Holiday Writer’s Block

Abbie-1

Thanks to Neva Bodin for inspiring this. When I read her poem last week, for one split second, I was tempted to re-blog it but decided instead to write my own Christmas poem. The following is a mirror sonnet. I learned this form years ago from local poet Jane Wohl. It has fourteen lines, and each line has ten syllables. The first seven lines are repeated in reverse by the second seven lines. Click this link to hear me read it.

 

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HOLIDAY WRITER’s BLOCK

 

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

There’s so much to think of, so much to do.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my!

I must think of something, think of it now.

I must think of something, think of it now.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my,

there’s so much to think of, so much to do.

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Season’s Greetings 2016

Abbie-1

This year has been busy as usual. I took a trip to Florida in March to visit my brother Andy and his family. This trip was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect, and highlights include a food truck festival in downtown Jupiter, a canoe trip along the Loxahatchee River where we encountered an alligator, and a trip to the beach.

At the beginning of April, I planned to fly to California to attend my uncle’s wedding, but I developed a bad chest cold. Two days before I was scheduled to leave, I woke up and could barely talk and decided to cancel my trip. I didn’t want to travel when I felt so miserable and risk passing my crud on to anyone else. I was sorry to miss the wedding. Andy told me about it later, and it sounded fun.

In the middle of April, my Third Thursday Poets group gave a reading at the local senior center to commemorate National Poetry Month. We were joined by twenty-five high school students, some of whom shared their work.

At the end of April, my friend Rose Hill, who was our state poet laureate last year, and I drove to Riverton to attend the WyoPoets annual workshop at the Holiday Inn. The night before the workshop, there was a reading at the Riverton public library, during which Rose unveiled WyoPoets’ newest chapbook, Labyrinth: Poems from Wyoming and Beyond. Yours truly and others featured in the book shared work.

In June, Rose and I returned to Riverton for the Wyoming Writers conference, held at the Wind River Hotel & Casino. This was more of an adventure than most conferences we attended. In order to get from our hotel room to most of the meeting rooms, we had to cross the casino, full of noise and cigarette smoke. Needless to say, “Luck be a Lady tonight,” was going through my head all weekend.

A couple of months earlier, I finished my new memoir and contacted Leonore Dvorkin, of Denver, Colorado, who, along with her husband, David, helps authors publish their work online through Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, and other sources. She encouraged me to send her my manuscript but said she wasn’t sure they could get to it until possibly after the first of the year.

At the end of June, though, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Leonore, saying that she’d read through my manuscript, and because it was so well written, she thought it could be published this summer. To make a long story short, Leonore and David were true to their word, and in August, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was published.

Also during the summer months, I started taking a poetry class from the Hadley Institute, a school that offers free correspondence courses to those who are blind and visually impaired. You may wonder why I’m taking a poetry class when I already have two poetry collections under my belt. Well, there’s always room for improvement. Because of my new book’s publication and other activities, I haven’t been able to devote as much time to it as I would have liked, but I hope to finish it next year. I’ve already written several poems as a result, so maybe I’ll have enough for another book. Who knows?

In July, Andy and his wife Christina spent a weekend with me. They also visited friends and relatives in Colorado and hiked in Yellowstone Park. While they were here, we attended the rodeo parade, explored our old neighborhood, got ice cream in the park, and ate dinner with friends and relatives. I had such a great time while they were here, and I hope they’ll come again next year. I’m planning to spend a week with them in January.

On July 20th, fellow poet Christine Valentine and I were featured as part of the weekly Vaudeville program at the Wyo Theater. We performed a poem Christine wrote, “Driven Insane by Mitzi Gaynor,” which talks about songs that get stuck in your head. The songs mentioned here were “101 Pounds of Fun” from South Pacific and “Go Home with Bonnie Jean” from Brigadoon. Christine read the poem, and we sang the songs together when she got to them. It was a lot of fun, and the audience loved it.

In August, my brother’s in-laws from Florida came to town one day. They’d been traveling across the country for several weeks, and they took me out to dinner at Frackleton’s. The food was delicious, and I had a great time visiting with them.

On October 8th, I participated in a national event for independent authors at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library. Many libraries across the country hosted this program which was open to the public.

We watched a digital presentation featuring leaders in the publishing industry giving advice to authors wanting to self-publish. After that, several authors, myself included, participated in a panel discussion where we shared our experiences. We then sat at a table and tried to sell books for about half an hour. Although I didn’t make any sales that day, I enjoyed networking with other writers.

On October 20th, my Third Thursday Poets gave another reading at the Sheridan Senior Center to commemorate National Poetry Day. Several poets, myself included, shared work. Some read poems by other authors. I performed a poem I wrote about my memories of listening to music with Dad when I was little.

My Thanksgiving this year was pretty quiet. I had the traditional turkey dinner at the senior center, came home, took a nap, and did some reading and a little writing. It would have been wonderful to gather with family for this occasion, but it was nice spending the holiday alone. As far as I know, my Christmas will also be a quiet one.

Of course I did my share of singing. My group, Just Harmony, performed at various functions in the past year, and we’ve got several Christmas performances lined up. I’ve also been singing at nursing homes, an assisted living facility, and an adult day care center on a regular basis. I enjoy doing this and will continue to do it as often as I can.

Well, I believe I’ve gone on long enough. Speaking of singing, I leave you now with my Christmas wish for all of you. Click on the Dropbox link below to hear it. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year to come.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/merry%20little%20christmas.mp3

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

A Poem About My Mother

One thing I remember about my mother is her cooking. The following poem illustrates this and her inferiority complex when it came to meal preparation. This poetry form is a haibun, consisting of two paragraphs of prose and one haiku. Of course you’ll note here that the haiku has nothing to do with nature, but in my view, anything goes. Click this link to hear me read the poem.

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MOTHER’S CUISINE

Mother considered herself a mediocre cook, but I thought otherwise. I loved her meatloaf, steak San Marco, calico beans. When complimented, she said, “It’s too dry, too salty, needs more pepper, should have been cooked longer.”

When I was in college, she mashed potatoes for the first time: boiled, peeled, sliced them, added milk and butter, attacked them with an electric mixer. They turned out chunky but still good. On Christmas Day, with family and friends gathered around the table, when I asked for a second helping of potatoes, she said, “Well, you’re used to cafeteria food.”

mother’s chocolate cake

evokes happy memories

of a child’s delight

***

Mother and her cooking are long gone, but I still remember. What about you? Happy Mother’s Day.

***

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

 

Holiday Review: The Thirteenth Gift

The Thirteenth Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. Copyright 2014.

In the fall of 1999, journalist Joanne Huist Smith’s husband passed away unexpectedly. In this memoir, she details how an anonymous gift left on the family’s doorstep during each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas helped make the holiday season more than bearable for her and her three children. Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, etc., they received one poinsettia, two bags of bows, three rolls of wrapping paper, four gift boxes, five angel gift cards, six holiday cups, seven golden apple ornaments, eight Christmas cookie cutters, nine holiday candles, ten paper doll Santas, eleven candy mice, and on the twelfth day, a miniature Christmas tree with twelve ornaments. Each gift came with a card signed, “Your true friends.”

At first, they tried to figure out who left the gifts, thinking it was someone they knew. Then, they realized the gift giver’s identity wasn’t important. The book has twelve chapters describing each day in the gift-giving scenario. In the thirteenth chapter, the author describes how over ten years later, she met the anonymous donors, complete strangers, who were the second generation of a trend that started back in the 1980’s.

This writer draws the reader into her story. Like Martin Sixsmith, author of Philomena, she writes terrific prose that make you forget she’s a journalist. I also like the way she illustrates the concept of paying it forward during the holiday season. However, I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment. I guess I expected something more spectacular, but this is a true story, and as stated by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction, “You can’t make this stuff up.” To learn more about Joanne Huist Smith, go to http://www.13thgift.com/bios/joanne-huist-smith .

Now, click below to hear me sing the song that inspired this gift giving idea. This is one of those songs I can practice until the cows come home and still mess up so I hope you enjoy listening to it.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/12%20days%20of%20christmas.mp3

***

 

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

Holiday Review: The Mistletoe Inn

The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans. Copyright 2015.

 

Kim is an aspiring romance writer who lives in Denver, Colorado, and works as a finance officer at a car dealership. She’s not too keen on romance because she was jilted at the altar, and other relationships failed. However, when she attends a writers’ retreat in Vermont during the month of December, she becomes involved with a fellow author. When she’s unable to accept constructive criticism of her manuscript from him, this causes a rift, but then the story has a surprise ending.

I like the way Richard Paul Evans provides Kim’s back story in the prolog and beginning chapters. I always get frustrated when authors start the story in the middle and then go back, although it’s said that’s the best way to hook a reader. Actually, Mr. Evans did a pretty good job of hooking me with the prolog.

I also like the way he illustrates the idea that fame and fortune don’t always make a person happy. He also does this in A Perfect Day which I reviewed on this blog a couple of years ago at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/a-perfect-day/ . I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to give away any more of the plot. If you want to know what I mean, you’d better read the book. In fact, you should read both books. To learn more, go to http://www.richardpaulevans.com/ .

Since The Mistletoe Inn is a holiday romance, click below to hear me sing a romantic holiday song.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/winter%20wonderland.mp3

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

 

Holiday Reading

I was recently invited to read some of my poems at a meeting of Akcita Win. This is a women’s organization that does community service projects and offers scholarships every year here in Sheridan, Wyoming. My grandmother founded this group in the 1940’s, and I didn’t know this until the night of the meeting which was held at the First Christian Church.

My presentation was preceded by a delicious fried chicken dinner catered by a local market and followed by a rousing game of Christmas bingo and door prize giveaways. I didn’t win, but that didn’t matter. It was still a lot of fun. I was invited to join the organization, and I suppose I should since my grandmother founded it, but I don’t have time.

One of the group’s money making projects I remember from years ago was a vending stand at the local fair grounds during our annual rodeo, county fair, and other events. When my brother and I were kids, Dad took us to the fair grounds for whatever event was going on, and we often stopped by the stand where Grandma gave us each a Coke, paying for it of course. At the meeting, I spoke to a lady who worked with Grandma at the stand, flipping burgers, and she reminisced about those days. She told me that too many safety regulations make it difficult for organizations to undertake such money making projects, and that’s too bad. However, it was nice talking about those good old days.

My reading lasted about twenty minutes. I sang a few songs, a Capella, incorporating them into my poems, finishing with a parody of “White Christmas” that I wrote. I then sang the original words with everyone joining in. The audience loved it, and I passed around business cards. I brought copies of my poetry books, but nobody seemed interested.

I was able to record my program, and you can click below to hear it. Because of the file size and limited Dropbox space, this recording is contained in a zipped folder so you’ll need to download and extract it. If you’re not sure how to do this, please leave a note in the comments field, and I’ll try to help you. Be sure to check the appropriate box so you’ll receive my reply by email. Enjoy! Happy holidays.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/akcita%20win%20reading%2012-1-2015.zip

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

Holiday Review: Dashing Through the Snow

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber. Copyright 2015.

 

Four days before Christmas, Ashley and Dash, who barely know each other, end up sharing a rental car from San Francisco to Seattle when no flights are available. Ashley, a graduate student, hopes to surprise her mother for Christmas, and Dash, a former military intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle. Along their journey, they pick up and abandoned puppy, encounter a motorcycle gang, petty thieves, and a strange character who calls himself Stan the Man, and become involved in a case of mistaken identity. One thing I like about this author’s books is that everything turns out all right in the end, and this one is no different.

I downloaded this book from Audible. Although Debbie Macomber doesn’t narrate it in this recording, she reads the introduction at the beginning in which she explains how this story was inspired by her husband Wayne saying that he hated flying and wished he were on a no-fly list. I thought my imagination ran wild at times, but this story takes the cake. It never occurred to me that an ordinary U.S. citizen could be mistaken for a terrorism suspect. Since I plan to fly to Florida in March and perhaps California in April, I hope there are no terrorism suspects running around with my name. I also hope that after reading this, Wayne is re-thinking his wish to be on a no-fly list. To learn more about Debbie Macomber and her books, go to http://debbiemacomber.com/

Since one of the main characters in this story is trying to get home for Christmas, please click below to hear me sing a song that echoes this sentiment. Wherever you are, I hope you can be home for the holidays, if only in your imagination.

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

Vote for my new book idea.