Friday, May 19, 2017

Fabulous Five: In Blackout Poetry Land

He was busy getting his boot grounded
For new memories.

Going to Montana with a grin
Truck on the road
I drive just fine
Hand resting by the open window.

Her house was tugged
Through the grass to the clay.
She pulled herself,
Trying not to slip back
On that worthless flower pot.

He frowned at her,
Buckled his seat belt,
Patted the steering wheel.
She loved his truck. did he.
So he bit back the comment
That soon he'd show her
What his truck could really do.
Take the corners like a boss,
Sling mud.
"Ready?"he asked the truck.

Perched on the edge is an epic start.
Just dive in at the beginning.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Having Fun with the Backhanded Compliment


I entered Riding with the Hides of Hell into the writing contest put on by The BookLife Prize (at $99 a pop) and with every entry comes a critic's report. Entrants are able to use quotes from their reports for publicity if they're properly attributed to The BookLife Prize, which I've faithfully done below.

My overall score was a moderate one, something to be proud of but certainly not enough to brag about. I wish I could rave about my highest points, but unfortunately, they sound like backhanded compliments, leaving it difficult to pull out a good marketing quote.

Hello? Is this thing on?

I guess if I wanted good-feels about my book, I should have called my mom!

9/10 for originality:
"At its essence, this book tells a familiar story: two kids finding their places in the world and falling in love. However, Leigh mixes that straightforward YA structure with motorcycle gangs and a fair amount of gender role reversal with the protagonists. And this works to create a book that is anything but standard fare." ~ The BookLife Prize 

9/10 for character development:
"Will and Miki both have strong voices and clear motivations for their actions. As with all good YA protagonists, readers will root for them to stop being such drama queens. And readers will root for them to finally figure out their issues with one another." ~The BookLife Prize

There ya go! My characters are a bunch of drama queens, but at least the reader gets to root for them to stop being so! Lol.

Now I'm not being sensitive over here, or a Neggie-Nellie, because I know writing is a tough business, and as the saying goes, "This isn't my first rodeo." So I'm having my go at a bit of fun.

On another note, Writer Beware wrote an interesting and fair article about The BookLife Prize and the comments are worth a read, too. I certainly don't begrudge the $99 entrance fee (*cough*) because reading and critiquing is hard work! I know, I've done my "fair share." And I understand why The BookLife Prize words their critiques in a slightly negative way. They can't have their good name splashed on every book! It's the yin and the yang of it.

Click Riding with the Hides of Hell to read The BookLife Prize's full assessment.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Short Love Story on Wattpad: Love on LaSalle

Here's my first short story set in the Flathead Valley, called Love on LaSalle. Want a quick zap of love while on the go? Check it out on's less than 1500 words long.

Five-Minute Mac Cover

This was an entry for a contest due a month ago, and since there was no rule saying I couldn't share it with the world, I decided to put it out on Wattpad, which was a nice way to figure out the nuts and bolts of that social outlet. Here's the description:

Marcia has resorted to hiding her things in her tiny pull trailer ever since her jerk boyfriend, Nick, has demanded that she throw her stuff away to prove her love. She's better off without him. Then Chase, a free-spirit camper from next door, saunters over with ideas that have her questioning love and second chances. 
This is a snapshot into Marcia and Nick's relationship as their love tips on the rails. It's set in an RV park in Montana's Flathead Valley.
This story is about Suzy Blue's parents from Dealing with Blue, when they were young and carefree.

Monday, April 24, 2017

From the Art Docent: Tin Foil Owl

How can one incorporate metal into a third grade art project that doesn't require loud hammering and sharp edges? Thankfully, I came across an awesome blog called Make It...a Wonderful Life that offered up an amazing idea using tin foil. Sign me up!

This was a two part lesson, because I needed time for the glue to dry in between. So the first part included the following:
1.) simple line drawing of an owl on cardboard, using familiar shapes: oval for the body, upside down triangles for the forehead and beak, circles for the eyes, and more ovals for the wings and toes. No details! 
2.) We set that aside, then worked on a Zentangle-type project to explore patterns and details that the kids might want to use later on in the tin foil assignment. 
3.) While half the class worked on creating patterns, the other half outlined their owls using tacky craft glue. Then the kids alternated until both projects were done.

Outline Drawing with Tacky Glue

Let It Dry

In the second class, the kids were given their dried projects, a tube of glue stick, a piece of tin foil, a paper towel, and an etching stick (or use a dull pencil). Part two consisted of:
4.) Smear a decent layer of glue stick to the surface of the owl project. 
5.) Lay down the sheet of tin foil and with a fingertip wrapped in paper towel (so as not to mar or tear the foil), rub the foil onto the glued cardboard. Start in the middle and work your way out, burnishing the foil into place. Find the dried tacky glue edges and mold the foil gently. 
6.) Use the etching stick (or a dull pencil) and with a light touch, score the foil with details (remembering Zentangle-type patterns from the first lesson). 
7.) Each student then took their turn wiping their project with shoe polish (the kind with the sponge applicator) to give the tin an antiqued look.

My Finished Project

I had a bit of a problem using the shoe polish. At home I applied a liberal coat and immediately wiped it off, which removed everything. I tried to let the polish sit for awhile, maybe a minute or two, and then when I wiped it, it all came off again, leaving no antiquing affect. The third try, I left if on for five minutes or so, and the shoe polish had dried. I couldn't remove it, and it left dark brown blotches (insert eye roll). What was I doing wrong? I had to get out the steel wool to remove most of it, but I managed to get the antiqued affect I was looking for. Check out the image above.

When in class, the shoe polish dried very quickly, and I barely had time to remove it before it started setting up. It was the same bottle, so the only thing I could think of was that perhaps when the bottle of polish was full, it was a lot more "liquidy," which took longer to dry. As the shoe polish in the bottle was reduced, it came out more foamy and thick and dried a lot quicker.  

Some pieces looked a lot more rusty than others, but overall, I was quite pleased. It was a fun project!

Students' Work Mounted for Art Walk

Students' Work

"Observe and reflect and become a little wiser everyday." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fabulous Five: April and Fools

I guess I use the word "fool" a lot in my writing. I wanted to get a blackout poem posted for April Fools Day, but instead, decided to dedicate the entire month to all the fools out there, whether they be a dunce or oblivious to the obvious or someone who rushes into things or even a person without skills. I think we all know what it feels like to be a fool or to be fooled.

Enjoy! And know that everyone starts off as one...but hopefully they don't stay that way ;)

Everyone knows his number.
It was written on a big truck.

Serious? What a fool,
choosing Mr. Easy
over the universe.

She'd soon pickup a fool
with a cup of ice and a lemon.

The only way out
Was to ask a little fool
Could you help me, please?

The big fool waited for the light,
half aware of the kiss.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Or shame on you, again ;)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fabulous Five: A Tribute to the Road

Every morning and afternoon, I walk around the streets and avenues of my neighborhood. If there's no rain, then I take my ever-sun-loving Cherriers, Tilly and Tango. My phone camera is usually ready as I search out my the next close-up shot to share on Instagram--Come visit me! Poop bag in hand, two 10-pounders pulling on the leash, glasses to contend with...but somehow out of a bunch of blurry pictures, I manage to get a decent one.

We had some road construction/pipe fixing thing going on, and the finishing touch was filling the cut marks in the asphalt with black tar, and as the pictures show, it's turned into my latest fascination. On rainy days, the droplets sit poised on top. On sunny ones, the tar is shiny and reflects the light. Then there are the tread marks and thick, gloppy drips, which create great textures.

Now with spring break looming, a bit of wanderlust calls. I feel a road trip coming on... 

The Road has Legs

Rain Drops on Road Tar
Time to see the details. A time for reflections.

Yin and Yang
It's dark and light, good and bad.
It's balance...or maybe it's just a blob.

It's that crazy tar on the road, reflecting the sun.
I nearly got ran over by the school bus.

Get outta my way...I'm Riding with the Hides of Hell!
Ready for a road trip. Whoot!


"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." ~ Roy M. Goodman

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Thank You Cards for the Coaches

It's been awhile since I've been in card-making mode (see last year's Coach card), and being the paper nerd that I am, I volunteered to make two thank-you cards for the girls' basketball coaches. I sorted through my stash--scrapbook paper, hole punches, and glue--and told Alexa to blast Sam Hunt for some good times. This morning I put on the finishing touches and crept out of my basement studio with two cards, just in time for the awards/pizza party.

Ta da!

Coach Dan
(Atlas by L. Renard from Hammond's
World Atlas Classics Edition, 1958)

Assistant Coach Sebastian


"A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever." ~ Mary Lou Retton

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back. Play for her.” ~ Mia Hamm