My photo
Lake Isabella, CA, United States
I am an aspiring writer in the Kern River Valley. This blog is a "test kitchen" to try different writing styles and to work through the many rejections and the handful of acceptances my work has received. But no matter what other people say about my writing, at least my mother thinks I'm a good writer!

Sunday, February 28, 2010



The cat in the picture is mine. She is a small calico, and she loves to jump into the refrigerator in the summertime.

I like this poem because of all the onomatopoeia. I also like some of the words I used like, "mottled," "swifted," etc. I think the repetition creates a neat rythm.

The scene described used to be a daily occurence at my home, until I got a new car. All the animals recognized the sound of my rattling car and would wait for it every day. I really like my pets, and I really enjoy writing about them.


Ka-clunk

The mottled cat sits staring from the window.

She licks her paw, but rivets her eyes, waiting.

A fly buzzes around her; she flicks her tail, she flicks her tail.

The black dog lies in the sun behind a fence.

A slow sunbeam plays across her face.

One ear is raised, listening.

The cat’s eye twitches.

The dog’s tail thumps, her tail thumps.

In the distance, they hear it.

The sound.

Cla-clack, Cla-clatter, Cla-clunk.

Cla-clack, Cla-clatter, Cla-clunk.

The dog swifts to her feet.

The cat sweeps to the door.

It’s louder now.

Cla-clack, Cla-clatter, Cla-clunk.

Cla-clack, Cla-clatter, Cla-clunk.

The dog is barking, barking her loudest bark.

The cat is rubbing, rubbing against the screen.

The car clatters onto the dirt hill and parks.

Its door opens and the girl climbs out.

Their mistress has come home again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Metaphors

A lot of poetry is made up of metaphors. My husband made up a beautiful metaphor last night.

He said:

The love I hold in
my heart for you is like boiling
water in a hot teakettle.


He made a haiku!

metaphors

A lot of poetry is made up of metaphors. My husband made up a beautiful metaphor last night.

He said:

The love I hold in
my heart for you is like boiling
water in a hot teakettle.


It's sort of Haiku-like.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weight Loss and Poetry


Some of you may be familiar with the popular and wonderful lifestyle website, www.sparkpeople.com.

If you're not, it's basically this amazing free website (this is not a paid ad by the way, it's my personal opinion) that helps people lose weight and get healthy. Some people use it to gain weight if that's what it takes to get healthy. They have millions of members now.

My twin sister and I both joined about 3 years ago, and we've had great success keeping our weight in a healthy range and exercising. We even got to appear briefly (about half a second) on Entertainment tonight as a success story. http://www.etonline.com/news/2009/07/76746/index.html

Anyway, what this all has to do with this blog is that I have been toying with writing some weight loss poetry. I have never seen a poetry magazine that published weight loss poetry, but maybe I haven't looked hard enough.

I think weight problems are something that the majority of people in the United States will deal with sooner or later, whether it's people with severe obesity, eating disorders like anorexia or bolemia, or just people who are wondering how 25 extra pounds somehow glommed onto their bodies.

So here are a few poems on weight loss topics like finally seeing some stomach muscles, insecurity around slender young things, and body dysmorphia (believing you are much fatter or skinnier than you are).

The Ablets
The ablets now, they doth peek out

from 'neath a fleshy slab.

Will they sink beneath the mire,

or turn to rock hard abs?


Idolatry

Skinny. Skinny. Skinny.

We present these offerings: Hunger, Self-Hatred, Shame.

We leave them on the altar of the bathroom scale.

Please bless us, O god of the Thin.


Beautiful Bones

Beautiful bones, lovely bones,

Jutting from your skin.

I know it seems that jutting bones become a way to win.

Chicken legs, scrawny legs, impossibly thin,

Every young girl wants skinny legs jutting from her skin.

Dying youth, starving youth,

How beautiful you seem.

When hollowness becomes a goal,

Decay becomes the dream.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Channeling Dave Barry


The article below was originally published in the Kern Valley Sun. It is all true, and I recieved more feedback on this one than any other article I had published with them. I like to think I was channeling Dave Barry a little here. My mother used to read Dave Barry's articles to us every Sunday, and I always hear her voice speaking to me when I try to write something amusing.

I would like to point out that although the title of my blog is "My Mother Thinks I'm a Good Writer," she's not the only person who has supported me through all this. My father has also been very supportive, as well as my sister, my brother, my sister-in-law, my bro-mo-law (brother's mother in law), my aunts and uncles....the list goes on and on. Last summer they all tolerated listening to chapter after chapter of my Guinea Pig book. I think it might have been painful, but they cheerfully listened and offered feedback week after week.

Without further ado, here is the article.

My Humiliating Car
Until recently, I was still driving the same car which I drove in high school. Considering that I am now a high school teacher, the poor vehicle has been through a lot. My old car, a 1992 Dodge Shadow, was once a great high school vehicle and a decent college car, but every year, it’s been getting a little more banged up, a little more dilapidated. The air conditioning stopped working about a year ago, (summer was miserable), and the blinkers stopped working about six months after that.

Legally, you can still drive a car with no turn signals if you use hand signals. This means rolling down your window and sticking your arm out of the car, making it a target for wind, rain, chilly weather, gross bugs, and other people’s side mirrors. This is particularly unpleasant in the dead of winter.


In addition to these charming problems, the old car groaned and rattled every time I turned it on. Concerned strangers and acquaintances at random places like Rite-Aid, the Shell Station, or church, would frantically motion for me to stop and roll down my windows so they could say, “You may not realize this, but your car sounds terrible. It sounds like cats are being tortured in there. You might want to put some oil in that thing.”


“I know,” I would respond smiling ruefully after the fourth person had told me that in one day as if I somehow would not be aware of the hideous noises it was making. “It has a broken lifter,” I usually explained.


This was a lie. The truth was, my husband had practically rebuilt the car from the inside out and we still didn’t know what was wrong with the poor thing, but saying, “It’s a broken lifter,” seemed to make the concerned people in parking lots and the wanna-be mechanics at gas stations feel better. They would nod knowingly, and say, “Oh yeah, I hear it now. Yep, that’s a broken lifter.”


The other teachers, aides, and custodians at school would frequently ask me, “So how’s your car?” and then snicker snidely to themselves. My crummy little car became a poorly running joke almost everywhere I went.


Finally one day near the end of last year, as I was driving my sister to her wedding, the car began making a new horrendously terrible noise, (this one was less like tortured cats and more like yaks giving birth) and decided that now was the time to die. And it really died, with no hope of resuscitation. My sister, wearing her veil with her beautifully styled hair and makeup, and I had to push the car off to the side of the road and wait in a filthy parking lot to be rescued. Ah, memories.


Now, the Shadow and I had been through a lot together, so I observed a brief mourning period (about a week) and then my husband and I went out and bought a new car! The new car is shiny. It has no dings, its air conditioning works, and so do its turn signals. It is a lovely factory-new Toyota, the perfect car. The only trouble is, it’s a stick-shift. My Shadow was an automatic. It was easy and simple to drive. It magically knew when to shift gears with no prompting from me and that was a feature which I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated until the car had departed to those happy roadways in the sky.


I’m sure there were many good reasons why we chose to buy a stick-shift, but they escape my mind at the moment. All I can think about are the amount of times I have inconvenienced other drivers on the road by having my car die repeatedly at both of the stop-lights in Lake Isabella. I can also think about the times I have stalled the car in the middle of the high school parking lot and had my students point and laugh at me as they climb in their stick-shift cars and gleefully drive away as if it was the easiest thing in the world. I can also remember when, driving out of the parking lot in front of the Drugstore in Kernville, I had my car die three times in succession, much to the irritation of the honking driver behind me.


Oh well, soon I will have mastered driving the new car, and will hopefully have fewer and fewer of these embarrassing moments. In the meantime, if you get trapped driving behind a brand new Toyota whose owner seems thoroughly incompetent and possibly mentally ill, remember that it might be me, a pathetic high school teacher who loves teaching your kids, but just can’t drive a stick shift. Please don’t honk at me.


What about you? Do you have any humiliating car stories like mine? If so, please leave a comment below.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Someday my Prints will Come.


Here I am, scaling the wall of writing and submitting.

When I submitted my poem to Midnight Screaming, they recommended a website called www.duotrope.com.

This is a free website that is basically a directory of thousands of magazines that accept submissions from writers. If you sign up, you can track all of your submissions. It's a great resource for anyone with stories or poems they would like to get published.

They do a really great job at keeping their entries about each market up-to-date.

I also like it because it's a very "no-frills" website, so my incredibly slow dial-up internet does not freak out everytime I log in.

Here is a very silly poem I wrote on a whim a few months ago. I don't think I will submit it anywhere, but I do like it. It is based on the song, "Someday my Prince will Come," from Snow White.


Someday my prints will come


Some day, I’ll get published.

Some day I’ll get my wish,

And how thrilling that moment will be,

When the prints of my book come to me!

I’ll get 15%

Of all the profits sent,

Though it’s far away,

I’ll get published someday,

Someday when my dreams come true!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cat Tails are Edible



Every country girl needs a faithful dog. The one on the right is Ladybug- she comes into the story a little bit later.

If could be any writer, I would probably choose to be a combination of Dave Barry and Roahl Dahl. Both of them are just so quirky and clever. I hope to always keep an element of humor in the things I write.

The following story first appeared in the Kern Valley Sun last summer. I have an unfortunate tendency to skim directions without reading them closely, and occasionally this leads to some interesting misadventures for me.

Cattails

I was raised in the suburbs. As a child, I lived in the Los Angeles area, and for most of my adolescence, I lived in Bakersfield. In both of these places, nature seemed very far away, and the wildest animal we ever saw was the occasional possum dead on the side of the road. When I moved to the Kern Valley, I was pleased to discover the amount of wildlife and nature we have in our area. Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about wildlife or nature, and that is why I experienced the following adventure.

Near the end of July, I was sitting in my trailer, looking at the internet. Somehow, I stumbled upon a website that talked all about how to forage food from the wilderness. It talked about Sumac, Watercress, Stinging Nettles, Blackberries, and Cat tails. As I was reading, I realized that I knew right where there was a big stand of Cat Tails nearby.

I skimmed over the article and found that there are many different uses for Cat Tails. You can use the roots to make starchy dough. You can eat the bottom of the plant just like asparagus. But what really interested me was that you can use the pollen of the Cat Tail just like you would use flour. There were recipes for Cat Tail Pollen pancakes, Cat Tail Pollen biscuits, and even Cat Tail Pollen Cookies. I could wait no longer; I put on some long pants, boots, and a hat, grabbed some bags for collecting the Cat Tails, and whistled for my faithful black Labrador, Ladybug.

Together, Ladybug and I hiked across streams and through the wilderness to the Cat Tail stand. The website had told me that it would take about twenty-five Cat Tails to make a cup of pollen, so, since I wanted two cups, I collected over fifty tails. (Don’t worry, the stand is quite large, and I barely made a dent in the remaining cattails. The website had informed me that cattails reproduce using their root system, so I knew that collecting the tails would not deplete the cattail population.) The website had said that the pollen should fall right off the tails, but it didn’t. I collected the tails anyway, but I began to wonder if I should have read the article more carefully.

Now I had a whole bag of Cat Tails. I was feeling very proud of myself and Ladybug and I virtually pranced back to the trailer. Once there, I investigated the results of our foraging.

The tails were a rich brown color, and the outside of the tails were hard. I started trying to pull the Cat Tails apart. I tried cutting the fluffy brown stuff off the stalk. I tried grabbing it and pulling it off with my fingers. At no point did the stuff fall off easily. It also wasn’t yellow, like the website had said it would be. I wondered if perhaps the writer of the website was used to a different species of Cat Tail. After almost an hour of tugging and pulling at the Cat Tails, I had gotten the brown fluff off of five Cat Tails, but I had far more than a cup of what looked like brown and tan cotton.

It did not look like flour, and it did not look yellow. I tasted a little bit and realized it didn’t taste like flour. It didn’t taste bad, but it didn’t taste good either. It tasted like what it looked like: brown cotton. I wondered if the writer of the website had any idea what he was talking about. I planned to write her an informative e-mail. I even tried to sift the stuff. It jammed the sifter and did not appear to be turning into anything even approaching the consistency of flour.

Finally, I decided to begin trying to make some cookies with it. I added flour to it and mixed the two together. Now it looked like flour and cotton mixed together. I stared at it a few moments, and then it struck me, maybe the website writer knew something I didn’t. I realized that perhaps I should reread the website before I went any further.

That’s when I found out that the brown fluffy stuff I had worked so diligently on was not pollen. It was Cat Tail Cotton. The pollen only comes out in Early May and June and can be shaken off of the Cat Tail Head during that time. You can’t cook anything with Cat Tail Cotton, but it is useful as a lining for jackets and parkas. It’s just too bad I don’t know how to sew. After the three hours I spent on that adventure, I decided to take a nice, long nap and live to forage another day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Entitlement at CBU



The piece below is a piece that I wrote while I was in college. For the most part, I was very happy at California Baptist University, and I believe it's a wonderful, Godly school run by Godly staff. However, by my Senior year, the attitudes of some of the students began to grate on me. That's when I wrote the piece below, which I recently revised. Each conversation below actually happened to me.

Entitlement at CBU

By Sandra Rose Hughes

“I don’t get how they always manage to screw up the PowerPoint slides in chapel. I mean, it’s not that hard,” said a loud female voice coming from the row of folding chairs behind Sandy. It was joined a few seconds later by a quieter voice, also female.
“Well…if you don’t have very much time, sometimes it is easy to make mistakes. Do you mean like the spelling errors?”
“Yeah, and the timing and the format. They’re not even creative.”
At this point, Sandy tuned her ears out of the conversation and tried to focus on the drama sketch she and her Drama team were about to perform.
Later that day, as Sandy stood in the cafeteria, waiting in the line to get a new kind of salad, she heard a boy behind her say, “The drama was okay this morning. Usually it’s so stupid.”
“Whatever,” his friend replied, “What are you doing in the salad line? Let’s get a burger. All the food here tastes like crap anyway. I don’t know what they do with all the money we pay them to feed us- I think we should totally complain to the Dean.”

Sitting at the campus coffee shop with her friend, B.J., Sandy stirred her smoothie as B.J. commented,
“Hey, I ran in to the president of the school yesterday! Guess what I did!”
“What?”
“Well, he smiled at me and kind of waved ‘cause he knew I was in leadership. Anyway, I walked right up to him and told him what I thought about how crummy living in the apartments is right now and how they should really do something about the campus housing before they even think about building that new music thing.”
“B.J.! How did he react?”
“He just kind of said, “Thanks for your input” or something stupid like that.”
“I have to go to class…I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Sandy.”

As she entered her class a few minutes early, Sandy noticed that the students were milling around, comparing the test scores they had received online. Nicole, a girl who Sandy knew vaguely because she had a habit of speaking up during class was passing a petition around to have the professor’s teaching investigated.
“It’s obvious he’s a terrible teacher,” the girl with the petition exclaimed, “The man doesn’t even speak English well, I mean, he’s from like Africa or something, right?”
“Indonesia” another student corrected her.
“Oh…same difference. Anyway, I don’t even know how he got this job to begin with, he’s totally incompetent. I am taking this petition to the dean, and I bet we can get him fired.”
When the petition came around to Sandy’s side of the stadium classroom, she passed it to the boy next to her without picking up a pen.

That afternoon, Sandy worked on homework in her private dorm room, (courtesy of being a Resident Assistant) with the door open for a few hours before she went to dinner. She noticed some of the girls she was responsible for looking out for and went to sit by them.

“Sandy!” one girl, Karen exclaimed. “I am so happy to see you! You’re never around, are you avoiding us or something?”
“Yeah, stop avoiding us, you’re never at home, Sandy, seriously, you don’t even know everything that’s been going on,” submitted Mary.
“Sandy, why are the bathrooms so dirty?” asked Nikki, “…we like live with total pigs on our hall.”
“No, it’s not the other people on the hall that are so dirty,” Karen jumped in, “it’s the maids, they are like so bad at cleaning. It’s really gross. Can’t you do anything about it, Sandy?”
“Well, first of all,” said Sandy, “they are not maids, they’re the cleaning staff. I am sure they are doing their jobs-“
“No way,” interjected Mary, “it is always messy, and I think they steal things. I left some jewelry in there one day, and like when I came back a week later to find it, it was totally gone. They don’t even speak English- people like that would totally steal stuff, Sandy! And what is with trying to clean right before chapel? I mean, don’t they know that like half the students need to get ready right then?”

“Hey girls, it’s been really nice to see you all…,” said Sandy quietly, “but one of my friends who I haven’t seen in like forever just walked in, so I am going to go sit by her. I promise I’ll talk to my boss about the cleaning people and see if anything can be done.”

After dinner, Sandy biked alone back to the dorm, snuck into the fairly clean bathroom to shower, closed her door even though it was barely seven pm, pondered how, after talking to so many people all day, she could still feel alone, and put in a pair of earplugs.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love is in the air and there's a spring in my step!


My husband Anthony doing the most romantic thing in the world: building me a house.
In one of my favorite movies, Elf, Will Farrell runs around yelling, "I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it!"


That is how I feel about my husband.


I love to write love poetry about him and for him, but I am not usually happy with how it turns out.


It seems like, unless you're the person in love, nobody else really wants to read too much love poetry about someone else's relationship. It's like watching the high schoolers I teach make out in the hallway. It's revolting, and it makes you want to hit them or break them up with a firehose.


All that being said, my mother asked if I would post a love poem for Valentines Day, so here's one of mine that I was pretty happy with.


I submitted this poem to a local poetry competition put on by the writers association here in the Kern Valley. They didn't really give me any feedback at all, except to tell me that I hadn't won and to return it to me.


I don't think they cared for my style too much. The poems that did win the contest were all done in a very Romantic Period style, which is NOT my thing at all. It's very beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I like poems with just a little bite to them. So here is my version of a love poem.


Bad Trade (For Anthony)

Why do you take care of me?
Why do you want to spend time with me?
I am not always graceful, or always witty.
I am not tall or slender, and my hair is not always so well-done.
There are times when I am very selfish.
I have mountains to climb and countries to visit, and worlds to conquer and people to meet and dreams to chase and stages to act on and books to write and songs to sing and things to paint and—(really, I could go on and on)---
Yet, you know all this.
And you say, “fit me in wherever you can.”
And you lavish me with time and gifts, and concern for my well-being.
And you say, “this, this time you spend with me, is enough. I just want you to be happy.”
And I believe you--
But I am warning you- it’s a bad trade.




Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Acceptance and Rejectance (I know it's not a real word, but I think it should be.)

Acceptance is such a great word.

When I was little and I was able to make friends with other kids, I felt accepted.

I was thrilled when I got accepted to the Oxford Honors Program where I spent a semester in college.

When my husband proposed to me, he was excited that I accepted.

When The Kern Valley Sun, Concise Delight, and Midnight Screaming accepted my writing, I felt like I could really make it as a writer!

When I get accepted by anything or anyone, it makes me feel like I'm worthwhile- it's like another person patting you on the back, saying, "You're good enough...you're good enough."

The hard thing about acceptance is that it is someone else's to give or recieve. You can't control their decisions.

If other kids teased me or refused to play with me, I felt rejected.

I applied for a lot of scholarships before college, and although I did get quite a few, it sure hurt to get rejected.

However, rejection is a part of life. More people will reject me than will accept me. But that's okay. I don't need everyone to accept me. In fact, I really only need a few people and a few publishers to accept me or my work.

When I post a poem or a short story on this blog and say, "proudly rejected by..." I'm not kidding. I'm not trying to get a magazine or a publisher back in some way. I really am proud. I'm not proud that I was rejected, but I am proud that I tried. Someone who fails to climb a mountain is not a mountain climber, but they're still better than the guy who never even tried.

All of that to say- Just keep writing, Just keep writing, Just keep writing, writing, writing!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Resolution


My Husband and me at my Cousin Jennifer's wedding in 2006


One of my my New Year's resolutions was to write a page a day every day this year. As Guy De Maupassant (French writer and author of the creepy story "The Horla,") put it- the best way to become a better writer is simply to "Get black on white."

I had been playing around with writing here and there when I got inspired every two or three months, but I decided it was time to really buckle down. Ergo, if I'm going to be a writer, I need to get in gear and WRITE.

So far, my resolution has yielded good results. It sometimes feels like slow-going, but I am already six chapters (about 40 pages) into a new children's book about a little girl named Marilyn Marlin. The book will only be about 13 chapters (about 80 pages), so I'm practically halfway! I like it much better than my first children's book, A Cavey Journey, which I am still revising.

I think Marilyn is a likable, albeit pathetic, character. I never did like my protagonists in A Cavey Journey- how could I expect my readers to like them? I am also happy with where the story is going. It's actually going to be pretty good. It's definitely a "hero's journey" sort of plot.

I hope to finish it by the summertime and then get to work on revising it.

For my next project, I hope to try my hand at Christian Fiction.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Granddad Memories Poem

Granddad

I have only four memories of you left:

Teasing your whispy white hair into improbable shapes,

Waking you in your duck-patterned sleeping bag with my hugs,

The taste of Frosted Flakes,

and the feeling that you liked me.