but retakes fortress.
Rest, heal, regroup to fight again in siege.
Gods battle, men die, evil crawls away.
Nothing solved, Time to return to Valdaire.

Months pass, wounds heal, tempers banked, fresh recruits
Arrive to flesh out depleted troop strength.
Duke’s pledge made. Honeycat’s head on a pike.
Merc companies rally in Valdaire, each
With a stake in likely southern outcome.

Revenge stalks forest, towns in running war.
Battles rage, skirmishes erupt for weeks.
The end is near, the rumor runs--death comes.
Rumor told truth. A ruined citadel
Held Honeycat, that evil Liart’s dupe.

Duke chose Paks to take squad for trap, await,
Capture, hold their prey for final revenge.
Magic brought sleep, shadows bought escape plans,
Paks fought sleep, watched shadows, foiled escapees,
Caught, held, injured, Paks saw Duke’s swift justice.

Hailed as hero, Paks shied from paladin,
Though drawn, she could not remain with the Duke.
Other calls drew her north to find herself,
Her justice sense needed satisfaction.
And so, with trader and elf, she moved north.

Adventures, training, mysteries, intrigue
Showing her trails. Paladin--her powers
Granted by four Gods for justice’s sake.
Paks knew herself, she knew her loyalties,
Gods worked her, protecting their interests.

Questing for rightful king for throne moves her
Back toward Duke’s East. Phelan holds key to quest.
An elf sword, Liart priest, Gods battle, all
To put Duke on throne of eastern kingdom.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Highway Humor

Sometimes things happen that simply force a person to perk up and wonder about the fun things in the world. That’s what happened to my sister and I yesterday. Honest! We weren’t stalking the poor man. We just happened to be interested in his amazing traveling companion and we were going to the same place.

It all began when we were on our way to Glacier Park. That’s our backyard playground, you remember. We came up behind a man driving a vintage Volvo sports car. Vintage show cars are very common around here. It seems like half the population living here or visiting have at least one specimen garaged at home, which are brought out on the weekend.

Regardless of the little red car, it was the occupants in said convertible that held our attention. As we pulled up behind them in the right lane, sister began choking on her laughter.

I could tell she was still looking straight ahead and tried to figure out why she was reacting as she did. After a few minutes, I realized that the passenger was extremely tall. Sitting at least two heads taller than the driver was a dog.

I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, right. The dog sat that high in a sports car? Sure, I believe that. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Fortunately for me, it’s true.

Jo passed the car so we could get a better look, and there in the passenger seat was the largest dog either of us had ever seen. Let me put it this way. It was so large that if it stood on its hind legs, it would easily have been close to seven feet tall. I’m sorry, but that qualifies as tall to this sight-challenged gal.

Light brown in color, the beast looked to Jo to be a cross between Great Dane and Irish Wolf Hound. Both are huge animals. Combined, they are mind-boggling.

Jo kicked herself for not being able to get a picture of the car, the driver (an older gentleman), and the passenger in his doggy seat belt harness. She wanted to be able to show the fact that the animal had to lower its head to rest it on the top of the windshield.

We got far enough in front of the convertible to pull over so she could whip out the camera and get ready. She didn’t bother getting out of the car. And wouldn’t you know it, he was going too fast for her to get a shot.

That’s when we pursued the subject. In passing, I told her that this was the first time I remember her turning into paparazzi, to which she told me never to call her that insulting name again. I’m sorry, but that was what turned the whole event hysterical. I couldn’t help myself.

For me, it became a case of the Keystone Cops after that. Of course, anyone listening in could have accused me of having a more serious problem at the time. I couldn’t stop laughing. The whole situation just kept getting funnier by the minute.

What made it even worse was the dog. Jo kept wondering if the driver and dog were talking back and forth. Why? Because the dog kept looking back at us to see if we were still there. Lips and ears flying, he’d turn that fawn-colored head and stare at us, turn it back and lean forward as if to make their car go faster.
We moved along the highway in our two-car caravan for several miles before our subject turned into the Glacier Park entrance. Jo had him in her sights. A chortle of satisfied pre-shot ecstasy escaped her with the thought of having cornered her prey.

That’s when disappointment not only reared its ugly head but body slammed us as well. The car with fascinating occupants turned down a private road to a residential area instead of moving forward into the park proper.

Being an ethical person, my sister didn’t continue to follow him. She refused to be accused of stalking for the capture of a photograph. That kind of behavior simply isn’t acceptable. After all, the open highway is public domain. A person’s driveway isn’t.

As a result, we went on into the park to find as yet unseen treasures to put on film and take home for memory files and possible professional use.

We will never forget those moments of mirth. We managed to laugh through much of the remaining afternoon.

Moral of the story. Just because life hands you a wonderful piece of humor to lighten your heart and bring a smile to your face, doesn’t mean that photos will be easy or possible. Perhaps the mere memory of the sight or event is all that’s allowed the viewer as a memento of the occasion.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Experiment In Media

For those interested, the poem is old. The photo is brand new this past week. Funny how they go so well together. This is one of the new things I'm doing with those spare moments of play time.



And Yes, I realize there's a wee typo. I'm working on getting it fixed today.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Chaos of Market Selection

Checking The Listings

I went to market today,
A list of poems in my hand.
Stalls there of needy publishers,
Reaching for gold from the land.

The words I wrote have worth here;
Readers and mags follow my trail.
Hustlers call out with promises,
Seeking bargains; the holy grail.

Should I commit to publish,
Signing away my thoughts' last rights?
Should I hold onto ownership,
Or submit to prizes’ sites?

Decision flees from my mind,
When possibilities abound.
Prizes everywhere tempt me on,
Toward a giant lost and found.

This poem epitomizes my day today. Aside from traveling two blocks down the street to get my hair cut and the time it took to do laundry, my time was used for investigating literary mags or travel mags. Would that I could make up my mind.

This writer rediscovers a terrible problem each time the marketing quest takes over. It revolves around the seemingly boundless array of choices possible for each piece of treasured verse or prose. I spent five hours today looking through submission guidelines for the appropriate venue for my little babies to sparkle and dance before editors’ eyes.

I came away with a minimum of ten submission sites for poems and short fiction--all for adult. Finding something that fits me and the market in adult work is something else again. On the creative non-fiction side of things, there were a minimum of five markets there that could allow me to do something that I would really like to do.

Oh, there were dozens more on every front, but I was thinking only in specifics, and reading through that many market guidelines takes me inordinate amounts of time. So I called it a day when I got to the mid-point of the B’s. When I think about this dilemma facing each writer, I also think of the same problem and its impact on everyday life for everyone.

Back in the 50’s when I grew up, going to the grocery store (supermarket) was a simple matter of filling the list Mom carried in her head. The cereal aisle consisted of limited offerings: oats, shredded wheat, cream of wheat, cream of rice, puffed wheat/rice, farina, corn flakes, and rare handful of others.

Today there are probably 50 different kinds, most of which have generic brands offering the same thing for less. The soda aisle sported perhaps 10 different choices at most and no such thing as flavored waters came into the mix. It seems that every broad grocery aisle overflows now with choices to tempt the shopper into a stupor of either over-shopping or decision-making chaos. I feel sorry for the young kids of today. I hear it nearly every time I go through a store.

Parent: “Well, make up your mind so we can get out of here.”

Child: Dead silent, enormous eyes riveted on five sets of shelves, each spanning twenty feet of length, and all of them filled with choices. There’s no time for internal debate or eeny-meeny…

We wonder why kids have problems with decision making and problem solving skills today. Producers have made it nigh on to impossible for people to make a decision they can live with. There will forever be that question mark in the back of their minds which connotes the nagging voice saying, “Did I really get the best thing I could have, or should I have gotten…”

And so child and parent forgo feeling good about any decision they make. When selection becomes so large, so do possible mistakes. One can never be certain that success is reached, regardless of assurances by family and friends.

Everyone now must balance seemingly endless choices against immediate success/good feelings about the decision.

In the publishing world so many choices of markets helps a writer find potential placement for whatever gem she/he wants to submit for publication. It creates markets for those writers who wouldn’t fit a mainstream mass market mag or a literary mag. For the publishers the payoff is more potential subscribers and contributors. In that sense it’s a win-win situation.

It has subtle drawbacks, though, as most situations do. For the writer it also adds to confusion. For the publisher it adds to the work load of unsolicited manuscripts. That’s part of the downside. There’s the potential for another question mark for both writer and publisher. “Did I get the best market/writer for my effort?”

For someone like me, who likes to write in several genres equally, it broadens my scope of potential markets. And it adds to decision-making chaos each time I dive into potential benefactors.

I’m not complaining about the increased potential--merely commenting on the mental chaos that results. For me, I become the child in the toy aisle, looking at that magnificent selection and being told to hurry up already, and pick something.

My imagination still works fine, though, and I could well imagine how a piece of my writing would look behind those covers I perused today. That wasn’t difficult at all.

Now if I can just write the perfect cover letter for each submission…



Monday, September 13, 2010

New Release Coming

I don’t do this very often, but I want to announce that my friend, Courtney Rene has a wonderful book that will be released on September 15, 2010.

Shadow Dancer by Courtney Rene is a YA fantasy set in another world with enough twists and turns to satisfy any reader of the genre. I just wanted to give the author some advance PR. All writers can use a bit of a boost with a new release. And I’m happy to  do that.

It will be available from on the 15th as an ebook for Kindle. Book releases on the 25th.

The publisher is Rogue Phoenix Press at:

Check it out and decide it it’s something you’d enjoy.

A bientot,


Get Ready, Have Rake, Make Leaf Pile

Well, friends, autumn is here and with it comes cooler temperatures, skies of a different blue, and nature’s colors. Some people are forlorn this season. Throughout the Midwest, due to the drought conditions of the summer, trees have already lost many of their leaves and those left behind are a basic brown. I agree. Not nice at all.

Here in the north country, though, we’ve begun the changing of seasonal robes. Snow came to the high country in August. Now, the larch are turning into candle flames of gold among their evergreen neighbors. Burning bushes are flaunting crimson twigs for all to see. The aspen shake their shiny golden leaves in the slightest breeze.

And confused maples have taken to sporting tiny helicopter wings among still-green leaves. Crabapples are ready to begin dropping fruit for human and squirrel alike. Huckleberries still vie for bears’ attentions with big, bright rose hips.

The big game braves the roadside for a chance at prime vegetation. Migrations have begun of geese, cranes, and stork. There are many things to take stock of during this season of winding down from high summer and preparation for winter’s slumber.

For many this is the time for festivals and celebration. Harvests are going on throughout the country. Great pumpkins are showing up in supermarkets everywhere. Winter squash seduce the cook with varied colors and shapes--so many from which to choose.

Apples and pears scent the air with aromas that cause mouths to water. It’s time to enjoy the fall of leaves and the closing of the growing season.

Here are some considerations for the future. Soon children of all ages will ring doorbells across the country in search of the elusive treats to compromise tooth enamel and cause a sugar high. Turkeys will come down in price as growers everywhere bring the birds to stores where wives and husbands will pick and choose just the right one to grace their table at Thanksgiving.

Once that day’s had its run, a tree will rise in living/family room. Kids and adults will bestow upon its boughs a multitude of colorful ornaments, tinsel and ribbon or garland. Christmas stars and snowflakes will flutter among the decorations through the house, spill out onto the lawn, or up to the roof to proclaim this new season within the winter season.

Or, Hanukkah specialties will be brought to bear on the house and home for the family of that faith. Kwanzaa will take precedence for others. And some will ignore the time of year all together.

A few days after that second turkey or big ham or corned beef, the year will change its name for another, and our lives will move on into another cycle. It never stops. Only we make the seasonal changes of attitude, expectation, and enjoyment.

This annual progression anchors our lives within a somewhat predictable pattern. If any of the holidays were removed, we’d all have a difficult time adjusting--if we could adjust at all. If Autumn arrived in November and Winter moved to February, we’d all panic. It’s that predictability that keeps us following our personal calendars of events.

For now we are safe from any untoward elimination of festivities. Apple cider will flow as freely as last year's. Pumpkins will roll into your house for the annual carving of Jack-O-Lanterns for placement on front stoops. Turkey with stuffing can still be planned for late November.

It’s nice having a calendar that still works for the adult stage of the child that you were, isn’t it?
Have fun with this season. It doesn’t last all that long and offers many opportunities to revisit that inner child of yours. Get out and see whatever color comes your way. Play with the clouds as when you were a kid. Find the dragons, dogs, and castles that float within the sky’s white vapor shapes. Rake the leaves, only to jump into the pile when you finished.

Who says they must stay in a pile? Who made that rule? That’s the only enjoyment in raking leaves in the first place.

See y’all later.


**NOTE: All photos used here are from BJ Jones Photography at:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: No Girls Allowed

A Must For Tweens    

In “No Girls Allowed,” author Jayce O’Neal presents boys with a thoughtful and comprehensive devotional. This book of life lessons in 241 pages has something for all boys, regardless of personal circumstance.

Each two page lesson, with its two pages of puzzle quizzes, shows a relatable present-day situation. O’Neal explores a person’s possible choices of behavior based on that situation. He explains the consequences to each behavior in real terms. The language O’Neal uses pulls the reader in and engages the person’s own sense of right and wrong. In this way, boys are allowed the information they can use for future choices. They’re also shown how to make those choices.

These life lessons range from handling a bully situation, through making the right types of friends, to treating other people with respect and everything in between. This book can make an impact on lives. I’d recommend it for all boys from ages 8-14. It reads quickly and is easily understood. The puzzles are fun and useful. The quotes and Bible passages only reinforce O‘Neal‘s examples. Illustrator Arrolynn Weiderhold gives the graphics a marvelous reveal. I give it 5 stars.

For details on this book, go to:

For a preview please go to:

**I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale Media Center. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

For those who have been wondering what sorts of new things I've been up to, all you have to do is look at this photo. My sister took it during our last little jaunt up to Glacier yesterday. This is a shot of the north end of McDonald Lake in the southwest corner of the park. I wrote the haiku poem long ago and haven't really used it for anything major. Until now.

She and I have decided to play with photos and poetry to see what kinds of things we can come up with for our use and the use of others. This photo and poem are copywritten, of course, so for someone else to use it is verbotten. That doesn't mean, however, that we can't create a piece for another individual to use for themselves. You see what I mean about stretching?

If we get really good at this, both photo and poem, who knows where we can go. I can't wait to find out.

Oh, in case anyone really wants to know, the photo is untouched raw image. Jo hates retouching and refuses to do it, except for cropping when absolutely necessary. That haze in the background was mist gathering. Topside that day, we stood in the snow being pelted with tiny icy/snow pellets. It was great and really coming down by the time we started back for the bottom of the mountains.

Just wanted to share a new interest of ours. Take care, all, and God bless.


*NOTE: For any who want to take a gander at Jo's photos, you  can find her at:

Review: “One Hand, Two Hands”

This book catalogues some of the uses for our hands. Who else would have thought of this.

Max Lucado does it again. He’s brought such a simple thing as a child’s hands into the roll of man character and managed to bring an excitement to children at the same time.

The rhythm and pacing of this book puts a mental song into the reader’s head that’s hard to push aside when the pages end. The rhyme doesn’t need to be close to keep the reader turning the pages, either.

Children reading this book will fall in love with the illustrations provided by Gaby Hansen. The scenes sing their own melody that will delight everyone. Colorful and full of movement, the illustrations enliven the song-filled words to make this a marvelous reading experience.

For the read-aloud crowd, this story will enchant and provide a wonderful interactive time between parent and child. It has the potential for becoming a game played at bedtime or throughout the day while the child is using hands that have so much potential.

I will be recommending this book to all of my friends with small children. It packs tons of fun into a small package of delight. I give it five stars for play and influence.

You can find details at:

For a preview of this book, go to:
**I received this book free from the publisher through book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”

Review: The Boy Who Changed the World

Norman Borlaug is a farmer’s son living in Iowa. He wonder about hungry people and if this father’s corn could feed them. That question takes him into a life’s work developing the grain to new heights. It also leads him to an employer named Henry Wallace.

The story moves backward through time from student to teacher and back to student. If goes from Norman back to Henry Wallace, back to George Carver who was a student of Henry’s father. From there it moves from George back to his adoptive father, Moses.

Andy brings the thread of time and lineage to a tentative halt here. Tentative only because there is no real beginning to history.

The sense of history and hint of things not revealed encourages the reader to learn more about these people in the past. It presents the understanding that the six degrees of separation operates in the most unusual places.

This wonderful book, illustrated by Philip Hurst, gives readers, young and old, pause for thought at the connectedness of ourselves with the world and how we impact it each day with our choices. I would definitely recommend this book for any good reader.

For detail on this book, go to:

To see a preview, go to:

**I received this ARC free from the publisher through book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Traveling an Artist's Way

These last few days have been taken up by my entanglement with beginning The Artist’s Way. I know. Go figure. I’ve not done this before.

I began Week #1 today. So far I’ve managed to do my Daily Pages and am working my way up to actually reading the rest of the chapter on the Week’s action plan.

I’d like to give everyone a rundown of my reasoning for taking this step in my personal process of becoming a writer.

First of all, I have to admit to being the quintessential student who needs this course of action. Julie Cameron, I know, wrote this book just for me. After all, I saw myself staring back at me from every page I’ve read so far. That’s scary in its own right.

I’ve spent an entire lifetime fighting my way to this stage of my development. And Heaven help anyone my age that’s just now getting here. We’re all in need of mutual support on this one. We’ve had so many decades to get those derisive little beasties of mental negatives buried deep into the cortex of the brain’s energy center.

The Artist’s Way looks scary in so many way, and I’m sure there will come a time when I want to scream and pitch this book as far as my fat little arm is capable, but I will persevere. I’ve fought too long to get here. I don’t intend to drop out of the race again. This is my last shot at being the writer I want to be. So in that capacity, The Artist’s Way has already done part of its job. It’s already ticked me off--at myself--for taking this long to get serious about this career and this process.

For the second time in my life I’ll be able to vent all the pent up emotion surrounding all of those people who’ve kept me from taking this step for so many years. The first time, I had to pay lots of good money for the privilege of venting. This time I only have to pay with emotional relief and the self-flagellation at having taken so long. It’s a price I can live with, considering the fact that I've had lots of practice with self-flagellation so far to keep me from writing.

I spent much of last week, through the weekend, and on into this week working on an essay for submission. It was a prompted essay on FOOD for the journal of Creative Non-fiction. I’ve always written essays, but this one was different. The was the first real one for competition and publication. It had a different emphasis, one in which I could combine several subsets of ideas, weave them into a piece of cloth that had one over all picture--a picture of days gone and mourned.

I know, it sounds peculiar, but it wasn’t really. It took the form of nostalgia for those days of childhood which could never be revisited. Not just because of my current age, but because those things of which I spoke didn’t exist any longer. Progress and a changing society had removed them from the table of viable choices. At the end, I allowed myself to mourn on paper what was lost and why it had been lost.

It was a statement about the culture that was lost, the environment that had been raped in so many subtle ways, the history that few would learn of in the decades ahead. I put everything into it that had been on my mind for years. For, in truth, I’d been waiting two decades to write that piece and have a place to send it--a place where it belonged. I’d come to catharsis.

I didn’t begrudge the time spent on it. I did thank God that I had a wonderful editor to take me through that crucial process to make it worthy of sending. I became a real writer when I finished that piece and dropped it in the mailbox to the publisher.

I’d completed things before, been published before, and knew the score of acceptance versus rejection. Yet, there was building inside of me, a tide of certainty that this was something special, this was something very right.

I’ve never had that particular feeling before. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the emotions of satisfaction and confidence that washed over me when that essay was on it way into the world. That’s when I knew for certain that it was time to begin this journey, this Artist’s Way.

To all of those traveling this path with me, consider yourself supported. Our journeys may seek different destinations, but the process is the same. May good fortune smile upon you and guide you to your heart’s desire.
‘Til later,