Zap, Zooey & ZaniLa


I am going to ZAP this A-Z thing tht I started back in September. I am going to finish it off NOW! I have tried to write ZESTFULLY, but sometimes I felt like I just need to rest and let a ZEPHYR blow over me.

While thinking of Z, I thought of the time I saw Led ZEPPELIN in Atlanta. It was a fun weekend and great concert, but the circumstances were rather odd. It was one of two dates I had with a boy in college. I met his family that weekend and enjoyed their company, but things just didn’t click with the two of us. He was going to school to be a doctor, but I don’t know whatever happened to him. However, that memory could be the start of a good story.

As a writer, I am learning that there are stories all around me. In my memory, in the grocery store, at the park – wherever there are people, there are stories. So, look around and keep your ears alert. You may just see or hear a ZINGER for YOUR next story!

Words of Wisdom from Zooey

J.D. Salinger wrote a book called Franny and Zooey in 1961. It revolves around the two siblings in the title.

This piece of advice comes from a fictional character, but take it also as coming from Salinger. In a conversation with his sister, Zooey says,

“An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s”.

I think this is excellent advice for writers.

I am always comparing myself as a writer to others, and sometimes it can really drag me down. Instead, I should have some goals for myself, some standards I need to achieve, and to go after these.

Do you have goals for yourself as a writer?


Fruit Cove, FL



My last poetry focus is the ZaniLa Rhyme.

This form was created by Laura Lamarca. The rhyme scheme for each stanza is a. b. (c1. c2.) b. and it has a syllable count of 9. 7. 9. 9. Line 3 is a Repeating Line, which contains an internal rhyme and is repeated in each alternate stanza as in the first stanza.

Here is my first attempt:

Nightime Lullaby

A sunshine smile with eyes meadow green
Happy the day I met you
In daydreams and floating on moonbeams
I’ll not let go, I won’t forget you

I loved to hear your sweet morning song
Buoyant and free your laughter
Floating on moonbeams and in daydreams
Your voice will go on ever after

Your tender spirit, my heart’s delight
Too early to say goodbye
In daydreams and floating on moonbeams
Return in the nighttime lullaby

Yet and Yadu

I started this A-Z Writing topic and I am writing it YET. This means I am writing it still or as I previously was.

I have not YET finished. This means I have written up to a particular time. There is YET time for me to finish. In other words, there is time still remaining for me to finish. Is the end here YET? No, it is not, so hang in here with me. I have written YET another addition to my A-Z Writing series.

Whew! I used YET in all the five ways listed in the dictionary.

My poetry focus is a Yadu, a Burmese verse. Each of the stanzas —up to three in all— has 5 lines. The first four lines have 4 syllables each, and the last one can have 5, 7, 9, or 11 syllables. The poem has a unique climbing-rhyme pattern. There should be a reference to the seasons since the word yadu means “the seasons.

This is what the pattern looks like:

O. O. O. a.
O. O. a. O
O. a. O. b
O. O. b. c.
O. O. O. O.O.O.O.O.c.


Jacksonville, FL 2014


Open Window

Open window
breezes blow through
as slowly spring
sparrows sing sweet
songs, in blended voices on repeat

Open window
the willow blooms
Thoreau would like
so dreamlike this
allurement of perfume, nature’s kiss

Open window
murmurs flow in
bestow a balm
whispers calm tones
of bees and breeze and laughter homegrown

X for eXtra



I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing and I am almost to the end!

There are a lot of eXtras a writer must make use of in order to be successful. Take eXtra care as you read this and see if there are some eXtras that would be helpful to you.

A writer needs an eXtra measure of creativity. This doesn’t just apply to fiction, but to all genres. A good writer knows how to get her unique ideas on paper, and she can do it in a way that others will want to read. A writer could use eXtra time, but since there are only 24 hours in a day, time must be used wisely. This may mean setting a schedule and sticking to it or eliminating something from your life.

EXtra patience is also important. When people say writing is easy, you need to be eXtra patient.That’s like saying someone is “only” a stay-at-home mom.There is no “easy” or “only” about either of these vocations. An eXtra measure of patience is required of you, yourself, when you get those rejections notices.

An eXtra sharp pair of eyes is essential for proofreading. You might want to borrow someone else’s for this task. EXtra sharp eyes are also needed to keep alert and pay attention to what is going on around you.  Which leads to the next eXtra, an eXtra keen sense of hearing. Listen to what people around you are saying – you may get some great story ideas.

If you have any eXtra tips, please leave a comment below!

W is for Writing after Writer’s Block


photo by phanlop88.


When asked what they do when they get “writer’s block”, I found it interesting that these two had the same idea:

“I play solitaire…I deal out the cards whenever I feel the need for a break in concentration, and play three games or until I win, whichever comes first.” – Lawrence Block, novelist

“I play computer solitaire. If three games don’t do it, I play three more.” – Nancy Kress, novelist

I haven’t thought of that, but I think I’m going to try it. Or online Mahjong. One reason I believe it’s a good idea is because it has NOTHING to do with words or writing and it does not take a lot of strategy or any deep thinking. But, it does give the mind a break and I can see how it might be a good refresher.
What are some things YOU do when you are stuck for an idea?

Once you are unstuck, then you can work on the  The 5 Ws


art by artur84.

Here is a look  at the 5 Ws as applied to a fictional story.

Who? Your main characters need to be memorable. It could be in their dialect, the way they dress, or in a quirky habit they have. Your readers also need a physical description. This doesn’t have to be given all at once, but it should be revealed early on. Don’t overload your story with too many characters, otherwise your readers may get them confused.

What? The plot of the story is important. In fact, with no plot, there is no story. There may be several subplots, but they all need to work together to bring your story to a firm conclusion.

When? When your story takes place is often set by the plot, especially if it’s historical fiction. Be sure all your other elements line up with your time period. The fashions, cars, technology, and other details must be accurate.

Where? If you have never been to the place where you set your story, you either need to plan a trip there or do some research. If it’s an imaginary place, you get to create it all, so be sure to give plenty of details.

Why? What motivates your character? Why does your character pick on little kids? Why is it important for your character to join the army? What makes your character a workaholic?

Answer these “W” questions before you start writing, then look at them a few times along the way. Have you answered them sufficiently? In that case, you are well on your way to great story!

Verbs and a Villanelle


Photo by Suat Eman

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

“Sew yourself a custom made suit. Pick a better verb. Challenge all those verbs to really lift some weight for you.” Janice Fitch, author and teacher

You just can’t write without verbs! So, you might as well use the best! Choose active and precise verbs to get your point across and to paint a clear, vivid picture. Instead of saying “The ball was hit by James”, say “James hit the ball.” The first example is a passive verb, the second is active.
Precise verbs give more information. Instead of saying walk, you might say stumbled, skipped, lumbered, or strolled. Verbs can not only tell an action, but also give insight into characters. What kind of person lumbers? Why would a person stumble? Think about good verbs, then remember your thesaurus.
The poetry focus is the villanelle, a nineteen-line poem with a very specific rhyming scheme. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. An excellent example of the form is Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.
Here is my attempt:
Khaki Heart

His was a khaki heart
Waiting, a blank slate
Hers was a world apart

Somewhere inside a work of art
If only she would wait
His was a khaki heart

His a world of folk art
She wanting the ornate
Hers a world apart

He with so much to impart
She not willing to wait
His was a khaki heart

She was ready to depart
His world too sedate
Hers a world apart

She could have made a fresh start
He would have been a loving mate
His was a khaki heart
Hers was a world apart

U is for Untitled, Which This Isn’t


I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

In looking for something a little UNUSUAL for the letter U, I thought about un’ words.

But first, my thoughts as related to writing. Don’t make your fiction UNREAL. It needs to be believable if you want to keep your readers. I’ve read my share of UNREALISTIC stories written by fourth graders, believe me!

Your story should be previously UNTOLD. It should be a little different than similar stories out there. Give it a little twist. Write the UNEXPECTED.

While I’m on this topic, I’ll mention an un-word that has been overused lately in places where I’ve worked or listened to speakers. That’s the word UNPACK. It’s used when people are referring to analyzing a situation or concept. It drives me nuts. Just sayin’.

I’ll close with a good un-word, and that’s UNWIND. Writing helps me unwind at the end of the day. It is something I love, and that’s not UNTRUE.

I could not find any poetry form for U, so I decided to write a sestina using U words. I hope it makes sense. Enjoy!


Photo by noppasinw.


Under a wondrous love umbrella

Mine, one of a kind, uplifted

No stretchers unbroken

Surely you can understand

It is the ultimate

The sky and I in union


You and I, too, in union

We share the same umbrella

Exclusive and ultimate

Our love uplifts

There is so much you understand

Our love is unbroken


Under a wing unbroken

We fly in perfect union

Full of understanding

Under my umbrella

Love will uplift

Love is ultimate


Only and ultimate

A song unbroken

Notes that uplift 

Join together in union

A melody under my umbrella

Music I understand


Because you always understand

Our adventure is the ultimate

Covered by a big umbrella

Covered by a love unbroken

Covered by our union

Ours alone, unique


Our life is unique

More and more I understand

All is a perfect union

A design that is ultimate

A promise unbroken

A protective umbrella


A life unique and ultimate

We understand, our love is unbroken

Glad for the union, glad for the umbrella

Two for T

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing.

T is for Thesaurus


art by Stuart Miles

I must admit, I use a thesaurus. A lot. Some writers may think it’s a cop-out, or that it shows you don’t really know your stuff. I don’t look at it that way. It helps me when I’m proofreading and I’ve already used a word because it keeps me from using the same word over and over. In this way I also learn new words, which is a good thing.

I use a thesaurus often when I am editing my poetry. I think poetry is all about “using the best words in the best order.” Why use green when emerald or olive is better? Why say fast when hasty gives even more meaning?

Take Time

“So much of writing is mere contemplation, and it took me a few years to find validity in this idea. One day I’d write 12 pages and the next I’d sit around and think and eke out one paragraph, and it took me a while to realize that was a legitimate use of time.” – Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket, author of the A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS books.

This is advice I need to take to heart. I’m always putting deadlines on myself, and I’m missing out on the contemplation part, which could make my writing better. I’m also missing out on reading, which is also what makes for a better writer.

So today, have fun (a pleasurable time) with your words (terminology). Make good (superior) choices (selections). Enjoy (take pleasure in) writing (scripting) and others will enjoy (benefit from) reading your work (composition).

S is for Skills



art by craftyjoe

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.

One of my favorite movies is Napoleon Dynamite. One of the most quoted lines from the movie is when Napoleon tells Pedro, “Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!”

A writer must have numerous skills. Besides good grammar and spelling skills, a writer must be an entertainer. A writer must be able to keep his reader’s attention. After starting with something that hooks the reader, he must build up his story with a good plot, and then be sure to have a satisfying ending.

A writer must be able to choose the best words. Sometimes these are simple words, but they do the job. A big word isn’t always the best word.

Patience is also needed. He must be able to write under various circumstances, and he must be able to wait for others to decide if his work is publish-worthy.

One final skill a writer must have is budgeting. Besides budgeting time, he might also have to budget money. At least until he sells his manuscript or article. Until then, he may also need bean cooking skills!

The poetry focus is a Septolet. The Septolet is a poem consisting of seven lines containing fourteen words with a break in between the two parts. Both parts deal with the same thought and create a picture.

Here are two of my attempts at writing a Septolet:


The unknown

stretches out

in the

deepening dusk


with wonder

at the vast




The known

stays close,



like the breath

of a mother


her young

Three Rs

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.



Rhino Skin

“The failures you face as a writer are more important, because they’re what make you work harder, do better and build up the rhinoceros-hide-thick skin you need to survive in the publishing world.” – Jodi Picoult, author of 23 novels

We’ve all heard about learning from our mistakes. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s a very real concept. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will suffer from them. But, if we use them to learn to do something better, they became another gift.

A story needs three main ingredients: setting, plot, and characters. The type of these will depend on who you are serving. Historical fiction? Then the setting might be a civil war battlefield. Mystery? Then your plot may include a murder. Science fiction? Some of your characters may be aliens.

After you have sifted your main ingredients together, mix in some metaphors. Stir in a few similes. Use a pinch of personification. Add adjectives to taste.

Bake as long as needed in the past, present, or future. Prick with proofreading to see if your story is done. May be served in hardback or soft cover.

The poetry focus is a Rictameter, which is like a Cinquain. Starting your first line with a two syllable word, you then consecutively increase the number of syllables per line by two. i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10; then down again, 8, 6, 4, 2, making the final line the same two syllable word you began with. I had fun crafting this one!

Wine on the porch
Scrabble after supper
The train echoes long in the dusk
Lightning bugs flicker as the dark settles
A small breeze finally kicks up
Crickets start their chorus
The frogs join in

Quilting and Quinzaines

I’ve loved ABC books and A-Z lists for quite a while. This post is one in a series on writing, with the subtopic of poetry.


circa 1983

Writing is a lot like quilting. A writer looks for just the right pieces to put in her story. She takes scraps of memories and uses them to form characters. Her grandma may show up as a neighbor, her favorite teacher will appear as – what else? A favorite teacher.

Her foundation is the backing and batting; her plot is her pattern. She then layers on prints, solids, and textures that make her story rich – a love interest here, a mystery there. The whole work is then stitched together with care, proofread and ironed out. Like a good quilt, a good book will last for generations.

The poetry focus is a quinzaine. A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables.

These syllables are distributed among three lines so that there are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line (7/5/3). The first line makes a statement. The next two lines ask a question relating to that statement.


I’m a very strong woman
Are you a woman?
Are you strong?

By Katie Schmidt

I tried my hand at a few – here they are:

She’s up at the break of day
Is she still weary?
Was there rest?

The sun is high overhead
Who’s counting hours?
How many?