7-Minute Stretch #8 Poetry Challenge-HI-YAH! Haiku?


Confession Time: Somedays--many days--I am not in "the mood" to be poetic. Today's prompt is exactly perfect for one of those days. (Can't take credit for it, this was Cindy's idea.) Here goes: 

Poetry Challenge #8

How Many Haiku?

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry made up of 3 lines with 5/7/5 syllables on each line. Traditional haiku has something to do with nature, but you can write them about anything.

A poet friend of mine mentioned the fact that the first three lines of the song “Moonlight in Vermont” make a perfect haiku. If you know the song (or at least the tune), you can write haiku very quickly by putting your own words to the tune.

Here’s a link to Willie Nelson singing “Moonlight in Vermont”

How many haiku can you write in 7 minutes? Are you ready?

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

And, if you do join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge be sure to let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole dang poem, in the comments!

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Ever think so vividly about doing something that you believe you did it? Or have a dream so real, you wake thinking it really happened? I do.  Sometimes, those night/day dreams gets me into trouble.

Just yesterday I was working through my email and came upon a note I was positive I answered. With my mind’s eye, I could picture myself typing it, actually clicking on the keys, watching the letters roll onto the page. When I saw that note still in my inbox I began to doubt. Had I dreamed it?

I keep a very tidy inbox, you see. I sort, respond, file emails daily (Sometimes more…it’s one of my favorite avoidance tactics.) I’ve devised an efficient filing system. Notes that need responses are sent to a file, along with my response, so I can refer back to the chain easily, if needed. That’s why that note in the inbox freaked me.

Stories come via dreams, too. The first time, was one of those the Ecstasy and Agony moments:

I dreamed I was in a glass & chrome, wall-to-wall white house. I was waiting for whomever to come out of a backroom, noticed a picture book on a white marble coffee table, picked it up and began reading. It was an absolutely original, adorable, rhyming story about a longhorn bull who finds a lost Holstein wandering in the desert, rescues her and later she rescues him. The last illustration on the last page pictured the smiling Longhorn and Holstein were standing together, in an expanse of was a wide open prairie, surrounded by fluffy white and black calves with tiny horns: Longsteins!

Imagine this holstein, but ball of wool plump with little horns

Imagine this holstein, but ball of wool plump with little horns

I woke myself up laughing at those adorable babies. And with a raging case of BOOK ENVY. I vivid recall turning the pages, thinking how delightful it was and sooooo wishing I had written it.

Then, I realized “I did!” That was my dream. My sub-consious working. Those were my Longsteins!

The opening lines were playing in my head:


Way out west were the sweet sage grows,

Where tumble weed tumble and the Rio Grande flows

Lived a herd of cattle, big and small.

A rangy Longhorn named Louie was in charge of them all!

On our walk and talk that morning, I shared the dream with my then writing partner, Ronnie. I told her what I could remember of the story—which wasn’t much—we  walk and talked the rest. Over the next weeks and months, we worked on Longhorn Louie. Then sent it out to several publishers. None of them wanted it. They didn’t want rhyme. (Or our rhyme) They didn’t want “Cowboy”, they didn’t want, didn’t want, blah blah blah…

Ever since then, I’ve learned to pay attention to my dreams. Whenever I have one that vivid or interesting, I hold tight to what I recall and write it down. And, when I'm short on ideas, I flip through it. (If nothing else it reminds me I can be creative. subconciously, at least.) I keep a notepad and paper in my nightstand.

Friend and former critique partner, author Kathy Duval, keeps Dream Journals.


"My stack of dream journals comes up to my elbow," Kathy noted on her website info page.

Kathy’s upcoming picture book, A Bear’s Year comes out this October.

Kathy has this quote on her website:

“No one is able to enjoy such a feast than the one who throws a party in his own mind.”

Selma Lagerlöf


Makes me wonder: Do Kathy's picture books comes from dreams, too?

(Her PB Take Me To Your BBQ, about an alien visitation feels like it!)




Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow. 

Langston Hughes

What of you?

What becomes of your dreams?

Do you let them slip away?

Oh yes, about that email response: I'll have to check on it... 

I DREAMED IT Playlist:

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Village Life

“It Takes a Village…” Bless Hillary for coming up with that title.

Fish Dance!

Fish Dance!

Like Harper Lee, I have files... While preparing for Not Norman's birthday celebration (break for Glugs and a happy fish dance!)

I happened upon this unpublished post. Portentous in that I'm making travel arrangements and filling in my 2015 calendar, to DO IT-the whole Why? How? Will I? When? Waaaaaaa!-AGAIN! 

July 24, 2014: I’m just back from a month long visit with my village. My children’s book writers & readers village. It’s a mobile village. A global village. Despite that, connecting isn’t always easy. Especially living as I do with my feet and heart in many places: TT, WHB, NYC, TUL, RNO, CA, JKT . . .  And while techno innovations have made staying in touch, connecting, even face-to-face almost-like-being-there conversations possible, virtual can’t compete with actual.

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

First came the Why? Kids!!! 2 days of Library presentations at Conroe Central Library, organized by my friend and children’s librarian Alicia Johnson, let me get up close and personal with a couple of hundred children of all ages—all meaning 3 months to 20 years! Stand outs: 0-6 year olds: After reading NOT NORMAN we sang the “My Pet Says” song, which had us all wagging our tails, barking, clucking and almost left one little guy in tears because he wanted us to sing about his horse that said “neigh, neigh, neigh (no worries, we made him happy by singing one last verse just for him!) 6-9 year olds: Nothing better than that finger shaking No Bite! VAMPIRE BABY Chorus and loads of hugs after; creating a mystery with the teen group—which we got so caught up in that we ran over and they had to practically, physically pull us out the library so they could lock up but not before we managed to convict the chameleon and restore Mouse’s pilfered diary; and last—maybe best—Ideaphoria with 9-12 year olds who don’t let you get away with anything!

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.


Then came the How? 4 days of intense picture book lock-down in Idywylld with 3 writer buds, Marty Graham, Sarah Tomp and Andrea Zimmerman, aka "The Wylld Bunch," which despite our names only had time to have wild imaginings.



After came the Will I?  Back to VCFA for the Alumni Mini-Rez and retreat. As we have ever since they kicked us off campus a few years back (that’s another story) my classmates, The Unreliable Narrators, have rented a house where we all bunk up, plug in and recharge each July.

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips)   L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips) L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

This year our guest of honor was Katie’s son James. At 17 months, the toughest picture book judge ever…

James lounging with his UN posse

James lounging with his UN posse



When Jame's mom was napping, I used him a guinea pig (I started to type “lab rat” . . . Katie would have laughed, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would have.)


The bright blue cover caught his eye. Lost it fast when he saw the inside (so that’s why they call them picture books?)

Reading to a 17 month old shows why short is best—I was cutting words willy-nilly, and adding sounds—especially animal-ish noises…no wonder repetition is big.

Last came the When?

When will it end? That was definitely the question my family was asking when after the VCFA retreat, instead of returning home, I rode on to Cindy’s house for more. Talk about a dedicated writer. Cindy makes sure she gets those words down every day—and she made sure I did, too.

Best, each night of every phase: How-Will-When came “PUT UP OR SHIP OUT” Time when we read aloud the work we’d done. No way did I want to be voted out, so I worked.

Now comes the Whaaaaaaaaa. I’m back again, facing the blank page, the revision notes, the What! But I’m not alone. . .

Bob Dole thought he was slapping Hillary in the face with it when, during his Rebublican Nomination Acceptance Speech for the 96 elections, he spouted, “I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."

What is a village if not an extended family? A community of individuals clustered together for similar if disparate reasons. Village. Family. Village.  .  . Potato. Pot-A-toe. Mash um up, add butter, salt, and a dash of pepper and it’s all the same—a blend that makes for good eatin’ and comfort which fosters creative living! 

Village Life Playlist: 

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Yes, I'm a Cat whose been away (and boy have those mice been busy...) They aren't the only ones. My pal and brilliant writer, Janet Fox has been hard at work as usual!

Check out her historical novels FAITHFUL, FORGIVEN, and soon to be released Roaring 20's romance, SIRENS.This week Janet offered me a helping heaping of her hospitality; I'm guesting on her blog, "Through the Wardrobe."

Hungry for more... Here's the Link: Monday, October 8, 2012

The Gut Shot: Hitting Readers Where it Counts

(If that doesn't work, cut and paste this: http://kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-gut-shot-hitting-readers-where-it.html)





Rambling On!

I'm a Rambling Gal/Made a lot a stops/all over this land . . . Ricky Nelson I hope you’re reading this cause we're singing your song—and we’ll keep on singing it from now until June 22nd. Why? Because it’s time! Time to welcome ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING, a new picture book, illustrated by Terri Murphy and published by Bright Sky Press.

What better way to celebrate a story about a boy who finds magic in the ordinary and adventure where ever he goes that by cranking up our imaginations and sharing stories.

That’s just what we’re doing for the next two weeks-June 8-June 22, Rambling’s Birthday Celebration is on. Come join the fun. Here’s how:

Tell a story of when you found something that turned out to be extraordinary, or a ramble day for you, sing a rambling song, draw a picture---Everything counts. Everyone’s creative. We’re Ready for Adventure, won’t you come rambling, too??

SHARE YOUR RAMBLINGS and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY now! Here: http://terrimurphy.typepad.com/mermaid_waves/

Lots of friends are helping us celebrate with reviews, blogs, stories, interviews---including some never-before-asked-or-answered stuff. Read and see for yourself. Here’s a list of who’s doing what when:

Let’s Go Rambling Blog Tour Stops:

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW, HERE'S HOW: www.brightskypress.com/infostore/ca.cart.asp?sAction=DisplayDetails&pid=219



Handle With Care

I walked into the most enticing antique shop in La Mesa, California, today. The window display pulled me in; Candlewick glassware and vibrant Fiesta dishes-transparent and dainty juxtaposed with bold, hearty ceramics.  

So like me; so like most of us. . .

In her recent posting on Write at Your Own Risk, the unofficial Vermont College of Fine Arts Faculty blog, Coe Booth discusses her novel-in-progress when it’s at what she calls “The Fragile Stage.”  When, as she describes it, “We're excited about our ideas, but we haven't hit that stage in the writing process where we can see the path to the end.”

Anyone who’s ever painted a picture; planted a garden; rearranged a room; cooked a meal, moved. . .  has been there. You know: that time when you can so clearly picture exactly what you want the end result to be, but. . .  But right then, with the necessary ingredients unpacked, scattered, detritus here and there, parts missing,  it looks like a mess, garbage, hodge-podge, heap of junk?

Oh yeah…THAT “Fragile Stage.”

When a project is in The Fragile Stage, Booth notes, our “own self-talk can make ‘That's a good idea!’ into ‘Ugh, that sucks’ so fast your head doesn't have time to spin.” Self-talk makes or breaks you.

Lured by the Candlewick and Fiesta ware in the window, I stepped into the Antique Shop with—no surprise to anyone who knows me—one paw already on my wallet. I was sure I’d find that something I needed to buy waiting inside. A sign with big, black on white bold lettering posted just inside the door set my Candlewick Core quaking:


What to do?  If I start browsing, I risk chipping something; if I don't browse I won't find the treasure; I'll miss out on finding my prize; I've worked hard all week, I so deserve a prize, but. . .

I’ve had to buy something I broke before—most recently a jade good-luck talisman in a Bali Shop, which the saleslady wrapped up and gave me, saying I could “glue it together.” (Yeah right, as if gluing it back together will put the good luck jube-jube back inside.)

As Booth says: “Listen to your self-talk.”

Negative self-talk “can stop us before we put word on the page,” or plant in the ground, paint on the brush, fork in the drawer or foot through the door.

Positive self-talk “keep us motivated as we find our way…”

And, if your inner-critic is shouting too loudly, stifle it the way the guy did in the song, Make up your own little sign:



Post your sign in a prominent spot, tune your inner-station to a happy song and get after it!

Read Coe Booth’s May 14, 2012 blog posting, "The Fragile Stage" : http://writeatyourownrisk.posterous.com/the-fragile-stage

MAX said "YES!" to Children's Choices

What inspires: Children choosing to read and what!Maybe because his namesake starred in the story, my son Max chose WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for bedtime reading so many times we can all recite it by heart... Maurice Sendak, the author/illustrator/creator responsible for that story and for bringing to light the truth of good story--that good doesn't mean "goody-good"-but rather means honest, true, sometimes messy and naughty and irreverent, died today, at age 83, after suffering a stroke.

A 'Wild Rumpus' with Maurice Sendak

Fitting that the Children's Choice Awards honorees were anything but "goody-goods."  SE Hinton, author of THE OUTSIDERS, was there. So was Jake Gantos-- convicted felon whose not ashamed to write or talk about it--who said he literally picked a "life-changing" copy of THE OUTSIDERS up off the street.. Man of the evening was another dark horse:  DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID'S creator Jeff Kinney, he made a point of saying how 4 years ago he was unknown and unpublished--definitely not "Whimpy" now! (Surely Sendak was there in spirit, cheering with the lot of them.)

"This year’s Impact Award went to Justin Tuck, defensive end for the New York Giants, for his contributions to children's literacy. Tuck and his wife founded an organization called R.U.S.H. for Literacy, which encourages children to Read, Understand, Succeed and Hope. Tuck recalled how hard his parents worked to put food on the table for the family, and how as a child he never got to travel anywhere. “My mom always told me, ‘You want to go somewhere, pick up a book.’ ”--excerpted from Publisher's Weekly


First Love!

What Inspires: First Love! And they ask: "Are you ever going to try writing a 'real' book" . . .

 “The prime function of the children’s book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most marvelously through the tangles of his later years.”

Notable children’s books by Roald Dahl include: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, The Twits, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The BFG, The Gremlins, The Enormous Crocodile, Esio Trot, Fantastic Mr Fox, George's Marvellous Medicine, and Danny, the Champion of the World.

I’m reading a collection of Dahl's adult short stories now—beautiful writing at its most irreverent, racy, scary, creepy, often horrific. No crock: pure gold!