Micropoetry Monday: Dream in Chocolate When You’re Feeling Blue

Dream in Chocolate

Bryan Dark & Sara White
had always been at odds—
Mr. Dark claiming antioxidant powers &
that Miss White wasn’t real chocolate.
When they came together—
she, as a coating
& he, a filling,
they realized that although they were different,
they were also equal.

He called them chocolate balls,
she called them truffles.
He said she was too fancy,
she said he was too plain,
but when their child called them bonbons,
they realized that no matter what you called them,
by any other name,
they tasted the same
(but always just a little better dark).

He was all kinds of eye candy—
this hunk of white chocolate with
a soft center that melted her heart.
She never got to unwrap this temptation
in the shiny peppermint paper,
so she satisfied her cravings
by noshing on the darkest nougat—
an activity that packed on the calories
rather than burned them.

Summer mini-writing workshop: On reading

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Read at least one book about writing monthly—in addition to all the other reading you do—and take notes. If there are writing prompts, do them, and never stop brushing up on the basics with the help of online tutorials. https://pensacolastate.instructure.com/courses/1325752/modules

When I was a child, as soon as I mastered a jigsaw puzzle, I lost interest in it. As soon as I beat a game, I lost interest in it. Good books, however, I could read again and again.

I’d rather read a silly poem that made sense than a serious one that didn’t.

You can turn an ongoing activity into a journey. For me, it was a mini bucket list, that bucket being filled with books. https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019/

Reading about how to write a type of book isn’t the same as reading those types of books; I start with the instructions and then read the examples.

As much as I love series, I find that my brain stagnates when I read the same type of book (especially by the same author) for too long. Rereading books I cherished as a child has been a delight.

I’ve often found that a good book makes me feel like I’ve come home to a place I’ve never been to. Plot-driven stories tend to get read once and passed on, but character-based novels have a permanent home in my library because it was never all about a twist ending (an overused plot device). Books, like life, are about the journey, not just the destination. Here are a few books that have rereadability. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/04/06/categorically-some-of-the-best-books-ive-read-thus-far/

The Royal Order of Adjectives

When the Royal Order of Adjectives issued its decree,
the caste system was cast:
the Determiner came first,
for pronouns were all the rage;
then Quantity,
for one needed to see how many of these nouns he/she/they/xe/xem were dealing with:
how many persons and/or things were in how many places
(or how many things were in how many persons & vice versa);
Opinion squeezed in third,
for it just had to be heard (but not quite over the numbers);
Size mattered but not as much as one’s opinion of it;
Age was just a number in May–December romances,
in which size trumped mileage;
Shape defined one’s lines & curves (& if those lines were super acute or downright obtuse);
Color filled in what was in these curves (like coloring books done right);
Origin/material was the stuff of what all those lines & colors were made of
(for all are more than the shape of their body or the color of their skin);
but the Qualifier,
closest to the noun it was describing,
gave the noun its true identity,
showing that the last shall be first & the first shall be last,
for as important as pronouns were,
they weren’t fully qualified to describe a noun.

On a separate Post-It, the sentence, “Our single sassy 25-years-young hourglass-shaped whitish fleshy female human was making time with the married 50-year-old quarterback-built tannish fleshier male human,” did not tell but certainly showed why it was best to limit oneself to three adjectives for describing one noun.

For more information on the Royal Order of Adjectives: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/adjective-order/#:~:text=In%20English%2C%20the%20proper%20order,the%20Royal%20Order%20of%20Adjectives.

Micropoetry Monday: Legacy

1968 (4)

She didn’t live the Greek life,
but she lived her life.
She didn’t have a big fat Greek wedding
but a little skinny WASPy wedding.
She called gyros
Guy Rose
& thought Greeks were Grecians
who had invented the urn.
When her mom found her long-lost husband
in Athens, Georgia,
she began to study her long-lost father’s
mythology & methodology
but soon went back to saying, “Mama, mia”
& putting too much parmesan cheese
on her spaghetti,
for the half that was Italian
included her whole tongue—
in speech & taste.

She had triumphed in 2 battles—
the enemy having left behind a battle scar
that she wistfully referred to as her breastplate;
the first battle had taken her left breast,
the second,
her right,
& it was only after she had beat the cancer
that she saw the road warrior in front of her,
blazing a burning rubber warpath at 95 miles an hour,
ultimately losing the war that everyone was fighting in
without even knowing they were a soldier.

As the fortysomething
took a stroll on Redemption Road,
she wondered about her purpose,
for in the child,
there was innocence,
& in the aged,
there was wisdom.
She told the angel beside her,
who neither guarded her nor waited for her,
“I am not so innocent,
nor am I so wise,”
& the angel answered,
“Yet you take care of them both—
protecting the Innocents
while preserving the dignity of the Wise.”

Summer mini-writing workshop: On blogging and social media

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One thing I did over winter break was deleting all the stock photography on my blog, replacing it with my photography, graphic designs, or, for my Writer’s Digest poems, screenshots of the Writer’s Digest logo (but only as a temporary placeholder). I’m also removing all the hashtags from my blog posts (as the posts already include tags), resulting in a cleaner, more professional look. For the posts I updated (before I imported them to Medium Daily Digest), I made sure to include “updated on MM/DD/YYYY” at the bottom, as certain information might have been amended or added that was unknown at the time the original post was published.

Since I started publishing on Medium Daily Digest, I have been getting more hits on my blog. It isn’t just a great medium (pun purely intended) for publishing your work, but there are many interesting articles available (for a monthly fiver), with the chance to make money on what you post. https://medium.com/@sarahhannanrichards

If you want the time to write, you must prioritize your time. For example, on my blog, I only respond in kind to the bloggers who comment on my blog, rather than those who simply like a post.

Sometimes, a scholarship essay makes a perfect blog (or LinkedIn) post.  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-juggle-college-career-family-successfully-sarah-richards/?published=t.

Have several channels through which you share your writing, be it your blog (anything goes here), Facebook page (I share writing tips and links to articles I like, including my own), Goodreads (for book reviews), LinkedIn (for business-type articles and inspirational quotes), and Instagram (screenshot poetry), but don’t have more social media accounts than you need or can keep up with.

Not being a photographer or illustrator, I have to get creative with my images. Never publish a blog post without an image for the same reason people won’t pick up a book without a cover, but ensure the image is relevant to your post. I once read a great tribute to someone’s grandmother with a stock photo of an elderly lady, which cheapened the piece.

Even if you’re not an artist, try your hand at simple art: https://sarahleastories.com/2020/02/18/16-easy-ways-for-improving-your-college-essay-before-bringing-it-to-the-writing-lab/

Take screenshots of your Shutterfly books: (https://sarahleastories.com/2019/12/15/a-life-in-picture-books-shutterfly-tips-for-beginners/

Turn trash to treasure: https://sarahleastories.com/2018/12/24/sweet-little-nothings-now-comes-the-lent/ 

I’ve also created humorous epitaphs, funny church signs, and fake newspaper headlines (there are apps for all that) as well as (relevant) quotes with a natural or obscure background (https://sarahleastories.com/2017/05/01/micropoetry-monday-modern-proverbs-2/). The great thing about the quotes is that I can post them to LinkedIn, so I get two for the work of one.

Micropoetry Monday: Children of the 80s and 90s

Payphone

She mourned that Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey,
Jessi, & Mallory
had been pulled into the future via the graphic novel—
a glorified comic book—
for their childhoods didn’t belong in this Post-Millennial world
any more than her adulthood would have belonged in the years
before 24/7 cable news.

He was a gust of hot air,
she, a breath of fresh.
He inspired people to exhale,
she, to inhale.
When they expired,
they knew they had lived
a purpose-driven life,
for they had energized a generation
of stressed-out people
with their deep-breathing exercises.

She missed the days of quiet libraries
rather than “media centers,”
focusing more on STEM
than the humanities
that humanized people,
of getting Christmas cards in the mail
with a 10-dollar bill in them,
and browsing video rental stores
like libraries.
She was born in the perfect time:
no social media or cell phones.
As an adult old enough to handle
an instant audience,
she found her voice in the blogosphere.

Summer mini-writing workshop: On nonfiction writing

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Providing examples of pitches or query letters can help your reader; if they find your information useful, they’ll be coming back for more, maybe even sharing your ideas. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/07/22/100-word-pitch-to-harlequins-so-you-think-you-can-write-contest/ 

I have found, in reading my old posts, how much my mind was changed because life changed it for me. That’s what makes more personal posts like a time capsule—a polished journey entry or historical document—depicting not just my life but how I saw my life and where I saw myself. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/05/19/ill-take-two-of-everything/

We all have our personal histories (or herstories). The story has already been lived; it is simply up to the writer to write it well. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/24/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-historic/

I love to write about the writing process or the story behind the story; sometimes, these overlap. https://sarahleastories.com/2019/12/15/a-life-in-picture-books-shutterfly-tips-for-beginners/

The personal essay is the art of self-reflection. (It is not a sermon.) I learn more about myself by writing this way; by asking the questions, I am not seeking the answers, but rather, the answer comes to me. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/02/06/relaxing-at-the-park-on-a-thursday-afternoon/

We all have our reasons for writing. What does writing mean to you? What does it do for you? How has it improved your life? https://sarahleastories.com/2014/08/20/why-i-write-among-other-things/

It isn’t just the big moments, but the little moments that make up the big moments. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/02/06/relaxing-at-the-park-on-a-thursday-afternoon/

What helps you with your writing might help someone else with theirs. Share your writing habits and start new ones. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/01/01/10-new-years-resolutions-for-writers/

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary is part of being a writer. The more you write, the more aware you become of the subtleties—those specificities that illuminate your narrative. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/09/12/a-long-good-bye-to-the-slowly-waning-summer/

Keep a list of life lessons; in every one of them, there is a story. https://sarahleastories.com/201612/29/15-life-lessons-learned-from-classic-movies/

Being relatable is what endears you to your readers. After all, who cannot relate to working in customer service? 

https://sarahleastories.com/2014/07/17/customers-say-or-ask-or-do/

There are just-so stories and things that are just not so. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/09/29/10-myths/

We all have personal geographies—places we’ve been that helped shape us or at least changed our perspective. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/03/02/nonet-poems-my-geography/

When you write from memory and personal experience, research isn’t required. You get to know yourself better through writing about what, or who, you know best. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/21/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-21-theme-what-you-are-or-what-you-are-not/

Will your story be one of redemption or contamination? I try to live the story I want to tell or the story I want someone to tell about me. https://ideas.ted.com/the-two-kinds-of-stories-we-tell-about-ourselves/

We all have our words of wisdom (or foolishness), which make great list poems. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/04/02/poem-a-day-2016-writers-digest-challenge-1-theme-foolish/

Query letters (not to be confused with cover letters) are an art form. Think of them as appetizers that will make your readers want you to read the main course (i.e., the book). Query letters should be informative and entertaining. They should leave the reader wanting more. 

https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/07/query-letter-for-because-of-mindy-wiley/

Micropoetry Monday: Children of the 80s & 90s

Payphone

When Generation X
met Generation Y,
2019 went out with a bang;
9 ½ months later,
Generation Z was born,
& Gens X & Y,
who had heretofore
watched the ball drop
at midnight,
dropped their ball of fun
in her crib at 8 o’,
wishing they could go out
with a bong.

She had jumped into relationships,
leaped at every opportunity,
& thrown herself into projects
she knew she couldn’t finish.
She was self-destructive in her inability
to focus,
never knowing that she had already met
the right man,
found the perfect opportunity,
started the right project—
she simply hadn’t become
the right person for them . . . yet.

She’d grown up hearing her mom come home every day
& talk about the itch-bay from ork-way,
tell Daddy to shut the front door (when it was already closed),
& get her to come running at the prospect
of indulging in her favorite confection,
only to be told that it was not that kind of fudge,
for it had 4 characters rather than 4 ingredients;
however, when she became a mom,
she realized that motherhood came
with a built-in filter,
with her boss being the ick-day who never shut the fudge up
& where she & hubby went to an in-house ball game twice a week,
where extra innings were based on the quality of the first
& peanuts and Cracker Jack meant something else entirely.

Summer mini-writing workshop: Writing tips

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Sometimes, it’s easier to build upon (or complement) an existing piece, rather than start fresh. It’s the difference between taking algebra for the first time and taking higher math after having mastered the skills of lower mathematics. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/04/29/poem-a-day-april-2018-writers-digest-challenge-29-theme-response-to-a-previous-poem-this-month/

If you need to strengthen your dialogue skills, write a one-act play; if you need to strengthen your description skills, write a letter.

One of the most prevalent inconsistencies I see in the longer works that come across my screen is shifting tenses, which can confuse your reader. This is why writing in the present tense is tricky (and why writing in the second-person present tense is even trickier). Be aware.

Except for romance, the only reason a character needs a physical description is if it pertains to the story. Of course, this is a so-called rule I break all the time. Just don’t try to force your reader to see exactly what you see by over describing them.

A twist ending must have subtle clues leading up to it. If not, then your denouement comes across as a cheap trick (as a deus ex machina ploy). Hint at things along the way; foreshadowing is great for this. It is a joy for someone to read your story a second (and hopefully, a third, fourth, etc.) time and find those clues like overlooked Easter eggs.

I almost always go over the word count. When that happens, the first thing I look to cut is backstory. You don’t need to mention more than once (at least in a short story) what someone looks like. For example, the story I’m writing now doesn’t mention the main character’s hair or eye color. Save that for romance novels (e.g., his luxurious blond mane, her luscious auburn locks, his mirthful baby blues, her luminous green orbs, etc.).

When writing about writing, avoid mentioning anything about light shining on shattered glass, never-worn baby shoes, and grandma-eating commas, as most writers already know all about these things. Don’t regurgitate.

Editing other people’s work will help you become a better writer. Seek out jobs that force you to pay close attention to detail. The mistakes you recognize in other people’s work, you will recognize in yours.

Write what you know first. You can fill in the details later. Construct your skeleton first, add what it holds in, and then what holds it all together.

I learned in a creative writing class (as well as a professional and technical writing course) how to draft a process analysis. I not only create an outline of my characters (including traits, quotes, etc.), settings (time and place, as well as historical events, slang, fashion, etc.), and plot (my subplots usually appear as I write) before I start writing, but I also create a process analysis, so I can build symbolism into my work. For example, I am writing a Southern American Gothic horror short story and created a list of all the different types of symbolism I wanted to include. This list helped me do that. https://blog.reedsy.com/literary-devices/

Interoffice email (satire)

To: kconner, cmiller, wspencer, ccarnes, csimon, gjorgensen

CC:

BCC:

Subject: Welcome back! 

Hey, team!

Though we may have entered a newer normal, I am certainly feeling the synergy. 

Karen, regarding Project Blue Ball, let’s take this offline. Use this opportunity to knock this low-hanging fruit out of the way and circle back when we reconvene.

These are unprecedented times, but let’s take a deep dive, reach out, and stand in solidarity with our community to create a more inclusive (and less reclusive) environment. 

Connor and Wyatt, I know you said you don’t have the bandwidth right now, but let’s put more thought into finding a thought leader to speak at the next “See and Say” meeting, which will be a real game-changer.

Chad and Carly, our newest change agents—just keep giving it 150% and taking it to the next level. You’ve brought some much-needed blue-sky thinking to the company.

And last but certainly not least, to our intern Gunnar, thanks for taking ownership and spinning your wheelhouse. Squeak, squeak!

At the end of the day, I think we’re all singing from the same hymnsheet. Let’s just keep pivoting and thinking outside the box. 

Chao,

Tanner T.