On Reading, Writing, Gardens, and Chickens

In these crazybusy times, I have been keeping myself sane with the crazy business of reading, writing, gardening, and raising a new flock of chickens. Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I also homeschool my children, a thing that used to set us apart from most of our friends and family. Now, everyone is doing it. How surreal!

(Side note: If you or any of yours have found yourselves suddenly faced with homeschooling and want to chat, complain, or brainstorm solutions, feel free to email me. We have been homeschooling for 18 years. Been there, done that, still learning.)

On Reading: Please join me here on Wednesday for more about that.

On Writing: I have been busy with several writing classes to help prepare for entry to an MFA in Creative Writing. As a part of that effort, I have been working on the craft of short story writing. If you are curious, hop on over to the Writer’s Workshop at the godoggocafe.com to read more (https://godoggocafe.com/2020/05/02/writers-workshop-iii-may-2020-story-structure-difficult-choices-and-birds/). For May’s workshop, I have shared one of my shorts and the assignment prompt that it was written in response to. For now, we have changed the format of the Workshop to a single prose prompt a month without the editing challenges. Everyone is busy, and life in the midst of Covid-19 is crazy. That said, I would love to have you join me in the Workshop for some fun writing challenges!

On Gardens:

On Chickens:

I have been a bit behind in my Monday posts. As these weeks go on, I will post some of my new poetry, a few of my short stories, and more posts like this, sharing a bit of what we are doing to make our lives at home as rich as possible in a day when we aren’t able to do much else.

Stay safe, healthy, and creative everyone!

©️2020 Tanya Cliff

A Teaser…

US Major League Baseball season has been postponed due to the COVID-19, but tomorrow at the godoggocafe.com, we will step up to batting practice with our first drafts in hand. Join me in the Writer’s Workshop for some friendly encouragement, an editorial challenge, and few words from Stephen King. Even if you don’t have a prompt draft, feel free to hop in to the discussion. Participation is welcome at any time.

Stay healthy everyone!

Tanya

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Writer’s Workshop

Exciting News!
I am going to be hosting a weekly Writer’s Workshop over at the Go Dog Go Café on Saturdays, beginning March 7th. Please join me there for a fun, challenging opportunity to stretch your writing skills in the Café’s warm, friendly environment. I love the group at GDG! I’m thrilled to be joining them, especially in a format that explores the power of language in storytelling.

The Writer’s Workshop will stick with a single prompt response each month, limited to 150-300 words, and involve several editing challenges to the same response designed to sharpen prose. The schedule is as follows:

Week 1: The Fastball
This week, I will introduce some element of good prose and/or share encouraging words from favorite authors. Then, I will pitch the Fastball prompt. Participants can link their responses in the comments section, and I will share them the following week.

Week 2: Batting Practice
This week, I will continue the discussion and share the responses from Week 1’s Fastball.
The challenge to participants this week will be to cut at least 10% of words from their response in week 1, tighten their prose. The 10% cut comes from Stephen King’s On Writing, one of several writing books that you will hear me refer to on occasion. The cut might seem arbitrary, but it forces concision and encourages the use of powerful language.

Week 3: Curveball Challenge
And just when you think you mastered it…
This week, I will throw a curveball, a specific challenge designed to improve prose, some element to be added to the response from the Batting Practice in Week 2. We will use this challenge to explore some of the grammatical tools that can be used to create tension and drama on the sentence level in our writing.
I will also show how I handled the 10% cut from Week 2 (including my word counts) and provide links to the Week 2 responses of participants.

Week 4: Players at the Plate
I will sum up the month’s activities, show how I handled Week 3’s Curveball Challenge, and link to all the other participants’ rewrites. Writing is hard work. You can expect a lot of encouragement and praise from me along the way.

I hope you will pull up a chair in the Go Dog Go Café and join me for the Writer’s Workshop. Visit the Go Dog Go Café to learn more.

Tanya

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Cardinals

The sun travels along the arch of a low horizon—the short path
of a winter day
when cold air aches
pressing into our bones
Later, ice-glazed tree limbs crackle
in the midnight winds
heard outside our shut-tight glass
Snow falls, covering
paths, dead leaves, and seeds
In the frigid morning, the birds seek
a meal to sustain them
They gather on our deck
where the filled feeder hangs like a beacon
juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice
jostle with their larger brethren
the hairy woodpeckers with their zebra-striped backs
and the hungry cardinals,
their flaming feathers, a florescent highlighter against the snow,
marking the places where the seed falls
They write their stories in footprints as we watch them:
the male cardinals wait while their partners eat their fill,
then battle with each other for the choicest remains
Chivalrous? or cavalier?
Crimson heroes to their girls
Red villains to each other
Can a man be both things?
Do the history books tell?
For the cardinals, the chronicle of this winter journey
will melt, the empty seed shells scattered
will dissolve
into fresh earth and green grass
But we will remember both hero and villain,
their footprints transcribed in letters
of our poems and prose

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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This Happened…

The Legend of the Lumenstones received perfect ratings across all categories in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published book competition for 2018.

Judges comments:

 

“You’ve created a world and set of characters that ranks up there with the great quest novels like The Lord of the Rings and even Harry Potter. I enjoyed your succinct writing style that brought all this to life without overdoing the descriptions. I felt I was right alongside Mattoby and his motley crew as they go in search of the lumenstones. I loved the adventures they go through. I like how you made your characters believable and not one dimensional. You gave them each distinct personalities that weren’t stereotypical. Your pacing was wonderful – I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Great fantasy fiction.” – Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

 

Ratings scaled from 0 to 5, with 5 considered “outstanding”:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

 

🎄Looking for a Christmas present for the book lovers on your list?🎄

The Legend of the Lumenstones 

Books 1-3

now available in one epic volume in eBook and paperback

 

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Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in review books, & Legend of the Lumenstones.

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100% Human

The body of the earth does not belong to me; my body belongs to it. The debate about Elizabeth Warren and her “native heritage” is a painful one, and it reminds me that the ethnic composition of a person’s DNA means little. What we do with our lives matters. I am 100% human. So what? If I spend my days lusting in the halls of materialism gone mad, than my “humanity” will amount to little but a drop in the cesspool of avarice that covers this earth I love like a mosquito-infested swamp and my 100% will choke off the fertile ground and pollute the clean waters that nurture all living things.

I thought about having my DNA tested. While I know that a large percentage of my ancestors came from Europe, most of them following the French-Indian fur trade down the Mississippi River from Canada, large gaps and lots of questions remain about my heritage. So what? Finding out that I had a percentage of Native American DNA or that I had an African Great Great Greatsomeone who was brought to this land in chains would not make me a res kid or child raised in the Chicago projects. It would not give me the right to claim a place at a table built on cultural identity and suffering where I have never eaten. I already care about my Native and African brothers and sisters with all 100% of my humanity. I want to see respect and reparation generously given to those on whose land and on whose backs this country has thrived, and I will continue to work toward that. We have a long, long way to go.

I want to see the land respected and repaired. I grew up wandering the woods around my home, a child of the wind who whispered his secrets in my ears, the trees who taught me to tap deeply into the ground and patiently stand tall, and the great rivers who taught me respect and awe. I didn’t grow up with material wealth, but I had the richest of playgrounds and a lavish education. Nature never asked about my DNA. She captured my attention and inspired my imagination without questioning what percentage of me was hers. I am 100% human. The body of the earth was not born of me; I was born of it.

https://tanyacliff.com/2016/08/15/meskonsing-cutting-the-skin-of-the-drum/

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Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories.

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