January Wisdom


“The most valuable thing in life never changes by time or place – it is to be honest and cheerful, to find happiness in what you have and to have courage in hardships.”   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she  was solicited for advice to Japanese women.

I think this is good advice, but not necessarily the most valuable thing in life.  I find it easy to be honest, not so easy to always be cheerful. I can’t brag on my honesty, though, as it isn’t perfect.  And cheerfulness? Well, God loves a cheerful giver and I’m making progress in that area. I can find happiness in what I have, but there is a sadness in what is missing. What is missing for me isn’t things, though. I usually have courage in hardships, but not always patience. Whatever honesty, cheerfulness, happiness or courage I do have is because God has granted it to me.

“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. – Jeremiah 6:15

Even better than Wilder’s advice is this:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5










Smell the Roses and Settle the Stout




Everyone’s heard the cliche about taking time to smell the roses. After reading this glimpse of a pub in Ireland, I think “take time for the stout to settle” is better.

“He poured half my pint of Guinness, then let it stand for three minutes, in the time-honored way. This lets the stout settle. It also allows the barman to ask you who you are, where you’re from, and why you’re here. The other customers listen and nod. Then, he fills the pint, smooths off the head with a table knife with a parchment-coloured handle, and waits for you to take the first sip. And then the conversation continues.” – from McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy


Google It



“The young writer will be drawn at every turn toward eccentricities in language. He will hear the beat of new vocabularies, the exciting rhythms of special segments of his society, each speaking a language of its own. All of us come under the spell of these unsettling drums; the problem, for the beginner, is to listen to them, learn the words, feel the excitement, and not be carried away.” – – An E.B. White Reader


Have you heard the beat of new vocabularies? Nouns turned into verbs are used all over. We google subjects and we tweet, though we aren’t birds. We text and snapchat each other, but our communication is often abbreviated to words without vowels; we have a new shorthand to meet the needs of a fly by friendship.

I am familiar with several special segments of society that have a language specific to its members. One of these is the field of education, a world full of acronyms and oft used terms. Overuse certainly kills the charm of some words. I can think of some that need to be retired, or at least put on the back burner. Some of these would be: partner (as in ‘partner with’, not ‘Howdy, Partner!’), relationships, ownership, mission statement, intentional, and unpack. Contemporary religion also has its share of overused expressions, such as authentic, relevant, passionate.

The best point White made is to “not be carried away.” Words are wonderful and repetition has its place. But like a parent who threatens “if I have to tell you one more time”, frequently repeated words lose their appeal and begin to fall on deaf ears.

Fill Your Paper

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth


photo by photouten


This is good advice to someone who has something to say and has a knack for saying it well. I’m not talking about stuff like, “Good morning! Today I am doing to have decaf instead of regular coffee…. blah blah blah”. That’s okay for a morning conversation with your cat, but it’s not the breathings of your heart.

I’m thinking poetry, or personal reflections of a somewhat serious nature. If you are willing to share some of your soul with others, I can guarantee you there is an audience out there longing for your words. No, not everyone will want to read your thoughts, but someone will. Someone may need to hear what you have to say to help them get through a hard time. Your words may be just the right ones at just the right time that could make a difference to someone.

Even if no one does read your words, just the filling of the paper can do wonders for YOU. And, who knows? That practice of getting your words down may be just what you need to encourage yourself. It may lead one day to sharing with the world.

Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money, says a writer should be “willing to write drivel in a notebook every day, with the idea that not everything you write should be for the purpose of publication.”

Writing in a notebook everyday is good advice. I keep a notebook in my purse and use it for all kinds of writing, from story idea lists to sermon notes in church to what I need to get at the grocery store.

One thing Curtis said that I thought was really good advice is that not everything you write is suitable for publication.  Really, I don’t want to hear about your problems with pooping or how much sugar someone puts in their tea, UNLESS it is woven into a tale worth telling.

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

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!