Friday, December 5, 2014

Reflections of Flight


"South for the Winter" by tdlucas5000

This year has flown by, hasn't it?

It certainly has for me.  

I announced my intentions and defined my plans at the beginning of 2014. My goal: to fly. Revisiting these posts, I respect their honesty and love them for their hopefulness.  Fast forward to today, and I'm touching down to reflect on the year's journey. 

"Bird landing on balcony, Barbados" by Berit Watkin
As I predicted back in January, it hasn't always been easy. I've had my share of botched take-offs, miscalculations, fatigue... I've even crashed into a few window panes. But with the help of family, friends, and writing partners, I've managed to shake out my wings and keep going.

I've also had my successes. Looking back on the places my "one little word" has taken me, I'm especially proud of the way Today's Little Ditty has soared and inspired.  I'm grateful for the insight of my TLD contributors, for my featured guests in the Haiku Garden and Limerick Alley, for the outstanding authors who trust me with their interviews and book reviews for the Ditty of the Month Club, for the lively bunch of DMC participants and commenters, and for my silently supportive followers as well. I'm also thankful for Poetry Friday, the KidLitosphere, and my growing flock of poetry-loving friends – those I've found and those who have found me.  

Today's Little Ditty will be taking a brief hiatus for the rest of December, but don't fret, DMC fans! I have more fabulous children's poetry and picture book stars lined up for next year, beginning in January with...

                                     wait for it...

                                                   Joyce Sidman!

I'm delighted that Joyce will be joining me next month, and look forward to seeing you all as well, rejuvenated from the holidays and ready to spread ditty joy.

Thanks again to Bob Raczka for being my featured author in November and to everyone who participated in his fun haiku challenge!  For those who missed last week's wrap-up, you can find it HERE.  Random.org has determined that the winner of SANTA CLAUSES: Short Poems from the North Pole, by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chuck Groenink is:

CAROL WILCOX – congratulations Carol!

I'd like to leave you today with the Golden Shovel that I wrote in response to Laura Shovan's invitation this past October.  The Golden Shovel is a poetic form that takes a line from a favorite poem and uses those words, in order, as the end words of a new poem.  I based mine on a line from Adelaide Crapsey's "November Night": "Like steps of passing ghosts." I then superimposed my poem onto a public domain image I found on pixabay.com so that Carol Varsalona could include it in her Finding Fall Gallery.  Keep your eyes peeled for Carol's gallery opening in the next week or two.

(click on image to enlarge)

Wishing you the gift of poetry this holiday season, beginning with today's Poetry Friday roundup. Anastasia Suen is our host at Booktalking #kidlit.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway


Theatrical release poster from 1940

Black Friday has never seemed blacker....

  The monsters are taking my soul their toll.

"Monsters Playing Poker" by OtisFrampton on DeviantART

Oh sure, they think it's all fun and games! But you try sleeping at night with monsters lurking in every corner of your cobwebbed mind.


"Webbed" © GillyFace Photos, all rights reserved (used by permission)


At the beginning of this month, Bob Raczka challenged us to write a haiku from the point of view of our favorite monster.  From autumn's bones to zombies, and everything in between, mysterious miscreants have been passing through like it was Monster Central Station.  Glad to finally deposit the grim passenger-load here.


Welcome, dear guests...  
to the land of the freaks  
          and the home of the depraved!




All poems are copyright 2014, published with permission of the authors, who control all rights.
 




labyrinth at dusk
as darkness falls, escape dims
minotaur awaits
               by Tabatha Yeatts

                                   hollow eyes, grave grin
                                   click, clatter, rattle—
                                   bony escapee
                                                  by Joyce Ray

                                                                                Black Cat at Night
                                                                                          by Donna JT Smith

                                                                                fall night of shadow
                                                                                chases black < cat > black chases
                                                                                shadow of night fall

monster’s a poet
recording his thoughts nightly
in the damp dungeon

monster catches cold
hai-hai-hai-ku! seventeen
syllables scatter.

          by Penny Parker Klostermann

                                                                                 Kraken Rises
                                                                                           by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

                                                                                 snaking tentacles
                                                                                 seek out dinner – grab 'n' go
                                                                                 fishermen platter

A dance
          by Susannah Buhrman-Deever

A spider's bite plus
music's might will make you dance
a tarantella

                                                             big hairy spider
                                                             on the bathroom floor
                                                             ...I put on a boot
                                                                            by Diane Mayr

                                                                                                      I turn
                                                                                                      toward her whisssper -
                                                                                                      Medusa
                                                                                                                     by Robyn Hood Black

Unraveled Mummy
          by Jan Gars

Mummy unraveled!
Please tell daddy to bring some
Clean sheets and Xanax.


                                        something strange inside
                                        the dishwasher is groaning
                                        it's not the dishes.
                                                       by Catherine Johnson

                                                                                                  moonlit stroll past crypts
                                                                                                  and tombs where zombies gather–
                                                                                                  brain-free, you join them
                                                                                                                 by Buffy Silverman

Lying in Wait
          by Kristi Dee Veitenheimer

garish eyes glowing
figure lurking in shadows
preparing to leap

                              Frankenstein
                                        by Jan Gars

                              Thump...Thump...Thump... ground quakes.
                              Frankenstein Monster lurking,
                              Castle walls crumble.

                                                                      Vampire Feeds
                                                                                by Jan Gars

                                                                      A vampire attcks.
                                                                      Blood streams as maiden bleeds.
                                                                      Could have had a V8.

                                                                                                              Dusk to Dawn
                                                                                                                        by Jan Gars

                                                                                                              Coffin opens...dusk
                                                                                                              Dracula feeds, virgin bleeds
                                                                                                              Coffin closes...dawn    

vampirish pirates
in Gaelic, Scots-Irish kilts
dressed to the hilt, aye

piraty vampires
in khaki green, ratty pants
dressed for the dance, bleh

              by Ken Slesarik

                                                Report Card Sets the Record Straight
                                                          by Mary Lee Hahn

                                                There's no monster here.
                                                Terrifying envelope?
                                                That's your problem, kid.

                                                                                                Me very hungry.
                                                                                                Me want cookie– Uhm nohm nuhm!
                                                                                                Crumbs everywhere. Oops.
                                                                                                               by Miranda Barnes (age 11)

Not Skin Deep
          by George Heidenrich

Trees in November
Shorn of all leafy beauty
Reveal their good bones.

Portents
          by George Heidenrich

Trees in November,
Scrawny zombies of springtime,
Sway slowly, waiting...

                                                           Blood Feast*
                                                                     by Carol Varsalona

                                                           Mealtime approaching.
                                                           Teeth brushed. Anticipation!
                                                           DRATS! Garlic Spoiler.

                                                           *check out Carol's menacing visual interpretation HERE


shivers end at midnight
grinning masks enter my dreams
no matter where they rest
               by Linda Baie
                                                                                  Jealousy
                                                                                            by Carol Wilcox

                                                                                  Green-eyed monster wraps
                                                                                  big furry hands round my heart
                                                                                  squishes joy spirit


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many thanks to Bob Raczka, a.k.a. Dr. Haikustein, for coming up with this spine-chilling challenge, and to everyone who contributed to my insomnia this month with such monstrous little ditties! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now I know some of you are anxious to get started on your holiday shopping...

Photo: H. Michael Karshis, Flickr Creative Commons


or eager to get stuck into those Thanksgiving leftovers...

The Munsters: Season 1, Episode 6 – Low Cal Munster (29 Oct. 1964)


but if you haven't yet sent me your monster-inspired haiku, 
there's still time!

You have until Sunday, November 30th, to send your haiku to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.


Everyone who participates in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection, Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole. (One entry per participant, not per poem.) How cool would that be? Think of the holiday gift-giving potential, folks!



Alternatively, you may earn an entry into the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a poem and comment below you will earn two entries in total.  Comments must be received no later than Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, December 5th.  Good luck!




The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted today at Carol's Corner.

DMC: "moonlit stroll past crypts" by Buffy Silverman




moonlit stroll past crypts
and tombs where zombies gather–
brain-free, you join them

© 2014 Buffy Silverman. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration TOMORROW, November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DMC: "something strange inside" by Catherine Johnson




something strange inside
the dishwasher is groaning
it's not the dishes.

© 2014 Catherine Johnson. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DMC: "Unraveled Mummy" by Jan Gars




Unraveled Mummy

Mummy unraveled!
Please tell daddy to bring some 
Clean sheets and Xanax.

© 2014 Jan Gars. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Monday, November 24, 2014

DMC: "I turn" by Robyn Hood Black




I turn
toward her whisssper -
Medusa


© 2014 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Limerick Alley: Bridget Magee



For better or worse, American influence has changed the way many holidays are celebrated overseas– Christmas, Easter, Halloween... but not Thanksgiving.  No, Thanksgiving is all ours.

November 27th will be like any other Thursday in Limerick, Ireland. But here on Today's Little Ditty, Limerick Alley is serving up this kind of pub grub:


What's more, we've got an American lass with a fine Irish name to plate up some poetry on the side.  I'm speaking of no other than Bridget Magee, of course.

Bridget has wide-ranging talents, as writer, poet, speaker, teacher, mom– but personally, I think of Bridget as a sister in all things ditty.  With her quirky sense of humor, a pun for every occasion, and our shared tendency toward short verse, who better to make an appearance in Limerick Alley.  You can read more of Bridget's work at her blog wee words for wee ones.

While I never dictate what my guests in Limerick Alley or Haiku Garden should write about, I am pleased that Bridget took it upon herself to write something appropriate for the turkey-gobbling season.  For one thing, it gives me a chance to acknowledge the holiday, since next week I'll be busy wrapping up November's Ditty of the Month Club challenge.

There is someone who is not particularly happy about Bridget's choice of subject matter, however. And that would be this handsome fellow:

"Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner" by Ian McKenzie, Flickr Creative Commons

There once was a turkey named Ty 
Who saw the calendar, "Oh my!  
Almost Thanksgiving?  
I want to keep living!  
Oh how I wish I could fly."
© 2014 Bridget Magee. All rights reserved.

"Turkey Chase" by Lars Hammar, Flickr Creative Commons

Run away, Ty! Run away!


Thank you, Bridget, for this fun little ditty.  And to all of you, whatever is on your table this Thanksgiving (or this Thursday, for my friends abroad), I wish you many blessings of the season, and hope that you know how grateful I am for your support of Today's Little Ditty.  In the words of Der Bingle, I've got plenty to be thankful for.



With mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie crowding our thoughts, don't forget that there's just one week left to submit a monster-inspired haiku for Bob Raczka's DMC challenge.  This week I featured my own haiku as well as monsteriffic little ditties by Penny Parker Klostermann, Susannah Buhrman-Deever, and Diane Mayr.

Be sure to check out the poetry spread at Becky Shillington's Tapestry of Words.  Thanks, Becky, for hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup!



DMC: "big hairy spider" by Diane Mayr




big hairy spider
on the bathroom floor
...I put on a boot

© 2014 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DMC: "A dance" by Susannah Buhrman-Deever




A dance

A spider's bite plus
music's might will make you dance
a tarantella

© 2014 Susannah Buhrman-Deever. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DMC: "Kraken Rises" by M. H. Barnes




Kraken Rises

snaking tentacles
seek out dinner – grab 'n' go
fishermen platter

© 2014 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Monday, November 17, 2014

DMC: "monster's a poet" by Penny Parker Klostermann




monster’s a poet
recording his thoughts nightly
in the damp dungeon

monster catches cold
hai-hai-hai-ku! seventeen
syllables scatter.

© 2014 Penny Parker Klostermann. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renée LaTulippe – Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation


Photo: M. H. Barnes

All aboard!!!
Renée LaTulippe's Lyrical Language Express is about to leave the station, and trust me, you don't want to miss it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation

In my last lyrical language post, “Sound Bites: Making Writing Musical,” we looked at the properties of sounds in the English language and how we can use them to enhance our writing. In this post, we’re going to put those ideas into practice with a little writing exercise. 

A heightened awareness of sound and the knowledge of how to use sounds in your writing has several benefits:
  1. Style: It takes your writing from humdrum to engaging.
  2. Tone: It helps you set the tone of your poem or story from the very first line.
  3. Mood/Emotion: It helps you elicit specific emotions or reactions in your reader.
  4. Scene: It helps you show setting or character without "telling."
  5. Pacing: It gives you more control over the dynamics and pacing of your writing (when and where to change tone, mood, or pacing, for example).

Let's look at those five points a bit closer. Suppose I want to write a story about a train. I start with this first line:

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Geof Sheppard
  1. Style: This humdrum sentence uses everyday language that doesn't engage. There is no craft to it.
  2. Tone: No particular tone has been set. I'm not sure what to expect.
  3. Mood/Emotion: I have no emotional reaction to this sentence.
  4. Scene: It tells me nothing about the character or setting.
  5. Pacing: The sentence is neutral in terms of pacing.

Using sound devices, I could put several different spins on the train idea.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Albert Jankowski (public domain)
  1. Style: The language is engaging and fun to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is light-hearted. The consonance on the CK and T and the assonance on the short I create an upbeat rhythm.
  3. Mood/Emotion: The train seems happy and therefore elicits a feeling of happiness and excitement in me.
  4. Scene: I can feel the jaunty movement of the bouncing train. The word rickety and the way the train moves makes me think he's not in the best repair but that he's okay with his lot in life. I know he's on an old track, which is also rickety, so I have some clue to setting.
  5. Pacing: The CK, T, and short I are sounds that are spoken quickly and naturally speed up the pacing. The sentence forces me to read it quickly.

Since not all sounds have the same properties or produce the same effects, I could focus the assonance and consonance on different letters and see what happens.

Photo: Flikr Creative Commons, David Spigolon
  1. Style: The language is engaging and fun to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is heavier. The assonance on the short U combined with the consonance on the DGE and G sounds weigh this sentence down. The line is broken up a bit by the two short A-CK sounds in the slant rhyme fractured track, which is not a soothing phrase at all.
  3. Mood/Emotion: Gus the train seems sad or tired. I might worry a bit and wonder why he feels this way. I hope he'll find a happy ending or a good night's sleep wherever he is going. (And if he does, the writer will need to pay attention to the sounds as the story goes from heavy and sad to light and happy.)
  4. Scene: The character is clearly down in the dumps and is leaving a town. Is it his home? The track is broken. Maybe the town is run-down too? Maybe there's no work left? Maybe he's leaving loved ones behind as he goes in search of new possibilities?
  5. Pacing: The short U, DGE, G, CH, and even the TR are heavier in the mouth and spoken more slowly, so the pacing is slower in this version.

This story could also take a lyrical turn by playing more with assonance, alliteration, and voiced sounds.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Geof Sheppard
  1. Style: The language is musical and pleasing to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is pensive. The assonance on the long O and OO sounds combines with the consonance on the voiced M and N to create a moan that lingers throughout the sentence and conveys a mournful mood. I would expect this to be a sad story, too, though completely different in tone and style than the story about Gus.
  3. Mood/Emotion: Rather than make me sad, all those mournful sounds make me curious and suspenseful. This could even be a scary story.
  4. Scene: I'm not sure if the character is the locomotive or the night or the shadows or the moon or none of the above, but I would like to find out. Since there are shadows and moonlight, I picture this train going through the woods. I may be wrong, but the phrase at least puts images in my head.
  5. Pacing: The assonance on the long O and OO sounds gives the phrase a languid pace and encourages the reader to linger over the sentence.

The number of transformations this sentence could undergo to create different effects is limited only by our imagination. But I hope these three examples will give you a good idea of how we can choose and manipulate specific sounds to add music to our poetry and prose.

Of course, diction (word choice) plays a significant role in these transformations as well, and we'll be talking about that in a later post. But sound and diction go hand in hand as we must consider sound when choosing which words to use.


Give it a try!

Take the first sentence in a work in progress or a line from a poem and put it through the transformation test. Or use this sentence: Birds took to the sky and flew south for the winter. Feel free to share your transformations in the comments.

In the next lyrical language post, a flock of dodo birds will show us how to manage our stress(ed beats). Until then, happy writing!


© 2014 Renée M. LaTulippe. This article is partially excerpted from a lesson in the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry. All rights reserved.


An editor and writer, Renée LaTulippe has co-authored nine early readers and a collection of poetry titled Lizard Lou: a collection of rhymes old and new (Moonbeam Children’s Book Award) and has poems in several editions of The Poetry Friday Anthology. She developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and blogs on children’s poetry at NoWaterRiver.com.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you read last week's spotlight interview with Bob Raczka, you know that he's challenged us to write monster-inspired haiku this month.  This week's daily ditties included haiku by Tabatha Yeatts, Joyce Ray, and Donna Smith. Stay tuned... there's more to come!

I'm also delighted to share some good news. I've had two poems selected for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books), edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Keep your eyes peeled for this newest edition of the Poetry Friday Anthology series coming in April 2015.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Keri Collins Lewis at Keri Recommends.  Please join her as she pays tribute to someone very special.



DMC: "Black Cat at Night" by Donna Smith




Black Cat at Night

fall night of shadow
chases black < cat > black chases
shadow of night fall

© 2014 Donna JT Smith. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DMC: "hollow eyes, grave grin" by Joyce Ray




hollow eyes, grave grin
click, clatter, rattle—
bony escapee

© 2014 Joyce Ray. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two Line Tuesday: Bertrand Russell





War does not determine who is right –


only who is left.

                                                           – Bertrand Russell



With thanks to those who have served and sacrificed with honor.   -MHB




Monday, November 10, 2014

DMC: "labyrinth at dusk" by Tabatha Yeatts




labyrinth at dusk
as darkness falls, escape dims
minotaur awaits

© 2014 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection: