Writing Wins and Woes: More Lost Stories

This is my third edition of the lost stories; which are really just stories/mostly articles never published before. Not that I didn’t try. They just never made the cut. Today’s article was an interesting one about animals that can tell when natural disasters occur and serve1389 as a warning to people. The article is called: Animal Storm Tellers.

Animal Storm Tellers

By Shari L Klase

Can animals predict storms or earthquakes or even tidal waves? Well, some scientists seem to think so. How do they do it? Do they have a sixth sense, sometimes called ESP? No, instead they seem to hone in all their other senses, especially their keen sense of hearing.

Have you ever heard of infrasonics? Infrasonics are sounds so low that people can’t hear them. Did you know that some animals can hear these kinds of sounds? Sounds are really vibrations that ae measured in Hertz(Hz). Humans can hear between 20-20,00 Hz. Scientists are finding out that elephants can hear sounds much lower than people can. That is why when a huge tidal wave hit Sri Lanka on Dec. 26,2004, the elephants fled to higher ground before the wave hit. And they weren’t the only animals that did. Even flamingos and nocturnal bats flew away before the tsunami (tidal wave). No dead wild animals were found after the wave hit. Sadly, 230,000 people died in this disaster.

Animals are also in tune to changes in Barometric (air) and Hydrostatic (water) pressure. Hurricanes cause large decreases in air and water pressure. Sharks sensed the barometric pressure dropping during Tropical Storm Gabrielle and Hurricane Charlie and swam to deeper water. Even birds and bees can sense these kinds of changes and fly to their nests and hives.

Can birds predict tornadoes? Birds can predict tiny pressure shifts before extreme weather happens. However, tornadoes move so fast and occur in just one place at a time so  there is not much advanced warning, even for birds. Birds do have an advantage in tornadoes, though. Because they are so quick and alert, they can get out of the way faster than people can.

Dogs are also more in tune to drops in barometric pressure and shifts in the static electric field that come before weather changes. Does your dog howl or get nervous before a storm even starts? That may be because a dog has hearing that is twenty times more sensitive than yours. The more often they experience storms, the better they will be alert to the smallest changes. So, your dog might be able to warn you when a bad storm comes.

In 373 BC an old Greek City named Helike sank into the sea one night in winter. It was said that a terrible earthquake and tsunami destroyed the city. Stranger than this sudden disappearance of a whole city is that all the animals including rats, worms and beetles left the city before it was destroyed.

So can animals predict the weather? Maybe. Some scientists think that by studying animals’ reactions to storms maybe people can learn to predict them sooner. Only time will tell what our dog might tell us about the weather.

Writing Wins and Woes: All About Monkeys

In my last blog I mentioned that I’d be “publishing” my own articles/stories in my blog that didn’t quite make it into other publications. When I try to get something sold, or published, I often have to try multiple venues. That’s just the way it is. What one person doesn’t like, another may, but often times I just write for a theme. I really don’t have any plans to publish this particular work elsewhere. Furthermore, I don’t really even know what other publication would have any interest in it.

That’s what these little articles are that I’m putting in my blog. I really enjoy writing about nature/animals so most of these that I’ll include are about them. The September issue of Guardian Angel Kids was all about monkeys. I sent in an article to them about an interesting species of monkeys called “Howler Monkeys” but it didn’t make the cut. I still think the article is interesting, though, so for your eyes only, my readers, here is my article.

The Loud-Mouthed Monkey

By Shari L Klase

What is the loudest animal in the New World? Bears are loud. Parrots are loud. Mountain lions are very loud, but the loudest animal is actually a monkey. This monkey is called a Howler Monkey. It is named for its howl that can be heard three miles away.

Howler Monkeys live in rain forests in Latin America. They are not only the loudest  monkey there but the largest. They grow anywhere from two to four feet tall. They have big necks and huge lower jaws to support their over-the-top vocal cords.

Why do these monkeys howl? The males howl to defend their territory. Different monkey families called troops holler back and forth to each other so they know where each other are at. They do this at the beginning and end of every day. Howler Monkeys eat leaves, fruit, nuts and flowers from trees so a protected food source is very important.

These monkeys have another interesting feature. They have a tail as long as their bodies that can grip tree branches. They hang from their tails while eating. That’s because Howlers live high up in the trees and rarely come down; not even to drink. They can get enough water from the leaves they eat. Sometimes they drink the water that collects on the leaves like a cup.

Howlers live in family groups of fifteen to twenty members and their leader is usually an old male monkey. There are nine different species of Howler Monkeys and their colors can be anywhere from gold to black. When Howler Monkeys have babies, several females will look after it and sometimes the males will, too, except for the very young males who may hurt the infants.

The Howler is one of the laziest monkeys around, resting 80 % of the time. They spend most of their time sleeping and grooming each other. But they don’t need an alarm clock to wake up. Their booming voices will do that every day!

****Side note: I’m very excited to be a part of a project from Knowonder! that has published readers for dyslexic children. Two of the four volume set have included a story of mine in them. They are not very expensive and they include delightful stories about dragons. Here is the link to those books if you know someone with a dyslexic reader.

dragon on a high hill  and  The Cloud Castle606

Writing Wins and Woes: The X Files

You thought this blog was going to be all about aliens. Sorry to disappoint you. While I love science fiction and all things supernatural, this blog isn’t about any of that. It’s about some articles that I wasn’t able to publish. I try every month to submit something to Guardian Angel Kids and sometimes they just don’t make it in the ezine. This past month I submitted an article about pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns and I thought with Halloween fast approaching, it would be a good time to publish it myself on my blog. One nice thing about having a blog. If I don’t get it published where I want, I’ll just publish it myself. ha ha.

So, in the upcoming weeks, you’ll be hearing more of those “lost” articles; not quite publishable.

The Legend of Jack

By Shari L Klase

What’s big and orange, grows around Halloween and makes an excellent canvas for spooky faces? A turnip right? Or maybe a gourd? How about a potato? Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense, does it? But actually, this is how our Halloween Jack O’ Lanterns began.

Carving gourds or turnips started in the Middle Ages in Europe and was used to scare away evil spirits. At first the gourds were containers for fire, because a raging bonfire was dangerous and not easy to carry around as protection, but eventually the gourds began to take the shape of the spirits themselves.

However, when these people came to America, gourds and turnips were hard to find so they turned to carving pumpkins, which were all over the place.

The Jack O’ Lantern comes from an Irish story about Stingy Jack. Jack had a drink with the Devil but didn’t want to pay for it so he talked the Devil into changing himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. But Jack was so greedy he kept the coin in his pocket next to a cross so the Devil couldn’t change back into himself. He set the Devil free eventually after he made him promise never to take his soul. However, when Jack died, God didn’t want such a crooked character in Heaven and the Devil didn’t want him either so Jack was forced to roam the Earth with a burning coal. Jack put the coal in a carved out turnip and he became Jack of the Lantern or Jack O’ Lantern.800

Writing Wins and Woes: Back to School with Writing Final Edition

This is the last day of the month and therefore, my last edition of Back to School with Writing. I’m not sure what topic I’ll pursue next but hopefully the muse will hit me by this time next Friday. I’m calling this final edition Why do I write?

Why do I even ask this question? Simple. I ask it because writing is one of those professions with uncertain financial rewards, requires a lot of mental energy and therefore is very draining intellectually, is full of rejections so it definitely bruises egos and often doesn’t give as much joy as it takes from a writer’s life. Success? Yeah, you have a few, but so many more failures than successes. Don’t become a writer so you can become a celebrity. Most likely, you will always be unknown. Often you’ll even doubt your own abilities to be any kind of a writer at all.

Having said that, let’s look on the bright side now and explore why I’m still a writer, despite all I’ve just mentioned.

  1. I don’t want to be a quitter. You remember that saying cheaters never prosper? Well, quitters never prosper either. Why? Because they quit before they can. I don’t want to quit at something that has potential in my life to fulfill my dreams.
  2.  I’m driven to write. If you’re not driven to write, and you think you’re a writer, you’re probably not a writer. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Sure, I took a few years off here and there when I was extremely busy and tired; aka raising babies and children, but even then I was journaling. I couldn’t help myself. Writing is in my blood.
  3. I like to write. Writing is fun. It’s one of those funny, quirky, creative jobs that are just fun to do. On my best days, anyway. Now that I see it as a job, sometimes it isn’t as much fun. What jobs are? I often have to remember what I’m writing for so I can make it fun again, which leads to point four.
  4. You get to share who you are with people. Writers are often loners. They don’t share their lives with people easily. Writing is a way to bare your soul. Even if I’m writing through a character, I’m often writing at least a little bit about myself. When I write, I tell my story.
  5. Writing has financial dividends. This is the toughie here, because it’s not always true. And sometimes those dividends are so minuscule, you begin to wonder if they’re worth the work you put into the writing of it. Can you make a living from writing? Not often, but it can add at least a little padding to your income. And this brings me to point six.
  6. As a creative option, it doesn’t cost a lot to write. When you look at other hobbies, they can be expensive. My husband is an artist. He has to buy canvases, paint, brushes, things to put these things in. Plus it takes a lot of space for him to work in. My writing doesn’t require anything but my laptop or a pen and paper. It doesn’t take a lot of work  space either. I usually just write at my kitchen table.
  7. Writing builds confidence. This is one of those things where the door swings both ways. Remember I said it bruises egos, but it also builds up self-esteem when someone publishes your writing. They liked it well enough to actually pay you for it. Wow! That’s something special.
  8. It helps people. Your writing may heal someone or help them heal. Have you ever written a letter to someone, and they said, that’s just what I needed to hear right now. Writing did that. An article may supply the information that someone might need right at this time in their life. Your story may lift someone’s spirits, or help them face something your character went through and they are going through, too. Writing is medicine.
  9. It improves your mind. Are you getting older, and can’t remember things so well?Write it down. Writing helps to improve your memory, keep you sharp and not age as fast. I know because I’m a grandma now and I’m getting older. When you write, people don’t see your age either. You can be eternally young through your writing.
  10. Lastly, writing makes me happy. It’s a dream I have to publish a book. That dream keeps me going. Knowing that someday I will achieve this goal makes me happy. It gives  me a reason to live and move forward in every area of my life. Because a writer is who I am.1133

Writing Wins and Woes: Writing from the Heart

A famous writing saying is to write what you love. There is a lot of practical, common sense to this. If you are excited about the subject matter you are writing on, chances are others will be excited when they read about it. In fact, most of what I write is about something I am really interested in. That’s why I do a lot of kids writing.

My interests are: animals, kids, babies (not hard to figure that out right now), science fiction, fantasy, fairy tales, literature, spiritual things and cooking. As I look through the list of things I’ve written, I find that my first published work was  a short story about two kids and a dog, “Snow Treasure.”  It contains three of my interests: spiritual things, kids and animals. My one and only story for Daily Science Fiction, A Little Piece of Heaven, contains three of my interests also, animals, science fiction and spiritual things. I can go on and on with my list of published work and find that most contain at least two of the criteria for my interests.

It’s interesting to note that I succeed most at publishing something I’ve written when I’m most excited about the content. Can you write about something you don’t have as much interest in and get it published? Sure. I hate math, but I wrote an article that was very mathematical. In fact, I didn’t completely understand all I wrote. It was called “How many Petals on a Daisy” and it was published in GAK. From my research I developed an interest in the number of petals on different types of flowers. So I wrote the article. As a writer, you need to keep growing, even in things you may not initially have an interest or knowledge in, especially if you are writing a novel. Something will come up. Oh, there’s a fight in my story. I don’t like fighting, but I need to write a fight scene. There’s computer information in my story. I don’t know much about computers and how they work. I need to find out how they work. Sometimes research over the internet works, but often times you have to talk to somebody who knows their stuff. This is something I have trouble with. I don’t like to talk to people. I’m a loner. But a writer has to stretch themselves a bit when they want to excel at what they do.

Write about what you love? Sure. But try writing about something new, too. You might be surprised at the results and about what you learned in the process. 619

Writing Wins and Woes: Kudos to Great Teachers

This is my third installment of Back to School with Writing, and I just realized that my first two blogs were really “downers” on teachers. I’m not anti-teacher. I went to school to be a teacher (although I dropped out) and I’ve been a proud Sunday school type teacher since I was 16 years old. I really enjoy teaching and am thankful for some of the best ones in my life. Teachers shape who we become in many ways.

That’s why I’m sharing this blog. It’s my writing story. My desire to become a writer was definitely spawned by my sixth grade teacher, Miss Stehman. Miss Stehman and I had a lot in common. We both loved reading, and writing, and we both disliked math. Every Friday was Math games. We didn’t even have math class that day. Instead we played board type games. Miss Stehman fostered learning through singing songs while she played guitar, story telling by one of my favorite classmates who was the class clown and writing stories.

I wrote tons of stories in her class. Miss Stehman liked them and asked me if she could keep some of them. I was flattered. Never had a teacher shown me any attention, at least not in a positive way. I started to think, “Maybe, I’m a good writer.” I’m sure my stories back then were mediocre at best. I’ve had a chance to read one or two and they’re funny in  a childish kind of way but don’t seem to be evidence of a great author in the making. Somehow, though, she saw potential in me, and that fanned the flame. I never stopped writing after that. In Seven and Eighth grade, I told stories to my friends at overnight sleep overs. I remember writing stories that I shared with some of my friends, too. And in ninth grade, I won second prize in a speech contest for a patriotic speech I wrote.

I wrote story after story and kept writing but never got a thing published until about three years ago, when I decided to send some stories in to magazines. I tried a venue called The Kids’ Ark and was accepted. Thus, a writer was truly born. But it all began sixth grade with a teacher who thought a little nobody in her class was a pretty good writer. And for that I’ll always be grateful.1268


Writing Wins and Woes: Bullying isn’t just for kids

This is my second edition of Back to School with Writing and it’s a strange one. Bullying is rampant in schools. It isn’t unusual to hear of a kid committing murder or suicide largely due to bullying in school. I had my share of school experiences with bullying. Most of them were terrifying but in the long run I suffered through it and wasn’t physically hurt by anyone. I think everyone faces some form of bullying in life.

However, one of my worst nightmarish bouts with bullying wasn’t from a kid. It was from a teacher. I could avoid kids, for the most part, when I was in school who weren’t on my team.  But I was totally unable to avoid the teacher who’s class I was assigned to. This teacher, who shall remain nameless, was a math teacher in high school. I believe it made her day to bully someone in her class. Her form of bullying may have been called “teaching” to her but to me it ranked with some of the most humiliating experiences I had in high school, and believe me, high school was full of these kinds of embarrassments.

This is how it went. This particular teacher had something called “lucky lottery” in her class. If you have read the story by Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”, you will know that this lottery wasn’t very lucky. When I walked in her class, I was forced to draw a number from a bucket. That number corresponded to a homework assignment from the night before. Woe is me if I happened to draw a number of a problem I wasn’t able to figure out.  We’re talking algebra here and plane geometry; classes that made no earthly sense to my non-math mind. Once in a while, I drew a blank card. Yay! That meant I didn’t have to publicly humiliate myself today.

If I drew the “unlucky number” of a problem I didn’t know how to do, I had to work out the problem on the board in front of the class with  my teacher’s so-called help. Her help consisted of asking me the same question twenty times, that I didn’t know the answer to, nor was I likely to have the answer strike me from the heavens while I was sweating bullets in front of the classroom. If I didn’t answer, she made fun of how stupid I was. She often used a whiny, sing-songy voice to belittle me. I remember her actually making students cry and then laughing at them for crying. “Did the big, mean teacher make little ____ cry?” she said to one petite girl in the class.

I decided at one point to take her advice and meet with her before school to get help with my math inadequacies one on one. That didn’t last long. Her individual sessions were about as fun as being trapped in a cage with a saber toothed tiger.

What on earth does this have to do with writing? Well, it made me a stronger person. I actually passed her class, usually with low “b’s” or high “c’s”. I learned to work hard at something I didn’t like. I learned persistence pays off and I learned that sometimes you have to deal in life with lousy people. It’s helped me on my jobs and it’s helped me when I faced a really demeaning rejection letter from an editor or publisher. Her class may be a reason I’m still writing today, even in the face of insurmountable rejections and lack of pay-off.  It may even be one of the reasons I’m still writing this blog week after week with few responses.

I don’t condone bullying. It’s a horrible experience. It can leave you wounded and raw but if you’ve been bullied, let it be a lesson to you to be kinder to other people who are not as “smart” as you are. Killing someone with kindness is so much nicer than bullying.kitty-cat-bullying