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My 2023 #50PreciousWords Entry

Writing long paragraphs of text each day can wear you out. This is one of the reasons why

I have always loved when March rolls around. I get to stretch my brain a bit with something shorter and VERY fun.

Fifty (50) precious words, to be exact.

For several years now, I have entered author, Vivian Kirkfield's #50preciouswords international writing contest. She runs one in March for adults and another in May for children.

If you are a crossword puzzle or Scrabble® lover, we are kindred spirits.

I KNOW you would love this fun writing challenge.

The goal is to write a full story in 50 words or less, with a character, plot, story arc, tension and satisfying resolution. Whew!

That, my friends, is very hard, even when writing a 500-word picture book!

I seldom know what I am going to write about for my entry, but much like when I write poetry, a small phrase or image becomes the catalyst and I am off! It is so much fun and real brain bender for me. I am usually surprised at how much I like them, and afterwords, begin thinking of how to turn the 50 words into a 500-word manuscript for a picture book.

I start by adding a few words here and there. Revise, revise, revise!

In fact, four, out of my previous five entries have gone on to become picture book manuscripts, and some of my best work.

Fun Fact: My entry called "Two+Two"

later became my debut picture book, FOREVER HOME.

Writing My 2023 Entry

I like to anthropomorphize objects and often wonder how inanimate objects might feel. My inspiration today, was a book lonely the library shelf, hoping to be picked. I imagined the spectrum of emotions the book might feel while waiting. Just like a rainbow shows the melting of one hue into another and all shades in between, so does my little Book, who goes through many colors of emotions waiting to be chosen.

Imagine how hard it must be for a book to sit there and wait... wait for you.

I thought of colors like "Blue" for sadness, "Yellow"for happiness or "Green" for jealousy. Researching what different colors might mean was very interesting. After I tipped over that first purple domino, the rest of the colors fell pretty quickly into place.

So, without further ado...

Drum Roll Please!

Now, isn't this what every book dreams of?

Winners will be announced on the first day of Spring, Saturday, March 20.

I hope you enjoyed it. Fingers crossed!

Leave me a comment :)

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This writer needed a creative break yesterday. All creatives do from time to time. The interesting thing for me is to do something entirely different from writing. Diving into cooking, sewing or some other thing I have never tried, seems to kickstart the creative engine.

Here's how a beautiful quilt became my inspiration.

Last year, I told my husband that if he bought me anything at Kamala, I would love it. With my birthday coming around again, I knew some small direction might be helpful and he was grateful. Kamala was always my local, go-to gift shop in our town; that is till recently, when its owner Kate LaMontagne, found an amazing farmhouse in Maine, and decided to move her home and business there... with great encouragement and support from the townspeople, I might add. We were all so happy for her.

(Shop at Kamala's online store )

Through out the years I enjoyed lovely gifts from Kamala, like a black wool shawl with hand crocheted long trim (stunning and toasty!), hand made earrings, funky leggings, my perfume and the occasional cool shirt on clearance.

My beautiful gifts from Kamala.

Each gift boxed lovingly with colored tissue and curls of rainbow ribbons. So when Scott appeared around the corner with that familiar box and cascading curly trim, I knew I was in for something special.

Inside was an amazing quilt, hand made from old sari's from India; shades of olive green on one side and gray blues and plum on the other. Tiny white running stitches racing through the fabric. Occasionally, I saw the evidence of the perfectly imperfect, discovering an adorable patch in the middle of it. Hand stitched, and perhaps just a decoration, I wondered what the patch was hiding.

I used the quilt to cozy up in the family room for many, many nights. But I loved the pattern on its fabric so much, that I began thinking of other ways I could use it. A table cloth? Curtains? or maybe... clothing.

After working on a school visit presentation for 5 hours yesterday, the creative well ran dry. I stood in my studio looking at the many piles of projects waiting for some attention and my beautiful quilt caught my eye. Spotting my sewing machine, I knew what I needed to do.

Deciding on a Pattern

Ever since I bought it, I have been living in a black knit sweater with dolman sleeves that has quickly become my go-to top. . Warm and comfortable with a cowl neck, it is my go to top. Maybe, I could use its form as a template. I decided to take my heavy tracing paper and make my own pattern.

I laid out my pattern adding a little extra, just in case I had mis-measured. Soon the sewing machine was humming. Giggles could be heard at the completion of each successful step.

Soon I had a cozy shirt!

And my french seams made it reversible too!

My creative cup has been delightfully filled up.

I'm eager to make more using the same pattern.

And I may never take it off!

I wonder what other creative mischief I can get into? Hmmmmm.

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Updated: Jan 3

When your muse brings you a gift, even at the early hour of 5 a.m., you heed its call.

Scott, me, Hadleigh, Quinn and Miller at Fatima Shrine

Rubbing my eyes in the early dawn light, I could see a poem in the shape of a Christmas tree summoning a lifetime of memories. Knowing I had to act fast, I slipped on my robe and walked down the dark hallway hoping to catch this poem that was calling me. With a tap of my foot, our Christmas tree illuminated the room in rainbow crystal light. Scooting back on the couch listening to the furnace hum, I soaked in the peacefulness and let my mind wander.

Tears well-up in my eyes spying so many ornaments that once adorned my mother's tree, now mine in her passing. And with that thought, a flood of Christmas memories came:

  • Lined up with my siblings in order of age on the stairs we anxiously waited for the signal from Mom that: the coffee was poured, the music was on and Dad was wrapped in his red plaid robe, settled in his chair so we could at last come down.

  • Standing outside in the snow, arm in arm, looking up at the balcony where our very first Christmas tree sparkled.

  • My own three excited children running in and jumping on our bed, after taking a sneaky peak and seeing that Santa had indeed come.

  • And now, images of last night's crisp wintery walk at the Shrine with my granddaughters.

Right on cue at 5 p.m., cars filled with happy families pulled in to the Shrine. CHildren ran with joy down it's paths. It was magical, with every light imaginable flickering to a score of "Oh Holy Night." Remembering the joy on my granddaughter's faces as they rounded each corner to discover a new display filled my heart.

The Grotto

We stopped in the chapel where candles lit for loved ones, flickered like diamonds. Then down a path to the grotto where the Nativity Scene was sheltered. I asked Miller what her favorite part was, fully expecting the lamb on the shoulder of the shepherd or the King's camel.

She raised her eyes to mine, coyly smiled and said, "Baby Jesus,"

Further down the path, near the outdoor altar was a statue of Our Lady of Fatima with the children who saw her vision, carved in stone and kneeling in prayer. Coming upon this, my granddaughter's raced over to the scene, knelt next to them, hands folded in prayer. My heart took a picture.

The furnace clicked off and slipped me back to my beautiful tree holding so many memories. I found myself in a rare moment , when the images and words have been waiting inside of me and finally burst forth in an unstoppable flow.

So, here for you, is a little Christmas gift from my muse.

May your own memories fill your heart this Holiday Season,

and may the peace of Christ bring you comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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A Little Bit of This & That

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