Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 26

Topic of the Day

is

"Black and White"






In Honor of National Poetry Month - Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Stubbornly Green
by Kathryn Kirkpatrick
              for Susan

Driving back to my blue mountains,
I am less than ever at home.
Another bomb blast in Iraq—
46 dead, 90 wounded—refuses
to recede to background noise.
I turn the radio off.
When I was younger, the future
was all pulse and promise,
but middle-age doesn’t offer
many bluffs.
                    I suppose I believed
in something like progress, ascent,
however gradual, like this ribbon of road
from Lenoir to Blowing Rock,
the way I hardly notice I’ve risen
from the piedmont hills
until sheer rock face on the right side
and a sharp drop to streams on the left
reminds me.
                    It’s we humans
who love the straight line, want
to be spared the looped intercessions
of mourning and grief, even though
all around us--the whorl of seasons,
day and night at each others heels.
I’m not retreating to theories of inevitable war,
but I know the dead have to be mourned.
If we’re going anywhere at all
surely it’s nowhere we know,
the route more like a good conversation,
all give and take, not the hard drive
of the rock and roll beat
our soldiers play during battle.
Now even this road I’m on winds—
an engineer deciding years ago I suppose
not to blast through solid rock.
I wend past rhododendron and mountain laurel,
stubbornly green through each long winter.
Spring takes its time here—
we’ll be weeks behind your azaleas.
Like my saying what you already know,
I’ve grown accustomed to late blooming.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 25

Topic of the Day

is

"Looking Down"




April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 24

Topic of the Day

is

"Something You're Grateful For"



My life as a kid growing up with Hazel and Alan Wilkinson as my parents.

Monday, April 23, 2012

In Honor of National Poetry Month - Jennifer Horne


An Ubi Sunt for Certain Aunts
by Jennifer Horne


Those enervated, hypothyroidal, smoking southern ladies
clad in crisply ironed men’s shirts, slacks, canvas shoes,
never without a certain amount of frustration, life being
never as beautiful or perfect as they had been led to expect—
their wry humor, dry laugh, yet nothing but praise and charm 
for the children: “Oh honey, oh sweetness, oh darlin’,”
as though we were the loveliest confections, too pretty to eat—
saved for themselves the scathing insults:
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” at little mistakes—spilled sugar,
a bad marriage, teaching us young to be infinitely generous 
with others. I decided to retrieve their softly dropped r’s:
dinner party, otherwise, suppertime, motherhood,
their language the patois of defeat, a desuetude I rejected.
They mostly died before seventy, their permanent disappointments
turned inward, though nothing as showy as cancer, heart attack,
stroke. Just a gradual shrinkage, the slow flaking of paint
on an old house, its imperceptibly liquid panes. 
Oh ladies, I would like to clasp you to my grown-up bosom 
(a word you used freely, it used to embarrass me no end),
smooth the puzzlement from the cracked glaze of your faces,
and soothe, “Not stupid. Honey. Sweetness. Beautiful aunts,
aunts of my youth.” I see you, in mind’s eye, sighing back at me,
a chorus wreathed in smoke, languid movements of the wrist:
“Oh darlin’,” you begin, “Let me tell you about the time . . . ”
Lost. Unsalvageable. Lovely.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 23

Topic of the Day

is

"Vegetable"



Harley likes green beans




In Honor of National Poetry Month - Amy Clampitt

Beach Glass
by Amy Clampitt

While you walk the water's edge,
turning over concepts
I can't envision, the honking buoy
serves notice that at any time
the wind may change,
the reef-bell clatters
its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra
to any note but warning. The ocean,
cumbered by no business more urgent
than keeping open old accounts
that never balanced,
goes on shuffling its millenniums
of quartz, granite, and basalt.
It behaves
toward the permutations of novelty—
driftwood and shipwreck, last night's
beer cans, spilt oil, the coughed-up
residue of plastic—with random
impartiality, playing catch or tag
ot touch-last like a terrier,
turning the same thing over and over,
over and over. For the ocean, nothing
is beneath consideration.
The houses
of so many mussels and periwinkles
have been abandoned here, it's hopeless
to know which to salvage. Instead
I keep a lookout for beach glass—
amber of Budweiser, chrysoprase
of Almadén and Gallo, lapis
by way of (no getting around it,
I'm afraid) Phillips'
Milk of Magnesia, with now and then a rare
translucent turquoise or blurred amethyst
of no known origin.
The process
goes on forever: they came from sand,
they go back to gravel,
along with treasuries
of Murano, the buttressed
astonishments of Chartres,
which even now are readying
for being turned over and over as gravely
and gradually as an intellect
engaged in the hazardous
redefinition of structures
no one has yet looked at.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Solitude by J.T. Ellison


J.T. Ellison is the international award-winning author of eight critically acclaimed novels, multiple short stories and has been published in over twenty countries.

Ellison grew up in Colorado and moved to Northern Virginia during high school. She is a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College and received her master's degree from George Washington University. She was a presidential appointee and worked in The White House and the Department of Commerce before moving into the private sector. As a financial analyst and marketing director, she worked for several defense and aerospace contractors.

After moving to Nashville, Ellison began research on a passion: forensics and crime. She has worked with the Metro Nashville Police Department, the FBI, and various other law enforcement organizations to research her books.

She lives in Nashville with her husband and the ghost of a poorly trained cat, and is hard at work on her next novel.



Solitude
by J.T. Ellison


We writers have voices in our heads. It’s just a fact of life. The voices speak to us, we write their words on the page, and people read the stories and are captivated, drawn into a land of make believe.

All right. Let’s be honest and call this what it really is. Controlled psychosis.

You laugh, but think about it. Where else in the world are you allowed to let the little voices in your head control your thoughts, your words, and your deeds? Hmmm?

Most writers are loners, happily spinning yarns with their imaginary friends day in and day out. Some of us are extroverts, getting a rush from interaction, gratified by teaching, or simply refilling the well on a night out with friends.

I’m one of those bizarre introverts who can unveil my personality at will, as necessary, for groups. The public me is a version of myself, the me I want to be. It’s like actors on the stage, playing a role. Or, for those of us who are terribly shy, it’s a bit like going to war.

You embellish yourself a bit. So you can make it through the night. You put on pretty clothes – armor. You do your makeup and your hair – helmet. You take a pill or have a glass – shield. And then, head to toe in metal and mail, you swan about, hoping you aren’t putting your foot into it too badly.

But that’s life, isn’t it? We all feel that momentary cringe when we think we’ve said something off, or insulting, or embarrassing. 99% of the time, no one takes your words the way you think they came out. As a matter of fact, everyone is so busy cringing that no one really hears what’s being said.

I hope.

Many of you know that Randy and I recently lost our beloved kitten, Jade, aka Thrillercat. Things have been very, very quiet around here. I’ve always seen myself as a quiet writer – I like the silence of being alone with my thoughts and my laptop – but it wasn’t until Jade passed away that I realized just how much I talked to her during the day. I ran bits of dialogue past her, or ideas, or questions. And she sat there, quiet as a mouse, and accepted all my thoughts. It is so bizarre not to have that sounding board anymore. And it’s been lonely.

I’m starting the tour for my newest novel, A DEEPER DARKNESS, April 17. I will be strapping on my armor and sallying forth into the world to talk about the book, and hopefully not put my foot in my mouth too many times. But this novel is about loss, and since I’ve been experiencing so much of my own lately, I’m girding myself to speak in public about that very issue.

  It’s the commonalities that make each of us connect with a book. Even quiet, solitude-loving writers need to come out of their shells every once in a while and connect with people. I hope to see you on the road, or at my videochat April 19 (6pm EST, details on my website under the Events tab) And maybe we can make each other feel a little less alone.


 

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 22

Topic of the Day

is

"The Last Thing You Bought"







In Honor of National Poetry Month - Dorothy Alves Holmes










My Red Poem (written with my pink pen)










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<><><><>
<><><><>

Here I write a red poem,
Sophie Tucker red,
'The last of the red hot mama's red'
It is a hard Tap Dancing Red,
St. Valentine's red...
Cinnamon Apple scented red...
Georgio sweet smelling red,
Victoria Secret Red
Morning sunrise red,
Red Hot lipstick red
The blush on your cheeks red,
Happy Go Lucky Red,
Written with my flaming Pink Craylo Pen
On this October day...
Oh you kid!

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 21

Topic of the Day

is

"Bottle"


This was taken a couple winters ago from our living room window



Friday, April 20, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 20

Topic of the Day

is

"Something You Drew"







Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Honor of National Poetry Month - Reed Farrel Coleman

Sonnet of a City Once Known
by Reed Farrel Coleman



Have you not seen the city I once knew
buried beneath years of silent defect,
impatient rust and angry shades of blue?
History’s hidden beneath its neglect.

The endless sewer to sewer stickball games,
crumbling cement, steps worn smooth as slate,
summer Tuesdays, boardwalk firework flames,
my father coming home (always too late).

Soft blacktop leaps to meet a kid’s sneaker
rounding first, but dreaming of home at last.
Old tar just hardens, the streets grow bleaker
and bright futures are leveled by the past.

On fall days as shedding trees turn to stone,
my shadows visit this city once known.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 19

Topic of the Day

is

"Orange"




In Honor of National Poetry Month - Ron Padgett

The Way You Wear Your Hat
by Ron Padgett


Boing, boing, boing
is the sound the exclamation point makes
when it leaps around the page alone
like Fred Astaire in a tux at night
when he thinks that Ginger Rogers
is mad at him and only his toes
will lighten the glumness. Oh!
what a beautiful way to start a dance,
just a slow slide of the toe
along glittering black marble.
And in her hotel boudoir, Ginger
in a white satin gown, arms
crossed and lips pursed —
hey, she is mad. And no wonder:
they are in different films
being shown at different theaters!
And they will never, ever meet again,
for they have tricked each other
out of existence.

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 18

Topic of the Day

is

"Hair"



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Honor of National Poetry Month - Mary Oliver

An Afternoon In The Stacks 
by Mary Oliver
Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,
continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me. From in here, the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open. When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library. But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 17

Topic of the day

is

"Something You Don't Like"

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 16

Topic of the Day

is

"Flower"






In Honor of National Poetry Month - Julie Dolcemaschio

The Pe’a
by Julie Dolcemaschio



The worker tosses the remains

into a vat, thoughts drift to

the driving rain and the walk home

The vat churns carcass, bone, skin and scale

into a compost fit for the strays that

line the road, while the meaty parts

make way into cans bound for the mainland



The fa’afafine (fah-fah fee-nay)

wait in the shadows as the worker

passes, bound for home, the rainsluiced divots

along the sheer cliffs, fern covered, channel

the Samoan deluge onto the pockmarked road



Colorful busses pass through the village as a quiet sea

churns unhurried, a turquoise cocoon for the pink coral

that sleeps underneath



On both sides of the road the trees sway, and an old

loosened coconut drops with a hollow thud

And the mangoes not yet yellowed and ripe

hang hard and green above the worker’s head



The river of water passes him with little notice

as he climbs the steep hill to his home

The windows, covered in worn and faded

lavalava blow inward away from the breeze

off the harbor



Alone, the worker peels the day from a worn

body, the rotten sea and blood and dried scales

shed like old skin and, home now and dry,

he stands before the mirror

and remembers



the boy who helped build a village

the teen who cleared debris from

the road after the hurricane in ‘03

the young man who heard the call

and for twelve days took to the mat

as the tafuga tapped ink into skin



using the bone of a boar

the shell of a turtle, and a hammer

The design, like angels wings

begin at the lower back

and end at the belly button

The great lattice work and symmetrical lines

crossing buttocks and rounding to the groin



Then the brutal inking down the thighs

Tap tap tap to below the knees,

coloring his legs like pants he will never remove again



The young American girl he met

in a dark bar in those young unhurried years

and courted the old fashioned way



wept on their wedding night

at first sight of his pe’a, believing

the tatu ended at his waist

seeing it only above his colorful lavalava

when he went without a shirt



Legs and buttocks covered in the ink of ages

Still toned, still sculpted, honoring the

pain and blood and sweat shed

for the honor of the pe’a



And his blond girl-bride still weeps

at his faith and his bravery



His pe’a a dark shadow against

Coffee skin in darkness

And a bright beacon in the light of day

The young girl waits and loves

and yearns, but she does not understand

the way of a Samoan man, whose dreams

did not include canned tuna and slave wages



The son of a village chief turns to the

smiling girl who awaits him

Bright and nude and unsoiled in his bed

In his best dreams he saw her, just this way



The moon on her hair, shining on her skin

and he believes that tomorrow will come again

And then again with just a smile

Only her smile




Saturday, April 14, 2012

Elmore Leonard's Eleventh Rule by Earl Staggs

Mystery author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned a long list of Five Star reviews. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups. He recently received his second Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the year. Email: earlstaggs@sbcglobal.net Website: http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com









Elmore Leonard’s Eleventh Rule

by Earl Staggs      



Most everyone who writes knows about Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing. They’ve been picked at and kicked around for years. They’re fun to read and talk about, but to my knowledge, no one thinks of them as rock solid “laws” writers must not break.

For instance, the first one is: Never open a book with weather. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention the weather in your first paragraph. If weather is an important factor in the opening scene of your story, readers need to know about it. Suppose your heroine is stranded out in an open field, she’s naked, it’s only twenty degrees, and she’s being pelted by a freezing rain. In a situation like that, you should give that information to your readers. I think what Mr. Leonard meant was you shouldn’t waste a paragraph or two describing the weather before you begin your story. Get the story going, then work in the relevant weather details.

Actually, I believe Mr. Leonard had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek and a tight grin on his face when he set down his “Rules.” Perhaps he should have suggested keeping a salt shaker handy when you read them so you could sprinkle grains where needed.

What he said after he laid out his famous ten rules, however, has stuck with me. I call it his eleventh rule. He said:

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

There are certain words some writers use which I don’t. It’s a personal thing, I admit, but I believe all storytelling should be written like normal conversation. Even if written in third person, I believe the narrative should read and sound as if two people are sitting at the same table and one of them is telling a story.

Okay, time for some examples to illustrate what I’m babbling about.

Take the word “muse.” When’s the last time you heard someone use that word in conversation? Have you ever said, “I’ll muse on it and let you know.” I doubt it. You’d say, “I’ll think about it and let you know.” Yet, writers use that word often. Every time I see the word “muse,” I’m taken out of the story and I think “Uh oh. This sounds like writing.”

Then there’s the word “gaze,” which comes under the hard and fast rule about “disembodied body parts.” Parts of your body can’t unattach themselves, the rule states, and do things on their own. That’s why I’m not supposed to write, “Her eyes moved around the room and took it all in.” Under the same law, I can’t write, “His chin fell onto his chest” or “Her hands few into the air.”

Instead, I’m supposed to write, “Her gaze moved around the room.” Sorry, but that sounds like writing to me. I’ve never heard anyone talk like that. Nor have I heard anyone say, “You’re a sight for a sore gaze.” Or, “I couldn’t take my gaze off her.”

People don’t use “gaze” when they talk, but we see it in print all the time. Sure sounds like writing to me. If I use “eyes” instead of “gaze,” I think I should be forgiven because I’m writing the way people talk.

I don’t know who came up with that rule, but someone’s hands should have left their body and clamped themselves over that person’s mouth before the rule came out of it.

Next up: using what I call “ing words” to begin a sentence. Writers use them to achieve variation in sentence structure and get away from repeating the standard noun-verb construction over and over again.

As a result, we often see sentences like this one:

"Slipping into her work clothes, Mary drove downtown."

Poor Mary. In that construction, the two actions (slipping and driving) take place simultaneously. I envision Mary struggling into her clothes and driving at the same time. I hope she made it to work without a major accident.

To achieve variation in sentence construction and keep Mary safe, the author might have written:

"After slipping into her work clothes, Mary drove downtown."

There you have some examples of how I apply what I call Elmore Leonard’s “Eleventh Rule.” I’m not saying everyone should abide by it, so maybe we should call it “Earl’s Rule.” I may be stuck with it but you, of course, are not.

Thanks a Texas ton, Kaye, for allowing me to visit here on Meanderings and Muses, the best blog site on the planet. As always, big hugs and kisses to you. 


 

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 15

Topic of the Day

 is

"Sunset"





In Honor of National Poetry Month - Shel Silverstein

The Little Boy and the Old Man 
by Shel Silverstein
Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "it seems
Grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the little old man.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 13

Topic of the Day

is

"Something You Found"



Small pieces of sea glass found along the beach at Top Sail Island, NC  (mostly found by Donald and Harley)




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 12

Topic of the Day

is

"Stairs"


In Honor of National Poetry Month - Kathryn Stripling Byer


Attic    
by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Not buried
but piece by piece carried
up narrow stairs
into the rafters,

her leavings
have summered through
forty-five seasons
of Bible-Belt heat.

I can stand only so much
of being up here,
on this late August afternoon,
dead-end of summer

in which I come looking
for her again.
In the usual places.
This jewelry casket,

for instance.  Inside it
she stares from the heart
of a foliate brooch
that I raise in a tangle

of gold chains I don't
try to loosen.  She's still
here: a face
I have used up

with wonderings.
High cheekbones.
Hollows.
A mouth slightly open

and inside that
vacancy,
no invitation
for me to speak out of it.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 11

Topic of the Day

is

"Where You Ate Breakfast"


It's where I eat breakfast every morning while I check email and Facebook.  And if you're thinking I'm having some lovely, decadent breakfast in bed every morning, think again.  It's usually a cup of coffee and a breakfast bar before I go to the gym.  Bor---ing!!!!!!





Why Can't I Own a Canadian (from http://www.humanistsofutah.org)

I've copied this from http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2002/WhyCantIOwnACanadian_10-02.html


Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted fan,
Jim
Note to Stumblers:
Some comments criticizing this piece indicate that it was "hijacked" from a West Wing episode. This is a chicken and egg argument in my opinion. I don't really know which came first, and frankly don't care.

In Honor of National Poetry Month - Tony Hoagland

Windchime

By Tony Hoagland

She goes out to hang the windchime
in her nightie and her work boots.
It’s six-thirty in the morning
and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,

windchime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she’s trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.

She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the windchime
wasn’t making
because it wasn’t there.

No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands upon the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 10

Topic of the Day

is

"Cold"




In Honor of National Poetry Month - Nan Dillingham

Elvis Redux
by Nan Dillingham


is Elvis growing up in Tupelo
in a close-knit family with little money
attending the Assembly of God Church

music and preaching registering deeply
moving to Memphis with his parents
living in public housing and low-rent homes

roaming Beale Street for clothes
absorbing black blues and gospel
wearing his hair long

letting his sideburns grow
roaming the halls of Humes High
dreaming of singing with the Blackwood Brothers

working after graduation at Parker Machinist Shop
Precision Tool then Crown Electric Company
driving a truck and going to night school

dropping by Sun Studio
making a demo for his mother
then later cutting “Big Boy” Cruddup’s

“That’s All Right, Mama”
backed by “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
rebuffed by the Grand Ole Opry

officials suggesting he go
back to driving a truck which he does
but not before appearing on

“Louisiana Hayride,” the Opry’s rival
meeting Colonel Tom Parker, ex-carney
refusing his contract

walking into the induction center
speaking courteously
“Sorry, Sir, I’d like to serve

but my mama’s got this heart condition
and my daddy needs me”
holing up in his cab on a layover

reading the Bible
listening to pop tunes
and country music radio

seeing Ann-Margret, Swedish sex kitten
on a billboard
on a long haul to LA

lusting for a moment, then coming home
to his doe-eyed wife Pris
and daughter Lisa Marie who favors him

all full lips and limpid eyes
sometimes sermonizing
in a white frame church

on Sunday morning
singing with the quartet
letting the sweet, sweet Spirit lift him up

sitting on the front porch swing
of his doublewide
strumming his guitar

in the honeyed twilight
of grace land
hair white like Vernon’s

an ironic smile playing on his face
wondering only once in a while
what might have been

an angel hovering

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 9

Topic of the Day

is

"A Younger You"





Sunday, April 8, 2012

In Honor of National Poetry Month - L. B. Thompson

One of my favorite poems - - -

Variation on a Theme by King David

Praise to you!
Praise to you my snappy love!

Praise you in clean socks on a Queens-bound
train; praise you
for your famous avocado
sandwiches; Praise you from Brooklyn to blasphemy!

I've called the mayor to praise you; & a third-
base coach; even
that no-neck accountant
who doesn't have the decency to nod hello
has agreed to praise you!

Praise you with bongos and fine fancy
tea; praise you
with rhumba, tango & marmelade; praise
you with your knickers at your knees!

I praise you on Flag Day, & on whichever equinox
allows for the balancing of eggs;
I praise you with eggs!
Brown ones & jumbo & Faberge Tiffany blue!

On the white of your wrist I praise you;
on the vaccuumed throw rug; I praise you full-
page on Sunday! With faxes
& foxgloves & brushed cotton sheets;
with sky-write & timbrel &

wink! Let every soul
in the Battery Tunnel honk
her horn to praise you! Praise you
with ripe limes & wrestling mats;
praise you tax-free with agates and tin foil
& all sparkly things!

Praise you with foggy spectacles and Wisconsin green cheese!
Praise you to the afternoon of orthopedic sneakers;
praise you from poinsettia to piccolo!
Praise you & praise you & praise you!

My love,
from Brooklyn to blasphemy I praise you!

--L. B. Thompson

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 8

Topic of the Day

is

"Inside Your Wallet"




Friday, April 6, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 7

Topic of the Day

is

"Shadow"




and here's Harley sitting in a shadow


In Honor of National Poetry Month - and the color red

Most of you know about my love of the color red, and a lot of you have seen me post these two poems here earlier.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I think I'll post a few of my favorite poems during the month, starting with Kim Addonizio's "What Women Want" along with Dorothy Parker's "The Red Dress."


I finally got around to doing a collage around both poems - something I've been saying I was going to do for years.  And ta da!  Here 'tis!





“What Do Women Want?”

By Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.


"The Red Dress"

by Dorothy Parker

I always saw, I always said
If I were grown and free,
I'd have a gown of reddest red
As fine as you could see,

To wear out walking, sleek and slow,
Upon a Summer day,
And there'd be one to see me so
And flip the world away.

And he would be a gallant one,
With stars behind his eyes,
And hair like metal in the sun,
And lips too warm for lies.

I always saw us, gay and good,
High honored in the town.
Now I am grown to womanhood....
I have the silly gown.      

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Photo A Day Challenge - Day 5

Topic of the Day

is

"Tiny"


and these are tiny little flowers from our yard (well, okay, so they might be weeds.  They're still tiny little beauties!)




2012 Thriller Award Nominations





ITW announces the finalists for the 2012 Thriller Awards



Best Hard Cover Novel:
Joseph Finder - BURIED SECRETS (St. Martin’s Press)
Jonathan Hayes - A HARD DEATH (Harper)
Stephen King - 11/22/63 (Scribner)
Michael Koryta - THE RIDGE (Little, Brown and Co.)
Marcus Sakey - THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES (Dutton Adult)


Best Paperback Original:
Jeff Abbott - THE LAST MINUTE (Sphere/LittleBrown UK)
John Gilstrap - THREAT WARNING (Pinnacle)
Helen Grant - THE GLASS DEMON (Delacorte Press)
Steven James - THE QUEEN (Revell)
John Rector - ALREADY GONE (Thomas & Mercer)


Best First Novel:
James Barney - THE GENESIS KEY (Harper)
Melinda Leigh - SHE CAN RUN (Montlake Romance)
Paul McEuen - SPIRAL (The Dial Press)
H.T. Narea - THE FUND (Forge Books)
Leslie Tentler - MIDNIGHT CALLER (Mira)


Best Short Story:
James Scott Bell - “One More Lie” (Compendium Press)
Michael Lewin - “Anything to Win” (Strand Magazine)
Twist Phelan - “Happine$” (MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS THE RICH AND THE DEAD, Grand Central Publishing)
Tim L. Williams - “Half-Lives” (Dell Magazine)
Dave Zeltserman - “A Hostage Situation” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


2012 Thriller Awards Winners will be announced at ThrillerFest VI on July 14, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt, NYC.


My congratulations to all the nominees!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two Women Chat About Genre by Julie Dolcemachio and Shelly Fredman

Julie Dolcemaschio and Shelly Fredman met for the first time when Julie was looking for a school for her oldest son. She walked into Shelly’s 2nd grade classroom and she was sold. It wasn’t long before they became personal friends outside of school. They share a love of writing, good food, and a sense of humor. That Shelly also was, and still is, one of the ‘villiagers’ responsible for the success of Julie’s two boys (one entering middle school in the fall, the other off to Oberlin College) is icing on the cake. They often collaborate on scene structure and character development over sweet breakfasts and too much coffee. The rumor that John Testarossa and Brandy Alexander are in love is strictly fantasy—the authors’, mostly.




Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Julie Dolcemaschio is an author and a poet. She has written several books of poetry, and has had her work published in literary journals.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and The Los Angeles Writers and Poets Collective.

Her crime novel, TESTAROSSA, was published by Krill Press in May 2010.

She is currently working on a romance novel. Her research is extensive and time-consuming. 

Julie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. 



Twitter AuthorJulieD





Shelly Fredman is a native Philadelphian who long dreamed to be Mrs. Illya Kuryakin from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Having failed to reach that lofty goal, she switched her affections to fictional characters and situations that she could control with the stroke of her keyboard. This quest for power resulted in The No Such Thing As...Brandy Alexander Mysteries.



Shelly and Brandy share feeling of pride in their hometown, and even though Shelly has moved to the west coast, she has always been, and forever will be, a Philly girl at heart.



No Such Thing as a Secret, published in 2005

No Such Thing as a Good Blind Date, published in 2006

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, published in 2008

No Such Thing as a Free Ride, published in 2010



















TWO WOMEN CHAT ABOUT GENRE
by
Julie Dolcemachio and Shelly Fredman

JD: I’ve known you forever, it seems, and we’ve lived not only this parent-teacher relationship, but we’re also writers. When Kaye offered up an opportunity for a ‘chat’ here on her blog, I thought of you immediately. We get together about once every six weeks for breakfast, and we talk about our work, and sometimes we talk about kids, but it’s really the work that has bound us together. We talked recently about genre, and getting boxed in to a certain one. It can be frustrating at times.


SF: Yeah. I’ve felt lately like I’m getting boxed into a genre because I’m forced to pick one, so that potential readers know what to look for. It makes me crazy, and I feel it’s sabotaged us as authors, too.  

JD:  In what way have you been boxed into a certain genre? Was it some outside influence like agents, publishers or fans, or are you boxing yourself in?


SF:  I'm not sure how it happened. I started out wanting to write a story. Something that made people laugh, think, feel something. I looked to books that I loved, and tried to repeat the formula. But I soon realized that I wanted to go deeper than the normal "romantic-comic mystery." So I did. And that's where things began to get complicated. Agents said my work wasn't clearly one thing or another, so it would be a hard  sell. I know you've run into this as well.


JD: I have. I really wanted to write something different with Testarossa, something I hadn’t really seen in my favorite crime novels.  Cops fall in love, and I wanted to show that. The idea that a cop does what he does out on the streets, then comes home to a seemingly normal life with someone he loves deeply, intrigued me, yet I never saw this in the books I read. The love was always glossed over. So, am I a romance writer, a crime writer, or a combination of the two?

You really did go deeper in “Free Ride” with the homeless teens theme and, to me, it was such a natural progression for Brandy Alexander to take. The character grew so much over the  first three books, it just seemed natural to me that she tackle bigger issues. What kind of backlash, if any, did you get from the hard-core Brandy fans?  


SF:  A few people wrote that they wanted something light and funny. They didn’t want to have to feel guilty at the end of a light read. While I can’t fault them for that, I still felt I could do both. Write about an important subject, and entertain at the same time. Most of the fan mail agreed. A few didn’t. No Such Thing as a Free Ride was labeled as a light comic mystery, but some people felt it was too heavy given the homeless teen theme. I don't want to mislead people in any way, and I felt badly that they didn't get the reading experience they wanted. I understand the need to fit, however loosely, into a genre. As a reader, I want to have some idea of what I'm getting into when I open a book. But that can become so limiting. The truth is, if you weren't my friend, I probably wouldn't have picked up Testarossa, as it was touted strictly as a police procedural. Knowing that it had romance, that it would delve into the character's personal lives is what made me excited to read it. I would have missed out on a wonderful reading experience, had I not had that inside knowledge about the book. so where does that leave you? If you say it's romance, you miss out on the crime fiction readers. If you put it in the crime fiction category, people that enjoy romance may pass it by. The other problem that arises, is once you've been categorized, there's almost an obligation to the readers to stick to the genre without deviation. I worried about that with Free Ride.   


JD: That’s a problem, but another problem is that if you follow the ‘genre rule’ you wind up stifled somewhat, unable to advance your characters to the extent that is pleasing to you, or makes sense to you, because it might turn your loyal readers off. I remember sharing with you once some plans I had for one of my Testarossa characters in a future book. You practically choked. In fact, you may have indeed choked. I, as a reader, understand that. But, selfishly as a writer, I was excited at the prospect of taking the story to that level, despite the backlash (potentially) from readers. Which leads us to the next issue: Ultimately, do we write for our audience, or do we write for ourselves?


SF: Okay, I did choke. But, had you stuck to your original plan, I would have read it anyway, because I trust your instincts about your characters. Do we write for our audience, or do we write for ourselves? Both. We have to listen, to a point, to our audience, if we want to have and audience. But, unless we are true to our vision of the characters, the work won't ring  true.


JD: I so agree with this.


SF: I remember once a fan of my series said she really hoped a certain thing would happen. But then she added that she wanted me to go where my heart told me to, because she trusted that it would be authentic. That said, now I feel badly that I whined so much when you told me what you had originally planned in Testarossa!


JD: No, don’t feel bad. The idea is definitely a bold move. I actually did something quite bold in a book I wrote under a pseudonym. I knew that some would despise it...most, actually, yet that is where the story and the characters took me. Readers might scream, ‘Bullshit! You write for us!’, and to that I say, yes, you are right, but we can’t please everyone. I think, professionally, to force an author into a certain genre may help the publisher sell books, but with self-pub and indies on the rise, more authors are combining genres in ways we’ve never seen before, or simply writing their hearts. What would be so bad about TESTAROSSA being what it is—crime, with a little romance, then the sequel falling into literary fiction because of some major change in the character’s life that calls for a lot of prose and emotion, then the third being a straight romance, or maybe no romance at all. Maybe #3 is a balls-out gory crime novel. As a writer, doing something like that sounds like fun. To the fans of the series, I can’t say how they would feel, except that I would  hope as readers, and fans of fiction, they would appreciate the depth and  breadth of a writer who can do that—but that’s back to us, the writer, then,  huh?--and is it about us, at the end of the day? I hope readers would just enjoy that experience. I’m speaking from a writer’s perspective, though. Reimagine the ‘No Such Thing’ series for a minute, Shel. Come up with a redo right now of the 4 books.


SF: Honestly, Jul, if I had to do it all over, I’d do it the same. When you think of the police shows that swept the nation and left indelible marks on the format, think of NYPD Blue, or its predecessor, Hill Street Blues. They were the first to flesh out the characters in a way that felt real to the audience. They had personal lives and we were hooked as much on what happened to them at the end of the day as we were during their workday.


JD: Right. Way beyond what Adam-12 was in its day, and I really got into the character’s lives beyond the ‘street’. Remember that first episode of Hill Street Blues where Furillo and Joyce Davenport are fighting about a case, and you really believe they hate each other, then at the end they’re in bed together? You didn’t see it coming. Hill Street and NYPD were game-changers, and I use both shows as inspiration.


SF: I think we need to push the envelope, or else we'll get stale. If it's not interesting to us anymore, how could it be to anyone else? Mixing genres, while keeping the basic structure keeps things interesting. With my series, I hope that my characters are evolving. And with that comes new ways to present them. Multi-dimensional characters are what hooks the audience...at least I hope so.


JD: Me too, and it does. I believe that. I think, if done well, leeway can and will be granted more than we think. Look at what Jonathan Safran Foer did with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He combined styles like a great artist combines mediums, producing a layered, multi-dimensional effect that packs an emotional punch. Many editors don’t get it, and I have had to fight a few for ‘style’. I’m becoming more confident in that every day. You can write basic, dry prose, or you can create some texture, use voice for effect and take the reader on a journey. I think genre can be blurred with little fall-out to us—again, if done well. And, lord knows, we do it well. LOL! Love you, girl!