Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, September Archives

Of all the quotes on writing I've collected (many of them posted one time or another here at Words and Such over the past nine-plus years), the following is my all-time favorite. It's recorded on a small slip of paper and sits on my desk as a daily reminder. I run this post once again as my post-from-the-past choice for September in the hopes it inspires others, too:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Inclination and Connecting the Dots

courtesy google images
"No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination." --James Joyce

"The fourth quarter of the year is upon us (fourth? what happened to the other three??) and I'm determined to read this quote every day for the next three months. Simple words but very motivating. For the inclination (n: disposition or bent; something to which one is inclined) to write truly starts with something as basic as a pen. Add to that then a place, time, quiet...

And the dots begin to be connected, the story picture we have in our heads begins to be drawn. Inclination is fostered, not squelched. Nothing new here, but reminders are always good."


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, August Archives

Down memory lane...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Today Was Good"

Summer fun 2010
Today was good.
Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
--Dr. Seuss

"...Playing while Mommy is out of town. Just had to share. Hope you had a fun day, too. Writing will be the better for it after we stop swinging."

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. --Walt Streightiff

summer fun, August 2019
Fast-Forward to present, 9 years later: The little one above is now 11 and oldest of six grandkids. All were together this month as the family made a trip to the Smokies. This time, with her siblings and cousins around, she led them in hikes, movie making on the cellphone, and being a look out for all the bears we saw.

Once again we say, "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!"

Hope your summer has been a good one--with any bear sightings kept to a safe distance!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, July Archives

summer 2019
"Question on the run: What's unusual about (the word) unquestionably?" --James J. Kilpatrick

That was the question of this month's post-from-the-past for July, "Weekend Trivia." Scroll down to get the answer.

Speaking of on the run, our yard has been overrun with rabbits this year. Do you have lots of the cute little critters around, too?

Hope you enjoy the re-post. It might be a little like running down another rabbit hole, but it was a fun one to write, and one of my favorites.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekend Trivia

"A question on the run: What's unusual about unquestionably? Answer: It contains all five vowels and the letter y. I leave it to you to discover why facetiousabstemious and abstentious are collector's items." --James J. Kilpatrick

I've added this bit of trivia to my collection of English language absurdities and unusual facts. Find any word-loving tidbits for your collection lately?

p.s. Facetious (adj. "having the habit of joking") I sorta' knew. But abstemious and abstentious? Well, abstentious, it turns out, means the same as...abstemious. And abstemious? It means "sparing in eating and drinking; moderate." Confused yet?

So, are you going to be abstemious and abstentious this weekend? (She asks facetiously.) Hope your weekend is unquestionably super.


(And back to present now--as I reread this post, I'm struck by the mystery that I missed the first time around. Just what is Mr. Kilpatrick's tease all about, that it's left up to us to discover why facetious, abstemious and abstentious are collector's items? Hmmm, wonder what he's alluding to? Must be more to this than meets the eye. Here we go, down another rabbit hole! If you are able to solve the mystery, let me know!)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, June Archives

courtesy Google images
"In reading...stories, you can be many different people in many different places, doing things you would never have a chance to do in ordinary life. It's amazing that those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can arrange themselves on the pages of a book and accomplish all that. Readers are lucky--they will never be bored or lonely." --Natalie Babbitt

Are you still amazed at what those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can do? I am. It's an ongoing fascination, I think, no matter how old we writers--and readers--get. As Natalie Babbitt (award-winning author of the modern classic Tuck Everlasting) so aptly reminds us, those 26 little scratchings take us places we'd never have a chance of visiting in ordinary life and give opportunity for so many amazing encounters along the way. Boredom is not a word in our vocabulary!

Babbitt's quote is also an apt lead-in to the next repost in my post-from-the-past series, this one from June 2015: One Writer's Alphabet to Writing a Novel. Enjoy the travel back in time...


Saturday, June 6, 2015

by Kenda Turner
photo courtesy
"When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off." --Vanna White

A writer subconsciously develops her own alphabet soup when it comes to writing a novel--those key elements, basic rules, discoveries, weaknesses to watch for, areas to develop, exploratory tangents, and microscopic and telescopic revisions that take her to the finished product. I discovered this when I reviewed journal entries I recorded during the time I wrote my first book. I recently reviewed those notes while my current WIP simmered on the back burner for a few days. What an education--there was something for each letter of the alphabet!

One Writer's Alphabet Soup to Writing a Novel voice...action...action words...atmosphere
B...backstory (enough but not too much)...beginning (jump in)
C...causality...character development...clarity...clich├ęs...complications...conflict...connections
E...edit...emotion...end linked to beginning...ending (satisfying)
G...genre...goals...grammar...growth (character and author!)
H...heart...historical accuracy...hook...human dignity
I...imagery...inciting incident...infinite-verb phrase openings (“Looking up slowly, she…”)
L...landscape...language..listen...location...loose ends (tied up)
M...magical...main character as problem solver (not bystander)...malleable...metaphor...middle slump...motivation...mystery
N...names...narration...narrative arc...narrator
O...obstacles...opening...overthinking (as in, don't!) character (where doesn’t want to be)...plot...plot holes...plot lines...plot points...plot twists...point of view...punch...punctuation (and answers)...quotes
R...reading level...redundancy (check by using document's 'Find' feature)...resolution...revision
S...satisfying...scene...sensory details...sentences ending with prepositional phrase...sentence (don't tell)...sparkle...spelling...stakes...story structure... ...supporting characters...surprise...symbolism
T...tenses...tension...theme...threads...tightened form...title...timeline...tone...transitions...triggers
V...values...verb tense...viewpoint...vocabulary...voice
W...weak words (weed out)...wonder...word choice...word building
X...(e)xact...(e)xtraordinary...X out the unnecessary
Y...yarn of a story...yawn (avoid)...yearnings...yes (or no)...yet (as in, doors haven’t opened yet)

This is just a sample of one writer's alphabet soup--a savory mix to keep me going. Any ingredient you'd like to add? What does your writer's alphabet look like?

And upon coming back to present time, want to read interesting facts about the English alphabet? Check out this link: Interesting Facts About the English Alphabet, by Richard Nordquist.

And this fun quote by Douglas Adams: " 'Why' is the only question that bothers people enough to have an entire letter of the alphabet named after it. The alphabet does not go 'A B C D What? When? How?' but it does go 'V W X Why? Z'." 

Creative, yes? Have a great week!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, May Archives

May 2019
Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are
With blades of grass between,
Each daisy stands up like a star
Out of a sky of green.
--Christina Rossetti

The month of May certainly has sped by with projects and writing and celebrations: Mother's Day, Memorial Day, birthdays. Daisies herald the end of the school year, and doors are being flung wide open to all the summer adventures ahead. 

As I continue to reprint posts-from-the-past, my selection this month (before the month slides into the rearview mirror here shortly!) goes back a number of years to 2011. And while we marvel at the speed of the passing of time, the post itself speaks of lessons learned from that slow-moving sage, the turtle. Here it is, The Writer's Journey, From a Turtle's POV:


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Writer's Journey, From a Turtle's POV

"And the turtles, of course...all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be." --Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

I would have seen it this morning on my walk anyway, but twice I was alerted to the little turtle's presence before I got that far. First, by my neighbor Pat, who was coming the other way. "There's a turtle in the road back there," she said. "I'm afraid it's going to get hit by a car." Then another neighbor drove by, slowed down, and told me the same thing. So I was ready. And there it was, moseying across the pavement, head held high, taking the journey one slow step at a time. It was certainly in a precarious situation.

"Come on, buddy," I said, "let's help get you across." And I moved the creature into the grass at the side of the road, marveling all the while at the striking pattern imprinted across the hard shell.

Then, as we writers are apt to do, I considered the turtle's journey--and compared it to the writer's life. You probably already know what's coming, another of those corny analogies. But here goes...

The Writer's Journey From a Turtle's POV
1. You gotta' stick your neck out if you're going to get anywhere.
2. Start. And keep going, one step at a time, no matter how slow the pace.
3. Don't stop in the middle of the road. If you do, you'll never get where you want to go.
4. Stay focused, patient and persistent. A little bit of luck wouldn't hurt either.
5. Let friends pick you up when you find yourself in a tough spot.
6. Remember your pattern is unique, and you add your own little bit of beauty to the world.
7. Catch your breath and rest, if need be, when you get to the other side--especially if you get shook up (think "querying process"!). Then move on to new adventures, the next story to write.

Do you feel like a turtle sometimes? What advice would you give a writer who's plodding along?


Back to the present now and looking ahead to a new summerish season, I hope to heed the turtle's advice and stay focused. Easier said than done. What I really want to do is go out and pick daisies! Trying to strike a balance. How about you?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, April Archives

April 2019
"The power of metaphor comes from the distance bridged and the pleasurable shock we get from that electrical connection between two seemingly different entities." --John Drury, Creating Poetry

My selection for April's post-from-the-past, dipping back into blogging archives of now over nine years, is this one: Book Metaphors: Six Ideas and Counting. Who would have thought this post would be the one with the overall highest viewings of all those published here at Words and Such? But it is, and I'm amazed that it still gets a dozen or so new views each week. There's something real, tangible, and fulfilling about books, and we're still discovering ways to describe the experience. In addition, the subject of 'metaphor' itself is a fun one. Making those connections between two seemingly different entities, as John Drury says in his book Creating Poetry, can be a writing adventure.

So without further ado here's this month's post-from-the past, out of April's archives:

Friday, April 6, 2012

What is a book to you, metaphorically speaking?

Others have weighed in on the subject, as evidenced by the following six quotes:

1. "Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life." --Jesse Lee Bennett 

2. "Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time." --E.P. Whipple

3. "A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of  counselors." --Henry Ward Beecher

4. "Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind."--James Russell Lowell

5. "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." --Charles W. Eliot

6. "Books are a uniquely portable magic." --Stephen King

Six quotes turn into fifteen metaphors: compass, telescope, sextant, chart, lighthouse, garden, orchard, storehouse, party, company, counselor, bee, friend, teacher, magic
But we don't have to stop there. We're writers--how about making up a few of our own?

Photos courtesy of
My contribution: "a book is a ticket." A ticket to worlds and stories, places and things, ideas, insights, and imagination. A ticket to colors and wonder, images and emotions, mystery, heart tugs and promise. A ticket to the tapestries and threads of history and humanity--and to hope.

Would love to hear your ideas. How would you describe a book, metaphorically speaking?


Breaking back into the present, we add to our list with contributions from blogging friends who shared their ideas of book metaphors in the original post's comments:

"A book is a hideaway, a place where we can get away from everything for a while." --Peggy Harkins 

"A book is a portal to another world, traveling through time or space or both." --Elizabeth Varadan 

"A book is transportation to a world filled with secrets that are not being let out at once but piece by piece." --Kamila Glomova 

"A book is a hide-and-seek, a game played by writer and reader." --PS 

More suggestions? From Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of The Enchanted Hour, the Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction: "Books are portals into wonders."

And this one, posted by  Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B and Blue Birds, both novels-in-verse, on her blog earlier this year (here): "If education is the road out of poverty, books are the wheels for the journey." --Richard Crabbe, African Publishers Network

And so to our original list, we add hideaway, portal (to another world/into wonders), transportation to a world of secrets, game of hide-and-seek, and wheels (on the road of life's journeys). May books continue to be all these things and more to the next generations coming up. Wishing all a spring full of book adventures.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Celebrating National Poetry Month, 30 Quotes and Counting

a bit of poetry outside the window March 2019
April arrives bringing with it once more a month of celebrating poetry (National Poetry Month origin, here). My share in the celebration, along with a goal of reading more poetry this month as well as challenging myself to write 30-haiku-in-30 days again (last year's challenge, here)--is the following compilation of 30 of my favorite quotes on poetry. Each brings its own inspiration, one each day of the month to stir up the imagination toward poetry. Let the celebration begin...

  1. "Poetry is the languages of surprises." --Stephen Taylor Goldsberry
  2. "The poet doesn't invent. He listens." --Jean Cocteau
  3. "Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes." --Carl Sandburg
  4. "Prose is a photography, poetry is a painting in oil colors." --Austin O'Malley
  5. "It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things." --Steven Mallarme
  6. "The poet lights the light and fades away, But the light goes on and on." --Emily Dickinson
  7. "I would define, in brief, the poetry of words is the rhythmical creation of Beauty."-Edgar Allen Poe 
  8. "Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance." --Carl Sandburg
  9. "Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement." --Christopher Fry
10. "I have never started a poem whose end I knew, writing the poem is discovering."--Robert Frost
11. "Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land wanting to fly in the air." --Carl Sandburg
12. "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."--Emily Dickinson
13. "Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing." --James Tate
14. "A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language." --W.H. Auden
15. "The true poem rests between the words." --Vanna Bonta
16. "Poetry is life distilled." --Gwendalyn Brooks
17. "Writing a poem is making music with words and space." --Arnold Adoff
18. "Prose is words in their best order; poetry is the best words in their best order."--Samuel Coleridge
19. "A poem is a spider web, Spun with words of wonder; Woven lace held in place, by whispers made of thunder" --Charles Ghigna
20. "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."-Robert Frost
21. "Poetry is a section of river fog and morning boat-lights delivered between bridges and whistles, so one says, 'Oh!' and another, 'How?'" --Carl Sandburg
22. "Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted." --Neil de Grasse Tyso, astrophysicist
23. "Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind." --Maxwell Bodenheim
24. "Poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry." --Mary Oliver
25. "How do poems grow? They grow out of your life." --Robert Penn Warren
26. "Poetry makes life what lights and music do to the stage." --Charles Dickens
27. "Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently." --Jean Cocteau
28. "Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings." --W.H. Auden
29. "Poetry has the power to turn words into darts that shoot under your skin."--Penny Ashton
30. "A poet can survive everything but a misprint." --Oscar Wilde

Happy Poetry Month 2019. How does poetry stir your world?