Rescue and Other News

I’ve been called upon to rescue another critter. Not a turtle, this time, or a snake, but a newt (I think).

The crazy little feller had hopped into a plastic pan filled with water and couldn’t get out. If I hadn’t heard his silent newtonian screams, he’d have been a goner. MomGoth to the rescue! Yay, me!

Ain’t he a cute li’l skriggler?

ALSO: I was cutting sweet potatoes on my mandolin and I nicked my thumb. So I am hurted. But not very very hurted. Charlie came to my aid with an adhesive bandage (or, for my British friends, a sticking plaster).

Speaking of friends, I got a wonderful phone call from Beth (Moore) Johnson, a friend I’ve known for a month or so longer than I’ve know JANE! I know, right? She’s kept in touch through the years by means of an annual letter, and we’ve friended each other on Facebook. We talked for an hour, and could have talked for any number of hours more, as if we’ve never been apart. That’s friendship. :)

AND: I’ve been putting together a collection of my science fiction short stories, which will probably be released fairly early in 2015. I’m thinking of calling it THE WOMAN WHO WASN’T A SHAVETAIL, after one of the stories in it. All but one of the stories have been published previously here or there; the final story in the collection hasn’t been published anywhere else. What do you think of that title?

It being Tuesday, I’m posting at Fatal Foodies on the topic of the tail end of the farmers’ market.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character is called upon to rescue someone or something often thought of as icky.


Poetry For Prose #amwriting

Long ago, I taught a class on forms of writing. One class was on poetry. The briefest glance at anything I post on here as “poetry” will tell you I’m not very good at it.

NEVERTHELESS, I both enjoy poetry and attempt to incorporate some of the principles of poetry in my prose: I try to write sentences that sound like the effect I’m trying for, that have an appropriate cadence, that use telling simile and metaphor or other figurative language, and that exhibit an economy of syntax.

Here are some of my class notes on poetry:

What Makes it Poetry, Anyway?

John Ciardi, poet, editor, critic, says that “The life of the poem lies in the way it performs itself through the difficulties it imposes upon itself.”

He asks not WHAT does a poem mean, but HOW does a poem mean.


Formal patterns of rhyme and meter; sonnet, haiku, sestina. In prose, this would be essay, prose-poem, flash fiction, short story, novella, novel, trilogy, Game of Thrones.


Similarity or identity of sound in words; perfect rhyme (rain, Spain, main, plain), imperfect rhyme (also known as slant rhyme or half rhyme; “getting the rhyme wrong”: (discuss, dismiss; giver, never; down, upon; eyes, images; restored, word), eye rhyme or sight rhyme (love, move, stove), assonance (words begin with different letters but have the same vowel sound — fill, wish, mist).


The beat. The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables within the line.

Free verse has no formal meter and no formal rhyme; it has cadence, which is the natural-sounding rhythm or flow of ordinary speech.


non-metrical devices for accelerating or slowing the pace of a poem to reflect changes in the poem’s tone or attitude. Longer lines slow down the pace of reading. Short lines speed it up.


(l) Sound patterns: rhyme (generally speaking, the heavier and more complicated the rhyme, the faster the pace); repetition of vowel sounds, consonants, words, lines (gives emphasis and slows pace).

(2) Visual patterns: placement of words within the body of the poem — isolation of words as single lines, the separation of words by unusual spacings in the line, the breaking off of lines for special effect.

(3) Punctuation: capitalization of whole words or their first letters, italics, whole stops or half stops within or at the end of a line (a pause or a stop at the end slows the pace more than a pause or stop within a line).

(4) Grammatical structure: parallel construction and balanced opposites control the voice emphasis (“I’m ok and you’re ok” — lays stress on I’m and you’re. “I’m nice and you’re not” — lays stress on nice and not).

Figurative language:

(1) imagined similarities: metaphors (identifies one thing with another: “You are the sunshine of my life.”), similes (using “like,” “as,” or “as if”: “My love is like a red, red rose.”), allusions (a reference to something else: Our #4 daughter used to call soap bubbles “Glendas.” Because: obviously.)

(2) suggestive associations: one word is linked with another (golden/youth, happiness, wealth; or bird/freedom)

John Ciardi says, “A word is a feeling.” Advertisers know this; so do undertakers and politicians. Euphemisms: toilet paper = bathroom tissue; dead person = loved one; liar = faulty historian. Different ways of referring to the same thing can express or trigger different attitudes. Earth = ball of mud, spaceship Earth, the big blue marble, God’s footstool, Mother Earth.

Ciardi also says: “Only a poem can illustrate how a poem works.”

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: The dog ran through the woods on a sunny day. Rewrite that, using the principles of poetry to make it funny. Rewrite it to make it scary.

Rainy Day for Mitch #SampleSunday

It’s a rainy day in today’s sample from A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE. The book IS available from Amazon in print and ebook, but we’re having a big launch/promotion later this month and you might just win a free copy, so you might as well wait for that.

A Rainy Day for Mitch — excerpt from

by Marian Allen

A small window in the right-hand wall was open, making the air chillingly fresh. It surprised me, how cool the morning air was; in town, in the summer, it was stuffy and dusty-smelling ’round the clock.

It was “blowing up a storm,” as we said in Faelin. I looked out at the overcast landscape, whistling a sprightly little tune I’d had in my mind since yesterday afternoon.

In the woods that curved in a crescent around three sides of the grounds, the beeches showed the silver side of their leaves and rustled like rice-paper wind chimes. “The trees are showing their petticoats,” Mrs. Brandt would have said.

“What are you looking at?”

I started at the unexpected voice, but recognized it: Corrie. Without turning, in as discouraging a tone as I could manage, I said, “I’m looking out of the window.”

She giggled. “Well, I can see that.” She moved forward, so I scooted over to give her room. “But why are you looking out of the window?”

I sighed. “Just checking out the weather. Gonna storm today.” Automatically, I followed this prediction, as I did all such down-home wisdom, with the unfortunate phrase, “I am blessed with the gift of prophecy.”

“I know you are.” Corrie tucked an arm around mine. “I remember.”

“Corrie,” I said firmly. It was time to be firm. “I want you to listen.” I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I am not now, nor have I ever been, Albert Alaister. I will never be Albert Alaister. Never.”

“Oh, Mitch.” She patted my arm. “This weather’s just got you down. Come into the Hall and I’ll get you some breakfast.”

rainy day for Mitch

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about a rainy day.


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