My #HaikuFebruary – 2nd Half

My sleep is disturbed
By blaring train horns at night
No sleep for this one

~*~

Wind rattles clear panes
Tightens the cold winter wrap
My blanket is weak

*~*

Sun gnawed by the moon
Shadows throw double gray shades
Welcome crescent Sun

~*~

Snowy day of white
Black feline crosses the yard
Unassumingly

*~*

Tuna casserole
Warm comfort food in my mouth
The kids won’t eat it

~*~

Baymax and Big Heroes
Playing for third time today
Loving this movie

*~*

Editing my book
Back to Front and change of font
Pushing the deadline

~*~

Last day for haiku
Been an interesting month
Poetry month soon

My #HaikuFebruary-1st Half

Red-tailed hawk arcs down
Up again talons outstretched
Watchful from great heights

~*~*~

Cedar waxwings flock
On berry-laden branches
Delightful songs reign

~*~*~

Solid gray blanket
Horizon to horizon
Atmospheric wrap

~*~*~

Naked limbs shiver
Potential of life subdued
Wait for a warm face

~*~*~

Light gobbles night’s stars
Mindless of searching dreamers
Where is the darkness?

~*~*~*

Sky bending towers
Cenotaphs to those buried
Below red-hued sand

~*~*~

Mountains encircle
Brilliant shimmering city
of the desert plain

~*~*~

A fickle mistress
Universe, why do you thwart
Creativity

~*~*~

Apple, why must it
Be so aggravating to
Add my own music

Las Vegas Vacation-Day 3

With just hours to go before the plane ride home, we ordered a hearty breakfast at the Grand Lux Cafe. I’m a huge fan of biscuits and gravy (as long as the biscuits are crunchy on the outside and not Pillsbury-like refrigerator dough) so I went with their vision of this standard dish. This included an egg sunny-side up and a base of fried potatoes at the bottom. The biscuits were just the way like them and the combination made a great start to the day. We passed around a basket of beignets and sauces like dessert.

Not wanting to stray too far from our luggage, we decided just to wander the Grand Canal Shoppes that bridged the Palazzo and the Venetian. Not that we couldvenetian afford anything offered by these purveyors, but we enjoyed looking at the art and products like we were in a museum.

Peter Lik is a photographer known for selling the most expensive photograph of all time: Phantom sold for $6.5 million. A gallery of his works drew our attention and we admired the specially processed and framed prints. While they appeared to be lit from behind, they actually reacted to front lighting in a peculiar way. An image of the setting sun behind a solitary tree grew dark when the lights were lowered, just as though the sun was setting in video. These images of landscape and architecture were simply amazing.

We passed by a hat shop along the way and dove in to try on hats of varying styles. I’m lucky that I look good in hats. Offering everything from wicker to wool, brimmed fedoras to veiled fascinators to felt flappers, I was intrigued to find a line of Steampunk hats center stage, complete with bullets, lace, pistols, and vials in the hatbands. Ignoring the “Please ask for assistance before handling hats in this collection,” I tried on a top hat of black silk and six-inch wide white lace.

Bauman Rare Books gave us a glimpse into history, displaying first edition copies of works throughout the ages, including modern novels only a few years old and going back to Shakespeare’s folios.

We browsed through mammoth ivory and jade netsukes, bronzed mermaid statues, and Lladro ceramic figurines.

Finally we stopped for lunch at I Heart Burger and shelled out an awesome sum for bison burgers and sweet potato fries.

Our final Vegas win came in the form of hitting the Pre-check security line at the airport and having our plane depart on time to head back home to the freezing cold temperatures and snow fall of the Kansas City International Airport.

Las Vegas Vacation-Day 2

Being a group of nerds and not much into shopping, we downloaded Strayboots to take us on a scavenger hunt through the Strip. On our hunt, we sought the answers to questions and received tidbits of history and trivia as a reward before receiving our next clue. Fourteen hundred miles from a chilly February in Kansas, we enjoyed the sunshine and balmy temperatures, though the lack of humidity suck moisture from my skin at a rapid rate.

We headed to the Bellagio. Inside we found one of the more luxurious casinos, the place where the high rollers tend to congregate. Amidst theblownglassbellagio tinkling slot machines and blackjack tables stood flowing pieces of blown glass art. The first one looked like something from the sea, wide blooms intermixed with snaking tendrils – my eye interpreted sea anemones and tube worms in the ocean currents. Our clue led us to the registration desk of the hotel. Above our heads, a sky light beamed the suns rays through another blown glass sculpture entitled Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly with 2,000 glass blooms.

Leaving the Bellagio, we passed the fountain pool in front of the hotel and made plans to come back after dinner to watch a couple of the displays. From here, we looked at the Arch de Triumph replica, which was originally going to be built to full scale, but was reduced in size due to proximity of the airport. Our next question was which number would we find on an American roulette wheel that is not on a French roulette wheel. The answer is double zero (00).

Crossing the street to the Parisian, we headed in beneath the Eiffel Tower in search of a bronze janitor by way of a craps table. I went hunting a penny smashing machine and found one near the cashier. Our son collects smashed pennies from our trip, and I brought along a stash of quarters and pennies just for this purpose. Returning to the craps table, I watched as our group let bets ride on the Pass Line. I cautiously counted my husband’s chips, pleased that he was up a few bucks, but also knowing he was going to play until he ran out. The older gentlemen manning the table were entertaining, helping the betters and making jokes as play continued. At this point, a man in blue shirt joined out table, throwing down $1500 for chips, and that was just a few bills from the stack he had sitting on the rim of the table.

After the men cashed out, we located our bronze friend in order to answer the question. After this, we headed back toward our hotel. Our dinner reservation was set for 5 pm and we wanted to get back in order to nap and change. We passed through the Venetian, gazing in shop windows and at the red decorations in preparation for Chinese New Year coming up. Enormous paper lanterns hung from bamboo sticks and sheep and rams carved from wood stood in the atrium.

During this break, I sat down facing our window, looking out at the distance mountains occasionally as I read my latest book, a beta read at the moment. One thing you notice when you reach the solitude of your hotel room is the silence. There is so much noise in the casinos and on the street that the silence is profound and refreshing.

At 5:00, we gathered in front of the Delmonico, one of Emeril’s restaurants. We were planning on steak, steak, and more steak, with a few sides of asparagus, grits, and creamed corn. And afterwards, there was chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup. Delicious.

After a quick change, we headed up the street again. Cigars in hand (not mine), we strut toward the Bellagio again and found a place along the stone balustrade to watch the fountain show. Dancing to Hey, Big Spender, the powerful jets of water shot several stories into the sky, collapsing back again. Lights flashed and the water popped with a sound like fireworks. We stayed long enough to see another display choreographed to Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye). From here, we headed further south down the avenue. Our goal was to reach M&M World to pick up gifts for the kids. Along the way we found a cello trio playing on one foot bridge, and an electric violin soloing on another. We passed Marvel superheros, Transformers, Elvis, and Spiderman, and a bearded lady.

After purchasing t-shirts boasting everyone’s favorite colorful candies, and smashing a couple more pennies, we crossed to New York, New York again. After another round of craps, we grabbed a taxi to head back to our home base. Now, we repeated ourselves about five times that we wanted to go to the Palazzo, but our taxi driver insisted on taking us to the Venetian, and doing so in a way where we wondered if we’d survive the trip. His gas gauge was on E, tire pressure light on, check engine light on, and accelerating gunning at every opportunity. We didn’t argue the dropoff, we just wanted off the crazy ride.

 

Las Vegas Vacation-Day 1

This was my first visit to the shimmering desert city famous for the casinos, shows, and lifestyle vastly different than my hometown. We arrived by plane after the sun had already set, greeted by the brilliant light show of the Vegas Strip starting with the space-bound beam of the Luxor to the blinding jumbo screens flashing advertisements for food, fun, and flourish.

Our first stop was the Palazzo Hotel, our home base for the brief weekend excursion. Our suites were 720 square feet, almost as large as the two bedroom apartment my husband and I shared 13 years ago. We quickly dropped off our luggage, changed for the warmer weather and grabbed a taxi to reach New York, New York at the other end of the Strip. Due to the number of cars choking the multi-lane avenue, our taxi ride progressed slowly, giving us plenty of time to comment on the variety of sounds and sights crammed into the relatively small space. Flames shot up from somewhere to the right. The familiar faces of TV chefs graced billboards and buildings.

The Dueling Piano Bar was so loud we could barely hear each other talk. We paid the cover for a VIP table, giving us the comfort of a seat and a waitress (though she rarely came to the table unless we waved like crazy lunatics and anything we ordered took over 15 minutes to arrive). The pair of musicians at the pianos sounded amazing, playing requests from the audience and composing a raucous party. They swapped out with a new pair that were not quite up to the same caliber. We had a difficult time understanding the words these two sang aNYNYnd one spouted profanity frequently. (Not that I have an ultra clean mouth on occasion, but every few words does get annoying when you want to hear music.) And these two really seemed to enjoy the young ladies, frequently returning their attentions to a group of supposedly Australian girls attending a bachelorette party. We noshed on some Italian nachos (homemade chips smothered in beer-cheese and flank steak) and onion rings to tide over our empty stomachs. Eventually, the noise just became too loud for the small space, and we were tired.

We walked the distance from New York, New York back to our hotel to get some sleep at 1 am. Along the way, we were serenaded by a variety of musical instruments including buckets, guitar, banjo, and bagpipes. At every crossing, a small crowd of workers flicked and snapped trading cards bearing mostly nude, busty women, only to have the cards litter the sidewalk and gutters. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and homemade beer-can-bongs settled above the crowded walkways. There was no end to the variety of age and ethnicity trolling the streets. Admitting, I felt sorry for (and somewhat appalled by) the small children toted along by their parents in this crazy place at this wee hour of the morning.

In bed, my ears were still ringing from the speaker-blowing music and my brain was disoriented by the day-bright city lights, making it difficult to fall asleep despite that fact that back home it was 3 am and well past my bedtime.

#99cent Sale-THROUGH A WINDOW

February 16th through 22nd, this sci-fi short story collection is available at the reduced price of 99 cents! Save $2 off the regular price for these highly-rated stories. The ebook collection includes Far-Seer, Through a Window, Nearly Perfect, Zana’s Heart, and The Last Egg, complete with introductions to each story by the author. Illustrations by the author illuminate the “pages.”  This selection is also available in paperback on Amazon.com

Far-Seer was originally entered in the Science Fiction Writers of Earth competition in 2001, where it earned 5th Place in over 230 international entries. In the same competition in different years, The Last Egg and Nearly Perfect ranked within the top ten.

I enjoy writing short stories because of the challenge in completing a full-fledged adventure in as few pages as possible. Short stories force the writer to chose words very carefully to convey the meaning and mood they are trying to convey, and the satisfaction in doing so is tremendous. Writing short stories is a different art than writing a full-length novel. You have to achieve character development, plot development, and resolution within 10,000 words or less – sometimes as little as 1500 words. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Buy Now

TAW 5 Star Screen2

Another Editing Bandwagon Moment

I love to read as much as I love to write.

And let’s face it, neither is easy to do. Reading and writing aren’t natural skills integrated into our genetic material.  We must force our brains to restructure themselves in order to make reading and writing happen.

That’s why it is so important for writers to carefully consider every word they put on the page and ensure it’s the correct word. I try to be forgivable on many aspects of writing, such as comma usage and international differences in word spellings and phrases, but I am so quickly turned off by someone who claims boldly to be a great writer who then publishes the phrase “[he] peaks my interest.” That’s it. I’m out.

Frankly, I have a broad working vocabulary. (I thank my mother for her love of books.) I use this skill on a regular basis no matter the company I’m keeping. You can hear the evidence of this in my three-year-old’s speech as she tells me “You are frustrating me!” instead of “You make me mad.”

Even so, every once in a while I use a dictionary to make sure the word I have in mind is being used correctly in the content I’m writing. Whether you have an old, dog-eared paperback copy or utilize one of many on-line dictionaries available, don’t hesitate to use it. There are also dozens of on-line grammar resources for using tricky words properly.

Below are a few examples of words that are often – quite innocently – misused, but are frustrating nonetheless.

peak vs. pique:
peak = the pointed top of anything. Ex. “the peak of the mountain”
pique = to arouse an emotion or provoke to action, Ex. “that comment piques my interest”

mute vs. moot:
mute = not emitting or having sound of any kind. Ex. “He was born mute.”Bar Poor
moot = of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic. Ex. “that is a moot point”

hanger vs. hangar:
hanger =a contrivance on which things are hung, as a hook. Ex. “she hung the dress on a plastic hanger”
hangarany relatively wide structure used for housing airplanes or airships. Ex. “his airplane was sheltered in the hangar”

capital vs. capitol:
capital = the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc. Ex: “Topeka is the capital of Kansas”
capitol = a building occupied by a state legislature. Ex. “the representatives met at the capitol”

passed vs. past:
passed = past tense of pass. Ex. “the speeding car passed me on the highway”
past = gone by or elapsed in time. Ex. “during the past year”
OR
so as to pass by or beyond. Ex. “the troops marched past”
OR
beyond in time; later than; after. Ex. “past noon; half past six”

pore vs. pour:
pore = to read carefully. Ex. “she pored over the proposal document”
pour = to cause a flow. Ex. “he poured the milk into a glass”

See this list of 200 homonyms, homophones and homographs.