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 Because this is how I came to write my children’s book, as yet unpublished.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.

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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