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 FRESH FROM THE INKWELL 

Catch a Falling Writer


ASSIGNMENT: "FALLING"

Catch a Falling Writer

I can’t help falling in love with words:
Saxon, Germanic, Latin, or coined by the Bard;
short, long, terse, flowery, subtle, shiny words.

I can’t help falling in love with a silver-nib fountain pen;
syringing black ink from a bottle like a junkie, or
swapping out a cartridge for my next fix,
scratching thoughts on hammered vellum.

I can’t help falling in love with gel pens;
green, magenta, turquoise, according to mood
scribbling vignettes in a composition book.
As the Thames flows to the sea, so this ink
is my life-blood shed for the world to read.

I can’t help falling in love with another journal,
lined or unlined with space for sketching;
blank, dated, or headed with quotes and triggers.

I can’t help falling in love with a keyboard;
cutting, pasting, polishing, and printing in selected fonts.

I can’t help falling in love with visions of a table
stacked with a new book series for me to sign,
fans lined up outside the door and around the block.

Sales plummet, royalties are paltry, publishers merge,
doors close to unknown, un-agented authors, and yet…
I can’t help falling in love with writing, even as I hate it.
Please help me, I’m falling in love again.

In the words of punk band Chumbawamba:
I get knocked down, but I get up again.
You’re never gonna keep me down.
Like the Beatles, I get by with a little help
from my friends—the Prairie Writers group. Read More 
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JOY JAR 2014

Contents of the Joy Jar I filled this year
..........................................................................
Agency D3: Discover, Decide, Defend (VBS)
Baby photos and videos on Facebook
Bible/Shakespeare/other literary classics
Blue Devils!
Book clubs
Branson restaurants, not having to cook
Cameraderie of a choir
Christmas carols
Chlorine in hair, sunblock on arms, turps on fingers
Comfortable shoes
Constancy: knitting patterns/music/stars
De-cluttering
Different views of the Needles & Culver Cliff (I.W)
Dunking digestive biscuits (cookies)
Empty Yahoo inbox, trash and spam
Emptying this jar when I thought I had no blog
Ex-Pats on Facebook
FB photo challenge
Family games
Finishing a book (reading or writing)
First cup of coffee Mark brings me every day in bed
Fish & Chips
Fresh air, sun cows grazing, run with Jet after long winter
Good read e.g. Far From the East End
Gospel music at Friendly Baptist Church, Branson
Gumbo
Hand quilting
Identifying a bird by sight and sound
Internet & printer for research & school
Kids whose favorite subject is art
Live theater
Masterpiece on PBS; Call the Midwife; Mr. Selfridge
Meeting a deadline
New bulletin board of K-6 artwork
Organized art supplies
Ozark evergreens and layered rock
Photo of Sandown through a green wave (FB)
PJs all day when it’s cold and gray outside
Pin oaks changing color daily in front of house
Reading in bed with the heater blazing
Reading/napping/piano on snow-bound days
Realizing I’d written/submitted more than I thought
Receiving Christmas cards with news/pix
Reclaiming writing space and time
Rediscovering old books; and piano classics
Return of the Muses (for writing and painting)
Seeing kids create their own paint colors
Seeing people I know in town
Segovia & others on Classical Arts Showcase (PBS)
Smaller art classes after division (gr 1, 2, 4)
Smell of sizing, pressing quilt blocks
Smooth feel of piano keys
Special effects and TRUTH of Jonah production
Starting a book (reading or writing)
State Fair of Texas via DART train
Sun low on horizon, pink snow across flat prairie
Sunrise when I catch it: God painted the sky
Taking kids’ weaving off the looms
Tank full of propane, $$$ to pay for it
Turning in grades
Variety of food at CQ suppers, all U can eat
Typesetting a chapbook like VW at Hogarth Press
Wassail
W. Somerset Maugham
Warm sweaters and scarves
Women’s Bible Study (Ann Graham Lotz)
Wrapping Christmas presents
Yorkshire puds & sausage rolls Read More 
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Z: ZOROASTRIAN

One of Jandy's most vivid memories is of Iranians jumping over bonfires on the eve of the last Wednesday before the new year.

"Give me your beautiful red color. Take back my sickly pallor!" they shout to the flames. The short, dark days are filled with hope for spring's return and a brighter future.

This custom, celebrating the triumph of good over evil, had been part of Persian culture for 4,000 years, long before the rise of Islam. During the reign of Darius I, the prophet Zoroaster had a vision of an uncreated Spirit named Ashura (Light) Mazda (Wisdom), who alone should be worshiped.

"Red Wednesday" celebrations in Shekarabard combined old and new traditions. By the light of bonfires, kids ran through the streets dressed as ancestral spirits, banging pots and pans to ward off bad luck, and knocking on doors for treats. Special foods were prepared to make wishes come true. After serving noodle soup, the Grahams' neighbors had passed out a mix of pistachios, almonds, apricots, and figs.

Through stories of Esther and Daniel, Jandy knows how the fortunes of the Persians intertwined with those of the Jews and Babylonians. Her home-church group had visited the palace ruins at Susa ("Shushan" in the Bible) with its museum full of animal carvings and ceremonial relief sculptures. While history is not her forte, the sense of being steeped in a land of ancient legends was quite intoxicating.

Texas has its own folklore--of pioneer women in covered wagons, cattle drives, and indigenous tribes pre-dating Columbus. But Jandy's soul remains in Central Asia. Above all she misses Maryam, her closest friend. So begins RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR. Read More 

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Y: YOU

YOU, THE AUTHOR, bring to your work all the events of your life. To some extent, whether intended or not, these will shape your characters’ emotions and actions. They add colorful details that breathe life on to the page. Harry Potter fans are delighted to learn that the flying car of the second book was modeled on a battered Ford Anglia owned by her friend Sean. During school and library visits, I tell kids about my jealousy of a classmate, Shirley Bateman, and how I gave that feeling to Craig in ARROWHEAD’S LOST HOARD in scenes with his stepbrother. I let them taste baklava and sip hot tea with sugar cubes, the way Jandy did in SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE, based on memories of my year in Iran.

YOU, THE READER, experience a story through the lens of your own experiences. The consequences of a character’s decisions as you live in his or her skin influence your outlook on the world. You have opinions about a protagonist’s behavior that differ from those if another reader. You may re-read the same book years later and see things in a new light, according to the cards life has dealt you. Hence the popularity of book club discussions! Read More 

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X: XYLOPHONE

Does every alphabet have to use a xylophone for X? Not necessarily. In my picture book, X means ten on the face of Big Ben. But for the purposes of this blog about RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR, it fits quite well.

The musical accompaniment to the original songs for ALICE IN TUMBLEWEED LAND will incorporate instruments for any children in Hickory Bend who want to take part, at any level, according to their talent shown in try-outs. There may be a simple quartet, or a full orchestra. I don't want to complicate the plot, but Grant (Jandy's crush) plays the trumpet, and Heidi (her cousin) the flute. A simple tune may be played on xylophones (metal) or glockenspiels (wood).

Like Jandy and Cal, I'm getting excited about this show, as if it's really going to take place! I've been looking up the scores from the Disney movie, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and humming the songs my class sang in our 1975 program at Ludlow Middle School. I directed the drama; my colleague Ian played the piano in that golden afternoon.

How do you get to Wonderland, anyway? In 1973, I had painted the set for another ALICE production, at Forelands Middle School. The book was one of my favorites as a child. Is that why the story and music haunt my waking dreams? I can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel it all in my imagination. Let's hope the readers will, too. Read More 
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