#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Because Jesus had paid for my sins,
I could not short the Lord–
I had to pay Him back through tithing,
through prayer & scripture study,
through keeping His commandments,
& through good works that surpassed any good
that had ever been done to me.
There was no question that I would pay;
the only question was: Gross or net?

If my answer was different than theirs,
I wasn’t praying in the right spirit,
so I let them believe my conversion was to their Church
& not to their version of the God they claimed to serve.

God’s favor wavered–
the God who wasn’t always fair
but just,
as many Christians claimed.
It would take me many years to realize
that I was glad God that wasn’t fair,
for if He was,
then I would’ve had no place with Him
in the afterlife
for all the misdeeds I’d done.
It wasn’t fair that Jesus had to die,
but God had let Him know that it was the only way
so that Jesus had no choice,
for what was autonomy when you could only escape
the sting of death
by letting everyone else burn in hell forever?

The Word of Wisdom
was not the word of the wise.
It was an admonition to abstain from strong drink–
hot drinks & alcohol–
but fried food & all the chocolate cake you could eat
was just dandy.

I lived the law of chastity,
& that seemed the greatest law of all,
but it was through default
& not being devout
that I was still a virgin,
for just being with David
in a non-Biblical way
had always been enough;
he had kept me pure.

Advertisements

Book Review: Lena’s Shoes are Nervous

Lena

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

I did not have strong feelings about this book either way, but once was enough, as I was a bit confused by the premise–Lena wasn’t nervous about school but her shoes were, though only because the author tells us this; her dad cements the idea of “nervous shoes” by putting it in his daughter’s head.  Suddenly, all her clothes start taking on personalities of their own.  

Had the shoes been animated (they had as much personality as a sponge), this could’ve been a cute little coming-of-kindergarten-age story.

That business about her shoes not getting along with her dress–because her shoes splashed into a puddle and got it all muddy–didn’t make sense either.  Wouldn’t it be the dress who was pissed at the shoes rather than the other way around? And why is the headband such good friends with the shoes? Or better yet, why doesn’t she just wear a different dress–one that her shoes like? 

What’s more, how did Lena know the shoes were willing to be brave?  Did the shoes tell her this? Such is never shown/explained. I know I’m overthinking this, but I don’t think kids who are the target age for this book are going to get the idea of first-day kindergarten jitters projected onto inanimate objects.  Kids like stories that make them laugh or stories they can relate to. This story should’ve focused on Lena’s feelings, not imaginary shoe feelings.    

There was no mother in the picture, but a nuclear family doesn’t always have to be portrayed as this was as much about a father’s relationship with his daughter as it was about a child being nervous about her first day of kindergarten.  That said, I thought the dad was the mom at first because he said, “Oh, dear.” (That doesn’t sound like a phrase a man would say–I’ve, in fact, never heard a man say that.)

However, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea was showing Lena being afraid of the big dog only for the dog to lick her face; this book should’ve shown Lena being wary around strange dogs and avoiding letting any dog lick her face.  After all, they lick their butts.  

The illustrations were reminiscent of Syd Hoff’s style (e.g. Danny and the Dinosaur, Sammy the Seal, etc), but his drawings were livelier and more consistent.  In Shoes, we bounce around from close-ups to zoom outs (i.e. multiple scenes on a page) to what I would call standard; we also go from black-and-white with spot color to full color.  What I loved, however, was the fact that Lena’s bedroom had a little library (in a bookcase shaped like a dollhouse) as well as a telescope (but no TV); the fresh fruits and flowers in the kitchen were also a nice touch.  Little details like that show (rather than tell) that Lena’s home is a healthy, nurturing one.  

Lena’s Shoes are Nervous was not the best but certainly not the worst.

Suggested activity:  There are many activities you can do that have something to do with shoes, whether it’s reading The Wizard of Oz (it really was all about the shoes), play horseshoes, match certain shoes with certain activities (bowling shoes, ballet shoes, etc; I’ve done the same thing with different types of balls).  

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36495841-lena-s-shoes-are-nervous

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #492: Marriage

Untitled

The home is the child’s first school,
the parent is the child’s first teacher,
and reading is the child’s first subject.
–Barbara Bush

Margaret Susan Got Married

When Miss Margaret Susan got married
& became Mrs. Peggy Sue,
she, who had been a cosmopolitan traveler,
became a domestic goddess,
defined & deified as such by her husband,
her conversation sparkling like the windows,
her cooking nourishing like the rain.
When she gave birth to Suzy & Margie,
she taught them all she had learned
from the days she had backpacked her way
through the lands of her lineage.
She read to them about all the places she’d been,
told them about all the places they’d go,
& what wasn’t in the books,
she could fill in.
She taught them that there was a time to travel,
a time to stay home,
& a time to bring home with her;
now was that time.
And when her husband saw her
under the Tuscan sun & the Parisian moon,
he saw her in a different light.
He saw that he had fallen in love with a woman
who wasn’t all she was because of him
but of all that had come before him.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 492

 

Book Review: The Perfect Stranger

9781501107993_p0_v5_s600x595

Though this book is based on a trope (e.g. disgraced journalist moves to a small town where no one knows her shame) and is hard to follow at times, it was a fantastic read.  Because this was written in first-person and stayed on the same person (which takes much more skill), I was able to connect with Leah in a way I haven’t connected with other female protagonists.  So, even though this book’s plot may have been a bit convoluted, it had a character whose personality, even whose college life experience, made me think of my own: being the editor of the college newspaper (which led to her career in journalism), living on scholarships, and working periodic jobs on campus to bridge the difference.  Leah also talked about the shock of not getting the job she’d applied for, for she’d never failed before–which often happens when you apply yourself in college, only to discover that the real working world smacks you upside the head.  

The Perfect Stranger revolves around Leah getting reattached to a mysterious girl she roomed with for a few months in college eight years ago–a girl who disappears just as mysteriously as she reappeared. 

The backstory was intriguing; Miranda should write a follow-up on this “story within a story” mentioned on p. 147:  A Season of Suicides:  4 Girls Take Their Lives at Local College–Is Anyone Listening?  This headline reminded me of this rash of suicides at Savannah College of Art and Design:  https://www.change.org/p/counseling-and-student-support-services-improve-mental-heath-at-scad.  What’s more, there needs to be another book in which Leah goes back to Boston, clears her name, and solves another [similar] case in the process.

Leah is more than a reporter; she’s an amateur sleuth who solves the mystery that is her life–a reliable narrator with poor judgment who was just trying to stay under the radar.  She is an incredibly flawed character who is flawed in a way that still makes her sympathetic. She made an interesting point about how cops lie to get the truth, except you can’t do that because it would be considered libel (whereas cops just hurl accusations in an interrogation room with security cameras).  She is a classic example of a person who does all the wrong things for the right reasons. As her mother says, Rebecca [Leah’s sister] helps the ones who can be saved, and Leah gives a voice to those who cannot.  How ironic it is that Leah cannot find her own voice until the end.

This book is an atmospheric, modern-day noir, complete with the hard-boiled cop who falls for the femme fatale–where no one is who they say they are or even pretend to be.  I was transfixed everytime Leah uncovered another piece of the puzzle that was Emmy. The one piece, however, that didn’t make any sense was why a woman would take the fall for another woman with the flimsy promise that she would give her a new life.  Couldn’t the free woman, being just as criminal-minded, just disappear?    

Despite that stretch in logic, this book was a real page-turner, though it was also one I would only read again to figure out what I missed.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31443398-the-perfect-stranger

#Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

typewriter-1170657_1920

She was criticized for writing puff pieces
as light & airy as meringue,
but only those who knew her best
knew that she had many thoughts beyond
food & entertainment & all the little extras
that connected people of all kinds–
she just didn’t have the time
nor the energy
to deal with hate mail.

Blackie & Blondie had journalists for parents,
& so they grew up being asked
Who, What, Where, When, & so forth.
They learned how to remember
the important things,
so that they could tell the stories
that were true.
These stories they told of others
inspired them to live the kind of lives
worth writing about.
Because their parents had asked them questions,
they had learned to do the same
with everyone they met.
Though they’d been called inquisitive at best
& intrusive at worst,
they did learn something most valuable,
& that was how to take an interest
(& a very human one at that)
in other people.

She wrote the life she wanted,
only to realize that as she mirrored her life
after her own creations,
she was writing her future.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Prompts

20190415_070440

Remove one abstract from the world, be it long- or short-term memory, pain, or the ability to stay in one place. Imagine a different kind of society. The differences are interesting, but how people perceive or react to them, even more so. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/16/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-15-theme-stranger-blank/

Take a minor character from a novel you’ve written and create a new story. If someone likes it, they might be inspired to do a little family tree research and locate its roots.

There is more to every story you write. From one novel, I’ve written a prequel, a novella, a volume of poetry, and a preface to serve as a poetry prompt. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/24/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-23-theme-preface/

Alternate histories are popular. What if the South had won the Civil War, what if Jesus had never been born, what if 9/11 had been thwarted? Be provocative. Imagine a world other than the one we live in.

Popular idioms can be exceptional story starters, as the origins aren’t always known. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/06/04/the-parable-of-the-owl-&-the-wheel/

Objects can be interesting—a source of mystery—but they are even more interesting if there is a story behind them. It’s like seeing a stranger and wondering about their story. We are more than what people see or even think they see.

things she carried?

Pet lovers love stories that don’t necessarily personify animals, but rather showcase how they’ve had a positive impact on their life—just for being there. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/08/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-8-theme-thing/

 

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

In the world,
one’s relationship with their children
was paramount
but in Christianity,
the marital relationship was prized & protected
above all others,
for no one made covenants with their children
as they did with their spouses,
but perhaps that was because
bonds between parents & children
were thickened with blood,
so no covenant was needed.

When children died from illness,
it was the result of a fallen world,
of biology,
of pollution,
& a multitude of other things.
If they died from injury,
it was Fate,
Destiny,
or because another person’s free will
had infringed on theirs.
For both,
when it came to the devout,
it was that God needed another angel
when He had how many already?
God wasn’t always directly blamed
but rather,
He was blamed for not stopping it.

In the Old Testament,
when God Himself seemed to play a role in the world,
& all the Israelite children were murdered,
I knew I would never be able to defend His decisions,
& so I could never defend His book.
I could only say that the evil spoken of in it
had brought about good
that might otherwise have never existed.

The Church was the lie that led me to the truth.
It was the lie that had exposed another lie:
the death of my father.
I wondered what next big truth would turn out
to be a lie also,
& what lie it would expose.

The line between fantasy & reality
had become a canvas
that had been left out in the sun too long.
My life had been a dream up till now,
& Mormonism,
like a dream within a dream.