Writing 201: Journey, Limerick, Alliteration

A journey can be many things. Sometimes a journey of the mind can be as dangerous as facing a raging river rapids. Haha, See what I did there, just a bit of alliteration to whet your appetite. The greatest journey of all, is Life.

River running round the bend
Where of where does it end
Flowing so fast
The trees fly past
Into a blur they do blend

Fingers flit from tiller to oar
Is this it, No there is much more
This journey of sorts
Shaking in my shorts
The water chills me to my core

Time the enemy
Pushes us all as it likes
No mercy at all

Live, Love, Laugh like no ones looking
Watch the direction your life is going
Seize the day
In every way
So there’s no regrets on your last morning

Writing 201: Water, Haikus, Simile, Tanka

So, Writing 201 starts with a bang and a “squish”? (checks for water in my shoes) Nope, all good. Back to topic here. Prompt was Water, Form Haiku (or Tanka if you are feeling saucy), and Device of Simile. After a few moments, the below work of poetic verse flowed from my mind, into my hand to be added to my handwritten book. Retyped here for your enjoyment, because seriously, who is going to read my handwriting? Not even my wife can most days.

Watery Mind

My mind like water
Sometimes clear, sometimes murky
Calm or Hurricane

Gentle river flow
Into rapids filled with rocks
Drop over the falls
Ideas cascading down
The blank canvas of my mind

Sorting them all out
Is the great journey of life
We all must travel

Stress (Commentary and Poetic verse)

Stress. Funny how that word conjures up images of anxiety ridden individuals breaking down. Some lash out violently, raging against the ethereal force, or actual forces bringing out the stressful condition. Others lose all will and lie broken upon their beds. Others thrive on it, drink it in like nectar from some unmerciful god. Regardless of how you feel about Stress, it is certainly a topic often discussed the world over.

My day job as a logistical wizard at a fuel hauling company (aka Dispatcher for those that don’t get my joke), can alternate from stressful to almost boring to the point of tears. When equipment breaks down, drivers come up with attitudes about the smallest of things, or customers with unreasonable demands because they simply do not understand how to order fuel for a station they probably shouldn’t own in the first place; things can get tense. The blood starts to course faster in your veins as adrenaline pumps into the stream. Nerves start firing faster in your brain, snap decisions come to you as you solve the problems of the day.

Once the momentary crisis is over however, there is a noticeable drop in energy levels as everything slows down. This let down can lead to feelings of relief, or feelings of self doubt. “Did I make the right call? That seemed to go very smoothly, maybe I should double check my math.” This can lead to a spiraling back up. Those are the moments when you have to take a breath and trust in your knowledge and skills. Sometimes the jolt of adrenaline brought on by stress will last for hours, leading to a state of extreme mental tiredness at the end of the day. Those are the days I want to just go home, kiss my wife, hug my son, and crack open something with alcohol to drink before going to sleep.

A simple five letter word
Silly as three are the same
Chaos bringer to our world
Losing to it brings such shame

It can make you stronger
It can make you weak
Stress enough to make you weep
Or grit your teeth and push longer

Keep your chin above the rising tide
Let it roll from your shoulders son
You can beat i if you don’t hide
You will look back and say “I won!”

What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

This is hilarious. Must read for any writer struggling with a long list of red ink from your editor.

101 Books

If you’ve ever worked with an editor, you know that receiving a colorful track-changes-filled document back isn’t uncommon.

Some editors are straight to the point. Others can be a little too friendly and encouraging when tough love might work better.

In both cases, editors have their own little language with accompanying symbols. So it helps if you can interpret what they’re ACTUALLY saying and read between the lines. Having been brutally edited more times than I’d like to admit, I’m well-versed in editor speak.

So here’s my little guide to interpret what your editor actually means:

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Bittersweet Valentine’s day…

Today is a day of love and romance for many. For me, it is also one of reminiscing for a different reason. My grandmother, who I spent most of my young life living with, was a Valentine’s baby. She was a guide and role model for my life that I could not be who I am without. She would have been 85 this year, but she was taken from us almost 3 years ago. I know in my heart there isn’t much that I could have one to spend more time with her, but I still wish I had had one more day, even one more hour. We celebrated her 82nd birthday at my home, she laughed and joked and we had a grand time. 3 months later i was camped in her room at the nursing home when she took her last breath. The emotion is raw still, especially this time of year. While everyone else is buying roses and chocolates, I think of a very special woman and all the advice and wisdom she imparted to me over the years. A few years before her health started to decline, I worked third shift and would visit with her in the mornings when I got off work. I am sharing something I wrote during that time. There are times now that I still have to fight a tear when I pick up a pack of playing cards.

Spending Time with My Grandma

There are mornings where I have a new pastime.
It involves a visit with my aging grandma.
We sit and talk and play a few hands of cards.
While I talk to her about my work and day,
she listens intently, always with a few kind words,
or a bit of advice to help me on my way.

Staying with my mom, she is right on the way
home from work. This new fun pastime
of mine is sometimes hard to put into words
what it truly means to me. When I visit grandma
she always tells me she misses me every day,
and is quick to bring out the deck of cards.

Her shaking, aged hands shuffle the cards,
everything on the table cleared out of the way.
With school and work I can only visit every few days,
but nothing can take away the joy of my pastime.
The time is precious that I spend with grandma,
and the hours spent is more important than any words.

We pass the time in laughs and exchanging of words,
shuffling, dealing, shuffling, and dealing the cards.
“I am going to beat you this time,” says my grandma,
getting three aces and clearing the cards out of the way.
I think she has as much fun as I do with our pastime.
With excitement I wait for the visits on those days.

When it is time for me to leave at the end of those days,
a sadness creeps into my heart. We put into brief words
the happiness and comfort that comes with our pastime.
The table has been reset, the scorecard and the cards
have been put in the drawer and out of the way.
With a hug I leave, saying, “I love you grandma.”

The time with my grandma on those special days,
will always outweigh the advice or the words,
or the little deck of cards of our favorite pastime.

The year was 1995…

The year was 1995 and I was just entering my teenage years. Boyz II Men and Ace of Base were cleaning up at the American Music Awards, both albums I had on cassette. In fact, the Boyz II Men cassettes might be in my basement in storage. Amazing the silly things we hold onto from our childhood. Baseball had a nasty strike and the nation cried when Christopher Reeve was paralyzed.

That summer I turned 13. My best friend and I spent alot of time at his parent’s farm. Playing video games and chasing cattle. That year I shared a birthday with the release of Batman Forever, a movie that I watched more than once since then. Growing up in South Carolina we were all horrified by Susan Smith murdering her children. As a father now, while I may be disappointed or frustrated at times, I could never fathom harming my child in any way. There has to be a special place of torment in the afterlife for those who harm or kill children like she did.

That fall, Carolina rejoiced as we saw the beginning of our own National Football Team, the Carolina Panthers. I had grown up a Redskins fan thanks to my grandparents being from the Maryland/DC area. For the first time we could say we were rooting for the “home team”. They lost their first game in overtime. I was very disappointed.

That fall saw the publishing of the Unabomber’s manifesto by major newspapers. We also witnessed the Jury deliberation of the OJ Simpson trial. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” becomes a joke used repeatedly across the comedy world, as well as in my little part of the world. While he was later found not guilty, there were no riots in the streets like in recent years with Ferguson and elsewhere. No one seemed to think “taking to the streets” would bring any other sort of justice for a white woman killed by a black male. How anyone thought doing the same when a black male was killed by a white male, is beyond my understanding.

On a lighter note, my home team Carolina Panthers did get their first victory against the NY Jets in October, while I tried to master the French Horn in my 8th grade band. I did manage to take a chair at Regionals so that was something. They also began looking for volunteers for a special advanced college prep program to be started in my school district. While it would mean starting high school without most of my friends (as it was being held at a different school in the district), I was excited for this opportunity. Between my parents moving our family twice during my senior year, I did not complete the International Baccalaureatte, or IB program. I often wonder how different my life might have been if my high school years had not been filled with so much upheaval. I know I would not want to change the course my life has taken as it has brought me to a very happy place. It is still food for thought, and perhaps a short story or something in the future. We shall see.

As the year draws to a close, there were a couple significant events. Toy Story  was the first full length animated film using computer imagery. Something done many times since to mainly Disney and Pixar’s success. Revolutionary changes in computer graphics have shaped the movie special effects industry and given us much to enjoy in the years since. There was also the official end of Desert Storm. While too young to have been involved in any military action, I did have family that participated. Thankfully they all made it home safe. Later in the 2000s, when we returned to the middle east, my little brother would serve two tours of duty in the same regions. I am grateful that he made it home safe as well. I am thankful for all of our military personnel that have served (My grandfather was a marine in WW2 as well), those currently serving, and encourage any who are considering it to go for it. Although I would later begin the process of enlisting in the Air Force as a translator (German was my language in High School), other events would take that route off the map of my life.

The year was 1995, and while probably not the most dramatic year of my life, it was still memorable.

Finally Reviewed…

So, it has finally happened. I logged into Amazon to look at my book, something I have done from time to time since I self published this past July. To my surprise, this time there were two reviews.  I have copied the link below.


This is huge for me. I have had family and friends tell me they enjoyed my writing or encourage me to continue writing. These are complete strangers who picked up a copy of my book on a whim and liked it. Or, dare I say, they loved it? This is the kind of thing that I have dreamed about since I first started writing.

I do not know what other authors do, but I have been wary of the paid review and blog services. I wasn’t sure about getting honest feedback. Since I am paying a stranger to review my book, my skeptical mind says that they will tell me good things to make sure they retain my business. Now that I have a couple honest reviews like this, I feel a little better about reaching out to the marketing, blog tours, reviewers of the world.

Anyway, going to go be excited about my reviews now. Enjoy your weekend and happy reading, or writing if that is your thing.