Tuesday, October 16, 2012

moving on...

After years of sporadic posting, I am moving from this blog. I will leave it up, but will no longer update it.

My new writing-related home base is the blog at my website violetnesdoly.com.

Thanks so much to all who have come by to read. I hope our relationship will continue!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The launch that was almost a gong show

The book launch is history. It was fun, though it had its hairy moments.

I came down with a slight case of laryngitis the day before the launch, so had a bit of a scratchy voice.

Then the literacy specialist who offered to provide our refreshments (because it's Literacy Month) set them up on the table in the hallway to grab the crowd exiting the library as well. (Good thing we'd brought a few goodies to supplement!)

The program was full, and it was a good 8:00 p.m. before it was my turn (we have to be done by 8:30 to be cleared out at 9:00 p.m., library closing time).

Wouldn't you know it,  just before I was about to start, someone tripped on the cord of the mic, and we couldn't revive it (meanwhile more minutes are ticking away...).

So there I was with a scratchy voice, no mic and a clock that wouldn't stand still!

But it all worked out just fine! Maybe it's the old teacher in me, that has learned to make her voice carry to the back of the room? Anyway, the people in the audience were most attentive, I got through what I'd planned to read and say, and I sold a few books too. Good all around!


I'm excited about another book event coming up!  I'll be reading, along with three fine gentlemen, Thursday, September 20th.

Alvin Ens, Brayden Sawatzky, and Richard Toots and moi will be doing a Coffee House Reading at the House of James (2743 Emerson St., Abbotsford, BC) 7:00 p.m.

Free of course! Please come if you can!!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Destiny's Hands launch - September 10th, Clearbrook Library

A week from today is the official launch of Destiny's Hands. It's happening at The Blue Moon Reading of the MSA Poets Potpourri Society (of which I'm a member and the website keeper).

 If you're in the area, consider this your invitation. There will be an open mic poetry reading from 6:30 − 7:30 so if you come, bring something to read. And there will be food!

Here is the poster made for the event.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's been happening


I'm happy to report that my novel, Destiny's Hands, which released in June, is now well into the selling phase.

Nine boxes of books arrived and took up residence in my garage on July 5th. For the last three weeks I've been showing off my baby and filling a few orders. My pre-order sale got things off to a jump start and I'm thrilled to report that my first box is empty and I'm into box 2.

If you're interested in getting a copy, there are several ways you can do it:

1. I'll send you a signed book ($17.99 + 4.25 shipping and handling. Payment by cheque or PayPal). Email me to set it up.

2. Order online from: 
BEST PRICE! They're selling it at a bargain $13.67, member price: $12.99.

3. Check your local Christian bookstore.  It's in stock at Blessings Christian Marketplace - Calgary, Edmonton & Langley locations.

It's also in stock at the bookstore in my church: Christian Life Assembly, Langley, BC.

If you'd like your store to bring it in, have them order it through Word Alive Press.

Author Interview

Fellow Canadian writer, Janet Sketchley interviewed me. Find out more than you ever wanted to about me:
Thank you so much, Janet!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Street overpass mural - Vancouver, B.C. (click on photo to enlarge)

- by Thurlow Gowan

Wake, my starving grandson,
And chew this piece of bark
So I can tell you stories
As we shiver in the dark.

Come closer, little grandson,
We can keep each other warm:
That lesson was forgotten,
It brought us all to harm.

I can tell you of a country
That stretched from sea to sea,
For the people sang and shouted
Of the “True North Strong and Free.”

Many were the singers
Who got selfish one by one:
They didn’t like the language
Or were tired of the tune.

They wanted their own language,
They took their little piece,
Our land was segregated –
It was the end of peace.

We burned each others’ forests,
We filled each others’ mines,
We bombed each others’ buildings
Which poisoned all the farms.

Awake, my shaking grandson,
I can tell of better times.
In summer we went camping –
You have never seen a tree!
We camped out in the forest,
We thought it was for free.

There were mighty supermarkets,
You could buy most any stuff,
In a million kinds of packets
But it wasn’t quite enough
For the selfish, grasping people…
Grandson, please don’t cough.

You should have seen the wheat fields
Or the orchards by the lake,
I had a dog and pony –
Grandson, try to wake.

Those broken hunks of concrete
Intermingled with the soil
Were once a super highway
When people still had oil;
How the roaring, crashing vehicles
Went through the overpass,
But pollution from exhaust pipes
Killed all the trees and grass.

As the country kept dividing
The enmities would grow,
What’s the use of super highways
When you have no place to go?

Wake! My little grandson,
The sun is bringing day,
It is the coldest time of night
“The hour before,” they say.
Awake my little grandson!
I see a little girl,
She doesn’t speak our language
But she’s pretty as a pearl.

I see she’s dipping water
With her father by the lake –
We could start another nation
If you could just awake!

(Used with permission)

The writer of this poem, my friend and fellow poet Thurlow Gowan, will be 100 in November. Our poetry club is putting together an anthology of his poems as well as tributes and poems by members. (I mentioned this project in my Poetry Friday post last week.) As co-editor of the project, I've had a chance to read all the poems of his slated for the book.

Thurlow has lived through a lot of changes.  His poetry reflects his deep love of the land and nature, and in more than one piece he expresses his outrage at what we're doing to our home, the earth. This poem moved me deeply, and I thank him for giving me permission to post it here.

The accompanying pictures are of a mural I photographed under a Vancouver street overpass near Granville Island.

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Tara at A Teaching Life.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Are you guilty of any of these grammar goofs?

I got this cool 15 Grammar Goofs graphic from Copyblogger. (Go here if you want to post it on your own website.)

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two for moms

It's almost Mother's Day. When I look through my piles, I see that I've written scads of poems about mothers—having one, being one. But today I feel like sharing a couple by others. Both are a peek into mothering.

The first one is this week's American Life in Poetry Column, reproduced below in its entirety.

American Life in Poetry: Column 372


We’ve published a number of engaging poems about parenthood in this column, and we keep finding more. Here’s Wendy Videlock, who lives in Colorado, taking a look into a child’s room.


I should be diligent and firm,
I know I should, and frowning, too;
again you’ve failed to clean your room.
Not only that, the evidence
of midnight theft is in your bed—
cracked peanut shells and m&m’s
are crumbled where you rest your head,
and just above, the windowsill
is crowded with a green giraffe
(who’s peering through your telescope),
some dominoes, and half a glass
of orange juice. You hungry child,

how could I be uncharmed by this,
your secret world, your happy mess?

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2003 by Wendy Videlock from her most recent book of poems, Nevertheless, Able Muse Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Wendy Videlock and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

The second poem is a wonderful Ann E. Michael imitation of the famous "For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt Jubilate Agno)" by Christopher Smart, published this February in the Imitation edition of  quarrtsiluni.

JUBILATE PUERIS (Christopher Smart gratias)

by Ann E. Michael

For I will consider my Boy Michael.
For he is the servant of no one, although we do request his assistance.

For when it comes to food, he worships in his own way.

For this is done by opening the peanut butter jar and swirling a knife seven times round with 

For then he spreads the peanut butter upon the bread, and closes up the jar, and leaves the
 dirty knife upon the counter.

For he layers jelly upon the sandwich.

For having thus made his own lunch he does pride himself.

For this is the minimum of what is expected of him, that he make his lunch and put his 
own clothes upon his body and occasionally wash his ears.

Happy Mother's Day!

This post is submitted to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Fascinating story—in verse!

Title: One Night

Author: Margaret Wild

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up - "Angry at his mother for deserting him, hunky Gabe treats the many girls he meets with a "love them and leave them" attitude. He and his buddies function as a well-oiled machine when it comes to throwing parties, hiding the dysfunction in their families and their personalities behind a smooth facade. Helen, who was born with a disfigured face, hopes to become a plastic surgeon someday. After a one-night stand with Gabe, her world is shattered when she finds that she is pregnant. Written in verse, the book details each small failure and success along the journey toward Gabe and Helen feeling comfortable in the world again.The book takes a sensitive and thoughtful look at a number of other characters as well, each of whom has been betrayed in some way and is dealing, or refusing to deal, with the grief of the situation. Teen readers will love this story and will appreciate its hopeful ending."

I took One Night by Margaret Wild with me on my morning walk Monday, planning to read  while I waited for the library to open. Fifteen minutes into the book, with the library now open, I was so engrossed all I felt like doing was reading on. 

This book is different than Stop Pretending in several ways.

Author Wild goes into several heads/points of view. She clears up any confusion about where we are by putting the POV person's name in the title of first-person poems. She uses titles to share important information in other poems as well.

There are four main characters in this book and quite a cast of minor ones. The author shows us the mixture of good and bad qualities that each one possesses so we come to care for most of them. We also get some understanding of how their upbringing and background helped shape them into who they are.  In this way it's a compassionate story even though the three main boy characters do some nasty things.

This story is rawer/edgier than Stop Pretending too, with party scenes, sex and teen language (not gratuitous but realistic—I hear the same words used by the kids in my town).

Everything ties up neatly at the end and Wild makes her point (about the power of love and the importance of caring for each other) without being preachy.

The poetry in One Night is looser and less formal than the poetry in Stop Pretending without the forms and counted syllable-style poems of that book. Individual poems didn't stand out for me in this collection. In fact, I didn't even notice that they were poems, I was that preoccupied with what I was piecing together.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Verse Novels and a review of one of them

I am new to the verse novel genre. However, I have bumped into several verse novelists since hanging around the Poetry Friday crowd, I personally love writing poetry, have a story idea that just might be right for one, and so I have decided to do a little research into this tributary of Kid/YA Lit.

I started by putting together a list of verse novels and novelists, and yesterday picked up my first batch of requests from my local library.

I read Stop Pretending: What happened when my big sister went crazy by Sonya Sones in—what, an hour, 90 minutes? It's a short read (I counted 106 poems, 145 pages), but powerful. Here's the jacket copy, followed by my impressions.

"In the blink of an eye it happens. A teenage girls suffers a mental breakdown and lands in a psychiatric ward, haunted by voices, out of control, seeming transformed into a stranger.
For the younger sister left behind, nothing will ever be the same. Fearful about her own sanity, her fragile friendships, and her unraveling world, she embarks on a fierce emotional journey. A succession of powerful poems stirs up a cyclone of emotion that sweeps the chilling landscape of mental illness."

My thought after reading the first few poems: This is way too real and true-to-life to be made up solely from someone's imagination. I flipped to the back and found out, yes, this book is autobiographical. One of Sonya Sones' older sisters had a nervous breakdown at 19 when Ms. Sones was 13—the ages of the two girls in Stop Pretending

I expected breathy, maudlin teenage verse. But Sones gives us controlled emotion. These poems with their focus and spareness become the perfect vehicle for the deeply felt subject matter. Thirteen-year-old Cookie's voice has a diary-like tell-all quality to it when she expresses her mixed up feelings (fear, rage, sadness, confusion, weariness, shame etc.) about her sister's illness and all the changes it brings to her life.

I love the way this book gives just enough information so we know what's happening, yet still leaves room for us to do a little figuring out on our own. The U.S. urban setting (where family, friends and school loom large) make it easy for modern tweens and teens to relate.

The poems themselves range from very short (like the four-line "The Truth Is" - p. 64) to several pages long ("I'm Tired" pp. 92-94). Mostly they are in free verse but presented with an underlying sense of control. Several poems use syllable-counted forms. For example, the second poem, the powerful "My Sister's Christmas Eve Breakdown" is eight cinquains (five line stanzas containing, successively, 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables, used in other places too). There is a prose poem ("English Homework" p. 42), and lots of poems made up of tercets (three-line-stanzas, unrhymed).

She uses repetition a lot and with good effect. "Maybe..." begins each stanza in "My Supper Theories as to Why" p. 37, "I'm tired..." is the mantra of "Tired p. 92-94, and "Will they..." or "Will she..." begin the six stanzas of "Shock" p. 133.

If I could quote my favorites, I'd share "My Sister's Christmas Eve Breakdown," "Three A.M. the same night," "Paper Doll" (I all but lost it on this one), and "Last July, when sister and I got lost on the Cape" for starters. (Actually Ms. Sones has published three poems from the book online, including the Christmas eve one here)

I'm looking forward to reading more verse novels to see how other storytellers are using this interesting form.

If you're keen too, here is a page with a list of them from Sonia Sones' website...it should keep us reading for a while.

The informative article "Thoughts On VERSE NOVELS" posted on the Dryden Books Facebook page, also gives a good introduction to this genre.

This post is submitted to Poetry Friday, hosted this week at Wild Rose Reader.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Get an editor

Hi! It's May and I'm back from Poem-ville! How did National Poetry Month treat you? Did you read lots of poems? Did you write some? I wrote 18 (three short of my goal of 21) and many of them were tiny (haiku, shadorma, so it doesn't feel as if they should count!) But I had a great month.

Now it's back to regular programming (if you can call anything as sporadic as my postings on LUL 'regular').

During April I went through the first round of edits of my someday-to-be-released novel. Thus when I saw the post, "Why You Need an Editor: A Demonstration" I clicked right on over, read, and watched the accompanying video. All I can say is YEP! Been there done that. Good advice. Take it!!

Hat Tip: N. J. Lindquist

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Haiku invitational

branches of haiku
Cherry Blossom Festival 
enter poems here

This is my little haiku invitation to check out the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website and consider submitting two haiku (that's the limit) to the Cherry Blossom Festival contest (deadline June 4, 2012).

 Happy blossom time! Happy writing!!

<~> <~> <~> <~> <~> <~> 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Some thoughts on creating this National Poetry Month

"...There’s high value in taking the time to sit down and create something when you least want to, when you’d rather watch a movie, or take a nap, or read someone else’s words. And sometimes the artist’s greatest reward may be in his creating rather than his creation..." "A.S. "Pete" Peterson

Read all of:  The Rabbit Room — National Poetry Month

Saturday, March 31, 2012

APRIL! Let the poetry binge begin

 April is almost here and with it National Poetry Month. I must say, I get more than a little excited anticipating April. For the last few years the month has seen me on a poetry-writing binge. This year won't be much different, although I've given myself permission to take weekends off. Other Aprils I have discovered that the push to write something new every day leads, toward the end of the month, to burnout. So I rarely make my target of 30 new poems anyway. Thus my goal this year will be to write 21 new poems (one for each weekday of April). We'll see if that works.

Whether you're a poetry enthusiast or someone who enjoys just the odd nibble, you can celebrate National Poetry month too. Below are some suggestions for how:

1. Write some poetry

For writers there are lots of sites offering regular prompts.





  • Laura Purdie Salas - a weekly photo prompt with a challenge to write a poem of 15 words or less.


Margo Ruby - Wordgathering  - the weekly Friday post is a smorgasbord of  poetry-related links of interest.


Every day during April:

Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides

List of prompts:

2. Explore poetry blogs.

Some poetry blogs you might enjoy:

Interested in children's poetry? The poetic branch of the Kidlitosphere has a ton of things going on. Among them:
  • Gotta Book (Greg Pincus) is featuring 30 children's poets posting poems every day of April.
  • Jama's Alphabet Soup (Jama Rattigan) is serving up a poetry potluck with poems by a slew of visiting poets and giveaways for those who leave comments.

3. Get a poem  delivered to your in-box daily. 

Here are some sites to check out for that:
  • Your Daily Poem 
  • The Writer's Almanac: a daily poem along with the audio file of Garrison Keillor reading it 
  • Every Day Poems - from TS Poetry Press: For a modest 2.99/year, get a fresh poem delivered by email five days a week (eclectic, many poems by rising new poets,  always interesting.)

4. Attend a poetry reading

Check out the local media for poetry readings in your area. If you live near me (B.C.'s Fraser Valley) our MSA Poets Potpourri Society has a reading night with an open mic planned for April 16th (6:30-8:30 at the Clearbrook Library). New poets are always welcome. Also check the Poetry Around Town tab on our website for more poetry events in the area.

5. Read poems

Don't have any poetry around? Buy some. You don't even have to leave the house if you make your purchase an e-book. A couple of books I've enjoyed lately:
  • Twelve for the Record by Diane Lockward - luscious, fun, clever poems. Some of her most well known are included in this 12-poem collection.
  • Undone by Sue Goyette. Not an ebook and not new, but wonderful, sad poems. (I need to raid my own poetry bookshelf more often!)

6. Start a poetry blog

If till now you've been a closet poet, consider opening your own blog and joining in the vibrant community of poets on the internet.
Two sites from which you can set up a blog for free:

Let the feast begin!

"...wait on the wind,
catch a scent of salt,
call it our life.
- from "Our Valley" by Philip Levine

U.S. 2012 National Poetry Month poster design
Chin-Yee Lai

Download pdf of Canadian 2012 National Poetry Month poster here.
Download pdf of U.S. 2012 National Poetry Month poster here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Penny blues

Yesterday's budget gave the Canadian penny the pink slip (sniff, sniff).  Of course it will take a while before the penny disappears.  They will be phased out of circulation. However no more will be minted after this April, bringing an end to 104 years of pennydom.

I guess since it now costs 1.6¢ to make a penny it just makes sense (cents). After all don't they say, "If you look after the pennies, the nickels will look after themselves"? (And how can we expect the nickels to behave if we let the pennies get away with such daylight robbery?)

The end of pennies brings to mind some of the verses and rhymes with pennies in them. For example the one we'll be heartily singing next weekend:

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters
Give them to your sons.
One ha' penny, two ha' penny
Hot cross buns!

Or the one we sing at Christmas:

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do
If you haven't got a ha' penny, then God bless you!

Then there's poor Jenny:
See saw, Margery Daw,
Jenny shall have a new master;
She shall have but a penny a day
Because she can't work any faster.
Finally, this one seems to fit the spirit of the times perfectly, at least for some folks:

Jingle, jingle jack
A copper down a crack
Twenty men and all their wives
With sticks and picks and pocket knives
Digging for their very lives
To get the copper back.
- Leroy F. Jackson

This post is submitted to Poetry Friday, hosted this week at my juicy little universe.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poetry's clout

Could poetry be a dangerous profession? That hardly seems possible in our culture, where a poet's clout is one step up from irrelevance.

That's not the case in China. In February the National Post ran the story of Chinese poet  Zhu Yufu and how publishing his poem "It's Time"  contributed to a seven-year prison sentence.

"Mr. Zhu was detained last year as part of a widespread crackdown on dissent. As evidence of the “subversion of power” charge, prosecutors cited the poem as well as messages he sent on the Internet..."
Read all of "This is the poem that got a Chinese activist seven years in jail"

::Thanks to Brayden Sawatzky for bringing this article to our attention at our last MSA PPS Blue Moon Reading.::

Thursday, February 16, 2012

claim to fame

I found the link to this poetry quiz in the sidebar of The Music In It : Adelle Kenny's blog.

I took the Poetry Terminology Quiz at Famous Poems.org
My results:

Super Poetry Expert!

My Score
The average quiz taker scored 69%, while I scored a whopping 95%!
How's that for a poetry expert?
Think you can do better? Head to the Famous Poems Library and Take the Quiz!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The inside scoop on editing an anthology

The January/February issue of Faith Today contains my review of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. I was moved and blessed by this anthology of stories (true and fictional), essays, poems, and even a play, by members of The Word Guild—Canadian writers, editors, publishers and speakers who are Christian.

In my review I drew attention to the work of the editors, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Nelles, and their success at preserving the variety of writers' voices while giving us a smooth read. And so I was interested to come across Janet Sketchley's interview of N.J. and Wendy, where they reveal the process they went through to assemble this book.

I found out, for example, that a mere 10-15% of the pieces required only minimal editing. The rest went back and forth numerous times. Some pieces were a combination of several. Others were almost completely rewritten.

To discover more about how such an anthology is assembled and edited, read all of "Interview: The Editors of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider"