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Interview with Penny Devlin

You’re a new editor for non-fiction and will help with fiction editing as needed. Do you write both?

I started out participating in flash fiction contests. I enjoyed doing that so I took a couple of classes. One of the classes I took was a creative non-fiction class. After that, I started participating in flash non-fiction contests. I am currently working on the non-fiction MFA through Writer's Village University but am also taking fiction classes. I enjoy both, but I like the freedom of creative non-fiction. I think it gives the author more opportunity to share subjects they may not usually want to write about. They can conceal themselves behind the embellished parts in order to share the truths they would otherwise find too personal to write about.


What writers do you admire? What are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading Bernard Cornwell's Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories. His fight scenes are amazing. I lean toward fantasy and action/adventure. I've read all of the George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones books and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. I also enjoy historical fiction and have read most of Ken Follett's books. As a child, my favorite books were Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. I must have read those two series a half dozen times.


What's the one piece of advice that has helped you, and where did you get it? What advice would you give a beginning writer?

I can't remember who it was, but I heard a story on the radio that has always stuck with me. A woman is talking to the host about going back to school but is lamenting that by the time she gets her degree, she'll be fifty years old. The host asks her how long it will take her to get the degree and she answers four years. The host asks her how old she'll be in four years and she replies fifty. The host then points out that whether she goes back to school or not, in four years, she'll be fifty years old. She can either be a fifty-year-old college graduate or she can be a fifty year old non-graduate. Either way, in four years, sho's going to be fifty. I always think of this when I hear myself say, "but I'm too old to..." It's never too late to learn something new. I think it keeps our minds healthy.

Advice I would give a beginning writer is to keep writing and reading and learning. It sounds cliche, but practice makes perfect. Try to write and read as much as you can. Take classes and participate in contests. The feedback I've received from the contests I've participated in have made the work worth it. Learn and practice what the judges say and with every contest, you'll get better. The classes at WVU and the feedback from the facilitators and students have helped me improve. I am amazed at how much progress I have made when I look back at the material I wrote when I first started writing seriously.


How long have you been writing?

I have dabbled with writing since I was a child. I've had a diary for as long as I can remember and have always kept a notebook for ideas. Several friends commented that they liked getting letters from me because they felt like they were with me when I shared information about what I was doing or where I was at. That was a huge compliment to me. I didn't take writing seriously until I started participating in contests, though. While I haven't received first place yet, I have made it into the second or third rounds several times. That is an exciting feeling, knowing that other people enjoy what I am writing. I decided to get more serious about it and started taking classes and am trying to get into the habit of writing every day.


As a reader and editor, what’s your biggest pet peeve in other people’s writing?

My biggest pet peeve is trying to read something that hasn't been proofread. We all make mistakes and I usually spot mine half a second after I hit the send button, but at least try to minimize the obvious mistakes.


How much time do you spend on research for your writing?

Sometimes I spend more time researching a subject than I do writing. I think to be taken seriously a person needs to know what they are writing about. They may not need to be an expert, but they should at least look like they cared enough to do some research. I remember reading an article about horses. The author was amazed that two horses he witnessed were standing next to each other, head to tail so that they were able to take advantage of each other's swishing tail to keep the flies off their heads. The author wondered what the odds were that the horses stood together that way and surmised that it happened by accident. I grew up on a farm and sawhorses do this every summer when the flies bothered them. I always think about that story when I think about taking a short cut and not doing research. I don't want to be the author someone else remembers for making a glaring assumption that is nowhere near the truth and could have easily been researched.


Tell us one thing about you that may surprise readers of the Village Square.

In 2007, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold most of our belongings, and traveled the United States and Canada on our motorcycles. We put 32,000 miles on our bikes in ten months. We were both in management positions at our jobs and gave sixteen months' notice of our departure. We sold our house two months before we left and moved into a small apartment. We bought a fifty-foot storage container and parked it on a friend's property. After we moved out of the apartment, the container held all our worldly belongs with the exception of what we had on our bikes.

We did the same thing in 2016 except in a 24' toy hauler. When found a place we liked, we parked the truck and trailer and explored on our motorcycles. We also went to the U.K. for a month. We seem to have a ten-year wanderlust problem!

Mairibeth MacMillan


Mairibeth MacMillan was born in Paisley, Scotland but now lives on the shores of Loch Long with a gorgeous view down the River Clyde. After teaching high school Drama for many years, she took a career break to have children and during that time completed a BA (Hons) in Humanities with Creative Writing and a few years later an MLitt in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Glasgow. She has had short stories published in various magazines and anthologies and more recently her first poem. She has never been good at focussing on one task at a time but is currently working on improving this skill. In her spare time (!) she drives her children to various activities. She has recently taken up kayaking and wild swimming in the loch and has returned to ballet classes after a break of too many years to count. She is a member of the Scottish Association of Writers, the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.


You are a romance writer; was your first choice or did you experiment with different genres? If you were to change your genre, which one would you choose?

I have never been good at sticking to one thing. I have always enjoyed reading romance, the fact that a positive, upbeat ending is guaranteed (or should be) is very appealing. I read a wide range of books but reading romance has helped me through a lot of difficult times in my life and always leaves me with a sense of hope rather than feeling depressed so it was a natural choice, to begin with when writing my first novel.
I also found that the romance writing community is, in general, a fantastically supportive one and I have made a lot of friends, and received a lot of support from so many people over the years — I could not have asked for better friends to accompany me on my writing journey. Although most of the as-yet-unpublished novels I have written have been romance, most have been romantic suspense and I enjoy merging the suspense plot with the romance. I also love reading crime fiction so this is a great way to blend them.
I think I would be most likely to write crime fiction if I had to choose a different genre but I think there would always be romantic elements in there at the very least as what is more important than our relationships with one another?
I did, however, begin by writing short stories and I don’t think any of them could be classified as romance. In fact, I think the opposite is probably true!


Playwriting is another of your passions; do you approach writing a play or a script in the same way you approach writing a novel?

Novels tend to be slower to form in my mind, whereas when writing plays I tend to work from a single idea — often a visual image. I prefer the shorter word count in plays and find it easier to keep track in my head of what is going on, which I find really difficult in a novel. I probably do less planning in terms of plot and characterization when writing plays because some of that will be up to those who produce the work. In a way, a play is a more open text; you are providing ideas and dialogue for others to use as a starting point whereas a novel is a complete work in itself and you need to provide more for the reader.


Your upcoming historical romance novel, The Viking’s Cursed Bride, is about the Norse invasion of Alt Clut (Dumbarton Rock) in 870 CE. What inspired you to write about this particular historical event?

When you spend any time at all near the River Clyde, Dumbarton Rock is a striking feature that you can’t miss. Throughout my life, I have been told various stories about events that happened there and how it used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde (one of the four 9th Century kingdoms that are now Scotland). I’ve also recently bought a flat close to the rock and have a stunning view of it from my front window. Vikings are very much part of the history of the west of Scotland, but it was when I was watching the eponymous series on television that I realized that the Norse siege of Alt Clut was led by two of Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons, Ivarr the Boneless and Olaf the White. Or, at least, the evidence that exists points to that. There is really not much historical evidence from this area, at this time, that is not open to some level of interpretation. Most of the historical sources that we have were written by foreigners — mainly English or Irish monks — so the perception of the Britons of Strathclyde and the Norse invaders is not necessarily accurate, nor the way they would have viewed themselves. In our current political climate there is a strong tendency to try and present British history as some kind of pure heritage, while in Scotland at least, we are aware that our heritage is very much a mixture of people who came here in different waves of immigration through the centuries. If you listen to The Proclaimers’ song Scotland’s Story you will get the idea.


Though The Viking’s Cursed Bride is mainly romance, research has played an essential role. What specific research did you have to do? How long did you spend researching before beginning the novel-writing process?

I don’t think the genre is really relevant when it comes to research. You can’t write about anything unless you know enough about it to explain it to someone else. Romance is no different from any other genre in that respect — there are, however, poorly researched and poorly written books in every genre.
Although I began with prior knowledge of some aspects of the time period and events, I read all the historical accounts of the Siege of Alt Clut but I also looked at a lot of more recent archaeological research that has been done. I work for the University of Glasgow so I have access to the library there which has been invaluable. I also follow quite a few archaeologists on social media and keep up to date with recent finds which are changing the perceptions of Scotland’s past.
I read regularly about this time period, so it’s hard to say how long the specific research for this took as it’s an ongoing interest. I also went to quite a few events where there were Viking re-enactors and actually spoke to the people, saw the clothing and tried some of the crafts. That was probably the most helpful research in many respects as I had a direct experience to describe, and those people really pride themselves on being as accurate as possible. One thing I learned is that there are a lot of commonly believed misconceptions about Vikings!


What kind of historical sources did you use for The Viking’s Cursed Bride? What aspects of the research did you find most frustrating?

As I mentioned earlier there are virtually no primary sources and most of the secondary sources are generally not contemporary and were written by foreigners. I used a lot of archaeological reports and looked at reconstructions based on evidence found, but Dumbarton Rock was in use for centuries after this time and the digs were not straightforward and were unable to reveal as much as an abandoned site might have. For this reason, I looked at other similar sites occupied by the Britons at this time which had been abandoned soon after this time period and were, therefore, more intact.
The most frustrating aspect is the lack of primary sources. The next most frustrating is that history books don’t always tell you about day to day life, but that is where talking to the reenactors really helped.
Another aspect that was frustrating, but at the same time interesting, was the various languages and how the names of those involved are complicated by those translations and you have to be very careful to make sure that you know who is who. For example, Causantin is better known in English as Constantine and Ìmar as Ivarr.
At that time, four main languages would have been used in what is now Scotland; Brythonic (Old Welsh), Goidelic (Old Irish/Gaelic), Old Norse and Northumbrian. Latin is used in most of the historical sources. It remains debatable whether the Picts used a Brythonic or Goidelic language, but either way, it was Celtic in origin.


What are the most common pitfalls for aspiring historical romance writers during the research process? What advice would you give to avoid these pitfalls?

The most common pitfalls are either not doing enough research and being inaccurate or else trying to put all your research into the book. You need to learn to pick and choose so that you include just the right amount. There are, however, times when you just need to decide what makes sense to your story as a whole and go with it. The story is, after all, meant to be entertaining and too many facts or too much realism is probably not going to be all that romantic. I, for one, do not need to read about lice!


Are there any real historical figures in your novel? Are any of the characters modeled on real historical figures?

Ivarr the Boneless and Olaf the White don’t actually appear but are mentioned. They really did besiege Alt Clut for four months, then carried off many of the Britons there and sold them at the slave market in Ath Cliath (Dublin). One of those captives was King Artgal, who was killed just before the events of the book begin. His son, King Rhun, appears in the second book and I have tried to keep that information accurate but again, there is so little known that a lot of it had to be created just for the story. I’ve tried not to include events that are totally incongruous.


Are there any specific rules to follow when modeling fiction characters on known historical figures? Is there a risk the character becomes too predictable? What steps would you suggest to the aspiring historical writer to avoid this type of pitfall?

Personally, it’s not really something that interests me. Having said that, it’s always important to remember that the historical record that exists is generally that of a male, white, western perspective and may not actually be the most accurate version of the events from the viewpoint of anyone else. It’s important to consider that the records, and the information contained within them, are biased and therefore, re-interpreting historical figures through a different lens may be a very interesting thing to do. I’m not really the person to ask about the pitfalls of this, as it’s not where my interests lie.


The Viking’s Cursed Bride will be published this November. Would you describe its journey to publication as easy or arduous?

I found the editing process very difficult but I have learned so much from working with my editor this time around and feel sure that many of the issues can be avoided next time. I have quite a long list of words that I need to make sure I stop overusing and have also learned I need to plan better before I start writing. I always start with a plan for my books but now I need to learn to stick to it!


What is your next project, a novel or a play?

I’m currently writing the second novel in this series, revising a romantic suspense for Harlequin and writing a play exploring the inaccuracies in the media perception of the victims of the Yorkshire Ripper.


Author Links

Twitter: @MairibethM
Facebook:  Mairibeth MacMillan
Website: Mairibeth MacMillan


An Interview with Wyndie Deaver 


What made you decide to become a facilitator?

WVU has, for me, always been about writers helping writers. When I first started the MFA program, the facilitators helped so much. Not just with posting the assignment, but also making sure we were following the concept. I wanted to help someone else the way I had been helped.


Has being a facilitator affected your writing?

I am more aware of how I write and how I respond the things. There have been a few times that I disagreed with something in the text and been a bit over the top with that disagreement. I am more professional in how I deal with disagreement with the text now.

What tips do you have for a newbie facilitator?

1. Start small. I started out just doing the record-keeping for Narrative Design one year. When I did go solo, it was for a two-week course.

2. Make sure to balance the courses you are facilitating with the courses you are taking. Don’t try to juggle too much at once. That also transfers into your personal life. You need to have time to check in on the class and do the various things required.


Have you taught or facilitated classes outside of WVU?

No, I haven’t.


.
What classes have you taken here at WVU?

I’ve taken Narrative Design, the Sin and Syntax class, a few literature classes, Calvino Six Memos, the Fairy Tale class, Maps of the Imagination, and I am currently in the last part of The Difficult Imagination. I have also taken flash fiction and poetry classes.


What has been your favorite class or classes to facilitate?

I’ve only facilitated Literature and some Flash Fiction courses. My favorite ones are the ones with active boards. It is so much fun when it comes together, and the class is just rocking.


How much time does it take to research and prepare for each class? And to give feedback? As a facilitator, what other kinds of things do you spend time on?

It depends on the class. I always try to read the material well before the class starts (much easier in a two-week class lol). I try to go in and read the assignments posted and give feedback every day— getting a response in a timely manner is so important. Sometimes, especially when people are new, waiting for feedback becomes nerve-wracking. I try to remember that feeling and respond accordingly.
With the two literature classes I just facilitated, I also did research into the authors too. I know it enriched my understanding of the work; I hope it helped the other students too.



Please share what you’d like to on your special love of writing. Is there some aspect of writing which really intrigues you?

One of the things that intrigues me is a writer's voice. My voice has been evolving and changing with the classes I’ve taken and I’m excited to see where it leads me!

HALLOWEEN PARTY
By Louise E. Sawyer
This month we have a writing prompt. Have fun! And if you come up with a good story, be sure to share it with us!
You are invited to a Halloween costume party at a haunted mansion one hour from where you live. There will be horror, fantasy, and romance authors at the party. 
Please come dressed as one of your characters. 
What will you wear?
What is your character’s fav possession for you to carry to the party?
Do you wear special shoes? Hat?
Will you, as this character, bob for apples?
Do you prefer eating pumpkin pie or a chocolate bar?
What will you drink?
Which author will you chat to?
What will you chat about?
Will you lead a word game? What kind?
Will you explore the mansion?
Are you, as this character, brave, or timid about ghosts?
Will you read a poem or scary story?
Will you, as this character, leave the party early, or stay until the last person leaves?

My Car, My Friend

by

Leona Pence

Tony Spencer applied the first coat of wax to his prized possession, a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix. Oh, sure, it had flaws, like a smashed door and a dragging muffler, but the interior was a beaut. It had bright-red bucket seats with a gleaming silver gear mount between...

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Brother Bastion

by

Linda Murray

The rain that had pelted the high mountain jungle all morning stopped abruptly, and the sun gradually dissolved the lingering clouds. Insects hummed again, birds burst forth in joyous song and flowers lifted their dripping heads, spreading their petals wide to receive the sun’s bright blessing. The People, ...

Read more: Brother Bastion

 

 

 

Standard Police Report

by

Frank Richards

Standard Police Report - Inventory of Possessions - Portbou, Catalonia, Republic of Spain

27 Sep. 1940

Location: Hotel De Francia


Noted contents of subject’s hotel room as follows:


- a large steamer trunk containing books in various foreign languages, for example, Les Fleurs du mal, ...

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Starburst

by

Brigitte Whiting

We sat, you and I, alongside the lake, watching the sky spread above us in an immense starburst, the Milky Way threaded through its center, seeming to beckon us to follow it.

"A reverse inkblot," you said.

I thought, no, no, nothing as mundane as that, but all...

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There Are No More Pets in My House

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

 

There is death in my house.

“It's gone to a better place,” she says. "Now flush it down the toilet and wash your hands. Breakfast is ready."

Like that, she cans Juju, our goldfish. She did the same with Didi, Ma’s parrot, ...

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Revenge of the Fishy

by

Leona Pence & Tom Whitehead

 

 

 

Tom Whitehead: (In the deep husky Marlboro movie guys voice) HEEEEEEEEEEEER FISHY, FISHY, FISHY!

It was an early Saturday morning. He thought it was just another day of fishing, then all of a sudden out of nowhere he...

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Temp-Tation

by

Leona Pence

 

 

David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.

...

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Free Range Souls

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Samael and Malachi, two brothers working for different bosses, sit on the fence dangling their booted feet each on their side of the divide. One pair of boots is caked in white droppings; the other scrubbed clean. It’s like a dare. Trespassing? Not quite. ...

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Einaudi

by

Luann Lewis



An elderly woman shuffled up the sidewalk and took a seat on the bench across the way from me. I watched her slow steps and noticed her feet stuck in matted slippers and her swollen discolored ankles. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt grateful...

Read more: Einaudi

 

 

 

Campfire

by

Brigitte Whiting


We sat around a campfire in the backyard that evening, our parents and us four kids, aged four to fifteen. Dan, the oldest at nineteen, was in the Army serving somewhere that Mother didn't want to tell us. "You don't need to worry," she said. "I'll...

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Jack and the Beanstalk

by

Albert Orjuela

The global wealth distribution has been heavily off balance, the scales of capitalism have plunged so far into disproportion they will fall before they will be fair again.  Jack and his widowed mother have economically crammed a century of mourning into an egregious year but failed...

Read more: Jack and the Beanstalk

 

 

 

Lost and Found

by

Brigitte Whiting

Smelled: a gamey odor downstairs in the basement. Searched for its source but couldn’t find it.

Found: one dead mouse with reddish-brown legs and a white underbelly in the basement bathroom. A deer mouse. Picked it up with tongs, took it outdoors, and tossed...

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One Hundred Yards

by

McCord Chapman

 

 

A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no...

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Yearning - F2k WINNER!

by

Noel



Trish pushed her hair to the side to show off her sparkling diamond earrings. “Alvin just got these for me. I didn’t even have to drop a hint.”

Heather leaned forward for a better look. “Oh Trish, they’re beautiful. And LuAnn, did I see you drive up in a new...

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Flamenco

by

Cedar White

We’re late, of course. Won last-minute tickets to a concert at the Greek, the Gipsy Kings, but now parking is impossible. Ten years of driving in LA and the traffic makes me want to move to, I don’t know, Kansas. Then my date points to a...

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Marbles

by

Brigitte Whiting

 I had plans for that summer and everything changed because of the marbles. But I’m way ahead of myself.

My brothers, Jeff and Mick, hung around Farmer Tom’s place, feeding chickens and riding on the tractor with him, watching while he milked his yellow cow, Bess. I’d...

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Ruler of the House

by

Luann Lewis

We never should have bought this old house.  We sunk all our savings into it plus we took on a mortgage so huge that at this point I would have to pay out money just to get rid of the place.

 

I hate the sounds...

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Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

by

Albert Orjuela

You’re hearing a voice, but no one else hears a sound. It’s a deep distant whisper, soft, safe, and inviting: the words of which you can’t yet make out. The harder you listen, the softer it gets; softer and softer, deeper and deeper. The more you listen to it here, ...

Read more: Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

 

 

 

A Night in Fontana

by

TJ Marshall

Brody Carlisle halted his horse on the crest of a shrub-covered hill, slapped his Stetson twice sending dust floating skyward, and after placing it back on his head, coaxed a swallow from his canteen.

To the west, the sun slid behind a scattering of tall pillar-like plateaus. Their...

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Full

by

Luann Lewis

Food. Globes of mashed potatoes glistening with a thin layer of gravy, plump slices of pie gushing with ruby red cherries–food wassensuous. It was sensuous before Abby even knew the meaning of the word.  Sparkling Christmas goodies enticed her as a child. She would sneak from her...

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The Decision

by

Brigitte Whiting

Stan stood on the sand, crumpled by how many people and birds running and sliding into it today. Now, it was getting dark, the last of the purple, streaky clouds turning black against a pale, gray sky.

Go or stay, just two choices.

He reached down...

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Swiftwater

by

Cedar White

10

Amos stood on a thick, muscular knoll on the shoulder of a dark river. He shivered, soaking wet from his silver hair to his leather shoes, and stared, disoriented, at the pines across the river. They seemed to stand with their backs to him. Amos felt...

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Minerva Shield

by

Frank Richards

In July the monsoon rains returned and with them came the little green frogs. Price Aurigena had first seen them in the summer of 1969 when he’d arrived in Korea and now, a year later, they were once again everywhere. Frogs sprang from the ground like exploding popcorn...

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Seinfeld Moment

by

Frank Richards

I have studied martial arts all my life: Karate, Judo, Kenpo Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Hsing-I, but as I've gotten older, I pretty much stick to Tai Chi. I used to study Tai Chi at a park in Washington, D.C. called Glen Echo Park. It's an old...

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Wedding Portrait – Life Portrait

by

Glennis Hobbs

July 20, 1942


Escorted by her eldest brother Neil, Annabell walks across the front lawn to meet Bill. her groom. She is dressed in a long gown of pink net overlying pink point d’esprit. A bandeau of artificial roses secures her pink net veil. She also...

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A River of Words

by

Penny Devlin

Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.

Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through...

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Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

by

Jen Lowry

On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.

...

Read more: Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

 

 

 

Monarch Butterflies

by

Brigitte Whiting

I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.


For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing...

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A Monarch Chrysalis

by

Brigitte Whiting

The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another...

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Truth

by

Angela Hess

I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim...

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The Goldfinch

by

Brigitte Whiting

On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was...

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Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

Read more: Of Heroes and Holiness

 

 

 

My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

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My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

Read more: A Red Squirrel's Narrative

 

 

 

Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

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Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

Read more: Reunion

 

 

 

A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

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Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

by

Louise E. Sawyer


It is a joy to hold a lovely scene, a delightful moment, in memory.
~Marjolein Bastin

Frank was four and I was five and getting ready to start school when Dad and Mom moved us into a new house on Glasgow Avenue—a three-bedroom home that wasn't quite finished—in...

Read more: Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

 

 

 

Hazardous Happenings

by

Albert Orjuela

At some point, everything comes to an apex.  Status quo can only persist for so long before the natural balance of the universe calls for consumption, and then it all comes down to a choice.  That’s it, a lone decision that ultimately leads down a pathway to a higher level...

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Dealing with Rejection

by

Carolann Malley


Sending your writing out into the world can be scary whether you write poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. But, at some point, if you are a serious writer, you will do it. Getting a rejection letter back can be more devastating than asking a girl out as a teenager and...

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Backyard Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting


I took an hour to walk outdoors in my yard, first to clip dead honeysuckle branches, pluck dandelions, and then to fill the birdbaths and feeders. And to ponder what to write about one of my backyard neighbors, the gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolineses. Its name is derived from the...

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Betrayal

by

Angela Hess


My four-year-old son has a friend over. I overhear my son’s friend tell my two-year-old daughter, “Gracie, you can’t come in here.” Then my son’s voice: “It’s okay, she can play with us. Here, Gracie,” he says, presumably handing her one of the toys they are playing with. My mama...

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The Weight of Emotions

by

Angela Hess

  I can hear my parents’ raised voices upstairs. They are fighting again. I turn on the sink faucet, letting the sound of the running water drown out their voices. I thrust my hands in the nearly scalding hot water and methodically scrub each dish in the sink...

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An Apology

by

Brigitte Whiting

   I'm sorry that I hadn't thought of how I would take care of a puppy. It had seemed like a good idea, accept the gift of a puppy from acquaintances. She had the coloring of a coyote and was named Brindle for those tawny markings. I'd...

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Baby Precious

by

Louise E. Sawyer

It was Christmas Day 1950 and my sixth birthday. Under the tree was an unusually long, large box with my name on it. I was excited to open it. I couldn’t wait. When I finally did, I was amazed to look upon the most gorgeous doll I’d...

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Downsizing

by

M Clare Paris

 
I think about death quite a bit. Not morbidly, nor do I worry about what happens when one dies. Although I enjoy a spiritual life, I am also philosophical about the end of my life. If there is something else, it will be darned interesting. If there isn’t, ...

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Absent But Present

by

Louise E. Sawyer


My father, Thomas George Sawyer, was absent at my birth and absent the first seven months of my life.

It was Christmas Eve 1944 at the two-story white house on Beechwood Drive-my Grannie’s house in Victoria, the capital city of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Grannie Price, my...

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Gathering: A Contemplative Essay

by

Brigitte Whiting

I'm always looking for ideas to use in writing: for that prompt at which I first gulp and then slowly retrieve some thread of an idea, for the poem I need for the Monday morning poetry group, for an essay that's due in two days.

I've heeded...

Read more: Gathering: A Contemplative Essay

 

 

 

Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life

by

Brigitte Whiting

Last spring, a wild turkey hen incubated her eggs for twenty-eight days. When they hatched, she scrambled to keep up with them. Poults to scientific literature. Babies to her. She didn't need to teach them to scratch for bugs—they came with that instinct. Nighttimes during their first four weeks, ...

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Lesson in Subtext

by

Joy Manné and Karen Barr

Roles

Teacher – Karen Barr

Student – Joy Manné

Teacher

WELCOME TO WEEK 8 OF SUBTEXT.

There is no word count, but the challenge is to get all ten types of subtext in as few words as possible. Here they are:

Show don’t...

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Teenage Escape Plan

by

Danielle Dayney

I woke to warm, gooey air smothering me even though the ceiling fan was spinning on high. Dangling lightpulls smacked and banged the glass globe with each rotation of the blades. The base of the fan swayed and groaned, ready to jump from its screws in the drywall any second.

...

Read more: Teenage Escape Plan

 

 

 

Misinformation

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs

it is a well-believed misconception
the only true poetry
is that which rhymes

the would-be poet seizes upon
...

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Invisible Presence

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

He sat on the wooden bench directly outside the closed down Ace Hardware, across the street from...

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Summer Rain

by

Heather Lander

I’m wishing for the sound of rain upon the roof and down the glass
A rhythm from the...

Read more: Summer Rain

 

 

 

The Unborn

by

Sunbeams

Nature's Ballet........................
Seeds...... floating on a gentle breeze,
Some soared towards the blue sky, out of sight.
Some...

Read more: The Unborn

 

 

 

Death of My Dog

by

Sunbeams

Come lay with me,
the fire is beckoning.
Come feel its warmth and hear its sound.
Come lay...

Read more: Death of My Dog

 

 

 

Portrait of a Starving Cat

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs

she disdains ordinary cat chow,
pesters humans for their food

she paws at the cookie tin,
flips the...

Read more: Portrait of a Starving Cat

 

 

 

I Remember

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs

the bewilderment,
in the hollows of his eyes
shadows of the man
he used to be

I remember
...

Read more: I Remember

 

 

 

Inukshuk

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs

what is this mysterious
stack of stones? a Shinto shrine?
a stone stick man designed by a child...

Read more: Inukshuk

 

 

 

I'm a Poet

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I’m a poet with a propensity
to write three morning pages,
observing my pen as it gallops
across...

Read more: I'm a Poet

 

 

 

It’s Not Easy Being Blue

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs

my moods are ever changing
shades of blue
like my friends
the sea and sky

mornings after sleepless...

Read more: It’s Not Easy Being Blue

 

 

 

Animal Companions

by

Louise E. Sawyer

Neuron, my animal companion, bonded
to me, but when I brought Little Joy home,
Neuron became Little Joy’s...

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The Green Hay Pile

by

Louise E. Sawyer

mornings depend
upon

the green hay
pile

owned by cream cavy
Cocoa

beside black brother
Midnight

Photo was...

Read more: The Green Hay Pile

 

 

 

Thank You, My Tech Friend

by

Louise E. Sawyer




Thank you, my tech friend,
pretty with back dressed in rose gold
practical with front framed...

Read more: Thank You, My Tech Friend

 

 

 

What Is Not Said

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Why do you speak and say nothing?
Say everything when you’re silent?
Am I to...

Read more: What Is Not Said

 

 

 

Ups and Downs

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Up there
inside the tower
with the air filters on the roof
you watch the...

Read more: Ups and Downs

 

 

 

Telemarketers

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





those evil scourges of civilization
call morning, noon and night,
harass me every day
...

Read more: Telemarketers

 

 

 

Oceanography

by

Wynelda Ann Deaver





Ocean holds secrets close. Millions, trillion, gazillions of droplets mixed with millions, trillions and...

Read more: Oceanography

 

 

 

Mystery Man

by

Leona Pence



I once met a man from a far distant land, so handsome and charming...

Read more: Mystery Man

 

 

 

Minotaur

by

Joy Manné

 

Two children, girl and boy,

progeny of servants of King Minos,

...

Read more: Minotaur

 

 

 

Lullaby for a Lost Child

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs




I

I feel you kick under my heart,
soon my special angel child,
I...

Read more: Lullaby for a Lost Child

 

 

 

Look Up

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh





Stand back and look up. Do you see it? Do you?
Alice's rabbit checking...

Read more: Look Up

 

 

 

I'll be a Poet

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





I’ll take my pen in hand

crystallize thoughts into ideas
paint magic with...

Read more: I'll be a Poet

 

 

 

Give Me The Wings Of An Angel

by

Leona Pence





Give me the wings of an angel
To lift me above worldly things
Give...

Read more: Give Me The Wings Of An Angel

 

 

 

Flashing Lights

by

Leona Pence




(My songwriting attempt)


I want to see all the lights upon a flashing...

Read more: Flashing Lights

 

 

 

Eidolon’s Wind Chimes

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh





I miss our disagreements, laughter and silent times.

Memories of listening to your...

Read more: Eidolon’s Wind Chimes

 

 

 

Don’t Piss Off (or on) a Yard Gnome

by

Leona Pence

Prose poem: This one was inspired by the poet’s dogs, Jax and Luna.


I cringed...

Read more: Don’t Piss Off (or on) a Yard Gnome

 

 

 

Do You Remember, AJ?

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





June 30, 1967, we met on Parliament Hill,
listened to the Centennial music gala,
...

Read more: Do You Remember, AJ?

 

 

 

Deacon Knox Young is Turning One!

by

Leona Pence



 

Everybody’s gonna have some fun.
Aunt Peggy, Uncle Kris, Sydney...

Read more: Deacon Knox Young is Turning One!

 

 

 

Daddy Dearest

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Today, I saw you for the first time, without disguise, nestled in the corner where...

Read more: Daddy Dearest

 

 

 

Get Out the Penitentiary

by

Albert Orejuela

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Tulips or Three?

by

Albert Orjuela

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Rock and Roll

by

Albert Orjuela

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Garden of Hearts

by

Albert Orjuela

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Evil Eye-pad

by

Albert Orjuela

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Portrait of Solitude

by

Albert Orejuela

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Break Time

by

RJ Hembree

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Colors

by

Maggie Fieland

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Wild Horses with the Snow Covered Mountains

by

RJ Hembree

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Color Cubes

by

Maggie Fieland

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Rest

by

Albert Orjuela

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Camera Smile

by

RJ Hembree

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To Relax Wild Horses Before a Photo Shoot, I Find it Helpful to Tell a Couple of Jokes

by

RJ Hembree

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First Step

by

Karen Barr

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Orchid Alone

by

Albert Orjuela

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Veg 2

by

Maggie Fieland

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All Along the Watchtower

by

RJ Hembree

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Ham

by

Karen Barr

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Winter

by

Maggie Fieland

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Backlit Great White Egret

by

RJ Hembree

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White Lightning

by

Karen Barr

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Wild Horses

by

RJ Hembree

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Cow Gossip

by

Karen Barr

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Cooper's Town

by

Albert Orjuela

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