Fall Writing Frenzy

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted here, but woohoo, Fall Writing Frenzy has arrived! Many thanks to Kaitlyn Sanchez, Lydia Lukidis, and Ameerah Holliday for hosting this inspiring contest and to all the generous prize donors for their support. Here is my entry:

Halloween- Credit: Danielle Rae
Scarecrow Success
 By Jill Lambert   (197 words)     

When leaves turn red, I’m stuck out here
beside the mailbox, like last year.
There’s not a single crow around, 
but I’m prepared if one swoops down.

This is boring. What to do?
When mail arrives, should I shout, “BOO?”
That would prove I’ve got the stuff
out in the field to call their bluff.

Through his years of faithful service
no one’s seen our mailman nervous.
Stinging wasps and barking dogs
don’t deter his catalogs.

Wait! I hear a VROOM, then SCREECH.
Now the mail truck’s within reach. 
Wondering, will he deliver?
So excited that I shiver!

I see him pause to take a sip--
something pink is on his lip.
I shout, “BOO!” Mouth’s open wide.
He jerks his hand back, petrified.

Letters fly. He chokes and squawks.
The milkshake coats the neighbor’s box.
What a riot! I am grinning.
Suddenly, the mail truck’s spinning.

Bug-eyed, gawking in his mirror--
maybe I appear much nearer.
Now he’s weaving down the street
in a terrified retreat.

Ooh, that booing caused a stir.
I’m no scarecrow amateur!
In the future he’ll avoid
979. I’m overjoyed!

Yes, success! Do you suppose…
I can spook a mob of crows?

Spring Fling

Spring has sprung! That means it’s time again for the Spring Fling Kidlit contest, hosted by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal. Many thanks to them and the generous prize donors for providing this opportunity! Using a gif for inspiration and limited to 150 words or less, I present this year’s entry:

Arachnid Bunny Harvestman GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Bogus Easter Bunny		(117 words) 

Let’s take spring break in Ecuador. 
It’s tropical and sunny.
We’ll search inside the jungle 
for a bogus Easter Bunny.
It’s called the Bunny Harvestman 
and may look mighty cute,
but underneath black bunny ears 
it’s poised, in hot pursuit
of aphids, earthworms, snails, and slugs. 
It’s not a picky eater. 
Dead or living, it devours, 
keeping forests neater.

The Bunny’s an arachnid. 
It’s harmless, yet bizarre.
Those imitation yellow eyes 
are creepy--EEK! They are!
When it’s disturbed, this daddy-long-legs 
squirts an awful scent,
to make a predator think twice:
you eat me, you’ll repent!
So let’s record a video 
to show them back at school.
We saw the Easter Bunny on our trip… 
April Fool!

Holiday Helpers

Susanna Hill has presented another writing opportunity with her 10th annual Holiday Contest. This will be my third year to enter. Thank you to Susanna and the generous prize donors and judges for making this possible. It’s always motivating and so fun to see what everyone comes up with. This year we are to write a story (250 words or less) about a Holiday Helper. So here is my take on the prompt:

Christmas Cupids                                        (246 words)
By Jill Lambert
“I’m sick of this virus! No parties, no friends!”
Dad looked up and sighed, “Rae, we all hope it ends.”
“It’s taking too long, Dad, and Mom’s always gone!”
“It can’t be helped, Sweetheart. Now isn’t school on?”
Slowly I slid myself out of the chair,
but paused when an ad on TV made me stare.
I noticed a number for Health Hero Hotline.
My mom is a doctor--that Health Hero’s mine!            
I opened my tablet and tapped to launch Zoom.
Ms. West’s friendly face soon appeared in the room.
One by one, classmates began to pop in,
expecting to see morning meeting begin.
First came reminders of work that was due. 
Ms. West confessed that she’d been feeling blue. 
Some students chimed in that they felt the same way.
I shared how my mom worked long hours each day.
“What could we do as a class to bring cheer
and spread Christmas love at this time of the year?”
“Let’s help healthcare workers! They all are so tired.”
We each wrote a thank you we hoped was inspired.
I mentioned the hotline would let us record
our notes in our voices. Ms. West was on board,
with gift cards from teachers who made a donation.
Stickers conveyed the hotline information.
Later that week, when my mom came home late,
she told me our messages made them feel great.
Every recording soared straight to the heart.
Our class Christmas cupids took aim and took part.

It’s Halloweensie Time!

Susanna Leonard Hill hosts the best writing contests! Her Halloweensie contest is ten years old this year and was the first one I entered. It is a challenge coming up with something funny or spooky in 100 words or less. Last year, I placed in the top ten with my story, Tacky Trick! This year, we had to include the words skeleton, creep, and mask in our tale. Here’s my entry:

Halloween Haul       (100 words)
Something’s creeping up the walk.
See it stalk! Can it talk? 
Something’s creeping up the walk. 
What can it be?
Skeleton’s completely bone, 
all alone, hear it moan.
Skeleton’s completely bone,
passes the tree.
Hurry up! Slam the door, 
hit the floor. Furthermore,
hurry, don a mask before    
Bones rings the bell.
Ding-dong, very near,
knows you’re here. Disappear!
Ding-dong, very near.
“What’s that smell?”
Chocolate’s what it wants,
why it haunts. My response?
Chocolate’s what it wants?
“Here, have it all!”
Bag’s full, turns to go,
now I know, not my foe.
Bag’s full, turns to go,
Halloween haul!

I’m excited to read what others submit. There is so much creativity out there! Have a safe and spooky Halloween everyone!

Fall Writing Frenzy

October’s here and my first submission of the month is an entry for the #FallWritingFrenzy, a competition hosted by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. The challenge was to select a fall photo to inspire a 200-word (or less) story. I chose several pictures, but finally settled on this image:

The colors and the animated quality of the skeletons just spoke to me. Here is my 190-word entry:

A Skeleton Soiree                        
On Halloween, I met my pal 
outside a spooky joint.
The house was draped in neon lights.
It didn’t disappoint. 
I lumbared up to where he stood. 
“Oh, there you are Patella!”
“I know I’m late, you bag of bones!
I feel like Cinderella!”
“I have a bone to pick with you,”
Eboneezer said.
Open-mouthed, I spun and stared.
His skull was bathed in red.
“Have I done something to offend?”
I quizzed him in reply.
“It seems like every time we meet,
you taunt me, though I’m shy!”
“I’m sorry if my humerus
has triggered such chagrin.
Did my good-natured ribbing 
find a crack beneath your skin?
I tease you when you’re stressed and stiff.
Relax! Let’s find some friends!”  
Spinally, he understood,
so we could make amends.
The music blasted out the door
and reached a femur pitch.
Some skeletons leapt on the porch.
Their toes began to twitch.
We heard a wailing saxabone,
a swooping trombone, too.
“Absolutely fibulous!”
I cheered when they were through.
We clicked and clacked our ribby racks 
and danced upon the lawn,
until the music slowed, then stopped.
Boo! Halloween was gone.

I can’t wait to read and comment on the other entries! Thank you so much for making this possible, Kaitlyn and Lydia. Thanks also to all who agreed to be a generous prize donor.

Passing the Baton

I’m thankful I live where I can experience all four seasons. I love spending time outdoors, soaking in every gift a new season brings. In spite of that, I’m torn when we reach a solstice or equinox. Today is the first day of fall. The cooler temperatures are a treat and I have a new lease on my running life. Still, the slow creep of earlier sundowns makes me melancholy. There’s a part of me that wants to capture a little bit of summer’s glow in a jar to enjoy in the long nights ahead. When I was still teaching, I was excited to head back to school and meet a new crop of students. And yet, I felt wistful about those last lazy summer days with my family. In the end, it’s a trade-off. As summer passes the baton to fall, I intend to make the most of every day, long or short, every season as it comes. The cycle of life continues.

Mapping Memories

When I began writing in earnest, I read about a technique that helps writers recall memories–mapping. Draw a map of your childhood home or neighborhood and label it. Add notes about things that bubble up as you study it. You’ll be amazed at what comes to mind! It won’t mean anything to you, but here is what mine looks like:

This map shows both levels of the house where I grew up, with additional neighborhood notes around the perimeter. As rough as it looks, it is a treasure map to me. It’s been the genesis of several stories and poems. The events it evokes from my past make it almost like a time machine. I’m transported back to that small midwestern town and am able to tap into the feelings of the child that was me. It’s important to reach back and feel those feelings so I can write in an authentic voice. Of course, I have to balance it with observations of children today. Both perspectives inform my writing so readers can connect to it. Try sketching your own memory map. You’ll soon be digging up nuggets of childhood gold.

The Well

Being a writer, I’m always in search of metaphors. It’s a way to make sense of the world. To make sense of myself. When I was a librarian, I finally decided that the best metaphor for that point in my working life was spinning plates, like in a circus. I loved my years working in the library and it was never a dull moment, b ut it always felt like you had so many places spinning at once.

Once I embarked on a writing career, I began the hunt for another metaphor to explain my process. During my extensive reading about writing and writers, I came upon The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life, by Vinita Hampton Wright. She described a well of memories that we all draw upon. That image really rang true to me for several reasons. A well refreshes and sustains us. Yet there are times when we drop the bucket down and it comes up empty. The well is dry. We have to get out into the world and do something to replenish it–make memories!

At the beginning of the year, I worked through Julie Hedlund’s Twelve Days of Christmas, to set writing goals for myself. I titled the end result My Wellness Blueprint for Writing and included a poem I wrote on the cover:

The Well

What is worth
A feeling of peace, 
being carefree,
with the whole day
stretching out 
before you.

If you live long enough,
you recapture the essence,
though not
the innocence
of childhood.
Once again, 
you bask in the luxury 
of each 

Now that I'm old,
I dip the bucket
down into a
deep well
of memories.
Sometimes the rope
has to be let
all the way

Even then, 
it often comes up
Other days,
it takes both hands
to raise it,
as heavy as 
Peter's nets.

Today was such a day.
My heart aches,
but it is full
and overflowing.

Be well. Fill your well. Write well.