“Howdy. Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon. I’m Pal, this here’s Kid.”
“Howdy yourselves. I’m Marsha Ingrao.”
“Thet name soun’s familiar. Ya from aroun’ here?”
“If by ‘around here’ you mean the Blogosphere, yes, I’ve been blogging and writing since 2012 on my personal blog, Marsha’s Streaming Thoughts. I renamed it several times, so now it’s Always Write to keep the brand of my closed self-hosted blog. But right now I’m so excited about the new series of interviews I’m hosting with bloggers who host writing and photo challenges. Charli Mills and I had a super invigorating conversation during her interview. It’s turning my personal blogging life around! I am totally jazzed about the future of collaborative blogging.”
“Soun’s as if ya mighta had a backlog a blogs.”
“Yep, those’ll dog ya. So ya thinned the herd. Now’re ya some sorta pro-fessional?”
This week Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday invites us to use all our senses to write about this fishing trap lying abandoned in this lonely inlet.
Nets placed by the hundreds in the harbors. Providing delicious meals for hundreds of people daily. Somehow this single net washed ashore unattended between the lonely crags. Once full of dancing shellfish, crabs or lobsters, now even the birds won’t approach the stench of rotting flesh. Gut wrenching, like watching a young person choose drugs over life.
“How did this happen?” the angry father complains to his son. “There ought to be a law against this kind of waste. Don’t the fish companies clean up after themselves? Don’t the harbor patrols get rid of these smelly traps? This is an outrage!”
The son approaches the net, drags it to the water, and empties the rotting lobster inside into the ocean and then calls the local fish company to let them know the location of their missing net.
The son placed his arm across his aging father’s shoulders and led him away.
“Remember, Pops? You didn’t complain, rage, or ask me how or why I got hooked on drugs. You stepped in, loved me, and got the help I needed. I didn’t enjoy prison, but I got clean.”
The father relaxed into his son’s embrace as they continued walking wordlessly along the beach.
HAIBUN IN ENGLISH: The rules for constructing a Haibun are simple.
Begin your haibun with a title. The title should hint at something barely noticeable in the beginning which comes together by the ending.
Your haibun prose can be written in present or past tense including, first person (I), third person (he/she), or first-person plural (we).
Subject matter: autobiographical prose, travel journal, a slice of life, memory, dream, character sketch, place, event, or object. Focus on one or two elements.
Keep your prose simple, all excessive words should be pared down or deleted. Nothing should be overstated.
The length can be brief with one or two sentences with a haiku, or longer prose with a haiku sandwiched between, to longer memoir works including many haiku.
There are different Haibun styles: Idyll: (One prose paragraph and one haiku) haiku/prose, or prose/haiku; Verse Envelope: haiku/prose/haiku; Prose Envelope: prose/haiku/prose, including alternating prose and verse elements.
Your prose tells the story and gives the information which helps to define the theme. It creates a mood through tone, paving the way for the haiku.
The haiku should act as a comparison—different yet somehow connected to the prose, as it moves the story forward by taking the narrative in another direction.
The haiku should not attempt to repeat, quote, or explain the prose. Instead, the haiku resolves the conflict in an unexpected way. Sometimes, the haiku questions the resolution of the prose. While the prose is the narrative, the haiku is the revelation or the reaction.
Take a chance and try something new. Visit Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. While you are there, check out the other entries for enjoyment, inspiration and to encourage the writers.
Maybe you’ve thought about hosting a writing challenge. Before you do, read this post to find out some of the ins and outs. If you love poetry, you’ll love learning about this challenge.
Longer Running Than Most Netflix Series
Today I want to introduce my blogging friend Colleen Cheesebro. She’s helped me with many practical blogging tips that I’ve been able to apply instantly. She’s not only a wealth of blogging tips, but a renowned author, and she hosts a long-running poetry challenge. Read on to find out how she does it.
What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge?
The first challenge I hosted on my blog included another writer, Ronovan from Ronovan Writes.com, which we called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. We took turns and traded off weeks because we were both writing a book. Each week we named a theme, and the participants could write flash fiction, poetry, or pretty much anything if they included a relevant quote. It was a fun meet and greet type of challenge, purely for fun. I met so many wonderful bloggers this way.
But what I really wanted to do was to write syllabic poetry. Ronovan already hosted a haiku challenge and I didn’t want to copy his idea. Writing haiku for Ronovan’s challenge led me to Tanka Tuesday.
Anyway, I retired Writer’s Quote Wednesday on September 21, 2016, and the following Tuesday, I began the Tanka Tuesday challenge.
The challenge has blossomed into a syllabic poetry community that I am so proud to be a part of. Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry is an uplifting community where poets can learn the basics of writing Japanese and American syllabic poetry by sharing their own poetic inspiration within a weekly poetry challenge called Tanka Tuesday. Participants submit their poetry written in one of the eleven forms: haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and/or shadorma. Poets receive positive feedback from peers who inspire each other to stretch their creativity. Participants and readers return each week to celebrate the weekly poetry stars and to buy books from the Tanka Tuesday Book Store.
I began the challenge by providing the two prompt words that were required in the tanka poem. Eventually, everyone’s poetry sounded the same. I decided that we should use synonyms for the prompt words. I thought that idea was brilliant! I’m not aware of another poetry challenge that does that.
Each week, I copy the template post from the editor and create a new post. Easy peasy!
How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else?
This challenge can be all-consuming if you let it rule your life. I’ve figured out a few shortcuts, like making template posts for the challenge posts that I copy and paste into a new post each week. The same goes for the Weekly Poetry Star post I share on Monday, where I list out everyone who joined in. The addition of the Mr. Linky linkup tool has saved so much time and effort.
I used to spend hours copying all the poet’s blog links into the recap so that people could visit and comment on everyone’s poetry.
I do visit everyone’s poetry who participants in the challenge and leave comments. I also share the posts to social media. I love it when I see poetry posts in Twitter and Facebook getting reshared numerous times.
How did you determine the genre?
We started out with tanka poetry first. After the first year we added haiku and haibun poetry. After that, we added senryu, haiga, gogyohka, tanka prose, Etheree, nonet, cinquain, and shadorma poetry. I always worry that the challenge will get stale, so I enjoy the variety. I think the poets like to have a choice in the poetry forms, as well.
Here is a link to the poetry challenge guidelines. This year, I changed it up again. Each week we have a different challenge. Week one is Poet’s Choice. Poets can pick any syllabic poetry form for their poem.
On the second week, whoever I picked from the previous month’s synonyms only challenge, selects the two synonyms for us all to use.
The third week is a photo prompt. Whoever I chose from the previous month’s photo prompt challenge, selects the photo for us to use as the inspiration for our poetry.
The fourth week of the month is a theme prompt. This can be a quote, a named theme, or a piece of poetry that contains a theme. Whoever I chose from the previous month’s theme prompt challenge, selects the theme for us to use as the inspiration for our poetry.
If we have a fifth week, I select a specific form for us to work with from the eleven forms we use in the challenge. I try to concentrate on the rules of the form so that we can all learn together by writing a poem in that specific form.
What steps do you take to get your challenge ready?
I created five weeks’ worth of template challenge posts in January dedicated to each week’s prompt.
Each week, I copy the template post from the editor and create a new post. Easy peasy!
How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge?
I wrote a blog post to announce the challenge and shared the information on Facebook and Twitter. It took off by word of mouth more than anything.
Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post?
I do have a widget that poets can use but mostly we use the header of each week’s challenge post to keep track of the different challenges. Everyone is welcome to join in my syllabic poetry challenge.
Do you have help reading all the entries?
No. I take care of that myself. I want writers to be inspired by poetry and encourage everyone to reach for the stars and try something new. As the host of the challenge, I want to interact with the poets. Their creativity pushes me to learn more about these forms, as well. We all learn from each other.
What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?
On my blog at colleenchesebro.com I’ve created the Tanka Tuesday Book Store where I list the poetry books for sale written by my challenge participants. Here is the link: Tanka Tuesday Book Store. It’s just another way to help support our poetry community.
This year, I’ve written a book called “Word Craft – Prose & Poetry, the Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry” which should be ready to publish in the next month or so. I researched how to write the eleven syllabic poetry forms from my challenge. The Japanese forms: haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, haibun, and tanka prose, along with the American forms: Etheree, nonet, and shadorma with instructions and examples. At the end of each chapter I added poetry examples from the challenge participants with a citation to credit the poet’s work.
This book is written for the beginning poet, or someone who’s never written syllabic poetry before but would like to learn how. I think it will also be a great reference for poets who are writing poetry and submitting to contests and journals.
Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Novelist & Poet who loves writing paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. She loves all things magical, which may mean she is experiencing her second childhood—or not. That part of her life hasn’t been decided yet. A few years ago, a mystical experience led her to renew her passion for writing poetry and storytelling.
Colleen sponsors a Syllabic Poetry Challenge on her blog where participants can learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.
Colleen won the “Little and Laugh” Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by the Carrot Ranch Literary Community in November 2017. In 2018, she won first place for the “Twisted Travel” category. In 2019, she placed second for the Three Act Story category, with her piece called “The Game.”
Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path in her writing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and black cat, Freyja. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.
Meeting a blogger, and showing off the countryside, traveling with a friend – two of my favorite things to do. Taking pictures, it doesn’t get much better.
#Sunday Stills: Theme Yellow
Exploring Sunny California
Meeting up with my blogging friend, Terri W. Schrandt made my week. We had such a great time hiking through the foothills in the Sierra Nevadas as we drove a short way into the Sequoia National Park.
What a joy it was to finally meet my blogger friend Terri. We don’t live too far apart now, but we are both moving in opposite directions, so I was super happy to spend a few hours with her.
The overwhelming impression you get from this picture is not yellow, but the golden hour sun warmed our skin and made our hair sparkle with yellow and strawberry highlights.
You can see the double/quadruple double yellow line in this shot, so you know that I stopped in the middle of the highway as the bear lumbered across. The car behind me didn’t honk and probably had his camera out and ready to go faster than I could find my phone and snap the picture.
The bear headed into the grass that nearly matched the color of the yellow lines. You can see a much better shot of the bear on Terri’s Sunday Stills post today.
Scouting the Housing Market in Prescott, Arizona
A mere two or three days before my friend Terri came to visit, I was gallivanting around Arizona, a mere nine hours and forty-one minutes away from home. My husband sent me on a house hunting trip, and my friend Patty Decker agreed to go with me.
Yellow must be the newest color in new housing. My friend Patti and I saw this stunning home called the Marigold in Prescott Valley in a development called Proghorn Ranch. We both wanted to unpack our bags and stay. The skies were clear and blue instead of dusty and the bathroom was golden.
In monsoon season it rains and cools off twenty or more degrees in the Arizona Desert. After a brief downpour, we enjoyed a relaxing yellow walk around the most artistic shopping mall in the country.
I thought these Javelinas on Parade display were cute, brightly painted pig statues, but no, they are not even related to the pig family. The Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) or collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that have short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose.
They look cute in the statues, but so do raccoons. So even though they are classified as herbivores, I don’t think I’d want to run into one in the middle of the night.
Back Home in Safe, Sunny California
As these two yellow squash grew together, Terri slept peacefully in the cabana in the back yard. I had no clue that our tiny dog would incite the wrath of a mother raccoon when she went out at 3:30 in the morning. Terri woke and thought a band of coyotes were howling in the nearby foothills surrounding our house, but it was me screaming at the raccoon.
I overcame my yellow-squashy tendencies and rescued my dog with my coyote yelps and a swift kick to the raccoon’s mid-section. She then got off the top of my dog and stood up and started to lunge at me. I jumped back but not quite fast enough. She snagged me once with either teeth or claws, I couldn’t tell which. There was a yellow stripe going up my back. I was sure she was going to attack me again as we faced off, but she scurried away
My husband woke up when my poor dog screeched her way to the bedroom telling him how scared she had been. I zipped off to the hospital to get the necessary rabies and tetanus shots.
Some of you might also know her as one of Carrot Ranch’s Rodeo Judges.
She’s also a prize-winning author as well as a superb editor and tutor. If you need editorial services, she comes highly recommended, and trust me, if you’re an author, you need editorial services. So, with no further ado, I proudly present Esther Chilton.
I’d like to firstly thank Marsha for having me on her blog. I haven’t ever been interviewed about any of the challenges I run so I’m very excited! 😊
Q. What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge?
When I first started a blog, it was for my students at The Writers Bureau. I wanted to offer a few extras in addition to the writing course, such as writing tips, publication news and writing examples. Gradually, I started to post all sorts of different writing related posts, from some of my short stories, to funny typos you see on signs or in newspapers, to unusual words and their meanings.
I can’t quite remember how the first challenge came about. It may have been a comment left on my blog about one of my short stories, so it got me thinking about holding a short story competition. I did a couple of those, before deciding upon some shorter, weekly challenges. I currently have a Five-Word Challenge on a Thursday, where I give a word prompt and the challenge is to write a story in five words, using that word somewhere in the story.
The limerick challenge is a more recent one. Who doesn’t love a limerick? They make us smile and so I thought with lockdown, and all the worries surrounding that, we needed something to cheer us up and so that sparked my limerick challenge, which takes place on a Monday. Again, I provide a word prompt, but it’s not a requirement to use the word, unlike my Thursday challenge.
I find that the shorter ones attract the most responses – people are busy and so have time to write a Five-Word Story or Limerick, rather than a lengthier challenge.
I’ve been blogging since 2013 and started my first challenge the following year.
Q. How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else?
The two challenges I currently run don’t take too long. I love reading all the responses and then coming up with a fresh challenge for the next week. Some of the challenges I’ve run in the past, especially for longer stories, take up a lot of time and I found I was struggling to have time to blog about anything else. With the current two, I still have time for other blog posts, featuring guest writers, book reviews and all sorts!
Q. How did you determine the genre of writing for the challenge? Do you have more than one?
I’ve had all sorts of challenges. Some have taken up a lot of time, as I mentioned, while with others, I’ve sometimes found that fewer people take up the challenge and so I try something new. I find that the shorter ones attract the most responses – people are busy and so have time to write a Five-Word Story or Limerick, rather than a lengthier challenge. At the moment, I’ll stick with these two challenges. I love them! But I’m sure they’ll change at some point in the future.
Q. What steps do you take to get your challenge ready?
I prepare my blog post challenges by adding in everyone’s responses from the previous week and then I’ll set a new challenge. This sometimes takes a while – I try and think of a good word that will spark ideas and entice people into participating. I can always tell when I haven’t come up with such a good prompt as I get fewer responses – so I always try and come back with a good word for the following week!
If you’re tempted to give a challenge a go, then go for it!
Q. How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge?
As my blog has been going for a few years now, I have my regular followers who participate. They will often share the challenge on their blog or on social media, so I sometimes get new participants that way. Some people stumble on the challenge by accident and then they’re hooked! Many of my participants are my students, while others are authors, fellow bloggers and people from all walks of life!
Q. Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post?
No. It’s just an ordinary blog post at the moment.
Q. Do you have help reading all the entries?
No. I read them all myself. As my challenges are short, it’s manageable. When I’ve held challenges that have a longer word count, it’s been more difficult, but those challenges have tended to be held over a longer period to make it easier for me to read them all.
Q. What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?
For the current challenges, I just publish the responses on my blog the following week. But for the longer challenges I’ve held, I’ve offered prizes such as an Amazon voucher or book.
Q. What else would you like to tell my readers?
If you’re tempted to give a challenge a go, then go for it! And if you’d like to have a go at any one of my challenges, or to read others’ responses, you’ll find them on: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com
Esther has regularly written for writing magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine. She has also had her work featured in a diverse range of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, Best of British, Your Cat, Prima, My Weekly and The People’s Friend, to name a few.
Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, The Global Short Story and several other writing competitions and awards, Esther has also judged writing competitions.
For over ten years, Esther has been a tutor for The Writers Bureau and after requests from students, she put together a collection of her stories – The Siege. Esther’s latest book of short stories, A Walk In the Woods is out now.
Esther has been working on her first non-fiction book to help writers get published – Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!). It’s the first in her A Helping Hand For Writers series and is available as an e-book. A paperback will follow shortly.