Monday, April 11, 2022

Painted Words

 


The crowd goes mild.
😑(expressionless face) 
I'm talking about you, literary agents. Sigh. But that was yesterday. 

I haven't signed with an agent. Even so, I feel blessed. Gary Gilson wrote about me and my beloved words in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. You can read the article here!

Maybe someday I can report the crowd goes wild over my words - like this...




Saturday, March 19, 2022

Dominicalito


You're only one click away from a kick-ass beach. Please visit Dominicalito to survey my first published article in Ballena Tales, my favorite travel magazine. I'm an author because it says so in print! 

Hooray!

 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Norfolk Island Pine

 

December 2021 challenge criteria:

  1. Your story must include a tree.
  2. Your story must include something being taped.
  3. Your story must include the words DANCE, SEARCH and CHANGE.
  4. 500 words. 55 hours. Go!

A young girl named Sparrow crept through the quack grass until she reached the tallest tree in her yard, a Norfolk pine with emerald limbs attached to the tree like perfectly combed mustaches. Sparrow stopped by the tree trunk and knocked, placing a box in front of a tiny birch bark door. She stuck out her tongue, fiddling with the shiny red bow taped to the top. “Perfect. This gift is for you, Mr. Elf,” she stated with conviction, rising to her feet and rubbing her snotty nose.

Sparrow rubbed both hands across her stomach and danced a little jig, turning and shuffling back towards her house.

Inside the tree, an elf the size of a stick of butter leaned a pointy ear against the small door, opening it to peer outside. The elf watched the human girl’s pigtails wiggle as she walked most peculiar, like a penguin. But there were no penguins in Florida and not many elves.

As soon as the girl slipped into her house, the elf opened the gift, finding two walnuts the same size as his hands. Martin the elf removed his green cap and scratched his head. His mission was to give gifts, not receive them, and he wasn’t the kind of elf to change his life’s purpose now. Martin looked up into the branches of the towering Norfolk, grabbed the walnuts, and touched his nose. Poof! He was gone.

Now, Martin was twenty feet high, sitting on a branch. “Excuse me, Ms. Bark Beetle, I’m your neighbor Martin. Would you like my walnuts?”

“Oh, no. Yuck,” said the beetle.

Martin frowned, then raised his eyebrows, waving at a Mockingbird. Unfortunately, the bird flew away. This time, Martin touched his green boot, finding himself at the top of the tree, surveying the lush mangroves littering the bay and the majestic royal palms scattered below. Martin wasn’t alone; a serious-looking osprey was clinging to the precipice of the Norfolk. Martin held out his hand. “Hello, I’m Martin the elf. Would you like these walnuts, you know, for a Christmas gift?”

“No,” said the osprey. The bird glowered at Martin. “I only eat fish.”

Martin furrowed his brows and touched the soft, spongy part of his right ear lobe. Pop! Martin found himself halfway up the tree, clinging to the bark. “Sir. Mr. Pine Weevil, would you like these nuts?” asked Martin.

“Don’t be silly. The nuts wouldn’t fit inside my tiny mouth,” replied the bug.

Martin kicked at a pine needle, searching the branch for other critters. He pulled up his shirt and touched his belly button, vanishing again. Now, Martin was out-on-a-limb, staring into the beady eyes of a fluffy gray squirrel. Martin smiled, holding out his sweaty hand. The squirrel inched closer, ruffling needles in his wake. “Are those for me? Oh, thank you so much,” said the squirrel with a whisker twitch.

Martin puffed his chest. “Merry Christmas!”

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Moon Ritual

 



And here they come now – your AUGUST story challenge criteria:

  1. Your story’s first sentence must contain only four words.
  2. Your story must include something being shared.
  3. Your story must include the words PAINT, SHIFT, WAVE and TOAST.
  4. It must be 500 words of less. 
  5. You have 55 hours. Go!

 

                                           

“Manifest with the Moon. We are water, and tonight, we will be one with the shifting waves,” said Owletta, glancing at each flickering face, hoping the seeds she planted on the new Moon would come to fruition.

 “Yemaya hears our prayer,” said Willow, pushing her candle into the sand near her bare feet, reaching into her beach bag for another.

The coven sat, crossed-legged in a circle, whispering unintelligible prayers to the East wind, chanting, and beating their bare thighs like a drum. Willow swayed, lifting her arms over her head. Across from Willow, Wren threaded her long blond hair behind her ears, waiting for the East wind to blow away the cobwebs. Nettle of the North stared at the irregular star, etched into the sand between them, beating her thighs harder and jiggling her loose flesh like Gelatin. Across the circle, Owletta closed her black eyes, praying to Yemaya, Goddess of the ocean, water, and tides.

After several minutes the coven stood, breaking from the circle, collecting the water-filled mason jars, unscrewing the caps. Each Witch placed a jar in a corresponding corner of the sand-drawn star: North, East, South, and West. The moon water waited under a darkening sky.

Again, the coven formed a circle, staring at the horizon painted with a thin strip of orange. The rise of the Moon was nigh.

“Wren, your vanilla-scented candle smells cheap, like toast,” scolded Nettle.

Giggles erupted. “Someone’s coming!” said Willow.

The coven giggled louder, rushing to hide amongst the cemetery of gnarly driftwood, covering themselves with beach towels and goose-pimpled arms. “Bare skin is a Witches’ Sunday best,” said Nettle in a low voice.

The coven hid, listening to the waves until the silhouettes of two mysterious beachgoers disappeared into the night. The group took their places on the ground again, tipping the towels from their shoulders, looking to the horizon. They waited.

“Should we disperse our intentions?” asked Wren.

Owletta withdrew a tiny seashell from beneath her bare butt, throwing it towards the shore. “Yes,” she said.

The coven ransacked their beach bags, pulling handfuls of bay leaves from within. Willow came away with a single leaf, kneeling near a candle, reading the tiny message she had scribbled on the leaf in pencil. Willow kissed the leaf and stood, running towards the waves; the rest of the coven followed. Warm water washed over their feet, splashing eight legs with salty kisses. The women threw the bay leaves into the waters of Botany Bay. Simultaneously, a Full Moon crested over the horizon like the eye of a cyclops. “Look!” shouted Wren.

The coven stared, watching the disc rise, a ribbon of white flowing over the water like a coil of rope. Owletta wished she could pull it into her body, harnessing all the power of Yemaya. Owletta’s dreams for the coven felt as deep as the ocean. The Moon symbolizes my inner world, and what happens in the dark stays in the dark. She thought with a smile.


Monday, April 5, 2021

The Hemingway House: Chapter Two


I love this photo of Ernest Hemingway’s office, taken through a wrought-iron doorway. It reminds me of my twisted travels to publication: I'm still an outsider, locked out but trying to find the right key to entry. I hope to pass through after I pay my dues. 

I have a new literary gambit: Grammarly. I forked over a bit of dough for a huge reward. Now, I have an editor in my corner of the ring, working hard to eliminate my novels' errors before the bell tolls. Still, you may read future posts and say, "Sharon said she is using Grammarly and look at all these faux-paws!" 

 Do you see what I did there? (I had to insert paws somewhere in a Hemingway  post) Most likely, I won't be using Grammarly for my blog posts. So, they will still be full of the predictable grammatical errors you've come to expect. (It doesn't help that blogger spell check hasn't been working on my computer)

Before my pilgrimage to the Hemingway House, I read The Old Man and the Sea. I was swept away, thinking about the story long after the last page. Follow my paws for the inside scoop...




The magic didn't happen here - literary magic anyway.



Picasso Cat. A gift from the artist.


My reflection is wearing a KN95 mask with a homemade facecover. There was no social distancing on this tour. Sigh. Florida just doesn't get it. That's why my photos are less than stellar. I tried to stay out of human harm's way.



The house is full of  polydactyl cats! There was a zesty pee-pee smell throughout.



The man on the right was the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea.















Two infamous cats looking through the glass at the Hemingway  House. I mean, my house.

 Hana, the naughtiest cat this side of the Mississippi, and her brother, Akua. When we're traveling, our nextdoor neighbors are on cat duty. (my neighbor took this photo while we were away) Look at my cats, watching and waiting for feeding time. 


My four toed cats.

P.S. Does anyone remember the olden days, when my travel blog was called Sharon's Paws Create?

For the outside of the Hemingway  House, click here! My travel blog has a dueling post this week. 

 


 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Sanctions and Restrictions for Animal Consumption of Processed Cheese Snacks





· Do not handfeed Gorillas. They prefer to eat cheesy potato chips with one hand while holding the unfortunate feeder in a chokehold with the other. If this is what you want, proceed with care.

· Ditto small monkeys. They are too excitable to handle extreme deliciousness. Therefore, processed cheese will instigate fits of screaming.

· All poultry should eat their cheese puff sideways, forming a T shape with their tiny noggin. If done correctly, the cheese puff should explode around the beak in a rain of salty particles. The chicken is then allowed to peck up debris in a fastidious fashion.

· It is unseemly to present a certified poodle breed with a lowbrow snack of any sort. However, if done correctly, the edible should be a cheesy fish or orange-colored cracker. The wafer is then placed directly on the canine tongue. Finally, the poodle should be verbally showered with abundant praise after mastication is complete.

· Lamas should be handfed cheese crackers while standing perpendicular and at an arm’s length from the animal subject. This technique allows for an unimpeded stream of camelid spit.

· Raccoons should not be handfed. Instead, they should be allowed to steal their preferred snack. The raccoon may rummage through neighborhood garbage cans and public picnic areas. After the raccoon hits paydirt or cheesy gold, a wicked, toothy smile should erupt across its masked face. This cheery-creepy mask does not always manifest. Without the expression, proceed directly to the final step. Lastly—and this is very important—the raccoon should eat standing on two feet as if it is playing the harmonica or scarfing a cob of corn. Crumb loss is inevitable. So, abandoning a whole bag of snacks for raccoons is recommended.

· Lions—both male and female—must be handfed, one nacho cheese triangle at a time. (Triangle snacks are considered by most cool cats, as the top of the junk food chain, especially by the Kings and Queens of jungle savanna) The royals must have many human subjects, as hands and fingers are sometimes accidental appetizers. This unplanned nourishment is thought of as a culinary privilege and should not be considered a poor reflection on the feeder.

· Cheese puffs can clog an Ant-Eaters snout, like hair in a shower drain. Proceed with care.

· You must hand feed Elephants one cheese puff at a time while humming a tune. Caution: Humming a circus tune is offensive.

· Small cats should be handfed cheese balls while wearing a feathered costume with bells on the arms and jingly sparkles. Otherwise, there is an inherent risk of feline boredom. Proceed with caution.

· Do not feed kangaroos. They will steal enormous amounts of processed edibles, collecting them in their pouch. Often, they will punch the feeder in the face.

· Ditto squirrels. They will cache snacks everywhere. It is a waste of delicious cheese as it will just rot and melt like fertilizer.

· Shorebirds and hawks will be allowed to regurgitate their fish-shaped crackers on a rotating basis.

· Foxes prefer to sniff out their snacks and abscond back to the privacy of their den. Humans don’t understand their snacking habits. Weird but true.

· Skunks are to be left alone. You may line up many types of snacks in forest or field, in all sizes and shapes, in a long row and allow skunks to discover them. They will scamper down the crunchy trail, choosing one or two flavors. This kind of feeding technique may not make sense, but creativity breeds disaster.

· Eagles should not be fed cheese snacks of any kind. It may seem like the quintessential American thing-to-do. But there is a little-known clause to the constitution: No eagles should ever eat processed cheese in any form. Amen.


P.S. This post is dedicated to S. T. from Hollow Kingdom. Crows like S. T. can eat as many Cheetos as they want, whenever they want. No restrictions. This list was inspired by Kira Jane Buxton's hilarious novel. Hollow Kingdom is a must read for animal lovers, and cheesy snack lovers too.























Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Roosterfish

 Furious Fiction

500 words. 55 hours. Go!

Here are your criteria:

Your story must take place in a school.
Your story's first word must be three.
Your story must include the following adjectives: magnetic, suspicious, uncouth, flowery


Roosterfish

Three, azure-tailed Merfish swam inside a giant school of Roosterfish, deep in the waters near Mexico. “Stay close. Keep swimming,” said Septimus, the sound gurgling through the gills on his neck.

“I’m swimming as fast as I can,” said Nema.

She swished her tail and extended her arms and hands like the prow of a ship.

Septimus grabbed the anal fin of the fish in front of him, laughing as the fish jerked away suspiciously. Nema—swimming slightly behind Septimus—watched the dorsal fins to her right, admiring the black bands that curved down the scaly bodies and the wild, flowery crowns that topped the roosters’ backs. She wished she had a crown. Instead, she had golden hair, uncouth strands of silk that tangled.

The Merfish followed the Roosters’ every move, precisely, perfectly: left, left, right. Up, up, down. Forward, steady. Forward, fast. Forward, slow. The swarm of fish kept moving, never stopping. The three Merfish stayed close, almost magnetically, with the kind of synergy that came from swimming together for miles every day.

Phin—the youngest and fastest—swam slightly ahead of the others. Sometimes, Nema caught him looking up towards the water’s surface, where flashes of brilliant light lingered.

But Nema couldn’t swim as fast as the others. She was growing weary, struggling to keep up with the streamlined Roosterfish. Silently, she chastised her useless arms and the round bumps across her glistening chest.

“We’re almost there!” cried Phin.

Nema watched the water change from indigo to turquoise. Suddenly, a red stain formed before her eyes. “Blood!” she gurgled, pulling hair from her face. She turned, looking through the maze of fish heads and tails. “Sharks!” she cried.

Septimus grabbed Nema’s hand. Phin grabbed the other. Together, they swam faster, holding steady inside the mass of Roosterfish. Outside the core, three sharks circled the school with toothy, menacing smiles. They looked hungry.

A silver shark dove into the school, then another. The sharks thrashed; Roosterfish snagged between bloody teeth. Nema wondered if the Roosterfish tasted like chicken. She wondered if she also tasted like chicken.

The water grew murky with guts and blood. Nema gripped the Mermen’s hands; they gripped hers. The Merfish looked around; there were only bubbles and gore, chaos. Nema’s gills throbbed; her muscles ached.

The seafloor appeared—they were close now. Septimus swam faster, tugging Nema with all his might. Phin let go of Nema’s hand. “I can swim faster alone. I can outrun the sharks! I’ll divert their attention,” he gurgled, swimming away like a jet engine.

“No!” cried Nema, watching the sharks follow Phin with blood-stained teeth.

Soon, a buffet of brains appeared in front of them. Nema and Septimus swam into the reef while the school turned on a dime, swimming back to deep waters. The ocean floor swirled with sand and plankton. Still, they could see a faint, toothy smile outside the calcified wall. It was Phin.