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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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When I first sat down to write this blog last week, Christmas carols danced in head like sugar plum fairies. Frozen rain kept us indoors, and beyond the window lay a sparkling winter wonderland. Now the white has melted, but an Arctic wind has arrived, so I'm content to stay in - though I might bundle up and take Jet for a brisk walk to the pond this afternoon or tomorrow.

As I anticipate the year ahead, only God knows how much of our lives will change or remain the same. We've lost a cousin and several local residents in the past couple of months. But His presence makes tough times bearable, challenges winnable, and good days even more joy-filled if we walk by faith. It's time to shake out all the little sticky notes deposited in my Joy Jar throughout 2013. Below is a complete list, arranged not chronologically, or in order of importance, but alphabetically. Some are condensed to save space.


back in the saddle again (teaching)
bagpipes; tartan
Beatles memorabilia; secret sisters
Berean Fellowship (Independence, KS)
BBC online
black-and-white movie with Dirk Bogarde
black-eyed peas with cornbread
book sales at Hastings & at school
celebration of Angy Rowe’s life
chatting with cousins on Facebook any time
chocolate log; apple cake; Nutella
classical guitar by Rodrigo and Albinez
clear PAP test & only 1-2 needed the rest of my life
coffee-book smell at Watermark store
compliments and hugs from students
country eggs; egg cup collection
crafty ladies (and men)!
dipping into a poetry book, inspired to write more
Egyptian art; Impressionist paintings
e-mail; e-tickets
European Journal on channel 35
Felix M’s barcarolles
finding lost earrings/book/CD/passport/file/poem
finished a jigsaw puzzle
former neighbors reunited on FB
four days of revival
full church; full stomach
gentle rain; good soaking rain; any rain after a drought
getting paid to play with paint, job falling into my lap
Girls Scouts Thinking Day in Caney
good night’s sleep every night; interesting dreams
God painting the sky
green views from all windows of this house
Hal Lindsey Report (news lining up with prophecy)
handwritten cards and letters from friends
hot chocolate, hot cross buns
husband who can fix things AND organize taxes etc.
JM at church said his dream job is to be a preacher
journals old and new
libraries both large and small
King Crimson, Fairport Convention, Lettermen on YouTube
Last of the Summer Wine on channel 11
Loreena McKennitt CD
mashed potatoes, potato soup
maids (my appliances)
melting snow
mission projects with women at church
movie, The Blind Side
music by Da Faya & others on Classical Arts Showcase
nap with a good book under warm covers
new Writer’s Market – possibilities!
nostalgia of old seaside/railway paintings
open piano book, smooth ivory keys
Operatica CD; piano duet CD
pas de deux from Scheherazade
photography; 30-day Photo Challenge
Prairie Writers and Sedan Book Club
recipes old and new
redbuds in bloom
rekindling the writing flame; satisfaction of a day’s writing
research for London ABC book
SAMUEL and other children’s Bible stories
Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood
Scott Joplin rags
Sedan Business Women
sense of humor; sense of smell
singing alto in the community choir
smell of books, old or new
sparkling snow
spring breeze; sunshine
sun through stained glass windows
Team Kids excited about their Bibles
time spent with our daughter Rachel
Vacation Bible School
walks, runs & couch time with our rescue dog, Jet
warm shredded wheat; warm clothes in an icy wind
wedding anniversary, 35 years
well-written TV scripts
I will start a new jar in 2014!
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YOLANDA'S UNIFORM and other school poems


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.



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.



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]



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!
 Read More 
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4o years ago this week my father went ahead of us to Heaven, at age 55. I feel as if I've been living on borrowed time ever since I too passed that double-nickel birthday, all the more determined to make every day count.

Daddy worked hard on the Isle of Wight County Press, covering court cases, the arts, and community events. We kids accompanied him to carnivals and ag shows, enjoying fresh meat pies and dairy ice cream. As I humbly follow in his literary footsteps, I'm thankful for his enouragement and guidance.

It was Dad who showed me how to prepare a manuscript for publication. My first rejection was from Blackie Books for a children's adventure during my first year of teachers' college. Had he lived to retirement, my father would've had time for his own writing, such as WWII memoirs, poetry, and short fiction. Among my prized possessions are 2 dozen or so of his parodies and twist-in-the-tale stories, both published and unpublished.

In tribute to Roy Longhurst (1916-1972) I will post 3 poems from my chapbooks,


Hands trembled,
heart beat faster,
when I found Dad’s
magazines in a dusty
cupboard under the stairs.

A couple of ads,
no pictures.
But I pored over
those pages nightly,
worked my way
through every issue,
nurturing a secret desire.

Satisfy the itch,
one article urged.
Satisfy the itch
with the scratch of a pen.

I just couldn’t
get enough
of those magazines
for writers.


We jumped the waves that pounded Sandown Beach,
mermaid-hair seaweed caught between fingers,
nostrils filled with the tang of freedom,
our salty lips re-shaping vanilla cones:
It seemed that summer would never end.

Locals and visitors flung open beach hut doors;
their kettles whistled on Primus stoves.
Mr. Earnshaw trudged through squishy sand
collecting deck chair money, while a megaphone
blared the times for trips across the bay.

Distress signals punctuated our pleasure: boom!
boom! Send lifeboat or chopper to rescue a tripper
who tried to beat high tide around Culver Cliff.
We dabbled in rock pools by lupine-lined shores,
hiked up the chalk ridge (island’s backbone)
strewn with bunny currants and golden gorse,
to picnic at the top, sharing the vista with ghosts
of Tennyson and Keats. No mainland in sight,
who knew what might loom on the hazy horizon?
Submarine, schooner, battleship, even a galleon.

Six weeks off school culminated in a carnival.
Crepe paper streamers all down the High Street
saluted grand floats to a heart-jolting drumbeat.
Daddy winked at me under the shiny black peak
of his Town Band cap, tootling into a horn,

We’ll Make a Bonfire of our Troubles. Up
to the fairground we followed in step, enticed
by hot dogs, a Ferris wheel, candy floss,
fireworks--eruptions of magical color that made
the crowd cry, “Ooh! Ah! Better than last year!”


My father never learned to drive a car.
His pockets rattled with loose change, not keys
Whenever he gave armchair pony rides,
Four giggling children on two jiggling knees.
Coins came in handy for his magazines,
Tobacco, tickets on the daily bus,
Occasional ice cream cones or Bounty bars
And favorite weekly comic books for us.
How could I then, how could I even think
Of acting on my friend Georgina’s dare
To help myself? She did it all the time,
Stole from her mother’s purse without a care.
I spied Dad’s trousers hanging on the door,
Dipped in and found a dozen pennies bright;
But guilt sank to my stomach like a stone.
I slid them back, and oh, my heart was light
When Dad came home; he twirled me, jingling loud,
Then after supper tucked me up in bed.
He told us made-up tales of Harold Hare
And slipped a coin beneath each pillowed head. Read More 
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I solemnly declare before the Muses:
That 2011 is going to be a year
Devoted to pursuit of my career.
No longer dare I mutter lame excuses.

With schedule taped upon my office door,
I’ll start at 9 each weekday on the dot
To edit, brainstorm, query, write, and plot.
The dust and dirty dishes I’ll ignore.

I’ll take to heart the wisdom gleaned from pros,
Display their words above my typing table,
And, just as faithfully as I am able,
Rewrite, rewrite ’til every sentence glows.

If friends, assuming I have time to kill,
Entice with Tupperware or plead a favor,
From deadlines I shall just refuse to waver.
If I don’t guard my writing hours, who will?

Though organizing’s not my bag, I’ll try
To file all market tips efficiently,
For knowing where to find them is the key.
Can’t let a chance of selling work slip by!

Ideas shared are ideas multiplied,
So I should help our writers’ group to grow.
Who better than a fellow scribe can know
Rejection’s pain or publication’s pride?

I’ll thank my family for their loyalties
When rushing off to yet another workshop:
“Eat sandwiches or something, ’cause I can’t stop.
Some day we’ll dine out on my royalties!”

There may be times I need to make amends;
As skirts and shirts hang waiting to be pressed
And hampers overflow, I must not rest,
But keep the candle burning at both ends.

Before me I will hold the vision bright—
A pile of books, my books that I am signing!
Repeat these affirmations (quit that whining):
“It’s not impossible” and “Writers write.” Read More 
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