I fancy myself a writer.


Who ever heard of a takin?


Mishmi-Takin, 100 Jahre Tiergarten, Nürnberg, ...

Mishmi-Takin (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)

When you’ve been to as many zoos as I have been to, it’s rare to find an animal you’ve never heard of. It’s rarer still to find one so odd that you just can’t stop staring at the thing, even as your kid is tugging at your hand begging you to move on to the next exhibit. But this happened to me a few weeks ago at the Peoria Zoo in Peoria, Illinois. In fact, it was such a surreal experience, I can’t stop thinking of it today. Read the rest of this page »

Blog post challenge: List 10 books you read growing up that have stuck with you

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Photo credit: Wikipedia) was one of my favorite books when I was a pre-teen.

Lately I’ve been seeing this new social media challenge going around on Facebook and various other outlets and decided to get in on the fun: List 10 books you read growing up that have stuck with you. Here’s my list for today (although, if you ask me the same question tomorrow, I will probably have thought of ten other books that I should have used insteadJ)

  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain is my celebrity crush.)
  2. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)
  3. The entire Little House on the Prairie series (Laura Ingalls Wilder,) but especially the final book where the tone of the series changes so dramatically.
  4. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  5. Julie of the Wolves (Jean Craighead George)
  6. Ghost in the Garden (Carol H. Behrman)

Read the rest of this page »

Stop apologizing for existing

Castle at Illinois State UniversityI recently started a new job at a large state university, and I have been a little disturbed by something I have witnessed since the students returned to campus last week. No, I’m not talking about how filthy the restroom outside my office is now (seriously, you’re supposedly adults: clean up after yourselves!) What I am talking about is how often I hear the young women in my vicinity apologizing for existing.

It happens to all of us, but especially to those of us who live or work in heavily populated areas where there are a lot of people coming and going. You step around a corner or go to open a door and almost run into someone who is coming toward you, heading in the opposite direction from which you are going. Neither of you has done anything wrong. You simply happen to be trying to exist in the same time and space, and each of you has a need to move in the opposite direction from the other. Not a big deal, right?

But the thing that bothers me about this common, everyday (sometimes every hour, when classes are letting out all at once) occurrence is that the males I am almost running into on a regular basis will usually say, “Excuse me,” while the females will invariably say, “I’m sorry.” Read the rest of this page »

Tonight’s supermoon and thoughts on perspective

Tonight – August 10th – is seemingly the largest full moon of 2014. Be sure to check it out!

supermoon 2014

In the meantime, here’s some food for thought on perspective.

Read the rest of this page »

Transformation is hard

Human shapes

Human shapes (Photo credit: mripp)

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, day-by-day, and often over the course of months or even years. If you are trying to transform your life, you can’t allow yourself to be discouraged a day, or a week, or even several months into the process. It isn’t going to happen just because you tell it to. Your new life must slowly become a habit before it can become a real and lasting change.

Don’t waste time worrying over how far you have to go or how little you might have accomplished by today. Instead, wake up each morning and ask yourself, “What can I do today to be a better person than I was yesterday?” Maybe that means you will eat one less cookie today than you did yesterday. Maybe that means you will write five more words today than you did yesterday. Or maybe you will decide to say one less curse word or be just a little less cranky with your kids. Whatever it means for your life, just think how far you will have gone a year from now if you continue to be a little bit better each day. Read the rest of this page »

Richfield Nature and Historical Park, Richfield, WI

Pretty creek at Richfield Nature Park

I love creeks and streams, and this was a particularly pretty one.

I love exploring. Last weekend, I was driving my older son to his girlfriend’s house in another town and happened to notice a sign for the Richfield Nature Park along the way. On the way home, I asked my younger son if he felt like exploring, and next thing you know, we are discovering a cool new local attraction that I hadn’t even known existed!

At first glance, Richfield Nature Park, in Richfield, Wisconsin, seems as though it’s not much to look at. We walked a small trail around part of the park and thought there wasn’t much to see. It was nice to get out in Nature for an afternoon, but it only took us about ten minutes to walk the trail. Then we noticed that that road we drove in on continued beyond the nature park and went past an old red barn. At first, it wasn’t obvious if the barn was part of the park, or if it belonged to a neighboring property. We decided to follow the road and see what lay beyond. Read the rest of this page »

National Poetry Month Collaborative Twitter Poem


Poetry (Photo credit: V. H. Hammer)

Well, here we are. It’s April 1st, and once again time to celebrate National Poetry Month. I haven’t really been writing much poetry lately, so I thought it might be fun to do a collaborative Twitter poem challenge.

For this challenge, I am going to give you a one-word prompt/Twitter handle. Next, you come up with a poem – either one short poem that will fit into one 140-character Tweet, or a longer poem that you can split up, posting one verse per Tweet – and share it on Twitter using the provided hashtag. I am starting the challenge here today, and then I would love it if some of you would volunteer to host one or a few additional prompts on your blogs throughout the month of April. Read the rest of this page »

Another “damn rape poem”

I came across this on tumblr this morning and had to share.

“The Rape Poem to End all Rape Poems” by the Rutgers University slam team:

Read the rest of this page »

How to write a book one blog post at a time

Let's Pretend

Parts of Jenny Lawson’s book, “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” first appeared on her blog. | Photo credit: artbybernadette

The prospect of writing an entire book can be daunting. It’s a lot of work and can take a LOT of time to complete. All the while, you might find yourself wondering if you are good enough or if anyone will ever want to read it. One way to combat this anxiety is to write your book one blog post at a time.

Whether you write serialized fiction (like blogger/author Amanda Martin’s Two-Hundred Steps Home) or creative non-fiction (like The Bloggess’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened – A Mostly True Memoir,) you can write the first draft of your book-length manuscript one blog post at a time.

There are many benefits to writing a book this way. Check out my list below and then feel free to add your own ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page. Read the rest of this page »

My PenMonkey Evaluation: Six Questions


REVENGE OF THE PENMONKEY: Wallpaper #2 (Photo credit: curious_spider)

Today I am participating in the TerribleMinds PenMonkey Evaluation. Here are the answers to my writing survey questions:

  1. What’s your greatest strength/skill in terms of writing/storytelling? –> Dialog. The voices make me do it.
  2. What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble? –> Description. I touched on that just a couple of days ago here
  3. How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them? –> Well, that’s a bit personal, isn’t it? Okay. Well. Finished? Can I count my one completed first draft that I’m still revising? I have several other first drafts that I’m still plugging away on, but that’s it as far as actually “finishing” a book. Unless you count my book of amateurish poems I slapped up on Kindle a while back. As far as other projects go, my blogs are doing awesome. Besides this one winning an actual award (as opposed to a Liebster or something like that,) I have been steadily gathering new readers each week. Read the rest of this page »

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