Monday, August 2, 2010

I've Moved!

Yep, I've packed up and moved to Wordpress Land, and all these posts have come with me.

And be sure to update your links.

Sandra Heska King

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Sweating


On my pillow this morning. First thing. And it's all because of these.

Who puts shoe forms in flip-flops anyway?

These are Reeboks. What my husband wears around the house.

Flip flop. Flip flop. Flip flop.

So irritating! And I think he could mass produce them and sell them in the clock department. As alarms. They wake me up every morning as he moves around the bedroom. And the forms?

His words. "I've got to put them somewhere."

Speaking of produce. What am I going to do with all these cucumbers?

I battled my way through a jungle yesterday to find these. I think there are more hiding in there. But after finding, picking, and carrying, I was exhausted. And sweating!

Which reminds me. Duane hurt my feelings because he didn't like my idea of Sweating With Duane as a title for a fitness blog.

He said, "Sandra . . . it sounds so . . . dirty. *shudder.*"

Sniff. I thought it had a certain ring to it. 

And it reminded me of sweating with someone else in Boston. No Reno. I think. Whatever. Wherever. I've always loved Richard. Really. He's very funny. And kind. And I told him about a current stressor at the time, and he encouraged me not to eat my way through it.

Goodness. That's a Heart Truth T-shirt. It makes me look fat. Which reminds me. My chest hurt yesterday while mowing the lawn. I need to sweat more. Join me.

This is part of Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival. Check other links over at his place.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comfort in Discomfort

I am a nurse.

Trained to dispense comfort. Sooth fears. Lessen pain. Ease anxiety. Provide hope. Give strength.

But that's not always comfortable. For patient or nurse.

For the nurse it might mean to insist on discomfort.

For the patient it might mean:
  • to breathe deep and cough when it feels like an incision will explode.
  • to walk when it feels like one more step is impossible.
  • to take medicine that causes the yucks.
  • to accept a dreaded needle.
  • to avoid comfort food and learn to eat healthy.
  • to give up control and allow exposure.
However, an order might read, "comfort measures only."

This usually means the patient is past the point of restored health and that death will occur before long.

Eat what you want. Do what you want. Refuse what you don't want. Rest in comfort and peace. And then die.

I don't want to die as a writer. I mean I don't want to live as a dead writer.

I don't want to live with comfort measures only.

So I may need to:
  • self-inflict discomfort and allow others to do so, too. 
  • expose myself. Write naked. And let others read it.  
  • let go of some things I love--good things--to make room for the best. 
  • perhaps cause discomfort for others when I withdraw from some activities or say no to others. 
  • come to terms with the fact that that's okay in order to respond to this God-given passion.
  • walk when I'm discouraged.
  • swallow the medicine of critique, even though it stings or tastes yucky.
  • try new exercises that stretch me even if they're painful.
  • sometimes go back to the beginning and learn to walk again.
  • be teachable.
It means I'm not dead or dying.

There's comfort in that discomfort.

Where do you find comfort in discomfort?

Note: Today I write as part of a blog chain of writers from Topic: The Discomfort Zone. Check out some of these other posts.

July 1:  Power of the Pen by Ruth Rockafield
July 4:  Front Notes by Nina Rose
July 6:  Sowing the Seeds by Edward Lewis
July 7:  Expression Express by Tracy Krauss
July 8:  Kat's Musings by Kat Connolly
July 9:  777 Peppermint Place by Linda Yezak
July 10: Heading Home by Lynn Mosher
July 11: Word Obsession by Nona King
July 14: The Book Lightwalker Files by Victor Travison
July 15: Wayslinger by Janalyn Voight
July 16: Clearing Skies by Sheila Hollinghead
July 17: The Collings Zone by Adam Collings
July 19: Word Wanderings by Liberty Speidel
July 20: Tracings by Traci Bonney 
July 25: The Beulah Land Blog by Chris DePew
July 26: The Write Pursuit by Sandra Heska King
July 27: Creative Adventuring by Chris Solaas
July 28: Suzanne Hartmann

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Seating

I have a writing room of my own. I offered a tour here.

But I've gravitated to the living room. To the soft leather chair with the soft leather footstool. With the laptop on my lap. Or half on the footstool and half on my knees. Front row center for Tiger baseball games. And because Gracee, when she's here, prefers me to be on her level rather than sequestered in the penthouse.

My studio (I like to call it a studio--it sounds so artsy, so writerly) is neat.

My summer seating is not.

a cat licks lemonade swirl ice cream
from the chocolate-coated spoon and bowl
(katdish's fault--she made me do it)
that sit atop a notebook on the floor to my left
next to a dirty white slipper
(where IS the other one?)
a fan of bills that aren't due until next payday
and 101 Sneaky Weight Loss Secrets 
with Stone Crossings open to forest star
and plastic wicker book bag leans
against black computer bag that leans
against the chair
and to the right a Woman's World
Walk off 120 lbs the easy way
a Barnes and Noble receipt
Wordpress for Dummies
several explanation of benefit payments
(this is not a bill)
a credit union statement
and on the footstool my camera
a couple pencils and a red pen
still more bills and a
40th anniversary discounted subscription form
for Poets & Writers
on the antique table topped with a chicken lamp
Cinderella III (Gracee's) and the DVD remote
four backup CDs, a book of check carbons,
a pile of paid receipts and a cell phone
two bookcases that beckon
harp and hammered dulcimer mock untouched
and a rerun of this afternoon's Tigers' game plays
as I sit on the very edge of the cushion
while the cat purrs behind me
I write in place
and stay because I will trip on the cords
if I move from my summer seating.

Written for L.L. Barkat's prompt to write in place On, In and Around Mondays at Seedlings in Stone. Yes, I know it's Friday. Consider it around Monday--the next Monday. And go check out the other links.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Crybaby

Monday: Melancholy day. Like every day after coming home from a visit with my sissy.

Tuesday. Bad day. Crybaby day. Foot-in-mouth disease day. We all have them. This video helped me. I posted it on Facebook. But for those of you who didn't see it, here it is again.

It made me laugh.

So I'm over it.

I'm also over piddle on public toilet seats.

And prebagged grapes. I always feel guilty taking half out. That whole bag would rot before we could eat it.

Same with bananas.

A produce man once yelled at me for breaking off three bananas from a bunch of ten, or maybe twenty.

I cried.

I thought I heard Gracee crying while I was in the shower yesterday. Sounded like the produce man had beaten her with a bunch of bananas. Turns out she is now a deluxe Webkinz member. She was screaming with excitement.

"How do you become a deluxe member?" I asked.

"You have to take good care of your animals."

I dunno. I looked it up. Looks like it costs money to me.  I hope she didn't do a little online shopping. Like she did when she downloaded a couple game subscriptions to my phone.

Oh, and I'm over stray shopping carts. Can't people corral their own? I feel obligated to run around the parking lot to park them. So they don't do damage to my car. Or someone else's. Or one of the Amish buggies that might be parked there.

Speaking of which, did you hear about Levi Detweiler who led police on a chase and ultimately crashed his buggy?

I'll bet he got an earful from his parents.

Which reminds me. I also hate earwigs. AKA pincher bugs. Nasty little creatures. They make me cry.

I'll bet you didn't know there were male and female differences.


Is this a male or a female?

Wednesday: Kind of a squirrely day.

Thursday: Definitely disturbed. As are others today.

Check them out over at Duane's Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday Blog Carnival.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - Old

Dennis and I are silent as we drive along until . . . SQUIRREL!

Me: "Stop the car! Now!"
Him: "What? What's wrong?"
Me: "Cloud mountains. Must. Take. Picture."

Later at Hartwick Pines, I snap pictures of every sign and every display. A little research for my WIP. I linger in the bunkhouse and imagine my great-great-grandfather's decor over and on his bunk that undoubtedly included his hammered dulcimer wrapped in burlap at the foot. I stop to write down things like Sweet Dark Burly Tobacco, Woman's Heart Tobacco, Dr. Sages Catarrah Remedy, and Bradley-Metcalf (Makers of Good Shoes Since 1843.) I snap more pictures.

Me: "Does my taking so many pictures bug you?"
Him: "No. Not really. Well, sometimes, it gets old."

Old? Did he just call me OLD?

We walk the Old-Growth Trail, taking us back to a time when "White Pine Was King" and note the "last remnants of Michigan's virgin white pine forest" and gaze upon the "Monarch's" remains. The Monarch is the "most famous tree" in the park.

"Unfortunately, the Monarch lost its live crown in a wind storm in 1992 and died four years later. Before the storm, the Monarch stood 155 feet tall with a circumference of 12 feet. It was about 325 years old when it died. We don't know when the rest of the Monarch will come tumbling down. It could be today, next week or years from now."

We contemplate the fallen crown on the ground and raise our eyes to the remaining trunk.

The Monarch is/was old. And none of us know when we will come tumbling down, either. Even if we're not "old."

Later we stop in front of the house I grew up in. The one my dad built on to the front of our six-room motel. The "little house" is still there, too--four rooms and a screened porch--that housed five of us until my parents decided that I, as the oldest, needed my own personal space and moved me into one of the motel rooms.

We don't ask to walk down to "our" lakefront, but we drive around to the other side of the horseshoe (Horseshoe Lake), and I remember memories from long ago. And there, still, are the lily pads I loved, topped with the yellow blooms that always held bugs. I used to pick bouquets from the boat.

I hung out on the lake and in the woods alone when I was a kid. I made "fern forts," by stomping some ferns down flat leaving leafy walls, had little picnics. I take pictures of some of "my" ferns. They seemed a lot taller back then.

When I was young.


We're "up north" this week to visit family and hang out at Alpenfest--the 46th year. I was the third queen in 1967.  And yes, the family teases me about being an "old queen." I prefer the term, "past queen." My mom likes to say I'm the "queen who became a King." When I meet people in town, I love being told I don't look "that old."

Speaking of old, those high-speed hand dryers scare me. I envision them stealing my skin's elasticity leaving my hands looking like overstretched crepe paper that never returns to its original shape.


I leave you with a video of Dennis and me on longer trips. We may be old. But we can still have fun.

And be sure to check out all today's other pleasantly disturbed posts over at
Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do They Sweat in Duke City? / Fiction as Research by Stephen Bly

Today I welcome a guest poster, Stephen Bly.

Steve has authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. His book, The Long Trail Home, won the 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock, The Outlaw's Twin Sister, and Last of the Texas Camp were Christy Award finalists. Steve is a speaker, pastor, past mayor, dad, and wife to Janet--who is also a writer. He's a third-generation westerner who spent his early years working family ranches and farms in central California. He now lives in the mountains of north-central Idaho and in his spare time collects antique Winchesters.. He also works on the construction of Broken Arrow Crossing, a false front western village near his home. And he's seldom seen without cowboy boots, hat, and jeans.

Read more about him at his website here.

And stay tuned for a One-Word/One-Line interview with a giveaway of an autographed copy of Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.

Thanks, Steve, for visiting The Write Pursuit today and sharing a little about western novel research, especially as relates to your newest book.

Do They Sweat in Duke City? / Fiction as Research by Stephen Bly

New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin  . . . the kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don't ponder too much except in the shower.
From Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon
Released June 2010

Every novel's got a place and time. That often means plenty of research. My next release, Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon, is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1954. So I needed to know some things about a specific city, a state, and what the world was like that year.

Research Thru Travel

It's tough, dirty work . . . but I love any time I can go to New Mexico. The only other site I've been that boasts similar layers of culture stacked one upon another: Rome. Yet, New Mexico's still a cowboy state. From the Pecos River in the east to the Plains of San Agustin in the west, from the Sangre de Christo range in the north, to the "bootheel" in the south, it's full of great ranching country. A perfect setting for a cowboy story.

My wife, Janet, and I drove up and down Historic Route 66 that runs through Albuquerque. It was known as the "Main Street of America" or the "Mother Road." It was the primary route for those leaving the dust bowl of Oklahoma and moving to California during the Great Depression. Albuquerque was selected as a stop on the first transcontinental air route in the 1920s, and Route 66 brought the first transcontinental motorists through the city.

Research Thru Study

Duke City is a nickname for Albuquerque because it was named after the Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva, the Duke of Alburquerque. Later the spelling was changed because some influential person couldn't pronounce the "R" in Alburquerque.

The cowboys in my story retire in Albuquerque, not Santa Fe, because even in 1954 the latter was becoming the artsy, celebrity spot it is today. These guys needed a cheap hotel and city amenities. So Albuquerque suited them fine. Before there were retirement communities and senior citizen housing, some elderly lived in old downtown hotels. Well past their prime in attracting overnight guests, they catered to senior citizens who scraped by on something fairly new in the fifties: Social Security.

One of my favorite governors hails from New Mexico. Governor Lew Wallace authored the novel Ben-Hur (a movie made in 1959, starring Charleton Heston), and he also tried to negotiate with the notorious Billy the Kid. What an eclectic group of folks tramped the Old West.

A piece of historical tidbit . . . a hard thing for some readers to realize: in 1954 no one considered cigars or cigarettes or their second-hand smoke in any way harmful. That's why you see so many actors and actresses lighting up in the movies of that period. Cowboys often carried peppermints, which were tasty, portable, and covered up the smell of such vices, at least so they thought.

Research Thru Learning the Language

The main challenge of fiction: the rhythm of dialogue. I had to sit very still and listen to each character speak in order to get the timing right, along with the vocabulary.

Every era boasts its own unique language. Every region develops a dialect. For the writer, both can be learned through research and careful study. But tone, timing, and cadence can't easily be taught. It's better to be in your bones. A writer's challenge is to develop instinct for tune as well as lyrics of speech. There has to be a natural flow.

To know the right lingo steps up a novel's authenticity. In Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon I got to use a lot of the classic cowboy terms that got lost over the years. I tried to stick an interior explanation to explain a few that might confuse.

For instance, a McGee is cowboy slang for a 4-strand rope made of a maguey (century) plant.

A phrase often used on a cattle drive or roundup was "man at the pot." That meant someone was at the coffee pot for a refill and that shout-out indicated the guy was to fill everyone's cup.

To old cowboys, "nobby" signified fine, expensive boots.

Pop/Grandpa would "do to ride the river with." That's the ultimate compliment for a cowboy. Crossing wild rivers with great herds of cattle exposed dangers for man and beast. Not a time to trust your safety to some rookie just learning the ropes.

"You never know the luck of a lousy calf" . . . one of my favorite cowboy sayings. Big, healthy, sturdy calves seem to fall off cliffs or get attacked by wolves. It's the scrawny, worthless ones that live forever.

I've often wondered why we stopped using colorful words like "footpad." So called because of guys who pulled off their boots and snuck around in stocking feet so no one would hear them.

Research Thru Memories

In 1954 an old man's vision of feminine loveliness would be Bow, Grable, Monroe, or Kelly. Grace Kelly in High Noon stole my own ten-year-old heart. However, I figured she wasn't too smart because she couldn't understand why Will Cane had to turn back. But I did. Shoot, that's in a cowboy's bones. But, my oh my, she surely was purdy.

My bedroom was stacked with White Owl cigar boxes, my granddad's favorite cigar. He didn't smoke them much; mainly he chewed them. And because I lived across the road from him, I got many of his boxes. Lots of childhood treasures can be stored in a cigar box.

I listened to Sergeant Preston on the radio. What memories. How I wanted to be a mountie and own a dog like King.

TV was a brand new technology in 1954. We hadn't learned to sit comatose in front of one . . . yet.

One of the advantages of modern autos . . . they run so smooth there's seldom a backfire. But those random air-shattering blasts from the old rigs added adventure to an otherwise ordinary, routine day. Me and my young pals surmised the sound as a gun blast from a bank robber making his get-away, even though my hometown had no bank. That fact didn't darken my vivid ten-year-old imagination.

The summer of 1954, in Albuquerque, a ten-year-old boy becomes a Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.

Maybe I wasn't born 100 years too late.

Copyright©2010 by Stephen Bly

Find Steve at his website.
Enjoy his new blog.
Follow him on Twitter.

Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon is available on Amazon or from his website's bookstore.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - 3 (and The Right to Write)

I've begun to work my way through The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. 

" . . . most of us try to write too carefully. We try to do it 'right.' We try to sound smart. We try, period. Writing goes much better when we don't work at it so much. When we give ourselves permission to just hang out on the page."

So I was sitting here, not working, not trying, just hanging out on the page, when Scruffy, who was curled up on the back of my chair, suddenly stiffened, and her pupils widened, and her tail twitched.

I looked out the window, and . . .  SQUIRREL!

I mean. . . TURKEY!

Sidetracked, but just minutes before she (he?) strolled down the center of the road. Just hanging out. Taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells.

Probably a turkey writer.

Heading toward "a wavery magical spot" shimmering ahead.

I wonder what kinds of words a turkey writer uses. What does a turkey call a human? How would a turkey describe me as he peers from behind that tree? What stories does he tell his turkey friends? Does he talk turkey, get serious, pull out the white board and try to solve the problem of humans in their habitat?

Or does he just go with the flow? Forget himself while his feathers quiver with the wonder of "rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting" humans. Does he just put his little claw in the dirt and write what he hears?

"We can either 'think a plot up' or we can 'jot a plot down.' We can either 'think of something to write about' or we can write about what we happen to be thinking about."

"How much control are we willing to surrender for the sake of allowing creativity to move through us rather than our trying to flog it forward for agendas of our own?"

"Most of us are really willing only to write well, and this is why the act of writing strains us. We are asking it to do two jobs at once: to communicate to people and to simultaneously impress them. Is it any wonder that our prose buckles under the strain of doing this double task?"


I've forgotten I'm supposed to be disturbed today. Maybe I am since I'm writing like this about turkeys.

Which brings up the question.

Did you know that three consecutive strikes in bowling is called a "turkey?"

Nobody really knows the origin of that, but here's a possible answer.

"There used to be sweepstake tournaments during the holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. If a person bowled three strikes against the heavier pins (usually four pounds), the crowd would scream 'turkey," and the bowler would receive a live turkey for his or her performance." (from Life's Imponderables by David Feldman.)

And now you know.

So go write something.


start where you are.

And be sure to check out all today's other pleasantly disturbed posts over at 

What do you think of when you think of a turkey? 
What are you thinking of right now?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Word Gardener

I tried to hand pull some weeds today. And then I hacked with the hoe. But it was so hot. And there were so many.

I couldn't find the mounds around which I had dutifully poked some cantaloupe seeds.

Back in the height of my May planting fever. 

I accidentally yanked out a sugar pea plant. I couldn't really afford to do that as it left a total of six plants, five of which are kissing each other, so I may have to separate them.

I thought beans were supposed to be easy to grow. I sowed a whole row. I have maybe three plants.

A cucumber tendril wrapped itself around a weed (or was it a bean--who knows for sure?) and would not let go. So I ripped it off in the uprooting.

The tomatoes thrive. So do the squash. And the peppers, though I thought I planted three plants instead of two. And I do have a whole row of nasturtiums. I suppose they'll flower sometime.

But everything drooped a little, and the ground was cracked. And so I watered the good plants and the bad plants alike. And I considered how we had delayed placing mulch (straw) and how I really need to layer it on now to simply cover up the mess.

So far I've found half a dozen zinnias in the space of where I scattered most of a box of seed.

Gracee and her little friend squashed some flowers with the hose.

So here's the truth.

I like the idea of a garden.

I love watching the flowers blossom and turn into baby fruit and then mature--turning from fruit to more fruit to much fruit.

I love sinking my teeth into a fresh warm tomato as the juice dribbles down my chin.

I love adding fresh basil to my spaghetti sauce and mint leaves to my iced tea.

I love the parade of colors and the fragrance of flowers.

I love to watch the butterflies and the hummingbirds.

I love everything about a garden.

Except creating it.

Except nurturing it.

Except worrying about it.

Except chasing kids and critters out of it.

It's not my passion.

Because I'm a word gardener.

I love to create new plots.

I loved to collect the seeds of stories.

I love to sift syllables and dig in paragraphs.

Prune. Weed. Uproot. Replant.

Before sunrise. In the heat of the day. After sunset. In the chill of the night.

In all seasons. In all weather.

That's my passion.

I'll probably plant another garden next year. If only to have something to write about.

But I'll probably be found inside with my computer. Or under a tree with paper and pen.

While the garden languishes.


Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Playing With Poetry

I've been playing with poetry and have dared to post some poems over on my other blog. I think it's helping me to be more creative in fewer words.

Here are a couple of my recent attempts.

Friday Night Baseball

Another Friday night wrapped
in soft cool leather arms
that hold me as I scream
at a box safe and secure
with New York Life
get a life
and the moon peeks
through the branches
as fingers of a soft breeze
reach through the screen
to tousle my hair
while the fireflies applaud
another hit, another run
and the Tigers win
seven to one.

Note: The above poem is in response to a Random Acts of Poetry prompt, A Tablespoon of Summer, by L.L. Barkat at High Calling Blogs.


Clutter berry days
suck sweet juices from my spirit
leave me dry and fruitless
steal my soul blood
and I am not any more
the kind of woman
who will sit back and take it.
I grab a garbage bag.

Note: This poem was inspired by L.L. Barkat's post, Julia Found Words for Me, and challenge to find words "around every corner, inside every ice cream cone." I "stole" some lines from LL.

How about you? 
Can you find words in the everyday mundane? 
Pen a poem about a simple object nearby? 
Something about the photo above? 
Incorporate one of my lines? 
Try it and post it in the comments. 
I dare you.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts - 2

It's Thursday again. Time for Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival. He says it's a regular feature until October 23, 2013. I don't know how he chose that date, but . . . SQUIRREL!

"I am a bad wife. I handed my husband a stack of TV dinners and said, "Choose one." That's what I posted on Facebook and Twitter pages yesterday. I love some of the responses.

Jody: Hey! I like the TV dinner idea! You were very thoughtful to provide . . . well, something!
Susan: At least you didn't hand him a bunch of women and say, "Choose one."
Duane: That's so wrong. I have only eaten one TV dinner in my life.
Stephanie: Hey, if you're the one who put it in the microwave, it counts as cooking.
Amy: You're my hero!
Keiki: No worse than the rest of us, my friend.
Chad: The fact that you did not throw them at his head makes you at least a semi-decent wife.

For the record, he choose a Lean Cuisine of "wild salmon, whole wheat orzo pasta, spinach &carrots in a basil sauce." And I did throw a bowl of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries at him. Can you picture that?

I had butternut squash ravioli. One of my favorites.

Then he (DH--Lainie, is DH okay?) went out and got me some DQ. He loves me.

How is it possible that Duane in all his almost 21 years has only eaten ONE TV dinner?

Speaking of Duane, I'm reminded of his beloved dog, Pokito, who has his own Facebook fan page but hasn't posted since the end of April when he tried to eat the gerbil. Or did the gerbil eat him?

And that makes me wonder how many robbers carry Bark Off?

I love birch trees. I remember how we used to peel the bark off to fashion and sew little canoes.

I love canoeing. I went white water rafting once down the Chattooga River, section 3 and part of section 4, with Wildwater Ltd in North Carolina. But that was in a raft, not a canoe. And I lived to tell about it. Barely.

We never owned a gerbil. But we had rabbits. Lots of rabbits. On purpose. Show rabbits. Pets. 4H.

Speaking of rabbits, here's a brave one.

Oh for that kind of courage! To tackle a writing project. To tackle life.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lessons from Basketball Camp

Gracee's kind of a wimp.

Well, she used to be anyway. The littlest scratch required a magnifying glass and a box of tissues to absorb all the tears.

Drama queen.

So we were all thrilled, as well as more than a little apprehensive, when she agreed to play soccer last fall. And then she actually asked to go to basketball camp last week.

Run over to to hear the story. 

When you're done reading, take a look around the site. And take your tissues because you'll find posts that will make you cry and make you laugh until you cry. Kathy Richards, who writes some pretty good stuff herself, is the writer's encouragement queen. I've started to call her "barnkat," in honor of the biblical Barnabas, "the son of encouragment."

I'm excited to be able to guest post for her.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review--Chronological Guide to the Bible

The Chronological Guide to the Bible is a handy little reference tool that attempts to provide an historical arrangement to the Biblical text. It's designed to help one "follow the flow of events in the Scriptures and see where sacred history and secular history converge into one story of salvation." To do that, the authors have simply rearranged the canonical order "according to nine epochs of time and providing a chronological Bible reading list within each of those epochs."

One does not need a chronological Bible to find this book useful. It's filled with colorful maps and timelines and reading guides and boxes that provide clarification on historical culture and customs no matter what version you use.

For instance, have you ever wondered how tall Goliath really was? Or what the deal was with concubines? Or how the prophets overlapped each other? Or who was in power where and when? Or why the Ephesians were especially upset with Paul for preaching against the goddess Artemis (Diana)?

I was reminded that clothing was handmade, and so tearing it as an expression of grief reinforced a depth of sorrow, especially if the item was a special possession, a robe of many colors. I also appreciated references to how clothing was symbolic of one's inner being and the symbolism of Jonathan's transfer of his robe to David.

The authors note that they tried to present a balanced view of debatable issues. I can't say I agree with everything, but I do find this book helpful as I explore the Bible in context.

This book can help provide some answers and give some food for thought. It's a bit pricey at a suggested price of $24.99 for 217 pages, but I do expect to turn to it again and again, and if I not received it to review, I would definitely have considered adding it to my reference shelf.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

NOTE: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Write Honestly

Pull the curtain back
Reveal the real
Release the light
From soul holes
Where grace flows
From wounded places.

(Paraphrased from Honestly by VOTA)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Squirrel Thoughts--1

I decided to participate today in Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Blog Carnival today with some random thoughts of my own. Not that I ever experience randomness. I'm the queen of . . . SQUIRREL!

  • Now where was I? Oh, one thing about Duane. He does have a habit about sticking his foot in his mouth when it comes to old things. Like I don't remember exactly what he last said, but it had something to do with being old. I do remember calling him on it.
  • Which reminds me of the lady in our church who was asked what the best thing was about turning 107. She answered, "The total lack of peer pressure."
  • She was also once asked if she needed a ride to her 100th birthday party. She responded, "No, my son's taking me. But he IS 80, and he doesn't get around like he used to."
  • I read that women "my age" should use an eyelash curler. S'posed to open up our eyes. Should men "my age" use them, too? Would that let them doze off with their eyes open, and we gals would think they were really paying attention?
  • Startled by an elephant getting a bath as I drove past the fairgrounds. I guess there's a circus. What if the animals revolted and ran the show?
  • My dentist's torture assistant told me about her daughter who works for a soft serve ice cream place. She said she's only received one complaint--that the ice cream melted. Duh!
  • True confession: When I was a kid, I used to day dream about going to a Tigers baseball game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Down by 3 runs. Nobody available to bat. (I don't know why. Maybe they were all sick or injured.) The manager looked over the crowd, and his eyes locked with mine. I stepped up to the plate, hefted the bat, and whacked that ball out of the park.
  • Why are silos round? Because a rectangular silo develops air pockets that encourage spoilage. A cylindrical silo is also more likely to withstand a high wind. By the way, Franklin Hiram King developed the first one more than 100 years ago. No relation.
Speaking of kings . . .

 I know how the grandfather clock got its name. Do you?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Head Hurts

My head hurts.

I. Mean. Seriously.

Thought pellets. 

My brain must look like cheap siding after a hailstorm. And I can't get half the ideas out my fingertips or mouth before they melt.

They pound at all times of day and night. Wherever I am. Whatever I'm doing. Or not doing.

I quit my job. To eliminate distractions. To seek tranquility. To declutter. To simplify. To focus.

It helped.

Sort of.

Not so much.

I cleared some overgrowth. Tumbled some walls.

I'm a lone tree. A target for thought strikes.

Holy Discontent. Half Time. Popeye person. Passion. One thing. A good finish. Success to significance. My truest purpose. Eternal perspective.

The "stuff that stirs my heart's holiest chambers." (Bob Buford)


I contemplated past dreams and activities. Missionary nurse. Parish nurse. Nun. Airline attendant.

But . . .

Words. Words. Words. The Word. Words in. Words out. Turn a word. Twist a phrase.

Makes my heart quiver. Throb.

Set apart. For words. Words that heal, encourage, and inspire. Words that elicit laughter and tears. Words that share the Word.

My head hurts.

Make. It. Stop.

Don't stop.

"If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." ~Lord Byron

What does your brain look like?

(Tweaked and reposted from Beholding God.)

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Artist's Blessing

Kathy Richards posted this blessing on her blog last week, and it continues to haunt me. I do so want to faithfully reflect the face of my Father and Creator--in my writing and in my life.

Visible-Light and X-Ray Composite Image of Galaxy Cluster 1E 0657-556


As faithful image bearers (artists, but saints first),
may you reflect not only the creation
but its beautiful and good Creator.
May you embrace your true calling
to humbly serve the glorious One who promises you glory.
May you accept and acknowledge
the wound your faithful friend has inflicted,
and may you in friendship and loyalty inflict it on others.
May your art be worship.
May your worship be art.
May you afflict the comfortable with jolts of inconsolable joy.
May you call forth the good, the beautiful, the eternal hope of
your true city.
And when people step back from your painting,
put down your novel, 
or leave the theater,
may they leave having been fatally stabbed,
inconsolably wrecked with a longing for home.
And may you reflect faithfully the face of your Father
who strides through the galaxies with a brush in His hand.

(An except from The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith by Timothy J. Stoner)

If you haven't visited katdish, you're missing a treat. Kathy makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She makes me think. And sometimes she just makes me say, "Huh?" And sometimes all at the same time.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Going to the Dentist

I had to go to the dentist today. I'm so glad my dentist's name is Jim and not Tim and that he managed to numb me up without any drama.

For some Friday fun, here's that famous clip from the Carol Burnett Show featuring Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.

And here is a scene from the movie, They Went That-A-Way and That-A-Way, written by Tim Conway. In this movie, Tim played an undercover cop in a prison, stranded there because the only person who knows that he's not really a criminal suddenly dies.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Special Touch

I drove Abby to the doctor for an incision check yesterday. She had a C-section a couple of weeks ago, and she's not supposed to drive, of course. But she did. Among other things she shouldn't have been doing. Because she's impatient and needs to be in control. Because she feels like she has to entertain visitors. Because she forgets she just had major surgery.

Thus the reason for the doctor visit. And my driving.

Anyway. There on the checkout counter sat a box. Wrapped in pink paper. Covered with silk pink dogwoods. With a label on the front.

Complaints, Compliments, Suggestions.

Not your normal comment or suggestion box. A box with a special touch.

I scrambled in my purse for my camera.

Must. Take. Picture.

But my battery was dead. I had extras, but I didn't load them in the camera. Because the receptionist had a this-woman-is-crazy look. And Abby had a get-my-mother-out-of-here-now-(!) look.

She had already been making fun of me as I soaked up every special-touch detail in the waiting room. And how I imagined all the straight-backed chairs lining the walls filled with protruding-belly women while all the deep-seated upholstered sofas and chairs enveloped all the just-here-for-my-annual-tuneup ladies. And how I ooh'd and aah'd over the "special touches" in the exam room.

If she'd had the strength, she would have literally dragged me to the car. Especially when I stopped to exclaim over the beauty of the--what are those flowers--pink asters?

"I need to take a picture of these."

"C'mon, Mom!"

"You don't get it, do you?" I whined. "I am a writer. I have to capture everything. I don't want to lose anything."

She just rolled her eyes and half laughed and half complained when I missed a turn and found myself going the wrong way and she reminded me what a terrible driver I am and what a terrible sense of direction I have and to quit looking at everything and to keep my eyes on the road because she'd just had a C-section and she didn't want to get hurt.

And today I'm still wondering.

Why did "complaints" come first in the order of things?

Did the office get more complaints than compliments?

Did they expect more complaints?

Did they think if they acknowledged you might have a complaint you would be satisfied with that and move directly to a compliment?

What a great idea to soften the sting of a complaint with a special touch.

Maybe a writer could design a box with a special touch labeled:

"Rejections, _______, _______.

Fill in the blanks.

And always be sure your camera is loaded with fresh batteries.

By the way, we had a great afternoon together!

A day with a special touch.

How can you soften the stings of the writing life? How would you fill in the above blanks? When did you last experience a special touch?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, June 11, 2010

A One-Word/One-Line Interview With A 7-Year-Old Author

Gracee never has enough paper. I find remnants of stories and song lyrics all over my house. She loves pens and colored pencils and markers and notebooks. She likes to give me writing advice. She's very creative. And, yes, I'm prejudiced. She's my granddaughter!

We conducted this interview over a meal of Big Boy spaghetti. Thank you, Gracee, for taking the time to answer these questions.

Gracee in One Word

1.  What is your favorite sport?


2.  Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries?


3.  Who is your favorite author?

4.  What is your favorite animal?


5.  Flip-flops, slippers, tennies, or bare?


6.  What is your favorite Dairy Queen treat?

Slushie (blue raspberry.)

7.  What is your favorite subject in school (not gym)?


8.  If you had to evacuate (leave) your house and had time to grab only one thing, what would it be?

Sister. (Note: Baby Lillee is now one week and two days old.)

9.  What instrument would you like to play?


10. Would you rather read about animals or people?

Do nonfiction books count? Animals. (But I like real people, too, like Rosa Parks.)

Gracee in One Line

1.  Do you prefer to write with pen, pencil, or computer?

Write in pencil, correct with pen, then type on computer.

2.  What is your favorite kind of music?

Country and rock, but I also like classic, like Fur Elise, and harp because it helps calm me down.

3.  What is your favorite book and why?

Thunder Cake because it teaches not to be afraid of a storm.

4.  What rule does your mom think is most important?

Don't talk back.

5.  What do you like to write about?

My family and where we go and what we do.

6.  What are some of your nicknames and which do you like best?

Gray, Gray-Gray, Mogli, Grace Face, Gracee Facee, Sis, Nerbie, Amazing Grace; I like Amazing Grace.

7.  What is the most important thing to remember when writing a story?

Write with expression.

8.  How did you learn to say onomatopoeia?

My teacher, Mrs. Entenman, made us say it over and over; it's easy.

9.  What do you like best about walking in the cemetery?

Flowers, stones, walking up the steps and hills, getting ideas--can you get me a notebook like yours?

10. What is your favorite vacation?

Gaylord Alpenfest because I get to see Roscoe the Clown.

11.  What do you like best about your grandma?

That's kinda hard because you do lots of nice things for me, but you make me laugh--like when you say, "no laughing allowed."

Gracee on One Thing

What one thing would you like to say to your readers or future readers?

Thank you for reading. I appreciate it. It really feels good. I hope you like my stories.

What one thing would you like to say to fellow writers or aspiring writers?

Calm down. Relax. Don't make it hard on yourself. Follow your heart. Feel what the story tells you.

Thank you, for sharing with us today, Gracee. You are an inspiration. And I love you.

Read more about Gracee's writing and tips:

7 Writing Tips from a 7-Year-Old
4 Tips From a 7-Year-Old to Keep Bum in Chair
Gracee--Gold Star Young Author

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gracee--Gold Star Young Author

Some months back, I shared some of my granddaughter's writing tips. She revised her work at school. I thought you might like to see the final product--in her own words with phonetic spelling. 


Coming up: A one-word/one-line interview with this young author. 

P.S. Gracee's mom did have an infection in an ear, and her ear did "swallow" an earring back, but her ear lobe is still intact! And her birthday is in October. She just liked turquoise better!

Note: The Christine Wonch Creative Writing Award program was formed to honor a young girl who was killed in a car-pedestrian accident. The program is in its 20th year and provides an opportunity for area students to have their best work evaluated. They begin working on their stories in the fall.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, May 31, 2010

Common Errors in English Usage

Which is correct? Quick!
  • Awhile or a while?
  • Lay or lie?
  • Peel out or peal out?
When would you use the phrase, "Money is no option?"

Or the phrase, "Little to none?"

How do you pronounce, "mauve?"

Find the answers at Paul Brians' Common Errors in English. I've always just called the site "Brians' Errors."

Quick. Fast. Easy. Sometimes funny.

Another one of my favorites. I go there daily.

The above link hooks up directly with the list of errors. However, Professor Brians asks that you also that you check into the index page where he addresses a number of issues.

Another helpful site--and one where you might need a timer if you start to explore.


Do you have a favorite grammar or English usage site?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Site/One Thousand Dictionaries

My favorite dictionary search site is OneLook®. In fact, it's the only place I go. For lots of reasons.

As of this moment they've indexed 18,373,069 words in 1052 dictionaries.

That's a lot of words. That's a lot of dictionaries. The number might include other references, too.

I think those numbers must change frequently. Like increase.

At the home page, you can type a word (or phrase) you want defined in the search box. For instance, I typed in cream.

The search takes me to a quick definition list plus a list of all the indexed dictionaries where the word is found--33 general dictionaries, 5 art dictionaries, 2 business dictionaries, 1 computing dictionary, 6 miscellaneous dictionaries, 2 slang dictionaries, 1 sports dictionary (although that takes me to a list of cat terms), and 2 tech dictionaries.

I can find a bazillion phrases that include the word cream (like astronaut ice cream, barrier cream, cream-banded swallowtail, you're the cream in my coffee) that also have links.

I can also find a list of words similar to cream (like churn, whop, whip, lambaste), each with a quick definition and matching dictionary links.

That's the basic stuff. But you can get fancy and go on all kinds of advanced searches using wild cards, reverse dictionaries, translations, and stuff I haven't figured out yet.

Some say it's a great way to cheat at crossword puzzles.

I've found it to be a great writing prompt site.

I go there several times a day.

Go explore. Set a timer or you'll hang out there way too long.

What's your favorite dictionary site?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Need to Build a Plot?

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." ~Willa Cather

I can't tell you how to build a plot, but these authors can and do.

I've got so much to learn!

Seems like everyone knows about Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and Writing the Breakout Novel (and corresponding workbook) by Donald Maas.

I heart them.

But I also found 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias buried on my shelf. And it makes more sense to me now than it did when I bought it over 20 years ago.

He states, "The best place to start a discussion about plots is to trace their bloodlines to the beginning . . . the two basic plots from which all other plots flow (that) are still the foundation of all literature. If you understand the essence of your plot, you will understand better how to go about writing it."

He goes on, "In Dante's Inferno there are only two basic sins in all the levels of hell. One is called forza, crimes of violence and force. The other basic sin is called forda, which is Italian for fraud."

Force or fraud

"Dante understood human character. These two sins come from two basic functions of human beings. Force is power, strength, physicality. Fraud comes from wit, cleverness, mentality. The Body and The Mind"

Body or mind.

When we have a story idea, we need to decide if it can be told more in terms of action or more in terms of the inner workings of character and human nature.

Doing or being.

The action plot is a puzzle plot where some kind of mystery needs to be solved. The mind plot is an idea plot where the characters almost always search for some kind of meaning.

Mystery or meaning.

If the story is plot driven, the mechanism is more important than the specific characters. The characters make the plot happen.

If the story is character driven, the mechanism is less important than the specific characters. The plot helps the characters find meaning.

Character driven or plot driven.

You decide the focus. Then you find some balance.

Tobias describes 20 basic plots (you can see them in the Amazon book preview.) He provides checklists at the end of each chapter.

He also provides a final checklist at the end of the book, questions you can ask yourself as you develop your plot.

"If you can answer all of them, you have a grasp of what your story is about. But if you can't answer any of them, you still don't know what your story is and what you want to do with it."

I'm so glad for good teachers.

I'm heading out to my porch now with a big glass of iced herb tea to rock and read.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Reason to Read--in One Word

I asked the other day about summing up your message in one word as a writer.

So that got me thinking about why we pick up a book to read. What do we look for? What do we want in the end? What message do we want to come away with?

Is it the same with each book?

What makes us feel like we spent our time well?

Can we put it in one word?

Escape? Knowledge? Information? Hope? Refreshment? Encouragement?

I choose inspiration.

In fiction and nonfiction.

I want to feel inspired to reach higher and deeper.

Inspired to grow.

Inspired to learn more.
  • About something.
  • About people.
  • About a person.
  • About a place.
  • About a time in history.
  • About God.
Inspired to read another book.

Inspired to go from words to the Word.

Inspired to write words of my own.

What's your one word as a reader?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your Message in One Word

What's your message?

What's the one thing you want to convey through your writing? Or at least the major thing.

To focus on.

Could you put it in just one word?

I've been thinking a lot about this.

I thought I wanted to get people excited about the Word. See things they'd never seen before. Make them hungry and thirsty. In my writing and my teaching.

I still want that.

But it's not one word.

Hunger? Thirst?

Those are one words.


I want my readers to laugh sometimes. Laughter is healing.

Laughter. Humor. Healing.

Hmmm. Those are pretty good one words for a nurse turned writer.

But none are my one word.

The single most important concept for me in my faith walk has been that of the sovereignty of God. Knowing that He's in control. That He doesn't let go. No matter what. That He weaves everything into His perfect plan.

But "sovereignty of God" is still not one word.

"Sovereignty" is.

I like it.

But that's still not "it."

I think I've figured it out, though.

My. One. Word.


Physical. Emotional. Spiritual.

Yep. I think that's it.

My one message.

My one word.


What's yours?

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jennifer Hudson Taylor: One-Word/One-Line Interview

Jennifer Hudson Taylor writes historical and contemporary Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, released this month, and the music on her video trailer (below) really gets to me.

You can order a copy from Amazon and even a signed copy direct from the author here!

How can you not love someone who has an ink bottle, quill pen, cardinal, and a dogwood blossom on her website and blog?

Jennifer lives in North Carolina, and in addition to writing, she speaks on several topics related to faith, writing, and parenting special-needs children. She's also a genealogy buff. I can't wait to get to know her better.

I accidentally asked her a couple questions (okay, three) that couldn't be answered with just one word. My bad. But I still like the questions and the answers, so they stay.

And, wow! So many followup questions I want to ask!

Welcome, Jennifer!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor in One (almost) Word

1.  What was your favorite childhood toy?


2.  What was your least favorite subject in school?


3.  What was your first job?


4.  What did you eat for breakfast this morning?


5.  What was the last movie you saw?

     The Scarlett Pimpernel.

6.  What was the last movie that made you cry?

     The Blind Side.

7.  What is the tallest building you've ever been in?

     Toronto Tower.

8.  Would you prefer a picnic or a restaurant meal?


9.  What would Akira say is your greatest weakness?


10. You just won a week's vacation of your choice. Where will you go?


Jennifer Hudson Taylor in One Line

1.  Describe your most embarrassing moment.

     In college during the '92 elections, I fainted holding a Bush sign while Hillary Clinton demanded her guys pull me out of the crowd so I wouldn't get trampled, and she told them to give me a bottle of water.

2.  What is the best thing about being the parent of a special-needs child?

     You can't afford to take your child for granted, and you feel so very thankful and blessed for each milestone they accomplish.

3.  Share your favorite time management tip.

     Avoid email, Facebook, and Twitter.

4.  Who is one person you'd like to visit and why?

     Joyce Meyer, because she is so full of godly wisdom. 

5.  What is your very first memory?

     My uncle giving me a balloon before he drowned.

6.  What is your favorite thing about Bryce MacPhearson?

     He means well, but still manages to get into trouble regardless of what he does.

7.  What wisdom from your mother still sticks with you?

     Don't worry about what everyone else thinks; concentrate on what God thinks.

8.  What Bible character do you identify most with and why?

     I admire Queen Esther for her courage, but I've been compared to Deborah, the prophetess of Israel.

9.  Describe the favorite room in your house.

     My bedroom is roomy, comfortable, and private--like a sanctuary.

10. What was the most surprising thing you discovered while researching your family history?

     That my Morgan ancestor from Glamorgan, Wales hosted King Charles II and was bestowed the governorship of Jamaica.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor on One Thing

What one thing would you like to say to your readers or future readers?

Out of all the wonderful books out there and all the things to distract your attention and strangle your time, thank you for choosing my book and taking the time to read it. I hope you will enjoy it and hope you'll give my other books set in different time periods a try.

What one thing would you like to say to fellow writers or aspiring writers?

If you are unpublished, never give up on your dream of publication. God's timing will come. To all writers, don't get so caught up in the "writing rules" and judging and critiquing that you forget how to read for pleasure.

Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.

Jennifer's Website
Jennifer's Writing Blog
Jennifer on Facebook
Jennifer on Twitter

Thanks so much, Jenn for taking the time to help us get to know you better!

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King