Thursday, December 13, 2012

Riding out of site

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

It's been a great ride, but it's time for me to bid goodbye to Riddles on the Harp. I now blog at I am grateful to those who have followed and those who have visited Riddles on the Harp.

The great folks at Writers Relief  have built a website for me and are hosting my new blog. I would be ever more grateful if you would do one of three things:

It has been a joy to explore the riddles in life in these blog posts. Thanks for going with me on the journey. 
I will turn my ear to a proverb: with the harp I will expound my riddle:" Psalm 49:4

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Night Before NaNoWriMo

‘Twas the night before NaNo, and all ‘round  the Earth
The plot lines were forming, awaiting their birth
The writers were ready, all poised with their pens
While visions of victory erased four week-ends.

The MCs were sketched and ready to speak
As villains burst forth with havoc to wreak;
And friends in support roles and we with our plan
Had finished our outlines, took a moment to scan...

And there on the ‘net there rose such distraction
We logged on, checked email and sprung into action
Away to our Facebook we flew like a fiend
Checked Twitter and newsfeeds—we thought we were weaned!

Now Pinterest, Instagram, Ask and Yahoo
Google, and eBay, Groupon and Squidoo
To the top of the rankings! to the top of the stats!
Now sign out, sign out, before we go bats!

As inspiration before the dawn comes
When it meets pure resolve, that about sums
up the challenge to us as we bravely commit
to one thousand six hundred plus words to spit

daily, and just when the clocks sound cukoos
Then lights! Camera! Action! yon comes the muse
who turns our story fair on its ear,
destroys the outline we held close and dear.

And then, in a twinkling, we know it’s no spoof
Each day we must churn out the words as the proof
That we know in our gut we’ve got something to say,
Something profound that must see light of day.

Our eyes, oh how bleary, our hair is a wreck
Our cheeks are inflamed; dirt rings our neck
A bundle of laundry lies on the floor
We feel like fungus! Our muscles are sore.

But wait—this is brilliant! Our MC takes wings!
Look here, she is saying the cleverest things!
Her speech is engaging, her actions enthrall,
Did we really write this? We cannot recall!

The end is in sight now, our joy feels no bounds
Despite the sad truth that we’ve gained twenty pounds
Rewarding ourselves when we’ve felt just plain dandy
With coffee and doughnuts and Halloween candy

Tomorrow it is we’ll go straight to our work
Filled with a fire that drives others beserk
 But now, lay your heads down, close your eyes and sleep tight,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo, Carbs and the Giants

A woman adopts an alternative lifestyle and walks into a Denny’s in joke, it’s NaNoWriMo time and this go ‘round I’m writing in my den of creativity in Arizona instead of my bat cave in the Sierra Nevada’s. Thought it would be fun to get to know some writer types in the desert at the regional NaNoWriMo kick off, and it was. Here’s what I learned.

Writers aren’t healthy. Most identified their brain food of choice from the carbs and caffeine section of the abandoned food pyramid (guess they also retro). My favorite was fruit leather wrapped around a pickle (hmmm, is this writer planning to give birth to more than a novel?). The snack I aspire to is green peppers and crisp cherry tomatoes – the crack and pop is energizing, according to one of my new writer friends. I believe it.

Writers are overachievers. When asked what their biggest challenge was this year many trotted out new jobs, multiple children involved in activities such as competitive gymnastics and scouting, and college classes they are enrolled in  on top of their commitment to produce 1,667 words per day for 30 days toward a plot not fully fleshed out. My biggest challenge is to decide what point of view (POV) will work best for the sequel to The Sheep Walker and whether to write in first person again or switch to third person.

What I’ve learned from my 2010 participation. I’m going into this session with a full chapter by chapter outline and some experience with Scrivener, a content generation software program (I supply the content, it organizes my outline, character sketches and scenes and spits out a manuscript when I’m ready to push the button.) I have twice as many characters to get to know; we’re already living together.

I keep a 5-year diary. I checked my entry two years ago. On November 1, 2010  I wrote, “2, 409 words and the Giants won the series!” Hoping history will repeat itself.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Dialing the muse
Dialing up the muse
Holy muse, mother of imagination, I have neglected my blog (apologies to my Catholic friends for the inference). It’s not that my creativity has dried up, it’s been redirected. The Sheep Walker is in the capable hands of Writer’s Relief and an agent in New York is taking a look; time to start the sequel. That’s right, it’s NaNoWriMo time again!

I was surfing my blog for pithy quotes when I came across this entry Imade two years ago:

The point of this exercise is to beat my internal editor into submission; banish her to some netherworld in my brain; tame her insatiability for my words which she likes to chew on like a cow on cud.

Well that was then, this is now. I’m no longer too concerned with my internal editor. Today the point is to produce a second novel. What concerned me then was how my life would change when I bumped writing up on the priority list. What concerns me now is that The Sheep Walker spawned new generations and I have more characters to develop in the sequel, The Lyre and the Lambs.

This go ‘round I am in my new office in our desert retreat in Arizona and my guy is well trained from the last go ‘round. He knows when to disappear and when to reappear with tempting offers to dissuade me from spending too much time writing when the muse is tired.

I smell Polish sausage on the barbie and red cabbage and apples on the stove. The Giants are heading into the seventh for a shot at the series.
I’m ready.

Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zech 4:10

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Signs that make me wonder

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  Matthew 5:22 (ESV)

There is a lot of angry speech in the world.  Signs are popping up alongside the rural roads in my hometown that make me wince. Heading down the Grade after church this morning I saw that someone had tacked a sign to a tree denouncing President Obama as the antichrist. If we are looking for where the line is drawn between free expression and speech that should be called into question, Christ drew that line. He told a crowd on a mountainside that anger directed toward another human being is tantamount to murder.
 In a recent discussion about free speech a friend pointed out that those who do not live in free nations do not understand that what is spoken in public in a free country is not vetted by our Government. With freedom comes responsibility. In America, each person is responsible for his or her words—in court if their speech is deemed defamatory or hateful and, according to Christ, before God if the dignity of another person is disparaged.

Although it may be distasteful, freedom of speech guarantees people the right to publically discuss the gamut of sensitive issues, but a line is crossed when invective is hurled at the heart of an individual or a group. The more we let our arrows fly, the less accomplished we become in participating in meaningful discussions.

I don’t think there is a person among us who has not had an unflattering epithet pop into his or her head. Because most Americans so value free speech we are usually willing to overlook a diatribe as poor taste unless the consequences are extreme ( for example, a teenager dies as a result of bullying).  Christ sets the bar higher than the courts.  To call someone silly or stupid (or worse) is to elevate ourselves above someone else, we all have done it, and it’s a sin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Piece of Cake

Cream cake, Lake Bled, Slovenia
I’ve had my share of cake this year; a trip to Europe: a writer’s conference in Denver; an extended stay in the desert; a visit with family in the Pacific Northwest combined with the annual pilgrimage to Ashland, OR to bask in the wisdom of the bard.  I was looking to let the rest of the year slide. Then Lesley popped up at Bucket List Publications suggesting the year’s not done and challenging her fans to write a list of five things to accomplish before 2012 ends.

  I tripped over the word accomplishment.  Haven’t I accomplished enough for one year? Then la petite voix in my head said “they don’t have to be BIG accomplishments.” So here goes:

1. Walk a trail at Yosemite
2. Celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday with family
3. Help someone heal
4. Organize just one of my photo projects
5. Draft 50,000 words of my next novel in November’s NaNoWriMo

You see what happened by the time I got to item # 5.

If you check out Lesley’s list, you’ll see she likes to live large. Me, I like to live in a large world but next year I’d like to conserve some energy to give to God as temple offering. I’m going to attempt to pare down my resolutions; No bucket list next year, more like a shot glass approach—quick, powerful, done.

1. Start something
2. Finish something
3. Celebrate something
4. Kill something
5. Figure something out

Most fun will be identifying what to kill. This year, I killed my landline. Pre-election season was a brilliant time to do this. My house is blissfully quiet. I save money on a redundant service and minutes in a day checking to see if the light on my answering machine is blinking. I’m motivated to actually go see people so I don’t lose all my friends.

Panorama, Bled, Slovenia
Little in life is a cakewalk. Whether 30 amazing adventures crowd your calendar or five activities challenge you to make changes, list making pushes you to accomplish something that is often harder than you imagined it would be.  So leave a little room for a piece of cake.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Door #1 or Door #2?

Holly Lane Gardens

Inn at Vineyard Lane
We recently sampled lodgings on Bainbridge Island, WA. They could not have been more different, but each had its appeal. Organic farmer Patti Dusbabek has four rooms and a cabin down an unpaved road on 8.6 acres at Holly Lane Gardens.  Llamas keep the grass trimmed and geese supply eggs for breakfast. The charm is joining Patti in her warm farm-style kitchen, watching her put the finishing touches on a cranberry kuchen and hearing the tales this retired federal labor law investigator tells about giving the good old boys a hard time at the local farmer’s market.

I’m not sure who runs the Inn at Vineyard  Lane.  Our daughter made reservations online. We received email instructions for how to access our room electronically and directions to breakfast in the morning.  The first day we never saw a soul, but hot coffee waited on the counter in the empty commons and fresh homemade yogurt, granola and fruit chilled in the under counter refrigerator.  The Inn comprises four well appointed, zen-like rooms meditating in the middle of a complex of flats and penthouses near the Bainbridge Ferry--as  urban a landscape as the Gardens are rural. It was peaceful. Eerily so, but we liked it.

So, which to choose when we snatch our ninety-year-old grandma out of Arkansas and whisk her to the island for Christmas? She would feel at home on the farm. Patti would warm her insides and make her laugh. But she chills easily. We have to keep her warm on the outside. We will choose Door #2.