Post-A-Day, 9/18/14 — Chestnuts and Plagiarism

Post-A-Day Challenge:  Write about anything for 10 minutes.

CHESTNUTSUnder the spreading chestnut tree, the village —– Oh, no. Wait. That’s already been written. Okay, let’s just talk about chestnut trees. Or rather, let’s talk about the nuts themselves. I’ve never seen a chestnut tree in real life, but I have seen chestnuts. They hold a special romanticism for me, primarily because I LOVE Christmas, and I’ve always connected roasted chestnuts with that wonderful holiday. But I’ve never been able to successfully roast chestnuts.

I bought some one year and was all excited about roasting them. Of course, not having a fireplace in my home, my only choice was to roast them in the oven. I found instructions for doing so, but somehow, my nuts didn’t look right when they came out of the oven. I’m not sure I did it right.

Well, laugh-out-loud — you’d think someone with a college degree and experience teaching school, running a home, and writing for a living would be able to figure out how to roast chestnuts successfully. But I didn’t. I think it’s partly because I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take off part of the covering before I roast them. The instructions didn’t say anything about that, but mine certainly didn’t pop open a little the way they were supposed to, so I thought maybe I was supposed to remove a part of the outer shell first.

Anyway, as part of my 10-minute writing exercise, I’m confessing my failure as a chestnut roaster, and I’m also asking if anyone out there is an expert – or is even mildly successful at roasting chestnuts in an oven. And if you are either of the above, would you pass along your advice to me. It’s coming on towards Christmas —- well, wouldn’t you know it — I think I’ve plagiarized again. Didn’t a song by Joni Mitchell have that line in it somewhere?

Writing for 10 minutes and plagiarizing two people must be some kind of record. But, hey, let me know if you have advice about chestnuts before Christmas, would you please?

My timer is down to one minute and 19 seconds, so I’ll just add this: Thanks a lot and Merry Christmas!

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Daily Post Writing 101 — My 20-Minute Stream of Consciousness

HANDS AT KEYBOARD  SHORT FOR BLOGI’m a big fan of writing exercises, but I haven’t actually put myself through any in quite a while, so when the Daily Post started off this new term of Writing 101 with a 20-minute exercise, I decided I should go for it. Here’s their instructions:

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write. Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.”

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

So – set the timer – punch the button: GO!

Matthew couldn’t breathe. Well – no – that wasn’t right. He could breathe, but he felt as though he were being pushed through a very narrow tunnel, and it was squeezing the breath right out of him.

Whooooosh! Ah — now — now he could breathe normally again. But what had just happened? He looked around him.

Holy cow! Where am I?” Surrounded by buildings taller than anything he could have imagined, with traffic rushing past him just to his left, he felt a little dizzy and disoriented. He shook his head to try to clear it, and that’s when he noticed the girl standing about four feet way from him.

Hi.” she said, almost bashfully.

Uh … hi yourself. Uh … do I know you?”

She giggled. “Not yet. But you will.”

What does that mean?” He looked around in all directions as if trying to locate something. “And what on earth is that racket?”

“What racket?”

That incessant tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”

She cocked her head to listen and a moment later, she grinned again. “Oh, that. I have learned to just close it out after all these weeks. It’s the sound of the keys on the keyboard.”

What keyboard?”

Melissa’s, silly. She’s the author.”

What’s an author?”

Oh, I forgot that you couldn’t know all that yet. It takes a while to figure things out once you get here, but I’ve been here so long that I’ve pretty well gotten acclimated to everything.”

Matthew tried clearing his head with a shake again. “Wait … what? … What are you talking about? What’s going on? Where am I anyway?”

The girl let out a huge sigh. “Okay. I’ll start from the beginning. Melissa Pendergast is an author, and she writes romance novels. She’s writing one now. I’m the heroine. My name’s Abigail, by the way,” she said, extending her hand to him.

He shook her hand but eyed her suspiciously. “And just what does that have to do with me?”

Why you’re going to be the hero of the story.” She paused, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “And — the love of my life.”

You’re crazy! I don’t even know you.”

Abigail sighed again. “Of course you don’t — yet. You just got here. Melissa has just now decided who you will be. Well, just a couple of days ago anyway. I heard her talking to her best friend, so I know what the plan is now. She decided to call you Matthew because her very first boyfriend – in sixth grade – was named Matthew, and she did it in honor of him.”

Whoa — wait — start over, will you?”

Abigail began to get a little irritated. “I don’t need to start over. You just need to pay attention. Melissa is writing a love story and you are my lover. We are supposed to meet on the street right in front of that store over there on the corner. I’m supposed to get my heel caught in a grate at the edge of the curb, and you come to my rescue before a horde of people practically mow me down in their hurry to cross the street in the short time the light says ‘Walk.’

So I’m in a book?”

That’s right. And I understand it’s supposed to get a little steamy.” She smiled broadly now. “But I have to say that I’m not at all sorry. You’re quite a hunk, you know.”

Well … thanks … but … I’m not sure I want to be in somebody’s book – even this Melissa’s.”

Oh, don’t worry. She’s a great writer, and thousands of people love her books. We’ll be two of the most popular people in the world before too long. At least — I hope it’s before too long. She had a hard time sticking with this story. That’s why I’ve been around so long – waiting for you. She hit a block of some kind, but now everything seems like a go, and I can hardly wait.”

So, when I felt like the breath was being squeezed out of me, that’s when I was being birthed into this story, so to speak?”

That’s right. That’s exactly how it feels! But you’re okay now, aren’t you?”

Matthew looked himself over, took a nice deep breath, relieved that he could, and answered. “Yeah, I think I’m okay. But what do we do now?”

Just relax for a few minutes. I think Melissa just finished the second chapter, and she’s about to have us meet. This is so exciting. I think I’m falling in love with you already.”

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(As soon as I decided to write for this challenge, the first line popped into my mind, and I went from there. My understanding was that we were not supposed to edit these pieces to any extent, so I did type slower than usual to try to avoid as many mistakes as possible.)

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Friday Fictioneers – 9/12/14 – Narcissus

I’m going to try to jump back into Friday Fictioneers today with a poem. If you’d like to join in and write your own 100-word story/poem based on the picture below, hop over and check out the details. Today’s picture is courtesy of Janet Webb.

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NARCISSUS

It’s true you quicken heartbeats when you enter rooms.
And every girl around competes for you.
The wilting sighs escape when you are passing by,
And “gorgeous” comes to mind describing you.

Your smile – it’s dazzle ‘lectrifies fair maiden hearts,
Your voice – it has a timbre all its own.
And when you stay away, we girls all miss you so;
That you return to find our love has grown.

But all our smiles and sighs have no effect on you.
And year by year you manage to stay free.
Well, I, for one, know why you never choose a love:
You’re lost in love with what your mirror sees.

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Share Your World – 2014 – Week 36

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Visit Cee’s blog to get involved and share  your own world as well.

Question # 1:  Do you prefer reading coffee table books, biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?

Oh-oh.  This is a hard one because I just enjoy reading so much that I can’t really choose. I love them all — truly. But since my life seems to always be so full of stress, I suppose I would have to say fiction, only because it offers me the greatest “escape” of any reading experience, and that helps me relax.

Question # 2:  What is your biggest fear or phobia? 

I don’t have any real fears of phobias, but one thing that I find myself trying to escape from is conflict. In my younger years, I was always ready to “take the bull by the horns,” so to speak, and jump right into a conflict with my own arguments — especially when I “knew” I was right. But in more recent years, I will go waaaaaay out of my way to avoid conflict if at all possible — even when I know I’m right.

Question # 3:  What is your favorite kind of cheese?

Farmers Cheese is my absolute favorite, but I like almost all kinds. I just read a quote by G. K. Chesterton, in which he refers to the fact that he has noticed that poets do not ever seem to write on the subject of cheese.  Interesting.

Question # 4:  What is your favorite month of the year?

October — for sure. Although November and December run such a close second that it’s hardly worth noting the difference. I simply love fall. I’ve told people many times that if I could just talk God into it, we would live in a world with 9 months of fall, 1 month of winter, and 2 months of spring.

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for the wonderful people who have enrolled in my Writing Poetry class. They are so eager to learn and their eagerness is very inspiring to me. I am so looking forward to the next several weeks with them.

This coming week, I am also looking forward to getting a new handle on my cleaning and organizing at home. My house has been neglected a lot this past few months as I did other things, and I am beginning to feel the weight of mass clutter. I’m actually looking forward to cleaning it up. Don’t worry: I’m not a cleaning freak. And I’m definitely not the housekeeper my mother was.  But — really — when you have to walk carefully through the living room because the path between clutter is only about three feet wide, it’s time to fix things.

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Floral Friday Foto 146 – Neighborhood Blooms

Well, now that I’m into the Floral Friday Foto project, I will try to keep up. This little cutie is sitting on my front porch right now, welcoming the coming of my very, very, very, very most favorite season of the whole year: Fall

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And these wild beauties climb up my neighbor’s fence. They generally bloom twice each summer.

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Share Your World – Week 35

GLOBE - PIECE OF THE WORLD w. text.
When I was a child, I bought a little banner at a community fair that said, “Slow But Sure.”  So, okay, I’m sometimes slow about getting around to stuff — like the “Share Your World” project that Cee hosts every week. I see a lot of my blogging friends responding, but I just never got around to getting started. You know what I mean?  Well, maybe you don’t because maybe you don’t procrastinate the way I do.
Anyway, I decided it’s time I at least jumped in and tried to get involved. In this project, Cee Neuner post an article every week in which she asks bloggers four questions about themselves or their lives. That helps all their readers get to know them better. If you’d like to take part just follow this link or the one connected to Cee’s name above, and you’ll find all the details.
Now, for question # 1:
Have your blogging goals changed?
No, I started blogging for three reasons — which is why I have more than one blog. My ministry blogs are there for the purpose of helping people get to know the Lord Jesus Christ and His love for them, and those goals are still the same.
My patriotic blog was born out of my desire — or maybe my need — to vent on a number of issues that are important to my country and its future.
And my author’s blog (the one you are on now) is my attempt to connect with other like-minded people from all over the world and share our love of writing and our desire to touch people with the deepest things from our hearts as we express them in those tiny little black marks on paper.
So my goals are exactly the same as they were in the beginning, and the nicest thing about all of it is that I am reaching those goals in a very satisfactory way.
Question # 2:
If you were to perform in a circus, what would you do?
That’s easy: NOTHING. I absolutely hate circuses, so I wouldn’t be caught anywhere near one.
Question # 3:
If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18, what advice would you give yourself? Or if you are younger than 25, what words of wisdom would you like to tell yourself at age 45?
The advice I’d give is to tell myself (or anyone else) that you can make it on your own, with the Lord’s help. It’s terrific to have good friends and family. And life can be sad when we don’t have those blessings. But it’s important for all of us to believe — to know — that we are not dependent on another person to make us valuable or to help us make something beautiful of our lives.
Question # 4:
What is your favorite comfort snack food?
CHOCOLATE.  Hands down, no questions asked, no mulling it over in order to make a decision.  It’s chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!
Bonus question:
What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up:
I’m grateful I got through the grueling dental work I had to have done last week and that I am well on my way to being back to normal.
This coming week, I’m looking forward to the new fall term of my writing classes at the junior colleges. This fall I am starting a brand new class on writing poetry.
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Special Award To Cee Neuner

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This post is specifically to give a special (no-rules-attached) award to blogging photographer Cee Neuner for her creative-fun photo  of a roll of toilet paper.
Now admittedly, I am presenting this award with “tongue in cheek,” but Cee is an extremely talented photographer, and if you have not visited her site, you should. Her work is fantastic, and I think she deserves recognition. Besides, the funny side of me just could not resist making special note of work that goes into realms most photographers leave untested.
You’ll find the photo, along with others, at the link connected to her name above.

And as stated in parentheses, there are absolutely no rules attached with this award. I do not believe in awards with rules, because the person receiving that honor has already earned it fully.

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Words are not just building blocks; they are my favorite toys.

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