That’s Not Hay in My Hair – A Review

that's_not_hay_in_my_hair_bookThat’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner takes you from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the wide open spaces of one of our largest states, Texas. Jules and her mom have made New York City their home, but that’s all about to change for 12-year-old Jules.  They are about to move back to her mom’s hometown and a 300-acre ranch in Texas. Complete with dogs, horses, and longhorns big enough to take out a small car.  From tiny apartments and busy streets, to open land as far as the eye can see, we travel from the bustle of the Big apple to the open skies of Texas, a big switch for a ‘city girl.’  But Jules learns to adapt with her mom at her side and her cats, dogs, and sweet horses at her side.  There is tragedy, but one learns the circle of life on a ranch and that sometimes friends/pets, don’t last forever, but it’s okay. That’s Not Hay in My Hair is a fun look at how your life can change in the country and is a sweet story for a young girl.

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

I was quite excited to read this book because it sounded hilarious in the description. I had also been expecting this book to be about high school, but instead, it is actually for middle grade and even a bit younger. Juliette Turner is a 17-year-old author, daughter of Maggie Turner, who is known for being an author herself and staring on Northern Exposure in the late 80s. While the book is sweet and great for a young girl, I found it to be filled with too many gasps, exclamations, dramatic pauses, and just a tad too much in the expressions. Something I might expect from a young author. 17 is a very young age to be authoring. (this is coming from someone who writes herself and has been writing since age 14. Dramatic moments pepper my earlier writings quite liberally)  So while I applaud any young author, I am a bit critical about the style of the work. I was a little lost as to whether this was a semi-autobiographical novel as the storyline seems a bit similar to Miss Turner’s life. I had been expecting total fiction, but when I read the bio for the author and most of it matches up with the book, I was left wondering if it was a glorified retelling of one’s life.  I think Miss Turner needs to wait a few more years and learn a bit more about life before her writing matures. She has the capacity to write good fiction, but needs to read a lot more and live a few more years learning about life to tone down the excitement of her writing. I do also have to say that I do believe the only reason this book was possibly published was because Miss Turner and her mother are relatively famous. It gave her an edge to have a published book at such a young age.

Not great fiction, but clean and decent. Since I have a rating system of 1 to 5 stars and I can’t really give it a half star on Amazon, I’ll stick with three, but I think it is a little less. Decent and clean enough for a young girl, and I might have liked it at 12, but not the greatest fiction in the world.

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christiona Publishing, and BookLookBloggers for my honest review. I was in no way compensated for my opinion.

Kate

I’m A Little Bit Lost and Feeling Contained

Grow_DammitI need to write. I have so much inside of me right now that it’s threatening to explode.  Apropos since one of the prompts I got in my email today was “finding a bigger container,” which included this marvelous picture.

Is my life feeling uprooted? Do I feel like I’m in a container too small?  Maybe.  I spend a weekend feeling out of sorts due to a new infatuation with someone totally inappropriate but those feelings are still there.  I found the answer to a years and years old question of what bird I was hearing at night.  I have written an essay on it, and that needs to be typed up, edited, read by someone other than me, and hopefully it can be used to send off to a magazine.  I’m actually quite proud of the piece, even though it’s only in ‘shambles’ right now.  It’s actually not that bad.  I was relaying the story off to my writing group this last Saturday and one of the ladies told me that maybe I need to ask the question of why has this bird become a part of my life. Why has it just now revealed itself to me?  kind of like a spirit animal or guide.

Now personally I don’t believe in spirit guides and all due to my Christian faith, but at the same time, I did start thinking about it.  While the answer I came to might not be anything other than what I came up with in my own head, at the same time, I felt a bit of comfort in the result.

It has taken me years to discover this bird and it has driven me nuts year in and year out; but I have kept plugging away, trying to figure it out, not giving up hope that someday I might, just might find out what it is. The only thing I can connect it to is waiting for the right man to come along and just keep plugging away and waiting for the right person.  And also keep plugging away at my writing and someday I might be published.  Keep focused, maybe not to the point of insanity, but seriously taking moments to write furiously.  I’m not going to date furiously; I do have my standards…… Though one can sometimes dream.  (I have not been blessed with the cream of the crop around here….as I was talking to one of the ladies at the library in regards to books, I seem to have more crap of the crop around here.)

I am dabbling in poetry, at random points.  I have four poems that have started all on the same subject….. See above in unhealthy desires….. and then again on this and that. I have a post I want to write about letting words flow, but that will be when my brain is more focused.  Even now as I write, I have gotten distracted by election returns, a news story, looking out the window, my dog, my family.  I can’t stay focused.

-Paris-is-always-a-good-idea.--JournalI’m venting here.  I’ll blame Dona on this.  It’s her prompt that has me writing. I’m dreaming of Paris.  I’m dreaming of a man who love’s Paris but is taken….. so I can only indulge myself in anything French… My family indulged me with necklaces of the Eiffel Tower and a pair of earrings and I’m so Frenched/Eiffel Towered out but I love it.  “Paris is always a good idea” says Audrey Hepburn.  It is so true.  Said taken man spoke something in French to me all because he noticed my Eiffel Tower necklace.  It’s. So. Not. Fair.

What is this post but nothing more than frustration creeping out of me.  I need to run (it’s been almost a week since my last run) and I need to escape the ties that bind. Whatever those ties are. I think I need to write more and think less.  Now if only I could turn off my brain and let the free thought explode out.

I should stop.  The chickens are calling.  ‘Wheat, wheat,” they say.  I need to clean the coop and water and feed the feathered creatures.  Side note, wet chickens smell horrible.  I say that because it rained today and I had to scoop up my pal of a rooster, Mr. Blue, and put him away. He was wet.  P-U!

Restless and contained.
Kate

I Don’t Have A Writer’s Ritual

I do not have any daily writing rituals, though I do find that after lunch I will grab my pen, and whatever notebook that has struck my fancy for the time being, and go off to do whatever needs to be done in the hopes that inspiration will strike. It rarely does as I hang laundry, water something, do dreaded vacuuming, or hand washing my delicates. It’s most predictably the afternoon that I have my notebook and I’m lost or feeling lost if I don’t have the opportunity to jot something down. Rarely does anything ever go in the notebook du jour, but I feel more opportunistic if it is there.

My one writing habit that has become and is predictable for almost five months now is writing every Saturday morning with a group of ladies, or just one, depending on who shows up at the library. I only write for about a  half an hour, but I feel most productive with that short period of time. I know it will be completely uninterrupted and I can scribble as fast as I want and not have to worry about anyone calling for me. The ideas that get churned out in those brief thirty minutes leave me amazed, though I rarely write something that connects to anything else. In the five months I have started a lot of story ideas, and some have gone on to occupy two or three Saturdays, but then they get set by the wayside or forgotten.

I’m reading this book from the library about artists and their lives and what kind of made them create. Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, takes a look at artists of all walks; sculptors, composers, painters, filmographers, and yes, writers.  From Mozart to P.G. Wodehouse. These artists have interesting and unique rituals that helped them through the day.  And the recurring theme seems to be plenty of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and even amphetamines for several.  Lack of sleep, plenty of walks, and yes, someone else to do the laundry. (I seriously want someone else to do the laundry and cleaning and cooking. How can I create when I have life to do that takes up more time than it should?  Where is Sven!????

Normal 'ship' Terri MainThat being said, the book is insightful.  Clearly I’m not as crazy as I thought I was, because some of these people are.  Granted, normal is all relative, but there is weird, then there is just stark raving mad.  I jest, some, because I actually can understand the plight of some of these writers and artists.  I like to write late at night when the world is asleep.  I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. I jot down things on random scraps of paper that clutter up my space and I’m so organized that right at this moment, I’ve lost one of my favorite fountain pens and I don’t even know where to start.  Clutter and mayhem are somewhat a prerequisite for being artistic…. depending of course on whether or not you have OCD or not. I have my moments, but they tend to range from making sure the copper pots are shiny (who cares if there is a pile of dishes) to getting that one spot off of the wall.  Don’t ask, I don’t get it.

Rituals can either make or break a writer I think.  I think it all depends on the person in question.  I don’t thrive on rituals, other than maybe having at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning. But I have to be flexible.  I have learned to take the moments I can get them…. like right now on a Sunday I’m writing in  a very weird place but it’s quiet and I cannot be bothered.  I won’t tell you where it is.

But I’m learning my rituals are to take time when I can.  Maybe if I ever make it as a writer I can create my own weird ritual, but for now I’ll leave it to the pros.

I do recommend Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.  The book is fascinating and you can read little blips here and there. Like short stories.  Check it out. As an artist, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

Kate

Everything Stopped poem & My 24 Hour Romance poem

So, thankfully Robert Brewer posts a Wednesday poetry prompt, because I was feeling a bit down at the end of PAD. While I might have been cutting down on my writing, I had gotten in the flow of writing poetry every day and I was in serious withdrawal.   So the first Wednesday prompt after the end of PAD was ‘when everything stops’ and this week’s was ‘running its course’.  The first prompt had me writing about when writing stops, but that didn’t go very far. So I ended up writing about one of my characters. So poetry for my heroine. Here it is first.

Everything Stops
Everything stopped when he walked up
to the bar and bought her a drink
that she declined, but smiled prettily
and her eyes invited him in, though
her words were cautious.
He was her night to her day
Opposites in a crashing world of
guitars and drums and pictures and
still motion.
And all around the noise was a roar
But they stood like long lost friends
afraid to touch but longing to
step over the line in the sand
separating one beating heart
even though they had only just
met.

 

I rather like how it turned out because I can see how my two characters meet, in this moment where they are kind of oblivious to their surroundings.

My second poem for ‘running its course flashed to me when I met a marvelous man three years ago, or was it two?… and I suddenly understood instant attraction and it was kind of wonderful, and I still flash back to that first kiss that was something to hold other kisses up to. Sadly, I pined for too long, but oh well, I have my weird moments.

My 24 Hour Romance

Our relationship ran its course in 24 hours
from beginning to end
though I pined for you for thirty days
or more, or less as I slowly forgot
or gave up, or moved on…… I don’t know
But I still taste that perfect first kiss
and I still shudder in longing
and I still hope you would come back
Even though I know you never will.
For twenty four hours I was yours
until you said I would make someone a
perfect wife.
Why couldn’t it be you?

I feel that that is a bit bitter sounding, and maybe it is. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of other people telling me I’ll make a great wife for someone. You never want to hear that from a guy you like.  Maybe I’m a bit morose right now. May gets to me sometimes. Probably because it’s my birth month and my life comes back to haunt me in its own way. I start doubting my life, or what I’m doing, or the lack of things happening the way I had planned. Most people do it at the start of the year, you know, New Year’s Day? I do it on my birthday.

Well, despite morose, in some ways, I hope you enjoy.

Kate

Misread Poetry Prompt – Hazardous

Hazardous Life

Hairdryers, air mattresses, Coca Cola,
heating pads, skill saws, coffee pots, all
hazardous to your health, say
all the warning labels.
May cause cancer, will electrocute,
don’t leave near children.
This will kill you!
Browned potatoes have
known to be toxic and cause cancer
but we don’t recommend not eating
browned potatoes.
Warning labels on mattresses and matches
warnings on soap, wine and tobacco.
Don’t, don’t , don’t, everything says.
I’m curious. How do I live if everything
is hazardous to my health?

Okay, it’s not brilliant, but seriously, everything has a warning label.

Kate

She Disappeared – Or, Now She’s Back

Hello dearies,

After Writer’s Digest’s Poem a Day (PAD) and sending in my five poems, I kind of crashed when it came to writing. I found it apropos that on the Wednesday following PAD, Robert Brewer posted the poem prompt, When Everything Stops. Literally, everything with writing kind of stopped, at least here.  I always find that I have that problem when I do a challenge that means writing every day. I get a little burned out and put everything on hold.

Now I didn’t actually stop everything. I was writing at my writing group, and I actually have a couple poems that came out of the last two Wednesday Prompts at Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides.  I dabbled in a bit of flash fiction and wrote a Hazardous poem because of my misinterpretation of the one PAD prompt of haphazard. It was pretty fun though.

Now the early summer is here and my mind is off on several directions. Especially now that I received  six gorgeous new notebooks for my birthday. Oh the things to put in them! And I also splurged on this new leather journal, a pocket one, because of this offer I saw online. It is Renaissance Art Innovative Journaling and the offer was for a free Primer journal to see how they are. I paid just the shipping, which was $9.95, but I love it. It is just right for your purse or pocket. I can’t afford the paper choices they offer, though I would love to get the refills, so I made my own. But check out the free journal offer here —> Free Journal

So now I have several things to write in and ideas and such.  I have a project with the Friends of the Library, my local chapter, where I am going to be hunting for poetry lines or famous lines about the seasons or the months or such for a calendar that the Friends are going to make supposedly with a local photographer. I mean, it’s quotes. And writer things. I can do that.

So I’m still writing, just not as prolifically as I was a month ago. But it’s okay, now I can focus on a story I started in winter and trying to finish it.

How is everyone else writing along?

Kate

“Release the Dragons” – Flash Fiction

Jack’s study is wallpapered in a  1940s paper that features a lot of Van Dyke brown and golden apples. It’s a bit fuzzy and feminine, but because of the browns, it retains enough masculinity that Jack can deal. Had the papering been in roses and pinks, he would have torn it off long ago.

There are bottles of scotch lined up on a shelf, specialty types and expensive, and they add to the ‘his study’ vibe, at it really is all Jack. The rest of his house might be feminine, considering it’s his wife’s domain, but thankfully the study is all his. Down to the strange decorations on his wall; African masks and Native American spears, cigar boxes tucked into the book shelves, stacked books, a messy desk, dim interior. The study is Jack. Jack and the study are one.

The scent of the room is warm. Not so much as musty, but dust has a warm smell, and the crammed interior leads to there being more dust than might be in the rest of the house. Jack’s wife gave up on trying to keep his study neat and tidy. A little dirt never hurt anyone.  The books are new smelling, with glue and fresh paper and ink, but there are also older books. Books with yellowed pages and spicy with age. Leather covers with the warm and sharply metallic scent from the leather. There is a leather chair, worn from years of Jack sitting in it to their dogs  claiming as their own. An open cigar box smells of the sharp resinous smell of Spanish cedar and the unburned smell of tobacco. There is a warmth and coziness to the room and it is homey feeling without the pretentious feeling that it needs to be homey.

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and Jack is enjoying a small glass of scotch while he reads the latest historical book  on the Second World War. He has a great love of that particular war and has too many books on the subject. His wife, Sadie, is baking cookies in the kitchen and there is the warm smell of vanilla and burned sugar when the back door buzzer goes off, startling Jack.  The damn thing sounds like a fire alarm buzzer, it’s about as dramatic as one, and his three grandsons get a huge delight ringing the thing.

Jack sighs as he hears the trampling feet and voices garbled into a cacophony of sound. There seems to be a barking dog in the midst as well.

“Release the dragons,” Jack mutters as the heard of grandsons, a new dog, and a friend from school all pile into the hallway outside his door. He hails them, downs the rest of his scotch and slowly gets up.

Saturdays are for his grandsons even if they are about as disciplined as a herd of dragons.

 

I was complimented on how I describe a room and write it out recently. I think I have to give that credit to Zane Grey and Emilie Loring, whose work has inspired interiors and exteriors enough that I like writing about spaces. I want to have you, the reader, picture it in your head like I describe, but I realize each of us is different. Ah, one can dream.

So, for now, enjoy this snippet of flash fiction.

Kate

PAD Day 30 – Dead End – Dead Ends and Roads, and Endings?

Well, it’s here.  Yesterday was the last day of the Writer’s Digest Poem a Day challenge.  How will I ever survive without a poetry prompt every day? I am actually a lot a bit sad about it being the end, just because it brought focus to me, albeit, I felt a bit neurotic writing poetry, and so much of it, ever day.  But now to scale down the close to forty poems to five to send in to Robert for the challenge part.  Who knows, a couple might be picked.

Doesn’t matter so much as it turned out writing so many poems was good for me. It allowed me to express myself even more than I have been able to, unlocking some doors that I had slammed shut last year. While opening the doors is like opening a wound, it’s not a bad thing. It just lets me reevaluate life and realize that while outwardly I say I’m okay, a part of me is not. Emotions and such.

And while I probably won’t be able to submit any of these poems to a literary magazine, because a lot of places consider a blog as being published, I’m okay with that. But it makes me want to settle down to writing more poetry that is more expressive like it has been this month. There were areas I never thought could come out so emotional. Who would think a prompt of footwear would make me cry? Or tackling stars, or Important things, or  even silly and serious things? All of the prompts made me really think. And most of the time it took me all day to ‘brew’, as the term flew around the writing group today, and finally perk some poems by evening. It usually took me most of the day to let the idea gel. But it was good.

Русский: Грунтовая дорога в Гремячьем Колодезе

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, the last prompt was dead end.  A lot of people would probably think of dead end as a negative thing, but for me, while one of my poems comes out emotional, and one a little neurotically personal, dead ends also make me think of living in the country where a dead end road isn’t really ended, but just the pavement stops and then it’s open fields, or a dirt road, or a bike path, or a path to a creek, or a deer trail, or something utterly magical, or utterly ordinary, depending. I kind of like dead end things.

So here are my dead ends.

He’s A Dead End Road of Longing
Don’t go down that road of longing
it’s a dead end street of hope;
Not even a possibility of a country lane,
but a brick wall, ten stories high.
Try all you want, but you can’t break
through all the barriers he built up
to keep you at bay.
He’s piled obstacle upon obstacle
in his wake, and as you sift through the debris
and ever locked door
there is more in front of you.
He’s an expert of disguise, hiding himself
and all your suppositions are just that.
Just hopes you’ve made up in your mind,
hoping for the impossible to escape his mouth
and tell you all the things you want to hear.

 

I Like Dead End Roads
I like dead end roads of asphalt
that escape into the wild.
A deer trail, a dirt road, two tire tracks
that lead through tall grasses waving.
A sea of waving grass and ships of
wild flowers floating on the sea of green.
Where you wander down a buzzing of
unknown insects, the white noise
to the whisper of a breeze.
Down, down, down the track to
What? An abandoned barn?
To a rippling stream?
To nothing at all, but a path that
just keeps going on beyond
the dead end road.

 

Dead End Dreams
Dead end dreams, I’ve had a lot of those.
The kind you make at 5, 10, 18, 25, etc.
The dreams you think will become amazing.
Like becoming a ballerina though you are a klutz.
Or you will have four kids named:
Sadie, Phillip, Sofie, and Paul.
But then, you are not married at 25
like you had planned for the past fifteen years,
and you never became a nurse because
you nearly passed out watching your sister
get an IV at ten, turning green and dizzy and loopy.
And all your inner dreams died long ago
except for maybe one or two you water
and feed, trying to keep alive and so far
they are far from dead end….yet.
Just more of a detour on the tale ends
of a dream of a dream
where hopefully they become a car
on the highway of life where no road
ever really ends.

Kate

PAD Day 29 – Haphazard – My Books are in Upside Down Pyramids

Today’s prompt, from everything I have gathered, since Writer’s Digest seemed to be down all day, was ‘haphazard’. I had read it wrong earlier in the day as hazardous and started writing about things that are hazardous to our health.  I may have to finish that just for the heck of it.

I seem to have a random way of piling things, in piles that are not physically possible. Physics was never a strong suit of mine. And will never be despite my love of Legos and blocks. But that’s another story.  I have this thing where the smaller items get piled under the larger things so needless to say, my stacks of paperwork, books and whatnot tend to fall over. I’m not sure why this is the way it is, but my mother has always said I build upside down pyramids. I have gotten a bit better over the years, but honestly, I still do it. Really, even as I write this, I brought home four field guides and I just plopped some magazines and a picture book on top of them. It’s a really dangerous pile and kind of messy.  I’m really terrible about it. Sigh.

My Books are in Upside Down Pyramids

I pile books, not in neat piles, well maybe somewhat neat,
but mostly they end up in upside down pyramids
the pointy end down, the wide base up
a rather haphazard arrangement that ends up
tumbled in a pile or sliding to the floor.
As I type, the bird books and a novel are under a stack
of magazines and a picture book.
I’m never organized, tidy, or OCD when it comes
to piling books, except maybe sometimes
like cookbooks, they always come out neat
and tidy.
I’m not organized, or my organizing is haphazard
in its own way in where piles of paperwork
end up with other piles of paperwork and I can never
find anything till it all gets dumped together
for another day of sorting and tossing
which is never often enough

PAD Day 28 – Important – Important Documents, Dreams, and Words

The prompt for day 28 (sob, how can it be almost done!!!???) of PAD was Important (blank).  I liked Robert’s one prompt idea of Important Documents, so I went with that. I actually had ideas floating around in my head all day, but just didn’t want to sit down to write. I had hoped to keep the poetry flowing in a steady day to day thing, but I wanted to do other things tonight. Or last night since it’s technically morning right now.   I think I was channeling Boris. He’s been in my mind since I finally got a letter from him a week ago. So, old feelings have resurfaced, much to my chagrin, though the muse has been at work.

You know how the Greeks had their nine women muses?  Well for women, I think we need men as our muse. Or at least I find men inspiring. Maybe not.  Maybe it’s just Psyche’s Call that I’m listening to.  For those that are wondering about that phrase, I just am giving promotion to one of the women in our writing group who sends out a writing prompt ever day. They are not your normal ‘word’ prompts, but more of a thought process digging deeper into one’s psyche.  I urge you to sign up and check them out. They are thought provoking and while they haven’t ever really made me start a story, they do make me reevaluate what I am writing, or make me look at what I’m writing a bit differently.

A current prompt from Psyche's Call

A current prompt from Psyche’s Call

Important Documents

I hold out these important documents
tied up in manila and twine and brass rivets
and cogs and wheels and locks and keys.
They hold things so dear to me, but I’m handing
them to you, trusting you to not tear me apart.
I hold documents so dear to me, out to you,
you who has been a part of me over the years.
I wrote them to you, for you, about you,
then tucked them away safely for years,
afraid of showing myself to you.
But you have been ever bit as safe
as the warm blanket that holds me at night
never judging me for the words I wrote
for you, about you, to you.
Thousands of words, written too big to say out loud.
I can only whisper them, or write them down.
My heart too afraid to utter a syllable of sound.
I know you won’t shatter me, but I still hand them
to you and ask you to read what I say
inside my very soul each time I say your name.

Important Dreams

These dreams are what build universes
and stories
and chapters
and titles
These dreams are what make my world explode
in color
in song
in dance
These dreams are what turn out words
in rhyme
in poems
in laughter
These dreams are what make me create
a world
a hero
a love story
These dreams are what are so important to my life
in hopes
in longings
in promises

 

Important Words

I wrote out a poem for you, or two, or three, or millions more.
I have them in scraps of colored paper and index cards.
I wrote them on pictures, on postcards, and notes.
I have important words for you to hear though I can’t say them.
They are too big to say out loud, to small to write them down.
They are what make you a dream, and me the goddess writing them.
They are what make you the mystic and I am the mystery unfolding.
They are what make you the sorcerer and I am your slave.
The magical words bind me to you in simple ways.
The words tie me up in hopeless thoughts too confounding.
The words cling to my skin like sand on the beach.
The magical words are my shackles and my freedom.
Come read them and take them with you.
Take them from me so I forget what I said.
Let me throw them to the wind like petals on the prairie.
Only you could ever know what they mean to you and me.

 

Clearly there is a theme, of sharing words with someone, but also being afraid to, but then knowing that person would not hurt you. It’s a weird feeling. Maybe it’s a feeling that’s too big to express. Maybe I have been writing poetry for too long and too many this month. Maybe it’s a good thing that the month is almost over of a poem or more a day. Because clearly I have been writing more than one poem a day.

Kate