instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

 FRESH FROM THE INKWELL 

NEEWOLLAH, HALLOWEEN

My 3 great-nieces in Texas

INKSMITH WRITERS assignment for October 2019. Independence, Kansas (where we meet) holds a unique and popular celebration called Neewollah, just before Halloween. We had to come up with alternative words to a Christmas tune. Mine is Jingle Bells. 

 

Dashing up the street 

On a dark October night:

A phantom in a sheet,

Giving folks a fright!

Shrek, all painted green;

A princess with a crown;

The grandest floats you've ever seen,

Parading through the town.

 

Oh! Neewollah, Halloween,

Call it what you will;

Buckets full of candy,

Be careful not to spill.

Neewollah, Halloween

Call it what you may;

Time for girls and boys and ghouls

And ghosts to come and play.

 

Choosing what to wear,

Characters from books;

Clowns with yellow hair;

Pirates wielding hooks.

Bob Cratchit and his lad;

A hero in a cape,

Made with love by Mom or Dad,

Secured with Velcro tape.

 

Oh! Neewollah, Halloween,

Call it what you will;

Beware of Freddie Kruger

And the joker, out to kill!

Neewollah, Halloween,

Call it what you may;

Get your kicks tonight, my friends:

Tomorrow's All Saints Day!

 

 

Be the first to comment

9-11, THE DAY THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY

On a typical Tuesday I drove to work at Rosemeade Christian School, car radio tuned to the classical station for March of the Day. This set my fingers tapping, until an announcement broke the mood -- news of a plane crashing nto one of the twin towers in New York City. 

 

What an unfortunate accident, I thought.

 

At nine o'clock, after taking my 2nd graders to the art room, I headed to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Debbie our preschool director stopped me. 

 

"Have you heard?" she asked. "Both towers were hit, and the Pentagon is on fire."

 

"Golly!" I responded, immediately feeling foolish for using Gomer Pyle's expression. This was no joking matter, but I didn't know what else to say.

 

While the church staff followed developments on the TV down the hall, several frantic parents arrived to pick up their children. But the principal advised us to go about our normal routine; so most of my students, secluded in our portable building, knew nothing. They assumed their missing classmates had dental appointments. I understood little more than they did anyway. Usama Bin Who?

 

My 20-year-old daughter Rachel showed up at recess.

 

"The Art Institute sent us home," she said, seeming not so much upset as curious about the hijackers' motives, and glad of the chance to hug and touch base with me.

 

We recalled the IRA bomb blast at Canary Wharf in East London about six years earlier, close to the stadium where she and her English friend Becky sat watching a basketball game. A close call. Another grace note in our lives. As it happened, this same friend was now sleeping off her jet lag at Rachel's apartment, having flown over for a visit on September 9. Two days later she might have been diverted to Canada!

 

As did many others across America, my church met that night to pray for the vicitms, ther families, President Bush, the rescue workers, military, and yes, even the perpetrators, confessing our national sin of pride. It was a simple, moving service.

 

On Wednesday the classroom buzzed with rumors about those "bad guys" and stranded relatives. Hunter drew a picture of a tower in flames. Ethan composed a poem. Squeezing the small globe ball that we passed around during prayer time, Morgan said, "Lord, bless every place in the whole entire world."

 

Andrew prayed, "I don't know why they hate us, God. We taught them to fly." 

 

At recess the kids resumed their play, carefree as ever, under a blue but eerily silent sky, normally the busy flight path for DFW airport.

 

Becky's mum called her at my daughter's apartment. "There's a bloody war on!" she screamed. "How can you not be scared?" A natural reaction for any mother, but I hoped this incident would draw her and thousands like her to find spiritual peace.

 

As the grim search and clean-up continued in New York, our little school in Texas remained a place of safety. The absentees returned. Aspen cried to think of what might have happened to her mother traveling on the 11th. Richard thanked God for the people who sent bootees to protect the rescue dogs' paws. At First Lady Laura Bush's suggestion, the students wrote letters of appreciation to local firefighters.  

 

"Schumann's Fantasy in C,"  I wrote in my journal that week. "A respite fom the non-stop news coverage about the Attack on America. It's like Oklahoma City, the O.J. Simpson trial, Northern Ireland, Israel and the PLO. Horrific images replayed over and over, with analysis, public comment, rallies, plus this time a strong element of flag-waving patriotism.... KERA plays beautiful music at the end or each report, as if the violin, piano, or guitar is crying for us like a hired mourner when we run out of words. It lifts our spirits beyond the here and now. At this moment a clear French horn, with a harmony on deeper horns, conjures up a person wandering with his or her companions through the forest."

 

I took a book from the box my publisher had shipped from New York just days before 9-11: Secret of the Seventh Gate, a middle-grade mystery set in Iran at the start of the Islamic Revolution. I riffled its new-smelling pages, in disbelief that I had written it, and amazement that after three years of waiting it had appeared "for such a time as this," like Esther at the Persian palace in the Old Testament.

 

I began reading Secret of the Seventh Gate to the 2nd grade, one chapter a day. They all agreed with the characters in the story that faith, family, and friends will see us through.

3 Comments
Post a comment

Wichita Eagle Reading Challenge 2019

This is my first year to try this reading challenge. It's great having time to read in retirement - and writers have to read, right? Here's my proposed list - subject to change at any time, depending on availability, or recommendations on Facebook.

BOOK WITH A FACE ON THE COVER: Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. CLASSIC/RETELLING: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. MEMOIR OR AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour & Marziyeh Amirizadeh. TRANSLATION: Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko. AVOIDED OR UNFINISHED: Most Haunted Island by Gay Baldwin. CHARACTER WHO IS UNLIKE YOU: Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. LAUGH OUT LOUD: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. RECOMMENDED BY A CHILD: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. AWARD WINNER: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. GENRE THAT IS UNUSUAL FOR YOU: Sundrop Sonata by Ann Fell. BY AN AUTHOR COMING TO KANSAS: The Collector’s Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro. SET IN YOUR BIRTHPLACE: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.

Some of these titles would fit more than one category. So far I've read the first 4, almost 5. Read More 

Be the first to comment

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SARAH SANCHEZ

MY GUEST THIS WEEK IS SARAH SANCHEZ, AUTHOR OF "NIGHTWALKER" AND "THE PORTAL KEEPER."

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

I was born in Dallas, Texas. I love Texas. The weather is crazy, but the people are friendly. I graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in Spanish. Mexico is my second home. My husband is from Mexico, and I have family down there. I love the culture, the people, and of course the food. I have three wonderful children and I love hiking and spending time outdoors when I am not writing.

Fantasy is my preferred genre to write in. There are no limits in fantasy beyond my own imagination.

WHAT GOT YOU INTO WRITING?

I was never a huge reader when I was younger. I guess I just didn’t find anything that really grabbed my attention. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I really started to love reading. I would go through series after series.

I never thought of myself as a writer. Term papers were hard to stretch out to the ten or twenty pages required. The thought of writing a book didn’t really enter my mind.

My first book began on a whim. I just wanted to see how long I could write for. This resulted in a completely juvenile story that will never see the light of day. It did teach me that I had the capability to write. I just needed practice and a better storyline.

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK?

Just to persevere. Keep working at it. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. Take your time and don’t rush into publication.

WHICH DO YOU PREFER? PRINT BOOKS OR E-BOOKS?

I probably read about 50/50. Ebooks have their advantage but I still enjoy having a physical book in my hand occasionally.

SHARE A SHORT EXCERPT FROM YOUR NOVEL

It was dark all around him as he struggled to catch his breath. He couldn't make out his hand in front of his face and had no idea which direction to swim in. Suddenly he was roughly pulled out of the water and tossed onto a hard surface. He coughed a few more times and tried to sit up. The floor rocked beneath him, and Ajax realized he was on a ship of some sort.

“Well, what have we got ourselves here?” a grizzly voice asked. “Spots, shine a little light over here, will you?”

Something buzzed by Ajax's ear and then a small but exceptionally bright light shined in his face.

He put up his hand, attempting to shield the beam from his eyes.

“It's a man,” someone called out.

Someone prodded him with a stick.

“Hey!” Ajax exclaimed, swatting it away.

"What were you doing out in the middle of Death Lake at this hour?”

Death Lake, that sounds promising, Ajax thought to himself.

“I'm looking for my friend,” Ajax answered. “Have you seen anyone else? Did anyone else fall?”

“Shut him up,” another voice called. “Get him down below.”

Something covered Ajax's face and then he was grabbed forcefully and carried to another location. He felt as if he were going down stairs. He was flung unceremoniously into a chair, and the hood was yanked off his head. He rubbed the back of his arm, where he had been gripped too tightly. It was dark in this new place too.

Slowly a lamp was lit, giving a little light to the area.

A rhinoceros stood at the head of a table, wearing a pair of striped trousers and suspenders without a shirt. He leaned forward. “How did you come here?”
Ajax scooted back in his chair, looking around the table. He must have really experienced a lot in the past week because the talking rhinoceros didn't amaze him as much as he felt it should.

THAT SOUNDS INTRIGUING, WITH A TOUCH OF THE ABSURD - A TALKING RHINO IN SUSPENDERS! AS YOU SAY, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN FANTASY. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER.

Ajax is just about to turn fourteen. He is a dutiful child who is taking on a responsibility that was never meant.

IS THIS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL OR PART OF A SERIES?

The Portal Keeper is book 1 in the series.

CURRENTLY, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I just finished up the second book in my YA Vampire trilogy. Nightwalker was just released in May. I am also working on the sequel to The Portal Keeper, I don’t have a title yet.

DO YOU HAVE PEOPLE READ YOUR DRAFTS BEFORE YOU PUBLISH? HOW DO YOU SELECT BETA READERS?

Definitely. I am still looking for more. Some authors don’t want too many eyes on their work. I am the opposite. The more eyes the better. It is hard to find good beta readers who will point out your flaws. But I have a few really good ones.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN WRITING? DID YOU HAVE ANY WRITER'S BLOCK? IF SO, HOW DID YOU WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH IT?

I find working on several projects helps keep my mind flowing. I try to keep the number to three projects. I have found that if I get stuck I can jump to another project and then when I come back to it, I usually don’t have a problem finishing it.

WHAT WAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?

I need background noise. Whether it’s the tv or good music. Then I usually just try and hammer out a couple of chapters based on an idea that struck me. If after that I think it's good, then I will start making up an outline and doing research if needed. Once I finish the first draft, I will reread it, make changes and then send it out to my beta readers.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES ASIDE FROM WRITING, IF ANY?

I enjoy hiking, not that there are many places to do that in Texas, but I recently got to hike some of the parks in Utah. There is some gorgeous scenery. I also enjoy baking, which probably doesn’t help my chocolate addiction.

A GIRL AFTER OWN HEART - TEXAS, HIKING, AND CHOCOLATE!
THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US, AND BEST WISHES FOR YOUR WRITING SUCCESS. Read More 

1 Comments
Post a comment

Death of a Sequel

Those of you who followed the progress of my YA novel RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR via blog posts of 2014 (A-Z or Z-A) might be wondering whether the book has been published. I must confess that it was never finished. Less than halfway through, after an investment of several years' plotting, I admitted to myself - and to any who would listen - that I was flogging a dead horse.

For whatever reason - unfamiliarity with Texas high school culture in the '70s, being forced to fit events into a precise historical timeline (the Iran hostage crisis) or just plain busy-ness in my non-writing life - this was a failed romance. Much as I enjoyed researching the era and watching my characters from SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE start a new adventure, the time had come to close the drawer on all my notes for possible future use, or not.

This freed me up for other projects! I will have two books out this fall - a poetry collection, CATCHING THE TRADE WINDS, and an illustrated London alphabet, X MEANS TEN ON THE FACE OF BIG BEN. Read More 

Be the first to comment