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FRESH FROM THE INKWELL

MARCHING FORWARD IN MARCH

MARCHING FORWARD IN MARCH

From “76 Trombones” on the radio, to our hometown band’s rousing rendition of “Blaze Away,” to the bagpipes of the Grenadier Guards at Windsor Castle, to the Sousa tunes of my adopted country—I’ve always loved a good march. It’s in my blood.

Today I march forward, not in lockstep with anyone, but to the beat of a different drum. I look back only to see how far I have come, and to glean material for stories.

Though I camp out frequently for spiritual refreshment, or to help a fledgling writer, the movement is ever forward, never in retreat.

Along the way, I leave touchstones to celebrate victories large or small—reminders of why I set out on this crazy venture. Fan mail from students. My first royalty check. A napkin from Cherilyn’s launch party. The blue star Miss Downer gave me in kindergarten for my retelling of “I Saw a Ship A-Sailing.”

Single-minded as a foot soldier along a straight, solid Roman road, on the
foundation laid by writers who marched before us, I keep marching.

Step by step, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page after page, chapter after chapter, to completion of another book.

And another. And another.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. Read More 

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YOLANDA'S UNIFORM and other school poems

YOLANDA’S UNIFORM

Yolanda’s new school uniform
Is green, just like her Irish eyes.
The blazer, sweater, skirt, blouse,
And Oxfords are an ample size
For growth. The tie has narrow stripes
Of gold that match her golden hair.
Yolanda likes her uniform
So much, she wears it everywhere:
At school of course, and then downtown.
In stores, she gives the skirt a twirl,
To show the world she’s proud to be
A Ledgemont Elementary girl.

One night Yolanda even tried
To wear her uniform to bed.
“Good gracious me. Enough’s enough.
Put on your nightgown!” Mother said.
Yolanda loves her uniform.
It makes her feel so smart and posh.
She’d wear it at the weekend, if
It didn’t need a thorough wash.
A suit to suit her every mood,
From smiley-bright to grouchy-frowny.
But off it comes each Tuesday, when
Yolanda changes—into a Brownie!

ALL POEMS © Hazel Spire. They may be used by teachers if credit is given to author.

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THIRD GRADE

Girls: The boys in third grade
Are so noisy, so rude!
They push. They keep burping.
They play with their food.

Boys: The girls in third grade
Are so sneaky, so sly!
They whisper and tattle.
They whimper and cry.

Teacher: Girls! Boys! My third grade,
You’re a quarrelsome crew,
But I know you’ll be great
When I’m finished with you.

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INITIAL LETTERS

I like the way S curves around,
Upper and lower case the same.
I like to write a giant S.
That's how I start my name.

I love the roundness of an O,
My brother's first initial.
Mom stitched it on his backpack,
To make it look official.

Our last name begins with C,
Like a hook to hang a bag on,
Or the handle of a tin mug
In a cowboy's covered wagon.

Can you guess our names? [Sample answers: Sarah and Oliver Carson, Sophie and Owen Cook, Steven and Oscar Cox]

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NERO

There once was a careless boy named Nero
Whose teacher always gave him a zero,
Because he forgot to write his name.
He worked so hard, it was such a shame.

When his papers showed up in No-Name-Land
He couldn't get A's and B's like he'd planned.
So remember your name, don't be like Nero.
Write it first, at the top, and you'll be a hero!
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A Poem a Day Keeps Detractors at Bay

When I retired from teaching and moved to rural Kansas, I needed a routine in order to pursue my second vocation, freelance writing. Over the years I had saved enough pretty letterheads from rejections to decoupage two trashcans, but also published magazine pieces, two poetry chapbooks, and two middle-grade mysteries. In theory, with so much extra time at my disposal, it should be possible to submit even more manuscripts and widen my audience.

On the other hand, it was tempting to sleep late, take craft classes, read all the books on my bucket list, and make new friends in the community. If I wasn't careful, writing and writing-related activities would be squeezed out of my schedule. So, I bought a colorful, user-friendly planner and wrote the acronym POEMS down the left margin of each day for the coming week.

P = Promotion:
Whatever puts my name and book titles out there in the public eye. Update my web site. Post news and evites on Facebook. Contact a store or school. Print bookmarks.

O = Overarching:
Sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, add new words to the current work-in-progress. Do background research. Plot. Create character bios. Ask "What If?"

E = Exercises:
Clustering. Word Association. Writers' group homework. Prompts from poetry. Pages in Write-Brain Workbook. Nature walks with pocket notebook.

M = Markets:
Read Writers Digest. Send for magazine samples and guidelines. Look at online
catalogs online. Browse children's shelves at the library. Mail mss and queries.

S = Scripture:
Meditate on Daily Bread devotional. Prepare Sunday school lesson. Jot ideas for themes to write on. Pray my writing will reflect God's truth and enrich readers' lives.

Whenever I complete a task, large or small, in any order, I check the appopriate category in my planner. An overview of the past week shows me which areas need more attention. Often these activities overlap with other areas of life. Over lunch with friends I pass out brochures for my next book signing (P). Reading for pleasure counts if related to my work-in-progress (O). Catnaps can be productive if I write down my dreams (E). In the doctor's waiting room I study Highlights magazine (M). God's Word informs my words and nourishes my soul (S).

This simple acronym silences the voices in my head that tell me I'm not a real writer!  Read More 
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