Monday Motiviation – Ready, aim, write

Today’s inspiration is short, pointed and graphic.

The Writer’s Glock created by Kandi Rich and shared with her permission. For more great graphics check out her website at Kandi Rich

Now go WRITE

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Miller Farm Friday – I love my chickens

This week’s email from the farm…

I love my chickens and my chickens love me – especially when I feed them.

I was checking for eggs in the nest boxes this morning when one of the black hens started moving hay from one next box to the other. I guess she is the designated interior decorator.

Meanwhile, Essie (short for Survivor Girl from the Christmas Eve massacre at Barneyville) follows me around the whole time I am in the chicken yard.

In fact, I have accidentally stepped on her before. That hasn’t stopped her. Anyway, she hopped up on the door to the nest boxes and watched the redecorating process.

She is the only chicken we have who will let you pet her. I guess I now understand how people can have pet chickens. But, she’s not coming inside. Already tried that with Einstein and look where it got him.

I know that is shocking to you, but this made me think of a song.

I have a chicken my chicken loves me
I feed my chicken on tender leaf tea
My little chicken goes bak bak bak
My little rooster goes cockle doodle doodle
doodle doodle doodle do.

Anyone else remember that one?

I did remember the song, but had no idea who wrote it or when. After a quick Google search, I discover Arkansas folk singer named Almeda Riddle (1898-1986) was the first to publicly sing “My Little Rooster.”

Also known as Granny Riddle, her acapella recording of the song appears on the 1997 cult film “Gummo.” If you’d like a listen click below:

If you’ve got a preschooler or kindergartener, gather them up to the computer screen and have a watch of this more pleasant sounding variation. They’ll love it.

Chicken Wrangler Sara isn’t singing, though it could be her. She is a professional musician and music teacher. It’s exactly the sort of thing she’d do.

Well, on second thought, maybe not. She’d probably bring Essie so the kiddos could pet a real chicken and sing!

YOUR TURN: I’m sure we have you humming the “I love My Rooster” tune by now. If you don’t have a rooster or a chicken or a pig or a cow or a …, what would you substitute for rooster in the song?

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My Alexander Day and Small Town Love

I’m having an Alexander day. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day where nothing goes right.

I’m sure you’ve had those days too, but you may not be familiar with the term Alexander day.

If not, you HAVE to read, Judith Voirst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s a delightful children’s book that will warm your adult heart. Click on the cover to read more.

Like Alexander, I must decide what to do with this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I could grump and get nowhere with my editing or…

since I believe action can alter attitude,

I’m choosing to blog about a recent experience in a wonderful little Panhandle city called Clarendon.

For the non-Texan blog readers that would be the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The part that looks like the handle of a pan.

Panhandle counties

On our travels between Houston and Colorado, we’ve gone through Clarendon on US 287 many, many times. Not a big city. Population is under two thousand. It’s home to Clarendon College (established 1898), the oldest center of higher education in the Texas Panhandle.

On our most recent trip through, I was having another Alexander day. This time  because I had strep throat. The penicillin hadn’t fully kicked in so I was feeling pretty rotten.

We arrived in Clarendon late – 7:30 p.m. – and hungry. For all you city dwellers who think that isn’t late, small towns tend to roll up the sidewalks early.

We saw a sign for the Clarendon Steakhouse and pulled in praying it would be open. I was hoping the buffet had some soup that would soothe my very raw throat.

The building is a former grocery store converted to a restaurant with funny cowboys on the windows and friendly people inside. Very friendly and very kind people.

When we went inside, the place was about empty and the buffet was bare. My hopes sank. They were closed.

A waitress, in an apron that Vera Bradley would give her eye tooth to claim, greeted us. Turns out the waitress’ grandmother made her apron. I asked.

I explained how we were passing though, tired of driving, hungry and really wanted some soup. Okay, I admit I shared more detail than necessary, but I am a storyteller.

She walked us to a back table to check with the owner whose name was Mary. I think. Remember I was not having a good day and that affected my memory.

Mary pointed to her husband’s soup bowl filled with the most delicious looking chicken soup I’d ever seen. I know I looked a bit peaked and I must have drooled because Mary said she had enough for a couple of bowls.

She directed us to the “non-smoking” section. A booth at the store window under a ceiling fan. (to disperse cigarette smoke)

Sitting in the next booth was Fred Gray, local columnist for The Clarendon Enterprise. We shared writing stories. He even went next door to the newspaper office for old editions so we could read his “The Quick, the Dead and Fred” column. Check out some of his columns in the newspaper’s online edition you’ll enjoy them.

Naturally, I shared my business card with my website and told him all about my writing. And, I’d love for you to check out my Judythe Morgan books page. 🙂

Sarah, a lovely young Clarendon High School student, served as our waitress. She was excited and bubbly about her coming class trip to Washington, D.C.  Needless to say, we gave her a generous tip to go toward her expenses.

Suddenly our tiring, drive of 540 miles with another 145 more to go before we stopped had become a pleasant vist with friendly people and delicious down home chicken soup.

And Mary wouldn’t let us pay for our dinner! Isn’t small town America wonderful?

Sharing has helped refuel my creative juices and improved my terrible, horrible, really bad day dramatically. I’m back to editing.

YOUR TURN: What about you? How do you combat a really bad, terrible, horrible day?

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Miller Farm Friday – Wax Bees and Bananas

For an urban city farm, the Miller Farm produces a wide variety of products. I love the eggs. And, the honey Beekeeper Brian extracts is equally tasty.

Chicken Wrangler email today is about the bees on the farm.

Today has been a bit busier than a normal. I added blood donation to my already full errand list.

 When I returned to the Farm, I discovered an interesting object on my kitchen counter. 

It is a two liter bottle (which I had saved at Beekeeper Brian’s request) which is about a quarter full of clear liquid with what appears to be a banana peel in it.

 This last part was confirmed by the discovery of both ends of the banana peel in the sink. Now being married to Brian for 25 years, I know this is something he has done.

I suspect it has something to do with the bees. Just in case you need a little humor to lighten your day,  any other guesses?

I’ll let you know what this contraption is when I find out.

Then the next morning this Chicken Wrangler email arrived.

A moth trap! 

 Apparently there is a type of moth that takes up residence in bee hives and greatly hinders honey production. They are extremely attracted to the clear liquid in the two liter bottle which is actually a mixture of sugar, water and honey.

If you look closely, you can see the moth mite on the bee’s neck.

The banana peel puts off some gas thing as it ferments that is extremely unattractive to the bees so they are not tempted to join the moths in their final swim.

The banana must ferment for two days so tomorrow the  bottle will go out back near the bee hives. I’ll report back on the success of the “two liter bottle/banana peel moth trap.”

 

A hive destroyed by wax moths. Note the larva in the honeycombs.
Learn more about the wax moth and bees: http://eberthoney.com/honeybeeblog/blog4.php/main/?paged=12

Now I am sure we will all sleep better having solved this mystery. 

~~Sara – who never ceases to be amazed at the wonders her husband discovers

I, too, am amazed at the things Beekeeper Brian can do. Some blog we’ll talk about his fly-fishing skills or his woodcrafting bowls or his dulcimer building skills. A multi-tasking beekeeper-farmer that Brian.

YOUR TURN: Ever found something unfamiliar on your kitchen counter?

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I Missed National Punctuation Day. Did you?

Last Monday, September 24th was National Punctuation Day. Thanks Steve Laube and Janice Heck for sharing on your blogs and putting me in the know about this yearly celebration.

I’m a week late this year, but next year I’ll be on time to celebrate the day Jeff Rubin established as the “celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semi-colons, and the ever mysterious ellipsis” in 2004.

Steve Laube posted this five minute repartee between Dean Martin and Victor Borge skit with Phonetic Punctuation. It’s hilarious any day of the year.

On a more serious note, if you have as much trouble with punctuation and grammar as I do, I recommend:

Nitty-Gritty Grammar
A humorous guide to correct grammar.

Or for the serious student: The Elements of Style

Click on either to read more and/or add to your writer resource shelf. I’m guessing many have the Strunk and White. It’s been around as long as Dean Martin and Victor Borge.

I think certain T-shirt manufacturers might want to buy one of these punctuation guides for their advertising staff.

Check out this Old Navy T-shirt ad with the phrase “Let’s Go” wrongly imprinted “Lets Go,” missing the appropriate apostrophe.

YOUR TURN
What’s the worst grammatical/punctuation error you’ve made or seen?

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Miller Farm Friday

My latest email from the Miller Farm

PLACES I NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE…

 In a feed store parking lot next to trailers full of cows waiting for my chicken feed

Standing two feet from thousands of bees while filling a waterer

And the latest addition:

Laying under a car in my driveway wearing a Vera Bradley floral apron while holding some piece of the car up while Beekeeper Brian puts in bolts.

I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, which is good since nobody else would want it 😉

With talent like this, I’m not sure any one would be able to trade places with Chicken Wrangler Sara.

The following reply arrived from my other daughter (who takes her children to Miller Farm on field trips) minutes later …

One question:  why were the cows waiting for your chicken feed????? LOL

I know three kids (OK, 2 1/2) who would take your life any day of the week…we had a blast!  

Stick my hand inside to get the egg!?

A short exchange this week, but one that raises a great, thought-provoking question: Would I trade my life?

My answer: Not for all the tea in China.

YOUR TURN: How would you answer?

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Debunking Must Dos for aspiring writers

When I started writing for publication, I repeatedly heard three “absolute must dos.”

Years later and many published works, I have my own opinion about those MUSTs.

#1 Write what you know.
First, imo, writing what you know is easy lazy writing. I’ve done it, you’ve done. Who hasn’t?

BUT, we live in the technology age. These days you can research anything without leaving home.

Or looking at it another way, we write fiction. We can make it up!

It’s been my experience, as long as my reader can suspend their disbelief and buy into my story I don’t have to be an expert about what I’m writing.

I will qualify my opinion by saying that IF you write about what you know and what interests you, your story is more likely to come alive for your reader. Good Sound research can produce an engaging story too.

So, don’t limit yourself to what you know. Explore. Be adventurous. Be creative. Research.

#2 Don’t write to market.
Indie publishing has blown this MUST out of the water.

On the other hand, if you write to the traditional publishing market, you might want to AVOID market trends.

By the time a manuscript is ready for what is currently trending, that trend may have died. Big Six publishers take too long from contract to reality in a bookstore. Do you really want to spend weeks, months, even years writing a book that won’t sell?

BUT if you’re considering indie publishing or e-publishing, I suggest you keep your eye on the marketplace. Publishers’ Marketplace offers deal news which is an indicator of what’s coming out.

Subscribe to the free lunch edition of Publishers’ Market place or spring for a paid subscription to the Marketplace. Check regularly to see what’s trending.

Then if you need a story idea, you’ll have plenty of ideas. You might find one that appeals to you and will likely be most saleable.

#3 Write the best book you can.
This one is absolutely, positively TRUE.

What sells a book or an article or a paper is CONTENT.

Agents and editors reject mediocre or unsellable submissions. Reviewers and readers will post bad reviews. So write the best, most creative, most marketable manuscript or article you can. ALWAYS!

I wish I could promise that you follow these MUSTs you’ll find success. I can’t.

There are two other elements.

Only one of my early advisors – New York Times bestseller JoAnn Ross — was honest enough to share this illusive element of writing success.

Good Luck Graphic #43

Thank you, JoAnn

The other key element and critical MUST is

So I end by wishing you luck because every author – aspiring or established – needs a boatload of LUCK and this perserverance quote from my website writers’ resource page:

You do not know what the next effort will bring because the future is not based on the past. That feeling of wanting to give up is based solely on the past, which really doesn’t matter anymore. What matters now is where you’re headed, not where you’ve been. And when you view it from that perspective, giving up is simply not an option.” ~~~R. Marston

YOUR TURN:
What’s on your list of MUSTs for aspiring writers?

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