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What You Fear Most

Hello, friends!

How’s your summer so far? Monsoon is well underway in my area, as are daily flood and lightning warnings. A reporter interviewing a member of a family of self-proclaimed “lightning people”, in this case almost everyone in the family has been struck by lightning at least once, elicited a rather bold declaration from the member with regard to her latest strike:

What you fear most is what you attract.

Not such a powerful statement if your greatest fear is running out of chocolate chip cookies. You’d likely survive a snack attack. But can you really attract one? Sure, I could annoy a dog enough to earn myself an angry bite, but how could you attract a speaking engagement if you’re terrified of public speaking? If I found myself accompanied by a spider in a darkened elevator stuck between the highest floors of a skyscraper, could I have unwittingly appealed to the odds of fate? Or do things we can’t predict just happen sometimes? Like, lightning strikes… and falling stars.

Some of us are afraid of the unknown. As for me, I’m more curious than afraid. I think this quote sums it up fairly well: “We do not have a fear of the unknown. What we fear is giving up the known.” Indeed.

It is with that thought in mind that I offer the following music video as a tribute to our dear friend, “Mrs. Mildew”; mentor, confidant, and co-commiserate on subjects ranging from books to cat food.  Her recent passing has left a scar and a lasting memory.

Every writer fears rejection. Yet, therein lays the motivation to move on, muddle through.

There is freedom waiting for you

 on the breezes of the sky,

and you ask “What if I fall?”  

Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?

~ J. M. Barrie

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Tributes and Tributaries

Hello, friends!

Here we are in the heart of May when showers of spring on the run glisten like diamonds in the pre-summer sun as we chart our courses and cultivate plans; convinced that solutions aren’t out of our hands. That kind of thinking is fuel for the mind, strength for the soul, as well as the warmth of hope in the hearts of us all. Here are a few reasons why I think so:

As if being Queen of England wasn’t impressive enough, Queen Victoria (“Victorian” era) was also somewhat of a trend-setter as, when in mourning the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria wore a locket that contained a daguerreotype picture of the king along with a lock of his hair. Soon, everyone was wearing a Mourning or Memorial locket. Before long, an entire jewelry industry was created, including heart-shaped lockets called “Keepsakes”

Does anyone remember how important a locket was to a fictional FedEx engineer who was stranded on an uninhabited island for four years? Does anyone remember the name of the movie?

In keeping with a celebration of Inventors in May, I was delighted to discover that not only did Robert Fulton invent the first commercially successful steamboat in America, well before the “Clermont’s” maiden voyage down the Hudson River; Fulton had earned his first wages painting intricate portraits for lockets! But his passion was steamboats, and even a submarine or two. He’d become an icon in the industrial industry, responsible for the expedient transportation of passengers and wares along our nation’s tributaries, who worked up to the day he passed away from pneumonia in 1815. Upon news of Mr. Fulton’s death, businesses closed for a day and both houses of the New York State Legislature voted to wear black clothing for the next six weeks; the first time such a tribute had ever been paid to a private citizen.

Another private citizen had a vision (since childhood,) to one day alleviate the burden of having to scramble for change whenever the postmaster came around. Englishman Rowland Hill eventually became a school teacher and a social reformer who never forgot his vision of postal system reform. His proposal of a pre-paid postage system led to his invention and subsequent distribution in May of 1840 of the original postage stamp! It was called Penny Black and featured an elegant engraving of Queen Victoria (yes, the same one I mentioned earlier in this post) who celebrated her 21st birthday that May.

The 1984 Guinness Book of World Records listed two Arizona boys, Marc and Ben as having built the largest penny pyramid in recorded history. Comprised of 104,000 pennies, and standing 22 inches tall, the pyramid was something to be proud of. However, right below the listing in Guinness’s book are notifications that Guinness would accept no further challenges to the record as the U.S. Mint feared future competitions could cause a national penny shortage.

Don’t miss the total eclipse of the moon tonight, The Full Flower Moon occurs tomorrow (May 16th), though it already looks full enough for me 😉 Thanks for stopping by the stream!

Your thoughts? We’re listening!

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A Word For May

Hello, dear readers,

Wishing everyone a very happy month of May! It’s “Get Caught Reading Month” and I hope you do.

I’ve designated “Velocipede” as my favorite word of the month. It was the name given to most any bicycle built in the early 1800s. While there seems to be some debate over which came first, the French designed Velocipede or the British engineered Penny Farthing of the late 1800s, the Penny Farthing was arguably the safer of the two. However, brakes were unheard of at the time. Do you recall learning how to ride a bike? How many falls did you take before balance took over?

What’s your word for May?

Do you ever wish your phone would stop spell-checking every time you want to text like you speak? Those automatic word substitutions have me editing what I say before I even say it. Maybe that’s a good thing 😉

Until again, dear friends, happy hug your cat day, and don’t forget to call your mom on Mother’s Day.

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Poems in April

Hello, dear readers!

April is National Poetry Month

There’s a Poem-A-Day challenge going on at Writer’s Digest, if you’re interested.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

~ Robert Browning    poemhunter.com

And one of mine:

Cadence of My Heart

A trench coat in the shadows

of the Carolina rain

he waited on the tarmac

I trembled on the plane.

A long awaited summit

emotions sharp and deep

uniting kindred souls at last

commencing ‘dad and me’

I noted every nuance

his wisdom, scorn and wit

eyeing every corner for

a place that I might fit

To bask within his quiet calm

to memorize his stride

defy the odds and doubting minds

of those who would divide

Two souls that brooked the tests of time

together and apart

he remains my guiding light

the cadence of my heart.

Love you dad!

Do you have a poem to share?

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30 Minutes

Hello friends,

It’s not often the first 30 minutes of a day sets the pace for the rest of it. But that’s what happened to me the other morning. It began with me gazing at a view of a spectacular watercolor sunrise as the coffeepot hissed and sputtered. I’m well aware the machine is on its last legs and that every pot may be the last. I patted the lid encouragingly as a hummingbird hovered at a window with a western view where a full Wolf moon clung to the sky in defiance of daybreak. I’d drag my feet too if I were a moon. Instead, I stepped out to the patio for a better view of celestial comings and goings, where a slight breeze swayed palm fronds in rhythmic accord to cheerful birdsong. It’s still sweater-weather here, mid-sixties or so, but the temperature was perfect that morning. When coffee was ready at last, I lingered at the window with my first cup and marveled at how nature had effortlessly made me feel I’d already had caffeine.

To my astonishment, during the course of this exceptional half hour, the wind had picked up considerably. Dark clouds cloaked the western sky (Goodnight, moon), and the temperature had dropped eleven degrees! Moments later, raindrops dotted the garden bridge planks.

But wait, there’s more.

While checking the newspaper for the day’s weather forecast, I ran across a remarkable double-obit where an elderly widower had given a hilarious and most heartwarming eulogy for his wife at her funeral before passing away himself, 30 minutes later.

There are times when I know we humans are irrefutably not the masters of this universe. I think that’s a good thing.

Believe it or not, the aforementioned coffee story was not a segue into National Caffeine Awareness Month, though it very well could be;-) In addition to March into Literacy Month, March marks the celebration of Women’s History, Irish-American Heritage, Frozen food, Peanuts, Ladders, Umbrellas, Optimism, and Supply Management.

And I haven’t even mentioned St. Patrick’s Day! You just can’t trust those Leprechauns. Case in point: Use your wishes wisely. As the story goes, Seamus of County Mayo wished to be the richest man on a tropical island. Once granted, Seamus realized there was no place to spend any money – and no people on the island to converse with! He had to use his third wish to get back to Ireland. Some say this is where the phrase ‘Luck of the Irish” originated. 😉

A bit of Irish humor:

Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died.

He quickly phoned his best friend, Finney. “Did you see the paper?” asked Gallagher, “They say I died!!”

“Yes, I saw it!” replied Finney, “Where are ye callin’ from?”

And, here’s a thought:

“Where do thoughts go when they’re forgotten?” ~ Sigmund Freud

Your thoughts? We’re listening!

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Seasonal Soul

 Seasonal Soul
Sculptured by the gentle streams, flowing ever on
Through temperamental winds that scream
where rivers used to run
Sun has kissed the lines that crease 
the smoothness of my skin
though secrets, sweet, are thus released
there’s so much more within
Believe in me, my eyes beseech
Enduring strength and mettle
Nestled in a summer stream
I am but a pebble.

 Seasonal Soul

Sculptured by the gentle streams, flowing ever on

Through temperamental winds that scream

where rivers used to run

Sun has kissed the lines that crease

the smoothness of my skin

though secrets, sweet, are thus released

there’s so much more within

Believe in me, my eyes beseech

Enduring strength and mettle

Nestled in a summer stream

I am but a pebble.

diedre Knight

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Jellybean Kisses

In the Presence of Children

The wind is a feather that tickles your face

and brings the smell of flower fumes

clear from the neighbor’s house.

He knows this because he’s the ninja

with the most eggs in his basket.

The little hunter will keep looking till bedtime,

because that’s what hunters do.

The magician has cast a spell to hurry up

and find all the eggs,

because he needs to eat chocolate – now.

While the miniature carrot-top is elbow-deep

in the ice bucket; eating ‘ice-tubes’, 

because her favorite color is red.

Random observations delivered with whimsical flair,

and fairy laughter as they lean in to plant

jelly bean kisses on the keeper of half-eaten Peeps.

Their company is a pleasurable retreat; I’m consumed

by a palpable sense of sweet and utter peace.

Because children at their magical best

hold our heartstrings in their hands.

~ Sonrisa Lockhart

For anyone who ever had a moment they could not let just slip by and recorded it in song or prose or watercolored strokes on canvas – we applaud you! Share a moment or a thought, if you like. We’re listening!

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That’s a Wrap

Hello, readers!

In honor of All the News that’s fit to Print Day, here’s a bit of old news:

It’s International Women Inventors Month! And on February 10, 1943, Vesta Stoudt, while working at an ordinance plant during WWII, came up with an idea of improving the way ammunition boxes were sealed to provide quicker access for use by soldiers. When plant bosses were less than impressed, she wrote to President Roosevelt and described how well she thought duck cloth would seal the seams. Contrary to the plant bosses, the president was impressed and sent the duck tape idea to the War Production Board for immediate implementation. The idea not only worked well on ammo boxes, but it also proved helpful in fixing leaks, repairing equipment, and even closing wounds on the battlefield. Ms. Stoudt received a War Worker Award from the Chicago Tribune for her idea, which wasn’t called Duct Tape until years later when it was used to repair duct work successfully.

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine an application for which Duct tape wouldn’t work. For instance, you can repair a tear in your camping tent or fix a cracked and leaky garden hose. It takes the place of tweezers for splinter and tick removal and can keep you from scratching an itchy insect bite. Duct tape works as well as an ordinary lint and pet hair roller and can even keep your floors safe from scuffing during furniture rearrangement.

It’s one thing to become a living legend, but to have missed the historic moment (February 10, 1972), when minor rocker David Bowie virtually (temporarily) morphed away as Ziggy Stardust made his Earthly Debut is to forever wish you could have been among a group of about 60 young Londoners fortunate enough to witness it. One audience member quipped, “Bowie brought theater to a humble pub gig…I couldn’t blink for fear of missing something – nothing would ever be the same,”

“The Artist always has the masters in his eyes” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy February!

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Shivers and Short Stories

Happy 2022, dear Readers!

Farmer’s Almanac (.com) suggests we bundle up for a “Season of Shivers” across much of the United States during what “may well be the longest and coldest winter we’ve seen in years,” Global warming is so last year 😉 Having spent the entire week after Christmas feeling snowbound, I couldn’t wait to get back home to sweater-weather in southern Arizona. While the temperature (43) was higher here than it had ever managed to get up north, it was still a shock to find the miles had not outrun the winter chill.

Fellow writers, take a gander: It’s Book Blitz Month! Have you ever wondered, as I have, what to do with all those short stories; written and left to forever litter the decks of a Ghostship adrift on a sea of unrealized dreams? Shannon Lawrence has just released a lifeboat of a book filled with treasurable advice and priceless information!

Shannon Lawrence

Whether you’re looking to add short stories to your repertoire as a solo pursuit or in addition to novel writing, The Business of Short Stories covers every aspect from writing to marketing. Learn the dynamics of short story writing, where to focus your editing efforts, how and where to submit, how to handle acceptances and rejections, what to do with reprints, and how to market yourself and your stories online and in person. The information in The Business of Short Stories has been distilled from over a decade of short story publishing experience so you don’t have to learn the hard way. You’ll find information on submission formatting, cover letters, querying a collection, sending proposals to writing events, how to create a website, SEO, social media, and so much more. This is an invaluable resource for short story writers.


There’s never been a better time to get into short stories!

Pre-order your copy now!

Author Bio: Shannon Lawrence has made a career of short stories, with over a decade of experience and more than fifty short stories published in magazines and anthologies. In addition, she’s released three horror short story collections with a mix of new and previously published stories. Her true-crime podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is going into its third season. 

Her website and social media:

Website: www.thewarriormuse.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewarriormuse

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewarriormuse

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thewarriormuse/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/shannon-lawrence

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/shannondkl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Lawrence/e/B00TDKPOAO

Podcast Website: www.mysteriesmonstersmayhem.com

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Gratitude is Long Remembered

Hello everyone!

I love this time of year, don’t you? As we count our blessings this holiday season, may we also make our blessings count.

I was delighted to see Christmas decorations adorning a drive-thru window the other day. But, I was also curious, why so early? We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. I said as much to the sweet lady who handed me a bag of tacos, my personal precursor to a week-long turkey binge.  She shrugged in response, gesturing with her eyes at any one of the busy workers behind her. Someone there wasn’t feeling very thankful.

This time of year, what’s not to be thankful about?

The weather here is unusually warm but not unbearable. It’s International Novel and Memoir Writing month. Authors Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain were born in November.

Children’s author (and winner of two Newberry Awards), Elizabeth George Speare, was born November 21, 1908. All four historical fiction novels (for children) were highly successful, most notably her impeccably written manuscript for “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” which reportedly required only one change before being sent to print.

Numerous noteworthy events occurred in Novembers past.

November 21, 1934, Ella Fitzgerald secured her future as a legendary Jazz singer by bringing down the house on Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem.

Did you know that as President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, he was in the middle of a minor bout of Smallpox? And, although the president spoke for only three minutes, his rhythmic delivery of compelling remarks was interrupted five times by applause.

And who can forget such an occasion as the three-day harvest feast shared between early American settlers and Native Americans, an event that to this day serves as a reminder that it’s not so much why we “break bread” together. It’s that we do.

In November of 1935, the first edition of the board game Monopoly went on sale.

But giving thanks – or being grateful – isn’t all about history. Why, just this month American Girl Dolls, the board game Risk, and good old-fashioned sand were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The culmination, earlier this month, of a journey perhaps not found on bucket lists (though epic just the same), revealed a blue trash barrel belonging to the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, washed up 3500 miles away; on a beach on the west coast of Ireland!

A little levity is always in order during hectic times, right? Reader’s Digest shares some comical Thanksgiving calamity stories. For instance, a woman rushed into a store on her way home from work, hoping to pick up a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. Not finding what she needed, she confronted the store manager, “Are you out of your gourds?!” to which he replied, “Why? What did we do now?”

How about you, dear reader? What smells the best at Thanksgiving dinner? (besides your nose) Do you have a favorite side dish? A special movie you watch every year?

Until again, stay safe, be happy, and write well!