Tag Archives: writing

Writing Wins and Woes: Childhood Dreams

I recently started listening to The Wind in the Willows on Audible Books at work. I love Amazon Prime and it recently added Audible Channels to prime membership and now, praise be, I can listen to many audible books for free. One of them is The Wind in the Willows. Before beginning the book, there was a brief history of its author, Kenneth Grahame and it interested me almost as much as the book. If you haven’t read this wonderful book, most people consider it a children’s book but I would beg to differ, I highly recommend it.

It’s about the adventures of some animal characters, Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger. It bears a lot to life and that is why I consider it so much more than a children’s book. Mole is tired of his every day life of just doing the routine, so he just wakes up one day, drops the dusting and starts out to see the world around him. That is how he meets Rat and eventually Badger and of course, Toad, who is a bit of an eccentric character in the story.

The reason this story really touches me is how Kenneth Grahame came to write it. He made up bed time stories for his son, Alistair. Why does this interest me? Because this is how I came to write my children’s book, as yet unpublished. It really has inspired me to want to continue on my journey to get my book published. But this story about Kenneth Grahame is very tragic. Grahame had a difficult childhood. His mother died when he was only five of scarlet fever. He, too, contracted the disease and his grandmother had to come to nurse him back to health. His father, however, after his wife’s death, reverted back to alcoholism and was unable to care for Kenneth or his three siblings who then moved to their grandmother’s home. Her home was lovely, right next to the Thames River, and  those were the happiest of his childhood years. Although, his father tried to pull himself together and get his kids back, he never really succeeded and the kids went back to grandma’s house, which was now a cottage nowhere near the Thames because of a chimney fire in the old house. Kenneth as a child went to St. Edward’s in Oxford and always dreamed of attending the college but he could never afford to so he had to take a position at the Bank of England.

Being of a very ambitious character, he succeeded in most things he did and prospered at the bank. However, he did not have great success in marriage. He married Elspeth Thompson and they had a son born with disabilities, including blindness in one eye. However, neither was able to accept that their son was in any way imperfect, considering him a gifted child. He was not, however, and after he entered school, he was kicked out again and again. Although Alistair was the inspiration for the magical story about toad, rat and mole, he never attained any inspiration of his own and eventually died by collision with a train while walking on the tracks. All evidence led to suicide. Kenneth Grahame was devastated and never really wrote again.

The story behind the story is haunting. There’s a point in the book where Rat listens to a tale of a ship rat who travels all over and it transports him into a trance where he determines to follow his companion to the sea and live a life quite different than his own until Mole shakes him out of his delirium and he resumes his own existence. And I wonder if Grahame’s son longed for a life much different and so followed the train tracks until life woke him up to the realization that he would never be able to live his dreams and so he ended it all. We’ll never know, but one thing is sure. We should never give up hope in life. When hope dies, so do we.

Writing Wins and Woes: Valentine’s Day

I know Valentine’s Day is over and some people don’t like the day at all. I’ve heard it called  a Hallmark holiday. But I think it’s a day to remember people we love and care about. I intended to do this blog last Friday but I missed my blog post that day and I really wanted to do a post on Valentine’s Day.

There are many stories on how Valentine’s Day began. One story says that Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. Emperor Claudius II  made marriage illegal among his soldiers because he believed them to serve better without encumbrances. Valentine continued to perform marriages for them in secret. He was discovered by Claudius and ordered to be killed.

Another story says that Valentine helped Christians escape Roman  prisons where they were being starved and tortured. For that he was imprisoned himself. While in prison, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter.  There is even a legend that he prayed with her and healed her of some sickness. In jail he sent a valentine to her. He signed it “From your Valentine.” The ending of this story isn’t pretty. Valentine was put to death in a three part execution of beating, stoning and decapitation.

Neither of these stories end as romantically as you would want unless your idea of romance is Romeo and Juliet. However, they are infinitely better than this one.  There was a Valentine’s celebration in Rome but it certainly wasn’t corny and romantic with flowers and a box of candy. It was called Lupercalia and it was a pagan celebration where men sacrificed goats and dogs then whipped women with their hides to make them fertile. It was so sweet.

I prefer to think of Valentine’s day as a day to honor those we love and care about. Maybe it is a Hallmark holiday. Maybe it was rooted in a pagan ceremony. Maybe it began with a martyr who sacrificed all for love. Whatever the case, I believe Valentine’s Day is a lovely way to say “I love you.” Those three words can make a world of difference to someone in your life. So say it and show it and maybe even write it in a valentine.

 

Writing Wins and Woes: Yay! I wrote a story.

I’m giving myself props. We give props to kids all the time and I’m glad to see that now. I think it’s a little over done, because kids are getting participation awards now, not just awards for winning, but overall I think it doesn’t hurt to build up a child’s self esteem that will most certainly be ripped to shreds by the time they get in high school, if not before. I love to tell a child thank you for good behavior. I really think that encourages them to do more of the same. I often use this technique in my preschool class at church. When a child does what I ask him to do, I don’t just ignore, I praise. Kids eat up praise.

So, I’m praising myself today. It’s kind of funny, but I’m hoping it encourages me to do more good work. Because I’ve had a few months off of writing, and I really needed the pat on the back to get me motivated to write again. It’s so easy to get out of the habit of writing and say, “I just don’t have time anymore”, and after awhile you just don’t.

I wrote a story this week. Actually, I started the story last week, and my goal is to write a chapter or story a week every week of  this year, but that may have been a little ambitious, as it took me two weeks to write this story. I don’t know if it will be accepted or not. Most stories don’t and that is just a fact. But, at least I began the steps to writing again. I’m proud of myself. Here’s to future writing successes. Join me in some goals of your own and do your best to follow through, and then give yourself some applause. You deserve it!

Writing Wins and Woes: Krampus

Two Christmases ago, I entered a contest at Enchanted Conversation that was held in celebration of a new book they had coming out filled to the brim with Krampus stories. Well, I’m excited to announce that Enchanted Conversation  now has a new book out chock full of brand new Krampus stories, just in time for the holidays. What’s Krampus, you ask? Some people are still unaware, despite last year’s poor grossing movie, that there is a Christmas character named Krampus, who is the polar opposite of Santa Claus. In fact, he deals directly with Santa’s naughty list. He is a very evil character who looks a bit demonic who is known for capturing and whipping all the bad children at Christmas time. So you better watch out! Don’t worry. It’s all in fun. Snag your copy of Krampus stories by following the link I included in my blog just above. And if you click on the above link for Enchanted Conversation, you can enter to win a free copy of the book. Bonus! Score!

In honor of the whole Christmas Krampus thing, I am posting the story I wrote for the 2014 contest, “Interviewing Krampus”. It wasn’t a winner, but remains one of my favorite humorous stories that I have written. Read on and be good.

Interviewing Krampus

Santa lifted his foot with the gouty toe up onto the chair next to him and groaned. He shifted his weight carefully so as to ease the pain. He fiddled with his spectacles and examined the resume. He cleared his throat.

“Of course you realize this job requires quite a lot of deliveries on one night.”

Krampus nodded. His horns clacked together when he bobbed his head. “Yes, yes. I’ve been doing the same routine myself for years. So many nasty children around.”

Santa frowned. “I have a list. There are actually quite a lot of children on the nice list.”

Krampus laughed. He lifted his wine glass to his nose and savored the aroma. Then he drank. “Yeah, I’ll bet those parents paid a pretty penny to get the names of their bratty kids transferred. Not that you’re at fault here, Red, but some of your elves…well, you know what I’m saying.”

Santa took a bite of his Seafood Alfredo. “My elves have always come with the highest of recommendations.”

“Of course they have. Mommies always give their kids high fives, don’t they? And Santa, confidentially, you’ve always been known as an old softie. I think a pair of fresh eyes on that list might be prudent.” Krampus took another gulp of wine and sighed. “This is darn good stuff. All mine comes in a box. Better yet a keg.”

Santa grimaced as he shifted his foot. “The doctor says if I could stay off the rich food, but oh well…What do you have in mind for these children?”

Krampus stroked his chin. “It’s true I beat their butts, but not that hard. No child has ever needed medical intervention. I use softwood, Santa, not hardwood. Sure, they cry out but kids are all about drama. Ask anybody.”

Santa’s toe throbbed. “It’s the stress of the Christmas season. I try to be fair but there are always complaints. We do have a toy shop, you know. The kids expect toys.”

“I’ll throw in some toys. But you don’t really believe kids are all nice, do you? No kid’s 100% nice. Not even 50% nice. If you want fair, give them all a beating, and a consolation prize. That’s what I say.” He took another swig of wine.

“That stuff about you stuffing kids in a sack, that’s not true, is it?” Santa winced.

“What would I want with a sack full of kids? Kids are loud, obnoxious and annoying. A bunch of kids all bawling for their moms? No sir, I got no need for a sack of rotten kids. Beat and run. That’s what I do. Beat and run.”

Santa cleared his throat. “But you’ll deliver the gifts, right? I want to be clear on that.”

Krampus raised a hand. “Waiter! More wine. Yeah, I’ll deliver the goods.”

“No drinking and driving, Krampus.”

“Really? And you’re telling me that red nose and rosy cheeks came from the cold, huh? And what about Rudolf? I’m sure he’s got a snoot full. Whatever! I’ll try to keep it under the legal limit. I’m pretty sure those reindeer drive themselves. Am I hired or what?”

“You’re hired. Now, where’s that dessert menu?”

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: 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: 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: 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

Writing Wins and Woes: Back to School with Writing; Writers in their right minds

Lefties are the only ones in their right minds is a saying that stems from the fact that left handed people use the right side of their brains more. My first experience knowing I was different was not a positive one. When I started school, I had a very old-school teacher. She decided that my being left-handed was wrong, and so made it her goal to break me of it. She wrote right and left on my hands so I would use the so-called “right” right hand to write with. My mom, on seeing this, to her credit, confronted my teacher who said “I don’t know how to teach a left-handed student.” Well, my mom let her know this was her job, and she better learn how to do it. I had no more trouble after that, although I often got only average grades in handwriting, where I mostly excelled at other subjects; except Math, but that’s another story for another nightmare.

I recently discovered that our current president, Barack Obama is a Lefty. That made me wonder how many other presidents were left-handed. It’s interesting because it’s hard to know. Like my experience in school, others have been “broken” of their handedness. Being left-handed was once named as a disability and people learned to write with their right hands who were naturally inclined to be left-handed. However, of the last seven presidents, 4 were left-handed. That’s well above the average. In case you’re wondering, they are our current president, Clinton, the elder Bush and Gerald Ford. It also has been reported that Reagan was broke from left-handedness to his right hand, so possibly five of seven were left handed. Wow!

Why is this? Well, lefties apparently are divergent thinkers. They excel in the arts, sports, music and information technology fields. They are good at things where opponents face each other. Maybe because we lefties tend to think outside the box, we go for “unique” careers.  Whatever the reason, there are a lot of talented lefties around. Of course, I had to find out the writers who were lefties. Here’s my list: James Baldwin, Peter Benchley, Lewis Carroll, Dianne Paul, H G Wells, Eudora Welty, among others. Also one of my favorite people of all time, who deserves a blog post of her own, Helen Keller,  was a lefty.

Are there any other lefties out there? I’d like to hear from you. We might be out in left field, but we’re always in our right minds. 1280

Writing Wins and Woes: Direction

I’m not very good with direction. I once visited the home of a bus kid from our church, and tried to leave the house via the closet. I’m known for veering off to wrong exits on highways because I followed the car ahead of me. I don’t know whether the place I’m going to is “up” or “down”. If there is a hill in the way of my going there, it’s always up, or a slope, it’s “down”. A map is useless to me. The best thing ever invented on the phone was GPS, and I can even get lost using that. Luckily, it re-routes itself.

I want to go a new direction on this blog. I love writing themes and starting in September which is next week, I want to explore a new writing theme of some kind. If I still have some readers out there, I’m open for suggestions. Themes in the past I have done were: Writing Recluses, Spring Cleaning the Writing Life and Mothers. I’ve also done some small holiday themes. Here’s some ideas I have for themes: Writing Fairy Tales, Juggling the Family with your Writing, What kind of author am I?, Back to School with Writing. Let me know if any of these themes catches your fancy. Otherwise, I’ll probably just pick one.

I’m very happy with my progress this week. I didn’t write a whole lot, but I wrote an article for a deadline at the end of the month, and submitted a fairy tale, also on a deadline. I was very pleased with the value of the work I did. In other words, I liked what I wrote. Sometimes I don’t like what I write as much.

It was my first week back on second shift but my husband was on vacation and we were trying to fit in some electrical work on the house, so it was hard to find time to get writing stuff in. So I’m glad I got anything done. Next week, I’m back to a schedule of trying to write every week day. Have a great writing week.13895200_10102107096314122_9099884758137303723_n