Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Two Line Tuesday: Stewart Brand






From Thy Will Be Done, by Jim Surkamp

A library doesn't need windows. 
A library is a window.

– Stewart Brand
from How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built



Friday, August 28, 2015

August DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway



Welcome to a feast   ...but not just any feast.

A feast fit for a dragon!    ...but not just any dragon.

Welcome to our feast for the old dragon who swallowed a knight ...and just about everything else he could stretch his jaws around.

"Can I get some ketchup with that?"

Today's luncheon celebration is a buffet of couplets: a cumulative poem that resulted from Penny Parker Klostermann's DMC challenge to come up with things we might feed the old dragon to avoid being swallowed ourselves.

I didn't quite know what to expect coming into this month, but what a terrific turnout! Dragon's belly may be bottomless, but it's not for lack of rhymed verse. The couplets were imaginative and all over the map. Wrangling more than a hundred of them into one story arc was a dragon-sized struggle all its own! I think you'll agree, though, it was worth the effort.   

Special thanks to Penny for feeding our muses with such a delectable challenge. And, if you were one of the many writers who participated, THANK YOU for joining in the lighthearted fun. Please know that I tried to keep contributions "unmolested" (only minor editing), but sometimes I did need to juggle the couplets around a bit to ensure that the story made sense.

Did I succeed? You be the judge.




All couplets are copyright 2015, and published with permission of the authors, who control all rights.





There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed . . .

                    Things from my refrigerator.
                    Albert Allen’s alligator.

                    Mr. Tobin’s fresh grown squash.
                    Edamame succotash.

                    Bacon, sausage, juicy steak.
                    Pudding, pies, and birthday cake.   (Penny Parker Klostermann)

                    Peanut butter mixed with jelly
                    spread on slices of pork belly.   (Patricia Podlipec)

                    Gold Rush apples, heirloom beets.
                    Free-range eggs, organic meats.   (Mary Lee Hahn)

                    Mashed potatoes, lima beans.
                    Guacamole, garden greens.   (Pat ...last name, please?)

                    A little salsa fiery and red
                    to fuel the fire inside his head.

                    Then gallons of sweet, sweet southern tea
                    to soothe the beast, and a smile for me?   (Martha O'Quinn)

                              Er... maybe not. Forget the smile.
                              This dragon will be here a while.   (M. H. Barnes)

                    Spinach-flavored ice cream treats.
                    Pizza topped with pickled beets.

                    Foot-long hot dogs swallowed whole.
                    Caesar Salad with the bowl.

                    Fresh-picked corn, cob, husks and silk,
                    and gallon jugs of chocolate milk.   (Vivian Kirkfield)

                    Sardine cookies topped with cheese.
                    Sixteen cups of black-eyed peas.

                    Baked Alaska, mincemeat pie.
                    Fifty flapjacks stacked up high.

                    Deviled eggs with okra bits.
                    Prunes complete with stony pits.

                    Chowder thick with chewy clams.
                    Salty, fat Virginia hams.   (LeeAnn Blankenship)

                    Maple syrup, really thick,
                    and a hot dog on a stick.

                    Peanut butter, black-eyed peas.
                    Old bananas, holey cheese.

                    Chocolate sauce, bacon strips.
                    Mustard and potato chips.

                    Green onion dip, sardines in tins.
                    Pepperoni, plump raisins.   (Joy Acey)

                    A mug of noodle soup to slurp
                    and cucumbers to raise a burp.

                    Some cookies sporting chocolate chips.
                    Maine lobster roll and New York strips.

                    A bit of burnt marshmallow stuff,
                    dark-roasted by a dragon's puff.   (Donna JT Smith)

                    Fizzy currant lemonade.
                    Magic pudding mother made.   (Maria Marshall)

                    And then some goodies so unique,
                    he tried to make them last a week:

                    Chocolate double-dipped rainbow.
                    Sunshine pie, topped with snow.

                    Baby giggle-glazed cupcakes.
                    Unicorn snort-frosted flakes.   (Tabatha Yeatts)

                    Spaghetti straps, Par-cheese-y and
                    Pool noodles and sweet Candy Land.   (Donna JT Smith)


                    Gravel candy, mud pudding pies.
                    Bushels of leaves that fall from the sky.

                    Lighting bugs that made his breath glow,
                    Then some roller-skates and he rolled down the road.   (Jessica Bigi)


                              Dear readers, I'll let you deduce
                              WHAT WAS IN THAT MAGIC MOUSSE?!!

       Just as he was was slowing down,
     a deep-fried feast from outside town
     wafted in on summer's breeze,
     bringing Dragon to his knees.

     With newfound vigor, pep, and zeal, 
     he winged his way to his next meal.   (M. H. Barnes)

                    Bacon-wrapped turkey leg.
                    Lemonade, corn dog, a keg.

                    Coke and deep fried butter balls...

                    (quick stop at the restroom stalls)

                    funnel cake, chocolate éclair –

                    I really think he liked our fair.   (Christine Rodenbour)

     Then all at once it dawned on me,
     we need a different strategy.
     Instead of food that satisfies,
     let's feed him ones that he'll despise!   (M. H. Barnes)

                    Moldy cheese and stale bread.
                    Cauliflower by the head.   (Rosi Hollinbeck)

                    Droopy lettuce, dressing on.
                    One half eaten slimy prawn. 

                    Chocolate covered pancake stack.
                    Stinky cod fish on its back.   (Ellen Leventhal)

                    Leftover green rabbit stew.
                    A fat vole, or maybe two.   (Maria Marshall)

                    Fermented juice, sour milk.
                    Moldy bits of months-old elk.   (Laura Law)

                    Pumpkinseeds and dragonflies.
                    Fishy eggs and froggy eyes.

                    Muskrat pie and rattlesnake.
                    The broken dock from down the lake.   (Buffy Silverman)


                    My dirty clothes and stinky socks,
                    and mudpies made with chocolate rocks.

                    My grandma's old refrigerator.
                    The rocket of a space invader.   (Gayle Krause)

     Suddenly, the rocket fired!
     Now he's hungry AND inspired...   (M. H. Barnes)

                    My keyboard letters - gulp- oh my!
                    He's burping words and I know why.   (Janie Lazo)

                    All my precious picture books!
                    And all the world’s untasty crooks.

                    Barking dogs and cozy cats.
                    Cowboy boots and tall straw hats.

                    And to slow that pony down,
                    a pony-riding circus clown!   (Sandy Lowe)

                    A sack of toys, the Naughty list.
                    An irate elf with shaking fist.
 


                    The Grinch, The Lorax, and a Who.
                    Dr. Seuss, Things One and Two.   (Carol H. Crane)


                    Mary's little lamb in stew.
                    Little Muffett's spider, too.

                    Characters from fairy tales.
                    Even Jack's full water pails.   (Kristi Dee Veitenheimer)


                    Concrete, bricks and silverware.
                    Sweet Rapunzel’s golden hair.   (Kathleen Mazurowski)

                    Damsel dumplings in distress,
                    rescued from an Eton Mess.

                    Rattlesnake and python stew,

                    rubbery and hard to chew.   (Suzanne Olivante)

                    A golden horn from Little Boy Blue.
                    From Cinderella, her dancing shoe.

                    Leaves from a bean stalk that Jack grew.

                    Red Riding Hood's cape and basket too.   (Joy Acey)

     Dragon hungered for adventure –
     overseas, the villain ventured...   (M. H. Barnes)

                                        "I’ll scour ye water's tasty treats.
                                         Octopi eye, such lovely sweets!

                                         Come hither eels don’t be afraid.
                                         Slurrrrrp, an anemone parade.

                                         Rrrumble tummy, yes! Feed me more...
                                         Napoleon wrasse I adore.

                                         Mola mola yum, slip right in,
                                         love your chewy pectoral fin."   (Michelle Kogan)

     He reached the shores of Italy
     (though still as famished as could be).

     Whose door should Dragon knock upon?
     Our friend, Renée. Please do tell on...   (M. H. Barnes)

                                       "The first thing he did was study each nook–
                                        and then began swallowing book after book.

                                        I shooed him outside where he went all berserk.

                                        He swallowed my tools and disrupted my work.

                                        He swallowed my sander; ’twas truly grotesque.

                                        Then he swallowed the whole of my grandmother’s desk.

                                        He singed my hydrangeas, my daisies and quince.

                                        He swallowed hot peppers and didn’t once wince!

                                        We tried to entice him with pizza and sauce.

                                        But that only made him more snappish and cross.

                                        He flew down the street, where he swallowed a field.

                                        The people protested, the sunflowers squealed.

                                        What happened next I am loath to disclose…

                                        he swallowed a boy from his head to his toes!"   (Renée LaTulippe)

          Poor Renée's had quite enough,
          so I'll report the other stuff:   (M. H. Barnes)

                    Some extra dill pickles, the jar and lid too.
                    Leftover lasagna, and Tiramisu.   (Leane Gill) 

                    Some chocolate pie, banana fritter
                    (he spared the family babysitter).

                    The TV and the cottonwood tree
                    (both certified to be fat-free).

                    A moonbeam and the setting sun,

                    then Dragon said, "Oh my, what fun!"   (George Heidenrich)

                    A snack before he hit the hay…
                    in one fell swoop, HE ATE RENÉE!

     Then into bed, at last he parked,
     and dragon dreams soon popped and sparked.

     Next morning he recalled the feast
     we offered up to quell the beast.
     His hunger roared; his belly rumbled.
     "I'm going back," the dragon mumbled.

     But this time when he came to town,
     no one fussed or hung around.
     Sullen and a bit bereft,
     he helped himself to what was left:   (M. H. Barnes)

                    Grandma's huckleberry jam.
                    A dozen eggs, a can of Spam.   (George Heidenrich)

                    My cat’s canned food: Macaroni Mixed Grill.
                    Nana’s dragon soup and fish oil pills.   (Linda Mitchell)

                    The cupboard was bare as he took the last bite,
                    but he still hadn’t sated his big appetite.

                    He tasted a toaster, which was so delicious,
                    he ate the appliances, flatware and dishes.

                    The rest of my house was his luncheon buffet.
                    He swallowed the sheets and the bed and duvet.   (Mindy Gars Dolandis)

                    The pants, the overalls and shirts,
                    then socks and undies, blouses, skirts.

                    Sheets and towels, the clothespins crunched.
                    In goes the line; the wash - all munched.   (Linda Baie)

                    He chewed up the couches, recliners and tables.
                    Computers, TVs and electrical cables.

                    He snacked on the bathtub and, quick as a wink,
                    he savored the shower, the toilet, the sink.

                    He feasted inside the utility room
                    on washer and dryer and vacuum and broom.

                    He flew out the door but he didn’t get far,
                    ingesting a bicycle, trash can and car.

                    He gobbled the grass and the trees and the roses,
                    the patio furniture, sprinklers and hoses.

                    And after his dragonly pig out fiesta,
                    he lay in the sun for a noon time siesta.   (Mindy Gars Dolandis)

THE END
...or is it???


Here's an alternate ending, provided by Alayne Kay Christian:

                    And with a giant dragon smile
                    he ate my dirty laundry pile,

                    and greasy, grimy, dishes stack
                    along with clean ones in the rack.

                    This dragon maid could eat and eat.
                    I took a seat, put up my feet,

                    forgot the housework for a while,
                    and smiled a giant dragon smile.


 (I may have to hire Dragon to swallow my household chores!)            

Carol Varsalona gives Dragon the last word:

                    "You think I'm done but stick around
                    I haven't touched your luscious town."


Another fun ending, from Donna JT Smith:

                    Belching, burping bits of flame
                    Dragon felt no spark of shame
 

                    He doused the heat with Pepto Bismol
                    So he wouldn't feel so dismal
 

                    Vowed to forego those tasty fritters
                    And next time try some babysitters.



And this just in... 
          from Penny, our fearless ringleader dragonmaster: 

Just so you can rest easy at night and not worry that dragon may be lurking in your kitchen, I leave you with these reassuring couplets:
I just spied my dragon. He’s wiping his chin.
He has no restraint. I must rein him in.

He’s swallowed all month with hearty August-o—
each mouthful, each morsel, each crumb, and each crust-o.

So thank you fair writers—ye poets, ye sages
for plenteous bounty outside his book’s pages.

And as for you, Dragon, “Get back here, forthright!
Your story’s beginning. Here comes the knight.”

Phew! That was a lot of om-nom-nomming! 

If you'd like to add your couplet(s) to the story, you have until Monday, August 31st.  Send your lines to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.




Participants in this month's challenge will be automatically entered to win a personalized copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle. (One entry per participant, not per couplet.)

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a couplet and comment below you will earn two entries in total. Comments must be be received by Tuesday, September 1st.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, September 4th, when we reveal our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge.

Good luck!


Today's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by the incomparable Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children.







Thursday, August 27, 2015

DMC: The final munch from Linda Baie



There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed . . .
Things from my refrigerator.
Albert Allen’s alligator.

Mr. Tobin’s fresh grown squash.
Edamame succotash.

Bacon, sausage, juicy steak,
Pudding, pies, and birthday cake.
                                                          – Penny Parker Klostermann, all rights reserved
The pants, the overalls and shirts,
then socks and undies, blouses, skirts.

Sheets and towels, the clothespins crunched.
In goes the line; the wash - all munched.
                                               – Linda Baie, all rights reserved

Penny Parker Klostermann has challenged us to write one to four couplets following her example– things we might feed a dragon to avoid being swallowed ourselves.  Click HERE for more details.

Send your couplets to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a whopper of a cumulative poem featured at our wrap-up celebration TOMORROW, Friday, August 28th.  One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Penny's deliciously funny debut picture book:





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DMC: Leftovers from Mindy Gars Dolandis



There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed . . .
Things from my refrigerator.
Albert Allen’s alligator.

Mr. Tobin’s fresh grown squash.
Edamame succotash.

Bacon, sausage, juicy steak,
Pudding, pies, and birthday cake.
                                                          – Penny Parker Klostermann, all rights reserved

The cupboard was bare as he took the last bite,
but he still hadn’t sated his big appetite.

He tasted a toaster, which was so delicious,
he ate the appliances, flatware and dishes.

The rest of my house was his luncheon buffet.
He swallowed the sheets and the bed and duvet.

He chewed up the couches, recliners and tables,
computers, TVs and electrical cables.
                                                        – Mindy Gars Dolandis, all rights reserved


Penny Parker Klostermann has challenged us to write one to four couplets following her example– things we might feed a dragon to avoid being swallowed ourselves.  Click HERE for more details.

Send your couplets to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a whopper of a cumulative poem featured at our wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 28th.  One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Penny's deliciously funny debut picture book:





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DMC: A family recipe from Linda Mitchell



There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed . . .
Things from my refrigerator.
Albert Allen’s alligator.

Mr. Tobin’s fresh grown squash.
Edamame succotash.

Bacon, sausage, juicy steak,
Pudding, pies, and birthday cake.
                                                          – Penny Parker Klostermann, all rights reserved

My cat’s canned food: Macaroni Mixed Grill.
Nana’s dragon soup and fish oil pills.
                                                         – Linda Mitchell, all rights reserved

From Linda: "Our Nana makes Dragon Soup. It's split pea.....but the kids didn't find that appetizing until she told them that it was actually draaaaagon soup. True story!"


Penny Parker Klostermann has challenged us to write one to four couplets following her example– things we might feed a dragon to avoid being swallowed ourselves.  Click HERE for more details.

Send your couplets to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a whopper of a cumulative poem featured at our wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 28th.  One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Penny's deliciously funny debut picture book:





Monday, August 24, 2015

DMC: Dumplings and stew from Suzanne Olivante



There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed . . .
Things from my refrigerator.
Albert Allen’s alligator.

Mr. Tobin’s fresh grown squash.
Edamame succotash.

Bacon, sausage, juicy steak,
Pudding, pies, and birthday cake.
                                                          – Penny Parker Klostermann, all rights reserved

Damsel dumplings in distress,
rescued from an Eton Mess.

Rattlesnake and python stew.
Rubbery and hard to chew.
                                                         – Suzanne Olivante, all rights reserved


Penny Parker Klostermann has challenged us to write one to four couplets following her example– things we might feed a dragon to avoid being swallowed ourselves.  Click HERE for more details.

Send your couplets to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a whopper of a cumulative poem featured at our wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 28th.  One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Penny's deliciously funny debut picture book:





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Renée M. LaTulippe – Diction Is King: A Lyrical Language Revision Tip


Writer's Day by tihmoller and Andre F. Muller on DeviantArt


Revising your manuscript can seem like a ravenous dragon set loose in your fairy tale village. 
Just ask Janie Lazo, Sandy Lowe, Kathleen Mazurowski, or Joy Acey, whose couplets were featured this week for Penny Parker Klostermann's DMC challenge.

From the belly of the dragon, Renée LaTulippe shares a revision tip that may save your manuscript's life.


This is Renée's fourth TLD contributor post, shedding light on her 5-week online course, The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry.  Her next available class begins on October 26th.

Thanks as always, Renée, for sharing your insights on Today's Little Ditty!





Diction Is King: A Lyrical Language Revision Tip
by Renée M. LaTulippe

In one of my previous posts, Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation, we looked at the properties of sound and how sound can transform your text.
   
Today, in the last of the “lyrical language basics” posts, we’re going to take that a step further and talk about diction, aka word choice, and how you can punch up your text during revision. Does your text feel listless? Is it suffering from a general malaise? Then it probably needs a shot of poetry—in the form of specific diction—to get it on its feet again.

If you’ve been a writer for five minutes, you have no doubt heard that your choice of verbs can make or break your text. In a nutshell:


You can find a sea of information on verbs on the Internet, so I won't go into them in more detail—because verbs aren’t the only words that need a good shakedown during revision.

The right choice of adjectives and nouns can help you show your story and reveal your characters as well as any verb. The trick is to be specific and choose loaded words—that is, words that are loaded with image, tone, and emotion.


I like to do a little exercise with my students called “unwriting,” which is when I take a small section of a text and replace all the verbs, nouns, and adjectives with run-of-the-mill choices. This exercise helps illuminate the importance of diction and how the right words can do so much of our storytelling work for us.

Let’s look at this sample from a prose picture book, which I have unwritten and then put back together. Note how the choice of specific nouns and adjectives transforms the writing.


So what’s going on here? Let’s analyze it:

  • There are no adverbs in this passage. In the entire book I found only about eight, but most are unobtrusive or interesting, like generally, particularly, and brilliantly.

  • The name Wilfred creates a more specific image of the main character, whereas the name Tom is neutral. Based on the name and the other language in this short passage, how do you imagine Wilfred?

  • The names Marcel and Rodrigo are specific and funny, especially for a moose. Mark and Robert are fine names for everyday life, but if you’re going to get a moose, you might as well give him a name with pizzazz. The names also fit the overall tone of the book and the personality of the main character. Wilfred would not settle for a moose named Mark.

  • Look at the adjectivesdumbstruck, mistaken, only proper. What does this type of language reveal about the main character? How do these choices reinforce the image you formed based solely on his name? How much more weight does dumbstruck carry vs. surprised? How are wrong and mistaken different in tone?

  • The use of old lady instead of woman reveals how Wilfred feels about this intruder, this pretender to the affections of his moose. She’s not just a lady, she’s an old lady who was mistaken!

  • Even in this short snippet you can see that Jeffers opted for more elevated language than one usually finds in a picture book. Through his diction, the author creates a main character who doesn’t get upset, but rather takes umbrage at perceived wrongs. This is a sophisticated MC with discerning tastes and a well-defined personality.

  • Other words and phrases that contribute to this tone include generally ignored, particularly poor, maintaining a certain proximity, terrible discovery, discussed their plans, ruled out…options, perilous situations, reached a compromise, and my favorite line in the book, Embarrassed and enraged, Wilfred rushed off for home. 

This is Wilfred. He’s the one in the bowtie and suspenders. Is he anything like you imagined him?

from THIS MOOSE BELONGS TO ME by Oliver Jeffers (click to enlarge)

Give it a try!

Go through your manuscript and highlight, in two different colors, all your nouns and adjectives, and then analyze them. Are they the best, most specific choices you can make for your story and your characters? 

In the next lyrical language post, we’ll look at the revision process via some before-and-after examples. Until then, happy writing!

* * * * *

Copyright © 2015 Renée M. LaTulippe. This article is partially excerpted from lessons in the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry. All rights reserved.

* * * * *

Would you like some more sneak peeks into The Lyrical Language Lab lessons? Check out Renée’s other posts on Today’s Little Ditty:

Sound Bites: Making Writing Musical
Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation    
What Dodo Birds Can Teach Is About Meter



An editor and writer, Renée LaTulippe has co-authored nine early readers and a collection of poetry titled Lizard Lou: a collection of rhymes old and new (Moonbeam Children’s Book Award) and has poems in several editions of The Poetry Friday Anthology. She developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and blogs on children’s poetry at NoWaterRiver.com.




Dragon's not the only one who knows where to find scrumptious poetry. Join Catherine at Reading to the Core for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.