Monday, November 17, 2014

Books I’m Reading 12

Painting Your Way Out of a Corner: The Art of Getting Unstuck by Barbara Diane Barry is a book about discovering more about yourself through a process of self-discovery using paint and a journal. Through this process of journaling, what you paint expresses feelings and ideas that sometimes don’t need a purpose or explanation. It is the freedom to find what results you get from the exercises; to relax and let things take its course. Here is the website listed on the back of the book:


La lección de August by R.J. Palacio is a story about a boy born with a facial deformity and the parents decide to send him to a private school for the first time to attend 5th grade. He learns to face his fears. The original title is Wonder.


Caribou: Poems by Charles Wright. A wonderful collection of poetry.


Who Said by Jennifer Michael Hecht. This is a collection of poetry. Very interesting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Writing Endeavors 8: To Despair or Repair?

Have you ever felt like you start things and never finish them?

As I was editing my family drama novel about the juxtaposed relationship between father and son, I got another great idea to write a fantasy novel that included dragons, but I didn’t stop there. I started to put together some animal related poetry for a small book. It seemed I was on a creative roller coaster ride I needed to take advantage of. The juices kept raining raining raining down on me.

While I worked on the fantasy, I got inspired to write another novel. I’m in the early stages and you know what? I don’t regret taking the time to write them. The important thing is I’m writing. And I'm getting to know what kind of writer I am.

Completing a novel is a goal, but I’m no longer stressing that I need to finish the edits on the first one. I feel a good story deserves the time to be looked over before sending to press. But first, a good story needs to be written down in order to get there.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pet News 11: Who says Good Behavior’s not for the Dog?

Kyra Sundance wrote The Dog Rules: 14 Secrets to developing the dog you want. It’s a great book to get you thinking about the positive relationship you want to have with your companion. I’m going to give an overview on the wonderful tips the author mentions, but I encourage you to either purchase or find a copy of this book.

Some of the rules mentioned include encouraging trust in order for your dog to want to succeed. This is done by being fair, specific, and clear. You want to mean it when you say it. Be a leader.
Consistency is the key, but it must be done without a hint of frustration. Dogs pick up on our emotions and it would be prudent to make sure we focus on solutions rather than problems. Sundance wants us to ask: What do I want my dog to do instead (of X)? X being the behavior we want changed. Think: “One command, one consequence.”

Another set of rules deal with enjoying time with your dog. Exercise and play is an important component of the training process. It’s a way to give your dog attention and reward for good behavior. So, if the dog does something inappropriate, not playing could be a consequence. Turn away or walk away. Once the dog calms down, return the attention and resume training. Your ‘happy voice’ will be a sign that things are going well. Your body language is what your dog is reading.

The biggie that I try to enforce with my own pets is using their name for pleasant situations so they don’t associate it with the negative. Sundance also suggests not using it in stressful situations. You want to use their name when you want them to do something such as ‘come’ and ‘sit’ not ‘leave it’ or ‘stay.’

And most importantly, don’t hold a grudge. Sundance suggests we forgive our dog and provide opportunities for better behavior. It is all a learning process.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Short Stories & Such 14: Halloween Revenge

Here is my attempt at writing the prompt about a Halloween Revenge. I thought it might be interesting to just get in the character’s head and describe what she wants to do and limit the dialogue.

Halloween Revenge

The kids in the neighborhood don't realize that this year's fiasco is not going to happen. 

Every year, they cover my house with toilet paper sashes on Halloween Night, but this year, it's my turn. I'll just add some traps around the house where they usually trample through silently and it will all be over… for good.

My little scheme will probably wake up the neighborhood. I think it's worth the effort. Each trap is different, you see. One trap is filled with special glue. The other filled with tar. The other is filled with shards of glass-- 

Oh, I'm not being mean about this. It will be tedious to discover the sashes the next morning and clean it up when all you want to do is head for a brisk walk, but…

Not this time.

I just have to wait for them to show up. I'll sit here in the dark drinking my hot chocolate. I won't make a peep. Wait! I hear something outside; a rustling around the bushes. A scream! No, many screams! A-ha! I've got them now. Let's see what we find those kids in.

"Help us please."

I can't believe it! The nuances were not a bunch of scrawny kids, but the old seniors from the Community Center down the block!

This was originally posted onto Writer’s Digest prompts on October 26, 2011 under the name Chilo:

(see October 25, 2011)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Books I’m Reading 11

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How you can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together by Phil Zeltman, and Rebecca A. Johnson. Zeltman is a veterinarian and Johnson is a professor. They discuss the benefits of getting enough exercise with your more than willing pet as often as possible. They provide suggestions, tips, and charts backing it with research about health for both humans and their dogs.

Phonics Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling by Dolores G. Hiskes is a great book with strategies and step by step examples of how to teach phonics. Having used the format when I taught elementary students, I can say it works well for building a good foundation for reading. 

The Silence Now by May Sarton is a fantastic collection of poetry. There were many poems I read over again because the words touched me emotionally.

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde has a collection of some great poetry by a woman whose writings expressed lesbian and feminist thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Death as Metaphor 13: The Changing Metaphor

The role of metaphor is for the image/word to mean something other than what it is. Metaphors can change as they are applied to poems and they can change as the poet or reader see fit.

Poetry provides for alternative perspectives dependent on the time they were written. They are a reflection of society. For instance, Grace Nichols’ poem, “Tropical Death,” ( plays up to the society she was raised in. It comments on how the speaker in the poem wants to be buried in her own country in the Caribbean where her roots originate rather than where she is in England.

As you read the poem, notice how the images play based on the words used to convey them. Witness the changes the metaphors go through as the poem progresses.

Further, a look at periodicals or advertisements claiming that there is the ‘death of the web,’ or the ‘death of literature’ or the ‘death of tax’ are examples of how death is used in the world.

Read W.S. Merwin’s poem, “For the Anniversary of My Death,” ( and you will hear the voice of the speaker contemplating both his life and his death. He compares the two and concludes that death holds more meaning because it is infinite. Notice the changes the words go through.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Art 1: Abstract

                                                                                         M.Arana 1999

I was going through a stack of drawings from when I used to take a lot of art lessons to see if I could get my muse back and I ran into this abstract design. I remember putting this piece together and thinking about the human body in terms of the shapes. I really enjoyed the black and white contrast. I think the paper is about 22”x 24”.