Thursday, August 30, 2012

WiK 2012

I recently wrote a reminder to myself that said, "It's how many people you help to dance." I meant it metaphorically, of course, since I dance wonderfully only in my dreams. But in that spirit I offer the following information to any wallflower writers/illustrators hovering out there on the fringes of the dance floor.

It's a conference, "Writing and Illustrating for Kids 2012" or  WiK 12 for short, to be held October 19-20, in Birmingham, Alabama. It's sponsored by the Southern Breeze Region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the world’s largest organization (22,000 members worldwide) for writers and illustrators of children’s books. But you don't have to be a member to attend the conference.

In fact, my friends and fellow writers in SCBWI say it is the way to get inspired for success, to "meet editors and agents—and the friendliest, most supportive bunch of creative colleagues you could ever hope to find." Two things that make this conference most attractive: its small size and low cost. Space is limited to around 200 participants, and the cost even for non-members is probably less than a first-rate night on the town with dinner and (real) dancing!

I'm very excited that I'll not only get to attend the conference (my first), but also participate in the Friday intensive with Donna Jo Napoli. She's the keynote speaker, a linguist, and author of more than 70 children's books. (Read her interview here: http://writersandwannabes.com/) The intensive is a day-long, hands-on workshop to hone craft skills such as point of view and voice.

You might also consider registering for a formal critique. I did--another first--and I nervously anticipate it, especially since the manuscript I'll eventually submit doesn't yet exist.

Advance registration is required and spaces are limited. Tuition is $125 for SCBWI members, $150 for non-members, or $135 for students. Register by Sept. 10 and receive a $5 discount. The Oct. 19 writer’s intensive is $65 and the formal critique is $40.

You can find all the details and/or register for the conference at https://southern-breeze.net/

You might also want to check out the WIK 12 Blog Tour, where many of the guest speakers have been interviewed. Here's the schedule:

Aug. 15   Sharon Pegram at Writers and Wannabes
Aug. 16   Sarah Campbell at Alison Hertz’s blog, On My Mind
Aug. 17    F.T. Bradley at Laura Golden’s blog
Aug. 20    Chuck Galey at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog
Aug. 21    Jo Kittinger at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales
Aug. 22    Irene Latham at Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Read, Write, Howl
Aug. 23   Vicky Alvear Shecter at
Aug. 24   Doraine Bennett at Cathy Hall’s blog
Aug. 27   Virginia Butler at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales
Aug. 28   Jodi Wheeler-Toppen at Diane Sherrouse’s blog, The Reading Road
Aug. 29   Ellen Ruffin at Sarah Frances Hardy’s blog, Picture This
Aug. 30   Donna Jo Napoli at Writers and Wannabes

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Smoking Mirrors . . .


If you’ve ever visited the message boards or chat rooms of nonwriters, you’ve probably noticed the grammatical/orthographical equivalent of “tin ear.” I offer the following examples Spell Check will never find

o   “We got the game on Paper view.”
o   “Watching it was torcher.”
o   “They have a huge steak in this.”
o   “It’s truely mind bottling.” [A Mensa cocktail for sure.]

Sometimes the error makes as much sense as the correct original: “a mute point,” “an escape goat.”

I hope it never seizes to amaze you what I come up with on my blog. Don’t take it for granite. And please don’t think it’s smoking mirrors; I work hard at it.

If it seems snotty to laugh at other people’s errors, I must plead that it’s my business as writer/editor to correct em as I see em.

Besides, every third millennium or so, I make a misteak too.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reading Like a Writer


If you’re a writer who loves to read, you’ll probably understand what I mean when I say good books take you along on wild rides. You love the vicarious experience, don’t you? Especially if, like me, you’ve grown too “dignified” for rope swings, skates, or skis!

Loving to read so much, I read fast, mostly too fast on the first pass to read like a writer. But since I’ve been writing regularly, I notice a lot more in a first pass than I used to.

A particularly good book might get a second reading, but even a second reading doesn’t take the place of analysis. I wish it did. I enjoy the effects a good writer achieves, and pinpointing how he or she achieved it takes away the mystery… spoils it in the same way that learning how a magician works destroys the fun of his trick.

I’m therefore a reluctant analyst. I do it because I have to learn the craft. It hurts in a weird sort of way.

I hate, for instance, that Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli wound up like a corpse on my table. I very messily dissected that book years ago before I knew much about technique. Mostly, I sawed up the plot, looking for clues. Recently, on a first reading of Spinelli’s Stargirl, I realized without analysis that she was less successful than Maniac and so I left her well enough alone.

Except for the first paragraph. Amazing how much good writers pack into small spaces. In Stargirl, for example, Spinelli does this (at least) in five sentences: He introduces Nick, the first person narrator; establishes Nick’s relative age; delivers the “hook”; hints at his quirky character; gives visual and tactile exposition; delivers brief backstory; foreshadows the theme.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is another book currently awaiting my knife. I’m amazed at the intricacy of this one. Every seeming detail is integral. So many threads, so expertly woven. Although I hate to dispel Stead’s magic, I need to know how she did it so that maybe someday I can.

I’m new at this and not very good. If you have favorite ways of analyzing fiction, I’d love to hear them. What questions do you ask? How do you proceed? Are you a writer who feels the push/pull of analysis? Please leave me a comment or send me an email.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Passing It On


I have two favorite memories of my youngest daughter Kate’s childhood.

One is of me singing to her as I rocked her. I’m not much of a singer, but it didn’t seem to matter to Kate. “Sing it again,” she’d say whenever I’d stop.

The other memory is of Kate, her daddy, and me sitting in the den after supper, all reading silently.

These domestic scenes are misleading; Kate was not a sedentary kind of girl—which is probably why these —rather than other memories that might include scissors and bedskirts or markers and carpets—linger.

Kate learned to read early, just a few months short of five years old. She was writing stories before she knew to put space between words. (Seriously. Written artifacts survive as proof.) Don’t ask me how she managed to learn to read without noticing the spacing.

At six years old, she could write better sentences than many college students. I know because I taught two semesters of freshman composition. (sic)

She was an early user of metaphor. “You’re pulling my leg,” she’d say, and then, “That’s just an expression,” in case the other party to the conversation was a literalist.

By age seven Kate had taught herself enough HTML code to build her own website. She visited other people’s sites, copied their code, and tweaked it to get the effect she wanted. She designed and wrote her own newsletter, organized her own club, put together a neighborhood canned food drive, and donated the food to a local church’s pantry. All on her own initiative and enthusiasm.

So you won’t be surprised to learn that Kate now has her own blog, The Wayfarer Chronicles: http://mkatehill.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/follow-the-music-wherever-it-may-lead/
It’s all about reading, writing, music—and travel.

Bon voyage, Kate!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Obliquity


If I were to give awards to the celestial phenomena most like poetry, I would give obliquity the gold medal. Obliquity, the angle of Earth’s tilt (about 23.4⁰), is responsible for seasonal change. One hemisphere, and then the other, slants nearer the sun for half the year. [Venus, in case you wondered, orbits with its north pole down; Uranus, north pole sideways. See Obliquity, Wikipedia.]

This is mysterious to me, why a seeming celestial anomaly—earth’s tilt—should give rise to seasonal regularity. It’s one of those counter-intuitive things that, to my mind at least, belongs in the same category as why babies are soothed by jostling, jiggling, and white noise. What? Junior is screaming? No problem! Just turn on the vacuum cleaner and toss him around a bit. Works every time!

But I digress.

Since midsummer has just passed, you can perhaps see why I would be thinking about obliquity. We in the northern hemisphere have begun the turn that culminates at the winter solstice in December. It’s a good time to pause and assess.

How am I doing with those goals I set in January? Have I met any of them? Do I need to make a course correction? Should I modify or eliminate some goals due to changing circumstances? I thought I’d share part of my assessment with you.

The good news is that I met one annual goal in February, and that was to find a market for my “Change Ringing” article. The bad news is that I’ve fallen short on almost every other goal I set for myself. Daily and weekly word counts went out the window in February, about the same time I signed the contract with The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I had only a few days’ notice to edit and submit the article I had already drafted, thank goodness, in the event my query letter hit home. After that, my disciplined routine gave way to a little celebration and maybe just a little smugness. In other words, I got distracted. What I learned is not what you’d expect to learn from success: it can become an obstacle if you let it.

Another goal I set for myself was to disallow all excuses for not writing. This is the Just-Do-It philosophy, to which I no longer subscribe. I’ve since allowed for the obvious difference between an excuse and a valid reason. Sometimes health, personal problems, family, church, or employment make legitimate claims on my time, state of mind, and energy level. 

I don’t have a prescription for eliminating such interruptions. I only know that I can’t allow them to become extended or permanent disruptions. I do the best I can. If that is a lame, halting pace, so be it. I go on. Besides, such interruptions are my life, my personal obliquity. And it is probable that collectively they comprise some inscrutable effect that makes my work unique and my voice distinct.

One thing that wasn’t on my goal-setting list for the year was coming up with a mission statement, which, due to serendipity, I did anyway. It’s taken almost word-for-word from an article by Aaron D. Wolf celebrating the Christian influences of J. R. R. Tolkien (http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2011/09/02/man-of-middangeard/): “To inspire someone to see the real, enchanted world behind the sterile, imagined one of modernity.” I printed it out and put it on my desk as a reminder.

The world truly is enchanted. It isn’t black and white. It isn’t the way you’d expect it to be. True, we live in a world of cause and effect, but every cause has unintended, and unforeseeable, consequences, and every effect is but another cause. This demands humility. We are not in control. 

I find this to be cause for great celebration. We are not in control! To move the world, we have no celestial body near enough to stand upon and no lever long enough to reach. Christ Himself, as a good friend has to remind me regularly, has already sifted the results of all possible world-changing combinations, and the only numbers that come up are the ones He allows.

Despite the human tendency to see time as linear, we live in a cyclical world. Despite appearances to the contrary, human paths dont stretch out in a straight line to infinity. We have, instead, finite, but regularly recurring chancesas well as the responsiblityto start over. 

To repent, to change our minds, and to begin again. I need that—desperately. 

Thank God for obliquity.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel . . . .

           . . . We shall not cease from exploration                  
          And the end of all our exploring
          Will be to arrive where we started
          And know the place for the first time. 
               (from “Little Gidding,” by T. S. Eliot)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What a Great Surprise!

I've just been contacted by SCBWI that The Old Schoolhouse magazine, publisher of my first article for the children's market, has been approved and added to the SCBWI Market Surveys List. 

This means that I qualify for P.A.L membership--published and listed--a small step up from Associate membership. Whoo hoo!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Slog On


I usually allow a 15 to 20 minute writing slot just before I go to bed. This is the time I write about writing. Sometimes I assess the progress of my current project, or complain about how tough some aspect of writing is (usually plot), or make excuses for not writing more, better, or more often. But sometimes, like last night, I admit to myself I'm afraid of failing. 

I’ve recently begun a new project, the first three chapters of a first novel, and chapter one is done. It’s a decent start if I do say so. My fear was that I’d be unable to advance the plot beyond chapter one. I’ve been here before, you see. It’s the recurring nightmare of my writer’s psyche.

I don’t know why my ego is so invested in writing successfully except that it is one of maybe two talents I’ve been given. I do these two things better than I do most anything else, however well or ill other people might do them. These are fun things I do that don't require company. Lately, however, writing has been anything but fun.

So, having admitted my fear, this morning I whispered a prayer and started in on chapter two. In no time I had introduced a new character, setting, and dropped in a little backstory. (Hands-in-the-air hallelujahs—and hold on while I escort the proverbial monkey to the door!)

Now, I’d like to go back and clarify what I said about writing being fun. Sometimes it's fun and sometimes it isn't. And that's probably to be expected, no matter what type of creator you are. I’ve decided that I’m an Interpreter, one of several designations Carol Lloyd assigns to creative people in Creating a Life Worth Living. 

Lloyd asserts that although each creative type (Leader, Teacher, Realizer, Healer, Interpreter, Generator, Inventor, Maker, Mystic, Thinker) is capable “of working through all stages of creativity, most people prefer a certain moment in the creative process.” (p.65)

An Interpreter, according to Lloyd, is someone who prefers the final stages of creative production. Interpreters supposedly make good editors.This squares with my experience. Once I get a project near to completion and can see how my tweaks or major revisions create a believable alternate reality—now that’s Art! And for me it’s the fun part! 

The downside is that Interpreters may have to slog through the beginning stages of a project. This also squares with my experience. I sure hope it gets easier with practice. 

Whichever type of creator you are, you are likely to find that part of the process will be difficult (if not drudgery) and part will be fun. That's the bad news. I understand and sympathize.

The good news is that some of your fear of failure may be the result of being stuck in the slog-through parts; if you keep at it, sooner or later you'll be having fun again.

So slog on!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Not to Write


Three-Toed Sloth
Maybe you noticed my absence from Blogworld recently. If so, I’d like to say it was because I got really inspired, holed up in front of a keyboard for two weeks, and hammered out three chapters of a novel (which also happens to be my final ICL assignment).

I’d like to say that. I’d also like to say that on a recent business trip to Florida, I stumbled upon the legendary Fountain of Youth, the waters of which not only restored the body of my twenties, but also removed my deficit of wisdom.

I’d like to say that. But you know it ain’t so.

Truth is I have more excuses than a D.C. politician why I haven’t blogged, but at least I’m not blaming it on a former president. Truth is I’m as stuck as a burr on Velcro. 

That final ICL assignment? The months of planning and prewriting, of interviewing characters and agonizing over plot points? Except for the lesson, “How Not to Write,” it was all wasted, like trying to circumnavigate a city by following only the dead-end streets. I kept telling myself it would work out. Here’s a great quiz question: which is easier to fool? a) yourself; b) a three-toed sloth? If you said “b,” I have some miracle water I’d like to sell you.

From now on I think I’ll recognize a story vehicle that just isn’t going anywhere. No use tinkering around under the hood trying to get it started when it’s wheel-less and perched on blocks.

I’m starting over. Without miracle water, I’m afraid.

Photo Credit: http://flic.kr/p/qGmMD

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smile, You're on Panoramic Camera!


When I was a child, the most fun thing to me—but also the scariest—was a skeleton. I was obsessed by the knowledge that a person had that strange structure underneath it all, that a smiling face hid a death grimace. It was, I admit, a morbid fascination; death called early in my life and left its mark on my family. 

It made me dream of becoming a doctor. I learned the names of all the major bones and I pored over the illustrations and overlays in the “H" (for human body) volume of our red leather set of World Books.

My Halloween costume of choice was, of course, a skeleton. It consisted of a black nylon jumpsuit-sort-of-thing with the tibias and fibulas, the sacrum and the clavicles rendered in glittery, glow-in-the-dark paint. The mask was a skull with a spider crawling out of the nose hole.

http://flic.kr/p/5Zam9V
On our black-and-white Zenith, I happened to see Jason and the Argonauts do battle with an army of skeletons. Now THAT was scary! How exactly do you kill skeletons? You can thrust swords and spears right through them and they’ll just rattle on; they’ll keep on coming!

All of this came back to me when I went to the dentist last week. I had the panoramic x-ray, the one where you stand still and the camera travels around your head, scanning as it goes. Here were new and accurate pictures of my own leering skull. It’s not fun or scary anymore, but weird it is. Still. 

It's strange to me that humans are able to stand because the architecture of death—the memento mori—lies within us. And that “Remember, you will die!” message jangles like a jawbone all through world art—visual and literary—and perhaps through all the accomplishments of science and technology.

Pop culture, saturated as it is these days with vampires and zombies, complicates the message some. Whether we should fear the undead or love them is apparently the question pop culture wants answered.

Might not our morbid fascination be the collective unconscious's guilty verdict on a society that vacuums babies from the womb while it pleads mercy for Satanic criminals?

Do we, at some level, individually and/or collectively, identify with the undead? Are we afraid that we will die or that we already have? 

Or are we the weaponless ones in a battle with an army of skeletons?

Or . . . is this, like my dreams of being a doctor, just a childish, passing phase?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Way to Wait


Waiting is perhaps the finest of the fine arts.

To wait without appearing to wait—without wearing your impatience on your sleeve—that is perhaps the truest test of creativity, of grace, and of faith.


Calm acceptance of delayed gratification, said to be the measure of maturity, is achieved only by those who have given up on achieving anything. They can stand to wait because they know their moment isn’t coming. 

Everyone else is hopping impatient on the inside, whatever they are like on the outside. Ambition, desirethis is bad company for patience. It chafes and burns and torments.

Aging means we must wait less and less. Christmas comes around more than once a year. And what month IS this anyway? Last time I checked was a week ago, and I’ve flipped two calendar pages since then. 

And yet, aging means we must wait more as well, because almost everyone is younger and therefore in the kind of hurry that inevitably creates delay.

Age can be a crowbar. If we want, we can use it to pry into checkout lines and leave everyone gaping at our arrogant impatience. Not recommended. 

Age is also an excuse to slow down. To take time. Not as thief, but as connoisseur. To savor and consider.

Waiting for a novel to take shape is like waiting on the mountaintop for stone tablets. Believe it: more are coming. Age protectively forgets the number that crumbled on the way down the slope.

http://flic.kr/p/9Hna1o

The way to wait has more to do with faith than youth can imagine.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for . . .


Zodiac: the twelve astrological constellations.

The one that the sun travels through in the month of a child's birth supposedly determines his or her personal characteristics and fate. The constellation Libra, which "rules" a child born in October, is not visible in the sky until April, six months later. Likewise, for all other signs of the zodiac.

In Genesis God says to Abram, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them." Some argue that  Abram and some ancient people had astrological knowledge that has since been lost.

I believe that's possible. I also believe there's something to "astrology" but not as it's currently practiced in the horoscope columns. One reason is that the designation of the signs of the zodiac are completely arbitrary. If you don't believe me, go outside on a clear night, look up, and see if you can find Gemini's Twins or Sagittarius the Archer! Maybe you can with a diagram. 

The "Mayan" prediction of impending doom on December 21, 2012, is based on New Age astrological speculation.

Even if the science is a stretch, astrology might make an interesting element in a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Do you know of fiction that involves astrology?




http://flic.kr/p/aFeuJn

P.S. The A-Z Challenge is now history. It's been fun! Thanks everyone for your posts and visits and comments. 

Zo long!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for . . .

http://flic.kr/p/4hEjvP


















Yawn. 

Sorry y’all. This has been a long challenge.


Fatigue or boredom . . . . Or both. Yes? 

But we’re almost to the finish line. 

Yay!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for . . .




http://flic.kr/p/mJpjY
Before computer layout software, this was one tool graphic artists couldnt do without. It's probably safe to say that very few art students back then graduated without slicing into a finger or other misplaced body part with an X-Acto. I did. Graduate, I mean. 

It’s been said that art is at least as much about learning to see as learning to draw or paint or sculpt. It’s true of language arts also, because you can’t write about something you don’t perceive. 

How to sharpen perception? If only there were an X-Acto® tool for that.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for . . .


Words.
http://flic.kr/p/8Uh6Wm

If you really get into words, you might like free subscriptions to the following:

Wordsmith’s A.Word.A.Day.

Michael Quinion’s weekly ezine, World Wide Words.

Or you might enjoy Word Dynamo games and quizzes.

Here’s one guaranteed to increase your vocab: Greek and Latin Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes.

Devote yourself to words and your command of language will grow like a tree planted by rivers of waters. Don’t forget,  however, that words can wound, warp, waste, or wither. May the words you speak always be in blessing. 

Do you have a favorite word-related site or subscription?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for . . .

Vacation.
http://flic.kr/p/aFeuJn

We’ll be taking a short one soon. Its been so long we couldnt decide where to go.

http://flic.kr/p/bpexuz

It’s been so long we won’t remember what to do with ourselves.

http://flic.kr/p/8pmDFL

Ya think maybe itll come back to us?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for . . .


Uncanny.

http://flic.kr/p/gwjrE

The Uncanny (or Das Unheimlich in German), according to Freud, is “that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” Its a complicated psychological concept, but lets oversimplify.

Its a peculiar category of horror: the strangely familiar or the familiarly strange. 

If, lets say, your chauffeur dies, the next day he rings your doorbell, and you open the door to find him there, smiling—that would be uncanny. Similarly, if something about your new lover compels your belief that you’ve somehow known her before, but you have no conscious memory of her, that too would be uncanny.

You can probably think of dozens of novels and movies that deal with the uncanny. Burnt Offerings with Karen Black & Bette Davis, the Hitchcock classic Vertigo, and virtually anything directed by Ingmar Bergman are good examples. Zombies and vampires are uncanny manifestations. So are dolls or toy clowns that come to life. And the man with no features . . . who follows you everywhere . . . .

http://flic.kr/p/8iXJJH

I had an uncanny experience when I was in college. It didnt involve zombies or evil dolls, but for a few minutes I thought I'd stepped into the middle of The Twilight Zone.

Showing up at what I thought was the appointed time and place for my mythology final, I took a seat and looked around. I didn't recognize any of the students there. So I re-checked the exam schedule, which seemed to confirm that I was in the right place at the right time.
 
Not convinced, I asked the boy in the seat in front of me what exam he was there to take. When he said Econ, I panicked. “Are you sure?” 
He was sure. And I was creeped out. What was happening? Was I going crazy? The schedule must have changed . . . but why was I the only one who didn’t know about it? I rose to leave, unsure of where to go or what to do.

On my way out, I had to climb three steps from the auditorium to the hallway. 

Wait a minute! I’d never noticed those steps before. And that’s when I figured it out. 

For mythology class I’d always entered the building at the front on the ground floor and gone to the auditorium on the right end of the building. On the morning of the exam, I’d parked behind the building, entered on the ground floor at the back, and gone left to the auditorium.

But . . . the ground floor in the back of the building was the basement! The auditorium I’d taken my seat in was directly beneath the auditorium where my exam was scheduled to take placewas, in fact, taking place. 

I ran upstairs to an auditorium that looked exactly like the one downstairs. Except for the three steps to the hallway.

http://flic.kr/p/9sohc

And the little gold numbers above the doors, which I’d paid no attention to because I already *knew* I was in the right place. It was a case of the familiarly strange.

How about you? Have you had an uncanny experience? Have you written or do you intend to write a story or novel that deals with the uncanny?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

T is for . . .

Tagged.

Thanks, Faith, who tagged me for the Lucky Seven Meme and put me in the company of some fine, accomplished writers.

Im supposed to share seven lines or paragraphs from the seventh line on page seventy of my novel. Trouble is, I dont have a page seventy of my novel. I dont even have a page seven yet! But I need all the feedback I can get so . . .

I hope seven paragraphs from my middle-grade short story will be okay. It doesnt have a page seven either, so how about if I start in the middle of page three?Thats half of seven. [*Hey, as long as Im cheating changing the rules, I may as well make major changes, right? Mind if I go along with you for tattoos, Faith?]

     Vikki gave me a hand up and volunteered to walk the two blocks home with me. “Good girls,” Mrs. Prebble said, patting each of us on the shoulder and walking away.
     She'd rounded the corner when I realized what I had to do. "I'll be right back, Vikki."
      "Mrs. Prebble, wait!” I shouted. Lumbering after her, I actually jingled! Jing-a-ling-a-ling.
      She was already at her desk stapling papers. I slung my backpack to the floor. “I almost forgot,” I said, out of breath, opening my pack. “I was taking up donations like you asked me to right before the fire drill … and I was in a hurry to go outside—” I pulled out the box, “—so I shoved this in here.” A bead of sweat rolled down my temple. “And then I sort of forgot about it . . . until now.”
      Somehow, the box seemed lighter than it did on my back. I held it out to her, reverently, as if it were a gift from the magi or something. She took it, tilted her head slightly.
      I made a dash for the door, but she called my name and I had to turn back.
      Still holding the box, she fixed me in her gaze. I shifted from foot to foot. I gulped. She knows. Taking a deep breath, I prepared for the worst.

Now, Im supposed to tag seven bloggers, but Im only going to tag six. See above.* And they are (Envelope, please):

Leslie S. Rose
Margo Berendsen
Ilima K. Todd
Heather Spiva 
Jennifer Forbes 
Patricia Stoltey

I hope you’ll all share your talents with us, but if you can’t, for whatever reason, that’s okay.
 
Here are the rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your manuscript.
2. Go down 7 lines.  
3. Post the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs on your blog.
4. Tag 7 new writers.

Thats it!

http://flic.kr/p/5rZofQ

Except...

Before I was tagged, T was to be for . . .

Tree and True.

Turns out they’re related. 

Quoting from thefreedictionary.com, “the words true and tree are joined at the root, etymologically speaking.” 

Read the full reference yourself if you’re so inclined. If not, here’s the short version. Both words derive from the Indo-European root, “deru-” or “dreu-,” having to do with wood or firmness. Both are also related to a third form of the same root, “dru-,” as in Druid, the Celtic priest of the oak grove.

Then there’s that further connexion. The Man who died on the Tree said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.