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!

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

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!

The Scent of Morning

Hi!

Glad you found our new site!  Moving can be pretty emotional. Full of surprises when you forget to label the boxes. Perplexing when someone else was distracted while describing the contents and “Warning…” was all they wrote. We’ll open that box last, I think.

In the meantime, pull up a box, have a seat, and enjoy Streampebbles as it’s always been; a place to read, write, create and share!

In the delicate breeze, a hummer sways on a bud-dappled branch to the soothing sound of gently tapping bamboo tubes, and beneath a marbled sky of pink and powder blue the scent of morning infuses the air with promise. For the moment, one glorious moment, I am supremely content.

Because my shirt is a color of red he can’t resist; a hummer soon alights on my shoulder and ponders the words on my page, then perches hesitantly atop the pen as if, he too, has something to say. Doesn’t everything in nature? I embrace the occasions to listen, no matter how fleeting.

For all too soon, as I drained my first cup of coffee the wail of a distant siren threatened to shatter the enchanted moment, yet the hummer remained. Then came the muted buzz of an electric saw (we are all early-risers around here), and regrettably, yet most unavoidably, I sneezed, and the hummer took flight with the moment in tow. Aw, well. At least I was left with a line of a song in my heart “The feeling remains even after the glitter fades…” ~ Stevie Nicks.  Yes, the feeling remains!

Don’t you love a day that starts with a smile? I feel as if I can conquer anything and so much more. What’s your idea of a great start?

“We all need reminders to be our own dreamer and step out of the stories we create. I never turn away an opportunity to see life from this different perspective, to spend a moment walking with wings.”

Until again, write on, write well, and read a lot!

Nature Always Knows

Photo by Ugur Tandogan on Pexels.com

If by chance we miss the changing colors, a chill in the morning air, it’s nice to know that nature has an abundance of seasonal displays to remind us just how synchronized the environment is with life, both wild and civilized.

For example, the annual late October (St. John’s Day) departure of Cliff Swallows from their California mud nests to that of another home some 6,000 miles away in Argentina. For centuries, the subsequent springtime (mid-March) reappearance known as the “Return of the Capistrano Swallows” was celebrated at the picturesque ruins of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. Speculation abounds as to why the last couple of decades have shown a migratory return trajectory as markedly dispersed and veering more and more to the less populated highlands of the San Bernardino Mountains and similar undeveloped areas.  Accordingly, annual Swallows Day celebrations these days tend to denote the autumn departure rather than the springtime return. We may not always know where, but the swallows always do return – and right on time.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Hummingbirds are my favorite. I have a few at the feeder year-round, though many are migratory. The Anna’s hummingbirds, for instance, don’t go very far, but along with the white-tailed deer, cruise up to our sky islands for the summer. About the time the gorgeous butterflies tire of decorating my yard the white-tails will be back to compete with the javelina who never seem to stray too far from the nearest trash bin. Funny thing about javelinas: they haven’t always been here in Arizona.  Likewise, Texas and New Mexico are relatively new habitats for the collard peccary who really only smell like pigs. They’re thought to have originated in Argentina. Like the Cliff swallows. That’s a long way to travel without wings, don’t you think?

Keeping the feeders filled with nectar is a challenge this time of year. The black-chinned hummers need to fatten up for their southern journey, and wouldn’t you know the lesser long-nosed nectar bats are migrating as well? They like nectar too, but they are messy. White-winged doves won’t be far behind the nectar bats. It’s easier to forgive the dove their messiness because they are so beautiful. I admire the destinations they choose in the shadows of streamside groves to while away the winter months.

We may not fully understand how wildlife navigates the seasons so well, but we can rest assured they do. We humans, on the other hand, look for ways to circumvent the inevitable. For example, adjusting our clocks (though not in most of Arizona) to coincide with seasonal variations of sunlight. I typically awaken around the same time every day, though nowadays it’s not yet light outside. While the rest of the country observes the Daylight Savings or ‘Falling back’ routine (November 7th), I’ll be falling back to sleep. It’s one of the perks of retirement 😉

It’s also that time of year where you dig around in the pantry searching for the bag of brown sugar you know was nearly full last time you used it, only to find it has hardened into an unusable brick of confection. According to Martha Stewart, and as relayed by Mental Floss, all is not lost. You don’t have to throw it out and hope to find a new bag at the store (good luck with that these days). You simply put the brick in a microwave-safe bowl with a damp paper towel over it and cook at 20-second intervals, checking the consistency each time, until the hardened block of sweetness has turned back into a sandy softness you can spoon easily into any recipe.

“Falling leaves hide the path so quietly” ~ John Bailey

Happy autumn, everyone!