Category Archives: humor

I’ve been nominated twice for the Liebster Award

Liebster-award-2Yup, that’s right. And I don’t know the etiquette, so I’m going to commingle the requirements. I was nominated by Renee Scattergood and M.J. Moores. So thanks to both of you.

Now, apparently I have to answer 11 questions from each of these ladies, and I am supposed to disclose 11 facts about myself.

Renee’s questions:

Here  are my questions for you:

How many books (on average) do you read each year?
I’m not reading as much, now that I’m writing, but I probably read about 25.

What’s your zodiac sign?


What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in life?

I represented a 30 year old man who had been institutionalized since he was 14, and had never had a lawyer fight for him. I told him his case was triable, and we tried it. He got the only Not Guilty he had ever gotten, and his social worker cried with him as the verdict was read. I was proud that I could do this for him.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?

British Isles, to see friends on Jersey and the Isle of Man, and on the mainland, and to visit my ancestral bailiwick, Alsop-en-le-Dales.

What do you enjoy more, watching TV, watching movies or reading? Why?

Reading. There are many more worlds for me to find in books, and they excite my imagination in a way that performers never can. Books are my friends.

Have you ever won anything? If so, what was it and how did you win it?

I once won $400 at the lottery. It was far less than I ever spent playing the darn thing. I no longer bet.

What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

I was rear-ended twice, ten years apart, by two different men, both of whom hit me going in excess of 30 mph while I was legally stopped in traffic.

Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I value my privacy very much, and don’t want to lose it. But I would love people to know my name as the writer of good fantasy novels. It’s a double-edged sword.

Have you ever read a book that once you were done you had to read it again right away? What was it? What made it so great for you that you had to read it a second (third, fourth…) time?

When I got the last Harry Potter book, I was home by 1:30 am, and had finished the book by 7 am. I slept about four hours and then read it again. I read it the first time to find out what happened, I read it for the second time to find out why.

What is your favorite beverage?


Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Why?

You shouldn’t ask this when our temperatures have been so far below normal this year. I’ll say hot. But if you ask me in the summer I’ll say 55 degrees is about right.

M.J.’s questions:

Who or what inspires you as a writer and as a human being?

As a writer, I have been inspired by Jane Austen, Patricia McKillip, and Charles de Lint. As a human being I have been inspired by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the current Dalai Lama.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

The cats want their breakfast!

If you could change one thing in your past, what would it be and why?

I would not have married right out of college. I was too young to understand what I was getting myself into, and I didn’t marry a person who was transparent or particularly honest.

If you were a superhero, what would be your power(s) and why?

I wouldn’t be one. I like to think that I have been a regular hero in my life for some people, as people have been heroes to me. We don’t need special powers to be heroes, we need compassion, empathy and a giving nature.

What’s a moment in your past you are now able to laugh at but couldn’t at the time?

No comment.

If you could live anywhere on Earth, where would you choose and why?

Where I am, Burlington, Vermont. Because it is home.

What’s your biggest worry right now?

That people won’t like my books.

What is your best physical attribute?

I have long white hair.

What is your best characteristic?


What is your worst characteristic?


Do you remember your dreams? How does that affect you (or not)?

I have vague recollections only, like a sense of deja vu, and sometimes I clearly have related dreams a few nights in a row, and then I can almost remember them.

So, now I have to give 11 facts about myself.

I was 5’9″ when I graduated from high school.

I was 5’10” when I graduated from college.

I was 5’11” when I graduated from law school.

I was measured at 6′ when I was 30, but am only 5’11” now.

I run around the Burlington Writers Workshop in slippers I knitted myself, either my psychedelic Mary Janes or my sock monkey slippers.

I am mentor to an eight year old girl in a reading program at my local elementary school.

I have four cats, all under the age of 3.

I am allergic to penicillin.

I broke my arm a year ago slipping on ice that my landlord did not remove from the mailbox area.

I write Double Dactyl poems, and am over halfway to having enough to publish a volume of them.

Four of my poems will be published in the 2015 Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop which will be launched on April 3.

Okay, now I’m supposed to nominate 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.

Here’s the deal. I only know a few, and I’m not likely to put any of them through this. Not even for an award. The buck stops here. A friend whose blog is Alfred’s Almanac started a new award this past year called the No Strings Attached Award. That’s the kind of award I like. Unfortunately, he has more than 200 followers so I can’t give him this award anyway. But there are too many strings attached to this award, and the paucity of candidates for the award is shown by the similarity in the lists of the two women who nominated me. I am not alone in being nominated twice. For all I know, I’ll wake up tomorrow with more nominations. It has got to stop.

So thank you, Renee and M.J., for the nominations. Here are my answers to your questions, and 11 silly facts about me (even if I fudged the numerous height ones).

A Writing Fool

I have continued writing on my sequel, and I suppose the good news is that it’s going so fast that I may have the first draft done before the first book is back from the editor. So far are the conflicts in the new book are human caused, though I expect that to change when I get into the second part. I am nearing the end of the first part at slightly over 23 thousand words. I expect no more than one or two thousand to complete it, but my characters have tricked me before. I make no commitments now that I know how much control they really are in. All it takes is for one to go walkabout, and the whole thing will screech to a halt.

The unrelated book I was writing and got stuck on might have been a simple walkabout that I missed. Of course it was probably 20 thousand words earlier than I was, and I know no one is willing or happy to discard 20 thousand words. There’s a lot of sweat equity in those words! However, I knew when I wrote them that they weren’t working, or should have. If I’m bored writing it, won’t my readers be equally bored? Didn’t someone once say, “Surprise the writer, surprise the reader?” Well I’m sure the corollary is “Bore the writer, bore the reader.”

There is still no evident title for the book. I can imagine something as terrible as “Rebellion: The Act of the Day” but that won’t fly. Maybe Trippy Rebellions to play off the first book’s name. Not likely. So the writing goes on, and the characters tell me what happens. It’s more than my life is worth to ignore this bunch. We’ve got some miles behind us, and I know which ones are tricksy and which are straight shooters. I just hope I’m fair to them all in the stories. I’m sure they’ll let me know if I stray too far, unlike the ones in that other book. No way these guys will lead me astray for more than an hour or two. But they’ll do that to keep me on my toes. I caught them a little earlier when I hadn’t written more than a hundred words off, and they were half pleased, half bummed that I’d cottoned on to them so quickly.

Well, I’ve got to get back to writing. They say I’m giving too much away about my writing process. But they also say it will work for anybody, just to listen to the characters. After all, it’s their story.

My poetry

I have been writing poetry as a part of my creative writing course. It is quite a stretch. But I have found a way to be political and activist in certain poem types. There is a wonderful reasonably new form that is made for political satire and it is called the Double Dactyl. Think back to those days in high school when you learned that Shakespeare and Chaucer wrote in iambic pentameter and you knew what that meant. The iamb or the dactyl is a metric foot. The iamb can be represented as duh-DUH. The dactyl is DUH-duh-duh. So the iamb is a two beat foot and the dactyl and its reverse the anapest are three beat feet. The anapest is duh-duh-DUH.

I know this stuff seems boring, but if you want to understand poetry written before 1920 or thereabouts, meter is very important in poetry. Even today, reading some of the less exotic poets can be enhanced by seeking out and feeling the metrical impulses in the work. It informs the way the poem is to be read, although punctuation (or the lack thereof) is generally a bigger help (or hindrance).

The Double Dactyl was created by two or three modern poets in 1966, and who knows why they did so. The rules are arcane but easily absorbed after one or two attempts. The poem has two quatrains, each containing three double dactyl lines and each ending in a dactyl spondee pair. In all versions I have seen, the spondee pair is truncated to a single stressed syllable. The first line of the first quatrain must be nonsense, or gibberish. The second line of the first quatrain must contain a proper name or a place name. The second line of the second quatrain should include a word that is a double dactyl. Before you say that it is impossible, I offer you the following: bronchiopneumonia; cardiotherapy; hexasylabically. The list can go on for pages. The original creators of the form had one last constraint: that once a double dactyl word has been used in a double dactyl poem, it is off limits to any further such poem. That part seems crazy to me, because how could one know all the double dactyls scribbled late at night by sleep-deprived writers.

I cannot give you either of my best Double Dactyls since I have submitted them for publication to a print source that will not accept work previously  printed in a blog or social media. Sorry. I worked briefly on a new one today, and it is by no means polished. But I will give it to you with that proviso so that you can get a sense of the form. It is political, as many are, though it is a form also given to frivolity. At the rate I am going, I may be publishing a chapbook of Double Dactyls before my novel ever gets published!

Boehner and Cruz

Jonegin, gonegin
Boehner the Speaker or
hopes he is, first of year
Hating Ted Cruz

Texan disturbing the
donor class capit’lists
paying their dues