Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

Bigfoot sightings
Teens without earbuds

Women who like their butts
Yeah, we’re talking about rare things on this blue moon Friday.

Many years ago my husband and I purchased our first home on a blue moon. Tonight will be the 7th double full moon month since then, and we’re still rattling around under the same roof. Obviously, if you want to talk about something really rare – get Barb to take on a mortgage.

Here’s the thing that amazes me about the topic of blue moons –
Every single article I’ve read about them warns the reader to prepare for disappointment. Tonight’s moon will not rise in the hue of blue…

Well, duh.
Apparently some writers think intelligence in their readership is rare, as well.

Yeah, and here’s another news flash, folks –
Tonight’s moon won’t be sad either.

On a related note, Neil Armstrong’s memorial service will take place today.
Well played, Neil.

Well played.

PROMPT: Enjoy tonight’s blue moon – there won’t be another until 2015. Meanwhile, write about rare things today.
And to recover from your shock and disappointment in the moon’s lack of hue, you can think of the pink pigeon instead. Yes, Dear Reader, they really are pink in color. And with a world population that is not necessarily “in the pink” (only 300 or so), they are very rare birds indeed.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer Afternoon

Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
~ Henry James

August 30th – can you believe it?
And although the official calendar says that there are a few more weeks of summer, we all know it’s pretty much over.

Heck, here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve even had a lovely week of Aug-tober – cloudy days with temps in the 60’s.
It’s been a nice finish for a summer that began with June-uary.

Lucky for me, I’ve had plenty of summers…
From those kid summers in the country – the kind that fabulously seem to last FOREVER – to summer job summers at the Jersey shore.

And from them I can create a whole list of beautiful summer afternoons...

Trail rides and tire swings

Cold creeks and crayfish

Road trips and river tubing

Sprinklers and swimming holes

Campfires and castles

Blackberries and baseball

Fossils and friends…

And as super summer bonus feature – there’s a story tucked into each and every word.
Yeah, those stories sound like a delightful way to work from my lawn chair today…

with a steaming cup of cocoa and a sweater.

PROMPT: What does summer afternoon mean to you? Make your list and stick it in an envelope marked JANUARY (or AUGUST if you’re a Pacific Northwester). You just might have a need for it then.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Write Now

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

~ Dale Carnegie
Today is a celebration day for me. By noon, I will finalize and submit another eight-pack of stories to an educational company. Yahoo!
You know, I’ve been doing this sort of writing for many of years. You’d think it would get easier. You’d think that I’d have a wee bit of confidence in my abilities by now…

But let me let you in on a little secret –
Whenever I get a request for a new batch of stories, I experience feelings of… well… we’ll call it PANIC. It’s like a great big Shop-Vac has come along and sucked every ounce of confidence from me. And it happens every single time.

What if I don’t have another eight stories inside of me? I say to myself.
Of course, to my editors I say, “Sure thing! No problem!”

Then I take Dale’s advice. I get busy searching every corner of my world for those eight stories. Because dang it, they are out there somewhere!
And somehow, some way, by getting busy with the business of writing, I manage to find them.

I’ve talked to other writers, and many experience the same sort of thing.
Does this lack of confidence occur for professionals in other fields?

Take neurosurgeons, for example. Yeah, I’ll bet they have plenty of days when they find themselves leaning over a skull and muttering, “Hmmm, I just don’t know if I have what it takes today. I think the brain surgery Muse has left the building. I suppose I’ll try tomorrow.”
No way.

They show up.
Glove up.

And get the job done.
I wonder if there would be fewer cases of block in the world if writers did the same.

But Barb, I hear you saying. That’s different. Neurosurgery is a matter of life and death.
Well so is writing, Cupcake. We’re talking about the life and death of a dream. And I’ll wager that a dead dream is one of the worst kinds of brain disease out there.

And I, for one, have a dream of making my way in this world as a writer.

Maybe you do, too.

Show up.
Glove up.

Get the job done.

PROMPT: You can do it! Write NOW! Then write a whole bunch of other stuff, too. Trust me, there are MILLIONS of stories inside of you. It’s time to get busy busting them out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Editing 101

When super awesome astronaut and fellow Purdue alum Neil Armstrong died over the weekend, NBC wanted to be the first to report the news. So, quick as lightning, they posted the following:

“Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon, dies at 82.”

Seven minutes later, somebody at NBC noticed the error and took it down.
But seven minutes is a loooooooong time in web world.

Remember that old game of “telephone” where one kid whispers a story to another, who in turn whispers it to another and so on?
Well, the game of “cyberphone” can be a lot like that – only it involves 6 billion kids, and half of them have ADD.

So within seven minutes of the NBC post, goodness knows how many folks were tweeting:
“Rocker Neil Young was so strung out in the 60’s; he thinks he walked on the moon.”

“Neil Young was strong-armed into joining the Moonies.”

“Neil Armstrong loses ‘First Man on the Moon’ credit due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

“Lance, Louis, and Neil Armstrong were all arrested on Saturday for mooning Neil Young.”

So, here are some tips from Editing 101 –
Slow Down. Great writing is not a stir-fry, it is crock pot cuisine.

Also, read the stuff you have written…
out loud…

at least once.

And a little fact checking never hurt anybody.

Just sayin’.

Happy travels, Neil.
And you really did ROCK –

even if your name was never Young.

PROMPT: I’m pretty sure that you’ve got lots of great material stashed away in a drawer somewhere. Spend some time giving it a little editorial polish today, and your future publishers are sure to be over the moon.



Monday, August 27, 2012

A Force for Good

A couple months ago, I was asked to be on a task force.
I have no idea why I was invited, but of course I jumped at the chance.

To be part of a TASK FORCE!

For me, the whole thing conjured up images of an amazing team working together to change the world – kind of like the Super Friends.
I thought that if I was lucky, I might get an exciting skyped-in special assignment, a secret identity, or quite possibly (if I was Super Friends SUPER lucky)…

a cape.

Then I went to my first meeting and, well…
I lowered my expectations.
Maybe there will at least be doughnuts, I thought.


Apparently, there is a lot of TASK to being on a task force.

However, it turns out that my team’s task is actually pretty interesting –
We are trying to determine the best use for some vacant building space, and one of the possibilities would be to create…
An AWESOME ART CENTER for young people!

Now that is cool.
In fact, that is Super Friends cool!

Through my super-top-secret task force research, I discovered a few things about at-risk young people who are involved in arts programs vs. those who are not…

·         They are 31% more likely to say that they plan to continue education after high school.

·         They are twice as likely to win an award for academic achievement.

·         They are 8 times more likely to receive a community service award.

·         And they are 4 times more likely to participate in a science or math fair.

ART can do all that.

In fact, art is why I am here writing to you today.

It may be why you are reading this.


ART is a pretty super superpower.

Capes are optional.


PROMPT: Your mission – should you choose to accept it, Super Friends – is to make ART happen for a kid this week. Donate a box of crayons, take poetry dictation from a 4-year-old, or take time out to see some teen theater and cheer wildly from the cheap seats. Meanwhile, don’t forget to make art happen for YOU, as well. Together we can change the world – one finger painting at a time.