#AtoZ Challenge 2020: A is for April (Fools’)

 

As I wrote in Monday’s not-Theme Reveal, my A to Z Writing Challenge has no theme. Officially, it’s listed as “Other and Miscellaneous.” The Archon’s Den blogger claims “chaos and confusion” as a recurring theme. I wish I’d thought of that.

Anyway, the obvious and easiest A topic is April.

On April 1, 1968, my junior English class put out a special issue of the school newspaper.

(The school was small; we twelve were the only juniors.)

One article reported the purchase of new and badly needed uniforms for the girls’ basketball team. A drawing of the outfit was included. The shorts were of your plain garden variety, but the top featured cap sleeves, a bib enhanced with vertical pin tucks and  pearl buttons, and a Peter Pan collar. There might have been a ruffle somewhere. They would spend off seasons in cold storage.

Image of Ford Mustang logo. By zopalic. Via Pixabay.com.
Ford Mustang logo.

A second article reported that the school would buy two new Ford Mustangs for use in an onsite driver’s ed. course in the fall. At the time, students had to travel ten miles to a larger district to earn the credit. Driving a Mustang, which Ford had been producing for only four years, was a Certified Big Deal.

A third item announced that the girls’ choir would sing at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign rallies that summer, which, of course meant nationwide travel. Dredging up words from the junior English vocabulary list, the reporter quoted the choir director: She said we’d been spuriously honored and that the tour would go a long way toward ending the mal de mer running rampant through the student body. I think she also said the girls were proud to be invited, and that she was sure they would continue to prosit.

Copies were distributed at the beginning of first period. Paper staff, mouths shut and expressions innocent, waited. The response was more than gratifying.

Sitting in the front row of geometry class, the co-editor and I watched the teacher/girls’ coach, brow wrinkled, examining the new basketball uniform and wondering aloud who had chosen it and why she hadn’t been asked for input. She didn’t say it looked gosh-awful, which must have taken immense restraint. While she was puzzling, the team, most of whom sat behind us, showed no restraint. They said plenty.

In the hallway between classes, students raved about the Mustangs. The district was small—high school enrollment numbered no more than fifty—and had to watch its pennies, so its splurging on two sports cars was almost too good to be true. One 1950 Chevy would have made a splash.

Image of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966. By Yoichi Okamoto.  Public domain. Via Wikipedia.
Johnson greeting a crowd, 1966.

With the exception of the co-editors, choir members hadn’t been informed that they would sing at political rallies. They appeared confused but accepted the story. It made sense; we knew a number of patriotic songs.

No one mentioned that the night before, President Johnson had announced on national television, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” No one asked why the student body was seasick. The choir director, who doubled as our English teacher, issued a compliment. She said the quotation sounded just like her.

Finally, about noon, someone noticed the date on the first page—April 1—and we were busted.

Readers were good sports. They laughed; no one chewed us out.

Some were disappointed: The choir wouldn’t sing at rallies, and the business about the Mustangs was too good to be true.

But sighs of sorrow were as nothing compared to the sighs of relief: Peter Pan collars were out.

***

Note: The choir would been happy to sing for a different candidate, but Hubert Humphrey forgot to invite us.

***

I hoped last fall’s Great Unearthing would produce a copy of the April Fools’ issue. No such luck. I would like to read it again. I would love to see the drawing of that uniform. It would make a fine illustration when U rolls around.

***

I just checked the A to Z master list and discovered that I slipped up and registered my theme not as “Other and Miscellaneous,” but as “Author/Writer (craft of writing, stories, memoir).” That is unfortunate, because the only things I know about craft are that it would be wrong to put a colon after the are in this sentence, that the lack of a properly placed Oxford comma drives me crazy, and that the price of a dedicated, supportive critique group is above rubies.

***

Here’s are links to the A to Z Blogging Challenge master list. (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/edit#gid=1617533974

Themes appear there. If you visit some of the blogs, you’ll make the writers happy. If you click Like, they’ll be even happier.

***

Image of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966. By Yoichi Okamoto.  Public domain. Via Wikipedia.

Image of Ford Mustang logo. By zopalic. Via Pixabay.com.

 

 

9 Links and a Cat

Recent posts having focused on cats and goats, today I’m back to basics, sharing links to articles that writers—and non-writers—will find informative, entertaining, and/or thought-provoking.

 

The first appear on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog:

“Can Common Writing Advice Be Wrong?” — by Jamie Gold

The answer to that question requires only one word, and most writers know what it is, but Gold also answers the more important question, “How should we approach writing advice if even the most frequently shared advice is often wrong?”

“5 Paying Markets for Short Historical Fiction and Western Short Stories” — by Erica Verrillo…

Once you access this site, you’ll find links to many other useful articles, such as,

“Paying Markets for Mystery and Crime Stories”

“10 Totally Free Microsoft Word Alternatives For Writers” — by Derek Haines

I use LibreOffice Writer and love it. I made a donation when I downloaded the program (app?) and do so again with each upgrade. But that’s voluntary. As Haines says, it’s totally free. Check out LO and nine others.

 

And three from Ink-Stained Wretches:

“The Writing Life—for the Sandwich Generation” — by Fran Paino

“The Scent of a Woman…Theater…Sea”— by Helen Currie Foster

“Writing in an Air of Intimidation” — by Noreen Cedeno

 

Plus three from Austin Mystery Writers:

“My Unconventional Writing Partner” — by Laura Oles

“Murdercon 2019 —the Perfect Ménage à Trois” — by K.P. Gresham

“Review of Billy Kring’s book Deguello” — by V.P. Chandler

 

Now, here’s a picture of the author’s other cat:

Which Would You Rather

 

A crime writer here in Austin closed his blog a couple of years ago. It was both informative and entertaining and enjoyed a wide readership.

When asked why he stopped writing it, he said it was time-consuming. He needed to put all his effort into his novels.

In addition, he said, which would most people rather see, a post about an author, or a picture of his cat?

That makes sense. Here’s a picture of my cat.

 

O Is for Origami: #atozchallenge

 

I was reading Deborah Weber’s O post today when a word therein sparked a memory.

The word isn’t her topic–that’s oakus, an old name for something many of you possess–but origami, the art of paper folding.

In my third-grade class, we students made snowflakes. That isn’t exactly origami, because origami is sculpture, three-dimensional, and our snowflakes were flat. But it’s a distant cousin.

Our teacher, Mrs. Calk–a kind, funny, thoroughly delightful woman–demonstrated the process. Take a sheet of typing paper, fold it this way and that, cut with scissors this way and that–the cuts would make each of our flakes unique, like the real things–and then unfold it into a perfect six-pointed snowflake.

Easy.

So we folded and folded and cut and cut. And sure enough, the many-layered triangles opened into perfect six-pointed snowflakes.

Except mine. It had eight points.

“Snowflake” by Charles Schmitt, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikipedia

I was counting them for the third time when Mrs. Calk reached my aisle. She’d been walking along, supervising, congratulating every student on the beautiful creations.

I showed her my anomaly. That stopped her in her tracks. She showed me how to fold–in teacher training, I learned this is called individual instruction–and told me to try again. She walked on. I tried again.

Eight points.

More encouragement from Mrs. Calk.

Tried again.

Eight points.

Mrs. Calk finally told me she believed it was time to stop folding.

I still haven’t managed a six-pointed snowflake.

Which brings me to origami. I once watched a librarian fold and fold while she told a story. Just as she reached the end of the story, she unfolded the paper, and there in her hand sat a little bird.

The woman was magnificent–her dexterity, proficiency, artistry. It was one of the most breathtaking performances I’ve ever seen. I mean, she talked and folded at the same time, and everything came out right.

The only thing I can fold is an eight-pointed snowflake. And I don’t dare try to talk while I’m folding.

***

 

I shouldn’t have been surprised the woman could tell a story and make a paper crane at the same time. She was, after all, a librarian.

***

Images of paper cranes, public domain, via Wikipedia

Day Q: #AtoZChallenge

 

 

 

 

 

My Day Q post is recycled from last year,  a short-short story prompted by this photograph by Fatima Fakier Deria, on Friday Fictioneers. The event it’s based on occurred in 2002, but it will forever live in infamy.

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria – from Friday Fictioneers

 

Day 1

Beautiful . . . waves, sunset . . .

Deck chairs . . .

Can’t wait, two nights at sea,

then—Can Cun. We’ll shop till we drop.

Uh-uh. Swimming, sunbathing, siestas. Bar open yet?

#

Day 2

Soooooo relaxing. Waves rocked me to sleep.

Hurry, let’s claim our chairs.

Breakfast?

Chairs. There’s pizza near the pool.

#

I’m queasy.

Wearing your patch?

Don’t have one.

Sit here. Sea air helps. ‘Bye.

#

Find a doctor.

You’ll be fine.

Move, or I’ll ruin your sneakers.

#

I’m going home . . .

You’ve had a shot of phenergan—you’ll be fine.

. . . if I have to walk on water.

#

Day 3

Phenergan worked! Can Cun! Let’s shop till we drop.

. . . I’m queasy.

***

Author’s note: Day 3 is fiction. The speaker in green did not become queasy. Life is not fair.

***

For more Day Q blogs, click AtoZ.

Day K: Kerfuffle #AtoZChallenge

For more Day K posts click here.

K is obviously for Kathy, a name at the heart of a lifelong kerfuffle.

The plan was to name me Katherine for my great-grandmother and to call me Kathy. But at the last minute, when the nurse came in and asked for the baby’s name so they could type up a birth certificate, my mother added Mary for my grandmother. Later she told my father what she’d done and he said that was fine with him. He liked his mother-in-law. My grandmother liked the name.

Mother later told me she’d wanted to spell Katherine with a C, but she was afraid her grandmother would say I wasn’t really named for her (the family was funny that way).

Thus was I denied the privilege of assuming the mantle of romanticism connected with hearing Heathcliff call across the moor, Catherine! Catherine! (I don’t think he did that in the book or the movie, but I have a good imagination.)

The precaution turned out to be unnecessary, because every time my great-grandmother, whom we called Grannygirl (that’s another story) wrote my name, she spelled it Catherine.

(I was glad I’d been spared her first name, Minna. She didn’t like it either and changed it to Minnie but later wished she hadn’t.)

My grandmother, Mary Veazey Barrow, front row 3rd from left (big hat); my great-grandmother, Minna Katherine Stagner Veazey, front row 5th from left.

Otherwise, my name was fine with me, too, as long as we stayed put. But when we moved and I had to enroll in a new school in the middle of second grade, the teacher said they already had a Kathy so I had to be Mary. I didn’t mind–it was just one more of the slings and arrows of being uprooted from my hometown and moving halfway across the universe*–but when I discovered the other Kathy was always called Kathleen, I thought the teacher’s reasoning was a little off.

The next September, I sat with twenty-something other third-graders and their mothers while the teacher called names from a stack of book cards. She got to Mary K. Waller; my mother marched me up and said she’s here, and she’s called Kathy; the teacher said, No this is Mary K-A-Y. I sat back down. Mary Kay didn’t appear. The teacher went through the no-shows and once again, Mary Kay didn’t appear. My mom said she thought that must be a clerical error–one person read the names, another person wrote them down?–and so I settled in as Kathy.

The next year, mothers didn’t hang around for the settling in–I suppose fourth graders were deemed able to fend for themselves–and when the teacher called Mary Waller? I let it slide. Later when my mother asked why, I said something like, “Meh.” Vicki, my best friend from third grade, called me Kathy; others who’d known me before took their pick.

Fast forward to college: Roommates said Kathy, but otherwise, I was Mary. Once I was Mark. The first time the philosophy professor called for Mark Waller, I said nothing, but when Mark didn’t answer the second time, I raised my hand and said in a small voice–one doesn’t want to accuse a prof of illiteracy on the first day of class–Mary? he rechecked the list and laughed. Since then, two more people have made the same error. Perfectly understandable: when you’re skimming, Mary K. resembles Mark.

I was a bit miffed, however, last Christmas Eve, when the young man at Best Buy told me he didn’t have my order. I said the computer said he did have it. He said he didn’t. I said would he check again. He pointed at his monitor and said there was only one Waller on the list.

I said, “Mark?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Mary K.?”

He said, “Oh,” and forked over the box. I was as sweet about the situation as I could manage, considering it was Christmas Eve and I knew he’d  been extra busy; but, considering it was late afternoon on December 24th, and I’d started shopping on December 23rd, my store of sweetness was at low ebb. My words might have carried an undertone that said, Knothead.

My adult life has comprised a series of minor tangles with officialdom. Minor, because I’ve defaulted to Mary. Sometimes I forget. Last week, the nurse assigned to handle my infusion looked up from her monitor and said, “Hi. I’m Holly.”

I said, “I’m Kathy.”

Her expression changed from welcoming to stricken. I got it, admitted I was Mary, and watched her begin to breathe normally again.

My mother once said she thought I didn’t like my name. I did, and I do. It has a pleasant sound, and my written initials have a pleasing symmetry.

 

It’s sharpened my mental acuity and flexibility by requiring me to (usually) remember who I am in (almost) any setting.

But there are drawbacks. The first hearkens back to the third-grade Mary Kay thing. I do not like being confused with a cosmetics company.

 

 

 

 

 

The second concerns two questions I’m asked more and more frequently by young people who don’t understand that Mary Katherine was a perfectly acceptable, mainstream, plain, ordinary, everyday name before it gave way to Lisa and Jennifer and Ashley and Madison:

Are you Catholic?

Are you a nun?

Neither.

I’m a member of a large Protestant family that recycles names.

 

 

 

#####

* About 250 miles to the southwest, to Del Rio, on the border with Mexico. It was a nice place, and after a few months, I loved being there. Sometimes I wish we’d stayed.

** Serendipity! [An English major thing] Attempting to find a reference to Heathcliff calling Catherine, I came across this article–Heathcliff and Cathy, out on the wild, windfarmed moors–by Lucy Mangan, published in The Guardian, April 12, 2012.

I hate to admit it, but I like Ms. Mangan’s starcrossed lovers much more than I like Emily Bronte’s.

 

 

Day D: Dilly-Dallying #AtoZChallenge

Yes, definitely running behind in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. No surprise, of course. If I were all caught up, I would worry.

Blogging with a theme would have helped. Instead of choosing topics, I’m wallowing around in a sea of them, waiting for one to come to my rescue.

April was a ready-made topic for Day A, because I planned to write about Texas bluebonnets anyway, and April is their peak time. But I could have published the same post on Day B, for bluebonnets.

Ben Hur, Day B’s official topic, appeared by chance–I checked the television schedule; I’ve always done my homework with half my brain trained on the TV–but about two paragraphs in, I remembered I had something to say about boo-boos, and say it I did. But instead of dropping Ben Hur, an any reasonable person would have done, I put Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd on hold and wrote an extra post about boo-boos for a different blog, and then went back and finished Ben Hur. That was a big time waster. 

Day C? Before choosing contrariwise, I considered contractionCompositae, color, campfires, cats (of course) . . . chaos . . .

“Zither” by Ludwig Gruber (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As I was explaining on Day C before I strayed onto Alice and Lady the Horse, I considered making contrariwise my theme for the entire challenge. Instead of blogging from A to Z, I’d have blogged from Z to A. The topic of the Day A(Z) post would have been zither, specifically the one from James Thurber’s “The Night the Ghost Got In.

In case you’ve forgotten, Thurber says it began this way:

I had just stepped out of the bathtub and was busily rubbing myself with a towel when I heard the steps. They were the steps of a man walking rapidly around the dining-room table downstairs. The light from the bathroom shone down the back steps, which dropped directly into the dining-room; I could see the faint shine of plates on the plate-rail; I couldn’t see the table. The steps kept going round and round the table; at regular intervals a board creaked, when it was trod upon. I supposed at first that it was my father or my brother Roy, who had gone to Indianapolis but were expected home at any time. I suspected next that it was a burglar. It did not enter my mind until later that it was a ghost.

He woke his brother Herman and they went to the top of the stairs and listened. The footsteps had stopped, and Herman wanted to go back to bed, but Thurber insisted something was down there–and as soon as he said it, the invisible something ran up the steps toward them. Herman ran into his bedroom and slammed the door. Thurber slammed the door at the top of the stairs and held it closed, then cautiously opened it. No none was there. That should have been the end of the story, but in the Thurber household, nothing is ever the end.

The slamming doors woke Thurber’s mother. She decided there were burglars in the house. Because the phone was downstairs, she couldn’t call the police, so she “flung up a window of her bedroom which faced the bedroom windows of the house of a neighbor, picked up a shoe, and whammed it through a pane of glass across the narrow space that separated the two houses.”

“Guinea pig eating a piece of apple” by Jg4817 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
After Mrs. Thurber finally made the neighbor, Mr. Bodwell, understand the burglars were in her house, not his–which wasn’t easy, considering he’d been awakened by a shoe shattering his bedroom window, and Mrs. Bodwell was in the background saying, “We’ll sell the house and go back to Peoria”–he called the police.

The police came and broke the door down (Mrs. Thurber wouldn’t allow her son to go downstairs to let them in because he was still dressed in a bath towel and would have caught his death of cold). A search ensued:

Downstairs, we could hear the tromping of the other police. Police were all over the place; doors were yanked open, drawers were yanked open, windows were shot up and pulled down, furniture fell with dull thumps. A half-dozen policemen emerged out of the darkness of the front hallway upstairs. They began to ransack the floor: pulled
beds away from walls, tore clothes off hooks in the closets, pulled suitcases and boxes off shelves. One of them found an old zither that Roy had won in a pool tournament. “Looky here, Joe,” he said, strumming
it with a big paw. The cop named Joe took it and turned it over. “What is it?” he asked me. “It’s an old zither our guinea pig used to sleep on,” I said. It was true that a pet guinea pig we once had would never sleep anywhere except on the zither, but I should never have said so. Joe and the other cop looked at me a long time. They put the zither back on a shelf.

Had contrariwise been the theme, that’s what I would have written about on Day A. What I’d have posted on Days B(Y) and C(X), I don’t know.

Nor do I know what I’ll write about today, on Day D. But by Day E, I’ll have something worked out.

***

Here are some #AtoZChallenge blogs you might enjoy reading.

Iain Kelly  

Mainely Write 

Anne’s Family History

Poetry, Law and Something More

Lighter Side

For the Master List, click here.

For more Day D posts, click AtoZ.

#AtoZChallenge Day C: Contrariwise

I believe I’ve fallen behind.

My Day B (April 2) post went online about five minutes before Day C started in my time zone. Now, less than four hours before Day D begins, I’m just starting on Day C.

Technically, I’m okay–observing the letter of the law (take some time to chuckle over that before reading on) but giving the spirit short shrift.

I haven’t observed a few other guidelines, either. I was supposed to–or maybe just invited to–choose a theme and reveal it here last month. But I couldn’t settle on anything, so I skipped that step.

It’s a shame, because I had a pretty good idea: Contrariwise. In the first place, I love the word. It reminds me of the first time I saw it in print, Alice’s meeting with Tweedledum and Tweedledee:

They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just looking round to see if the word “TWEEDLE” was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked `DUM.’

`If you think we’re wax-works,’ he said, `you ought to pay, you know. Wax-works weren’t made to be looked at for nothing, Nohow!’

`Contrariwise,’ added the one marked `DEE,’ `if you think we’re alive, you ought to speak.’

`I’m sure I’m very sorry,’ was all Alice could say . . .

`I know what you’re thinking about,’ said Tweedledum: `but it isn’t so, nohow.’

`Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’

I was seven years old, lying on the back seat of my Uncle Joe and Aunt Laura’s new car, on the way home to Del Rio after a week-long visit with family in Fentress, and reading Alice in Wonderland, when all of a sudden, my stomach revolted. We stopped at the next service station so they could hose me down. My grandfather, who occupied the other half of the back seat, somehow managed to stay out of the line of fire. Aunt Laura said, “I told you lying down to read would make you carsick.” But it never had, and it hasn’t since, so I think other forces must have been at work.

Anyway, I’ve loved contrariwise ever since. Go figure.

I learned the base word, contrary, long before Alice. My great-aunt Ethel used it to describe her mare, Lady. It was an apt term. That horse personified the expression, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

She never unseated anyone; she simply refused to cooperate: hard to catch (she could walk faster than I); hard to bridle (she was taller than I); hard to saddle (she found the nearest pecan tree, leaned against it, and walked ’round and ’round while I followed, holding the saddle shoulder high and trying to heave it across a moving target.

Once saddled, she gave up being a moving target and became a stationary one. If I wanted to go one way and she wanted to go another, she didn’t insist on her way. She just stopped. And stood. And stood. And stood.

When I was four or five years old, my father let me ride her around in the little fenced enclosure where we kept chickens while he worked. Every time we neared the gate, she stopped. I would holler for my dad. He would come, say, “I told you not to let her get near the gate,” and lead her past. We would make another circuit. She would stop. I would holler for my dad. He would come, say, “I told you not to let her get near the gate,” and lead her  . . . You get the idea.

So there it was. Contrary Lady. Contrary Kathy.

Oh, darn. It’s nearly midnight. Day D.

Contrariwise.

***

To read what other bloggers in the Blogging A to Z Challenge wrote on Day C, click AtoZ.

***

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Remiss but Not Missing

I have been remiss.

I haven’t posted here lately, probably because I’ve been posting more on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I hope you have, or will, check out the blog. It’s currently second home to Cherley Grogg, Mike Staton, Neva Bodin, Abbie Johnson Taylor, S. J. Brown,  Cindy Carroll, Cole Smith, Debra Easterling, and Keri De Deo. Next week, Stevie Turner will guest post.

We write about everything from the U. S. space program, to tap dancing, to writing and editing, to wildlife photography, to obsession with elf ears–and more.

Changing directions now, I’ll mention few blogs I read:

Travels with Kaye
Kaye George is the author of four mystery series: Imogene Duckworthy, People of the Wind, Fat Cat (as Janet Cantrell), and Cressa Caraway Musical. I mention Immy Duckworthy first because it’s my favorite, drop-dead funny and unlike any other mystery series ever written (I’m sure of that). Last summer Kaye published a short story anthology she edited, Day of the Dark: Stories of Eclipse.  She has stories in many publications, including Austin Mystery Writers’ Murder on Wheels and Lone Star Lawless and was instrumental in getting four writers published for the first time. I shouldn’t mention this, but I will: Kaye is also Grand Pooh-Bah Emerita of Austin Mystery Writers. She was facilitator of AMW before she escaped for greener pastures, but the eyes of Texas were upon her. We gave her a title so she could not get away.

 

Contemplation and Elation and All Else

“Who am I?” the blogger writes. “I’m still discovering just who I am, I suppose.” She shares books and photographs. Her posts are brief, eye-catching, and–eclectic. I never know what she’ll post next, but I’m always glad I found out.

 

Abbie’s Corner of the World

Abbie Taylor Johnson was a registered music therapist and worked–and still volunteers–in facilities that serve senior citizens. In addition to writing about music, she posts about love and marriage, family life, holidays, vacations, her volunteer activities, and more. She also posts books reviews and recordings of her poetry. Her essays are personal, covering, she says, “my writing and other aspects of my life. It’s a life worth reading about. She also posts on Writing Wranglers and Warriors and has published several books, including the memoir My Ideal Partner and the novel We Shall Overcome.

***

I blog occasionally on Whiskertips, mine until cats (like the one trying to lie on the keyboard) took it over. I also post on Austin Mystery Writers, which has been quiet for a while as members worked on their books. Laura Oles recently published her first, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MENAlthough my skin has turned a lovely Shreck green, I’m not at all jealous.

My stories are published in MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK, and on the e-zine Mysterical-E.

My friends know me as Kathy, but I now write under the name M. K. Waller. The CFO of Coca-Cola is also named Kathy Waller, and she keeps coming up first in Google searches. M. K. fares better, at least when I look for her.

Bloggers: Interested in Writing Guest Posts? Joining a Group Blog?

Used with permission. © David Davis

*****

A group blog I write for is seeking bloggers to write one or two guest posts next month.

We’re also looking for bloggers interested in posting once or twice a month on a regular basis.

If you’ve published books or stories, or if you aspire to publish, blogging with us is a good way to publicize your work and to show readers what you do.  Other members of the group will share your posts on their social media, so there’s the potential for hundreds, maybe thousands, of readers to see your work.

We’re family friendly, but aside from that, topics are up to you.

If you’re interested, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers: The Red Shoes

The Friday Fictioneer Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photo.

Photo Prompt © Magaly Guerrero

 

 The Red Shoes

“A photo prompt? Ooooh. High-heeled lace-ups.”

“What’s that book?”

“So retro—art reference—I want.”

“No. That one. Red cover, gold letters, dog… E-G-P-U-something-C-A-R-O—

“Zoom in. RECRUIT. Dog?”

CAROLINA.”

“Which Carolina?”

OUTHD-E-R—”

DEPOT. Red pumps.”

“ND OUTH CAROLINA…”

“MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, Iwo Jima Memorial. That dress at Nordstrom’s . . . ?”

“The dog–“

Where?”

“On the ‘memorial.’ English Bull. Eyes, ears, big red tongue.”

“Going shopping. ‘Bye.”

Ohhhh. Not a tongue. The cover. There’s the Marine’s bottom… his leg… I thought it was a dog.”

“A Rorschach cover.”

“What’s a dog mean?”

“What’s a bottom mean?”

*

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island South Carolina 1968  ~~~ Not the same, but similar

*

Afterword
Word Count: 42

Ernest and William © MK Waller

Speaker # 1 didn’t go shopping for red pumps. He stayed home, worked on his cartoons, did laundry, and massaged William the Cat. “Rorschach cover” is his.

Speaker #2 said, “Thank you,” then wrote and cut and cut and cut. And wrestled with Ernest the Cat.

*****

 For more stories by Friday Fictioneers, click the Froggy.       

Waiting for the universe to cough & the #ROW80 report

Earlier this evening, I had an idea for a post. I knew the first line. I was confident I could write the middle without too much suffering. I didn’t know how it would end–I never know the ending when I start out–but I believed what I’d already written would lead to an appropriate close.

I opened WordPress to the Add New Post screen and put my fingers on the keyboard. And wrote–nothing.

Brain 1
Brain 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d forgotten everything: topic, first line, the whole shebang. I think the topic had to do with a comment on a post novelist Terry Shames put on Facebook, but I’ve forgotten which comment. Re-reading her post didn’t help.

I stared at the blank screen for a few seconds, then moved on. Obsessing over memory lapses guarantees the thought won’t return. It’s more effective to go on with life and wait for the universe to cough it up.

As to the #ROW80 report, only one day late: I ate refined sugar (but not too much, not every day), didn’t write, didn’t visit and comment on Writing Wranglers and Warriors and #ROW80 blogs every day, or visit Malvern Books.

I added a few words to the WIP (work in progress) but then realized the ending I’d planned will not do. So far I haven’t worked out an alternative ending, but that’s all right. The universe will cough one up when it’s ready. If the universe doesn’t, Austin Mystery Writers will. That’s what I keep them around for.

I did

  1. finish reading Mark Pryor’s mystery novel The Paris Librarian.
  2. have a blast visiting with Kaye George at this week’s Austin Mystery Writers meeting.

The Paris Librarian is on my list of 20 Books of Summer. It’s a pretty good book. That’s pretty good as in I-sat-up-until-two-o’clock-this-morning-reading-because-I-had-to-know-who-done-it. So there’s one I can check off my reading list.

In addition to The Paris Librarian, since June 1, I’ve read Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue ThreadSarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, and Isabelle Allende’s The Japanese Lover. I began Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing but set it aside in favor of Librarian.

At MysteryPeople, BookPeople’s store-within-a-store, for a signing last week, Mark told two stories behind the writing of the mystery. They’re well worth reading. Find them on his blog, D. A. Confidential.

Silver Falchion Award
Silver Falchion Award

Concerning #2 above, I had a blast visiting with Kaye George at the BookPeople coffee shop last Thursday. Conversation meandered through a number of topics, but we kept coming back to (more Blatant Self-Promotion) Austin Mystery Writers’ Murder on Wheels and the Silver Falchion award it won for Best Fiction Short Story Anthology at the Killer Nashville conference. To those who’ve read about the Silver Falchion before, I apologize for bringing it up again. The excitement hasn’t worn off yet.

Kaye is the author of four popular mystery series. She writes the Immy Duckworthy mysteries, the Cressa Carraway Musical mysteries, and the People of the Wind mysteries under her own name. She writes the Fat Cat series under the pen name Janet Cantrell. For more about our visit with her, see Gale Albright’s post on the Austin Mystery Writers blog.

To sum up my progress on the earlier #ROW80 buffet, I’ll say this: I did what I wanted and not much else.

August 29 #ROW80 Buffet 

  1. Read James Ziskin’s Heart of Stone
    Another book that cut in line before Homegoing
  2. Finish reading Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing

If I read both books, I’ll have finished seven of the twenty I set out to read by September 5. Of course, I didn’t really set out to read twenty. I got a late start and set out to read what I could. Seven, or six, will be what I could. I fear I’ll not have Mark Twain’s Autobiography and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex read before Monday, but Tuesday is another day. I read The Second Sex in graduate school. It’s worth reading again, but not this week.

And so ends this post. As a writer who forgot what she intended to say, I think I’ve done well.

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Read more #ROW80 posts here.

What Have I Done?: The #ROW80 Wednesday Report

“watermelon” by Harsha K R is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0
“watermelon” by Harsha K R is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0

My #ROW80 goals posted on July 10, plus progress:

  • Edit the AMW story for its last (I hope) critique;
    Not yet, but tomorrow I’ll get a critique from another partner. It’s better to have everything in before making changes.
  • Write and schedule the WWW post at least two days before the July 19 deadline;
    It’s finished, and SIX days before the deadline. I’m going to the doctor to see what’s wrong–I never finish a piece SIX days before the deadline. I’ll continue to change little things, but it’s polished enough to be posted today. So I’m putting this one in the Watermelon Met* column.
  • Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and turn in to AMW for critique;
  • Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week;
  • Complete the piece for the AMW blog and schedule it to post before midnight tonight.
    I posted it. Not before midnight. At 3:00 a.m. But I met the AMW deadline, and that’s close enough. Watermelon Met.

Summary: I set out to meet two deadlines and met them. The three remaining tasks aren’t time-sensitive. They carry over. The first, polishing the story for the proposed AMW anthology, must be finished by August 1, so it’s priority.

I’m adding three new goals to the list. Then I’m going to take a nap.

  1. Edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. 
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays. 
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
  7. Take three naps a week.* 

*Start as soon as this has been posted.

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Read about A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80)

Read posts by other #ROW80 bloggers–check the list on today’s #ROW80 Linky.

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Watermelon Met will be explained in my Tuesday, July 19 post for Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

Color Me… Something

This blog was offline during April while I tampered with its appearance. I tried nearly every theme WordPress offers. I tried nearly every color WordPress offers.

I understand that for blogs, white is in fashion, but I like color. I’ve played with the colors a lot. My main specifications:

  1. Background must be light enough for text to be easily read.
  2. Font must be dark enough for text to be easily read.
  3. Colors must enhance header.
  4. Colors must be attractive.

Numbers 1 and 2 are easy enough to satisfy, but 3 and 4 are just bears. Grays are too brown or too blue; whites are too yellow or too pink; blues are too green or too gray; greens are too blue or too yellow; reds jump out at you; pinks and yellows are insipid.

All I want is what I want. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get.

After serious consideration, I’m putting Telling the Truth, Mainly back in public view.

But I still don’t like its looks.

What I Learned from Ernest Hemingway, Plus a Photo of Gregory Peck, Plus Snakes

What if soy milk is just milk introducing itself in Spanish?*

***

To Write, etc., has been dormant for a while because I’ve been (a) playing spider solitaire, and (b) working on two pieces of literature:

(1) a story entitled “When Cheese Is Love,” which needs to be 5,000 words but is currently 6,200 words, necessitating radical surgery and the murders of a few darlings; and,

(2) a post for the Austin Mystery Writers blog that would have been online last Monday had I not suffered at tiny fall (and, no, I’m not going to tell how it happened), which rendered me indisposed for just long enough to figure out the post wasn’t coming together as I wanted because I was trying to write about two different topics at once.

I can’t complain about an indisposition that allows me time to realize the first half of a post I’ve drafted says one thing and the second half contradicts it.

My next project will appear right here on To Write, etc. It is tentatively entitled “Snakes I Have Known.”

I spent this evening telling snake stories on Facebook and suddenly realized–it’s like that chapter in For Whom the Bell Tollsno, it’s in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” actually–where Hemingway wastes a lot of material writing about what his character would never write:

Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. . .

***

He remembered the good times with them all, and the quarrels. They always picked the finest places to have the quarrels. And why had they always quarrelled when he was feeling best? He had never written any of that . . .

***

No, he had never written about Paris. Not the Paris that he cared about. But what about the rest that he had never written?

What about the ranch and the silvered gray of the sage brush, the quick, clear water in the irrigation ditches, and the heavy green of the alfalfa. The trail went up into the hills and the cattle in the summer were shy as deer. . . 

About the half-wit chore boy who was left at the ranch that time and told not to let any one get any hay, and that old bastard from the Forks who had beaten the boy when he had worked for him stopping to get some feed. The boy refusing and the old man saying he would beat him again. The boy got the rifle from the kitchen and shot him when he tried to come into the barn . . . 

So there it is. Hemingway threw away all those stories by putting them inside of a dying character thinking about the stories he will never write.

And Hemingway never wrote them either. He wrote about them. What a waste.**

Heaven forfend that I should meet a similar fate. I’m not going to write about those snake stories. I’m going to write them.

So watch this space.

In case you don’t care for snakes, don’t worry–I won’t include pictures of them. And no one will be bitten. All my snake stories are true, but I kept my distance while they were happening.

***

*The question is rhetorical and appears only because I’m feeling whimsical. And because this is  my blog and nobody’s grading it and I can do whatever I please. So there.

**For most of this post, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, but this paragraph comes from the heart. It’s sad that Hemingway left stories untold. It’s sad that any writer does that. And I guess they all do.