Writing Tips

The more words you eliminate without changing meaning and sacrificing detail, the clearer and more powerful your writing will be. Don McNair in Editor-Proof Your Writing

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Time flies and another door opens

cj Sez:  Next week, my grandson leaves home to begin his first year of law school, and I am awash with melancholy. The event reminds me how fast time really does fly when you’re having a good time. I moved to Alabama to be near my grandkids and don't you know, they grew up. (sigh) Too soon, I say. Not soon enough, says he. I miss the hugs, giggles and piano concerts already.

Doesn't matter where the future takes him. To me, he will always be the dark-eyed cutie ready to save the world. 

Feeling maudlin about the changes in our lives, I found myself thinking of my childhood in Texas and how far away that special time seems. What follows is a poem I wrote years ago that was ePublished by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature in 2012. 


In quiet times when past and present flow into one
Moment and melancholy dulls the senses and time ceases,
Memories steal me away to a place of tiny towns and meager farms
Worked by a few determined immigrants coaxing bounty from a dowry of hope,
A bundle of dreams wrapped in desert tan, banded by ribbons of
White caliche roads and faded asphalt highways,
Dotted with corn stalks,
Grain shocks
And monoliths to crude fortunes
That spill upon the land in clear pools
Or spout in unctuous streams.

I roam prairies where The West begins;
Where dust devils haunt wide-open spaces;
Where shimmering heat mirages join in gay dance,
Dodging prickly cactus and gnarly mesquite.

I wander pastures skirting clods of Angus,
Shielding my eyes from the livid sun
Punctuating a sky swept by mares’ tails
And little funnel clouds that spin around
The heavens but never touch down
Like the big ones do.

Awash in twilight stands a child,
Barefoot in the hard-scrabble dirt
At the edge of a cotton field,
Wearing a sun-faded dress
Handstitched from a cotton feedsack.

An ethereal landscape on a sepia canvas;
Where dusk brushes the sunset in smears
Of gold and purple and pink and mauve;
Where color drains into the horizon
With the sinking sun, applauded
By the throaty rumble of thunder
Chasing lightning through distant clouds
That only sometimes rain
But send breezes to winnow the dust
From the cool night air,
Where I shall sleep . . .
Under a canopy of stars.

Grandson will kill me when he sees that picture. That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Comments? Questions? Drop me a line.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Alabama Writers Conclave

Today, writer and award-winning poet Mavis Jarrell shares her experience at the recent Alabama Writers Conclave with Lyrical Pens and our readers.

Writer/poet Mavis Jarrell
"The Alabama Writers Conclave this year (July 11-13, 2014, in Fairhope, AL) was fabulous. It started with Alabama's own Rick Bragg as the keynote speaker. Rick is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling All Over but the Shoutin' and a Pulitzer Prize-winning national correspondent for the New York Times, His down-home personality and humor kept us all laughing. The workshops and food were excellent. A great chance to meet fellow writers no matter what level. Thanks to all who organized this beneficial event. For anyone who missed it, start saving for next year. It was the best $135 I've spent this year.

Congrats to my two friends for their winning pieces in the Alabama Writers Conclave. Mahala Church, 1st prize short story and Betty Spence, 3rd place poetry. It's great to have talented friends who like to encourage others to do their best. 

Considering there were over 500 entries nationwide for the six categories, I'd say this is proof of these ladies’ talent."

cj Sez: Thanks, Mavis, for allowing Lyrical Pens to share your enthusiasm. I'll need to put this conference on my list for 2015.

Note:  The Alabama Writers' Conclave was organized in 1923 and has been in continuing existence since. To find out more, check out their website:

On another note . . . FYI Gulf Coast Writers/Readers: This notice crossed my eMail desk today:

   Gulf Coast Writers Association Presents
   Sheila Booth Alberstadt
   Saturday July 27  SHOULD BE JULY 26 ! (sigh)
   2—4 PM
   Pass Christian Library
   111 Hiern Ave
   Pass Christian, Mississippi

That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Comments? Questions? Drop me a line.