Writing In Retirement Blog

Thanksgiving Poems

Hello all!

I thought I would share the poems that I wrote about Thanksgiving and Gratitude. The first one is in a cinquin format. Here it is:

Thanksgiving Blessings


Food, Fellowship

Praying, Laughing, Eating

Happiness with our blessings



I enjoy this format of five lines. The first line is one word that describes the general idea of the poem. Second line is two adjectives that describe the first line. Third line consists of three action verbs ending in ‘-ing’. The fourth line is a four word description that captures the feeling of the main topic. The last line is one word that describes more specifically about the first line. You’ll notice that the poem looks a bit like a tree when you are done, that’s because it a ‘shape’ poem.

Here’s my more traditional poem about Gratitude:

For what am I Grateful?

The list of good things,

That give merit to my life,

Is a list too long to string

As a helix winding through my life’s strife.


Thankfulness of life’s blessings

During each moment in time.

Causes us to linger on the beauty pressing

Before our very eyes inclined.


To keep our hearts aglow

We embrace the goodness of it all.

We accept each single moment is part of the flow

Of life’s wholeness, big and small.


For what am I grateful?

In the relativity of time

Each moment’s allure of good things

That bless our life’s paradigm.


Why don’t you have a try at a Thanksgiving Day Poem? Share in the comment section.


When Real Life Gets in the Way of NaNoWriMo

Okay I have to admit – sigh – real life has gotten in the way of my adventurous goal of 1667 words per day this year for NaNoWriMo. I find that I am so far behind as of today that I won’t meet that goal until Christmas Day, or there about. So I decided to reevaluate my goal here.

  1. The story I am writing is interesting to me.
  2. I really like the character and she is anxious to tell me her story.
  3. There are too many obligations I have both with my writing and personal life, that writing more than one or two hours a day is all I can devote to this challenge.
  4. If I want my roof redone, I am going to have to sacrifice some writing time.
  5. If I want to save my sanity, I will have to sacrifice some writing time.


That all being said, I am going to scale back my expectations and aim for 1000 to 1200 words a day for at least a 30,000 word draft. Notice I am not quitting. I am still planning to write a draft – just a scaled back one.

How about all of you? Are you perking along on the path to a 50,000 word goal, or like me, lagging behind? Share with me how you are coping with NaNaWriMo in the comments below.

NaNoWriMo Update

I have been diligently plodding away at my story for NaNoWriMo and have yet to make the daily goal of 1667 words, so of course, I am nearly 3000 words behind so far. But unlike other years, I’m not too bothered by this as I am just trying to get down the story this year. Like some others that are doing the NaNo challenge have said, “It’s a draft – so just put the words down to build the story.” I may be able to get to 50,000 words, but I may not, and that is okay this year. I do hope those of you that are doing this challenge this year will be successful in crafting out a story that will be a best seller (It’s happened!), or at least a story you feel worth pursuing to publishing quality. Good Luck everyone. Feel free to give encouragement or comment on how you are doing!

The Perfect Pumpkin

It must be the perfect pumpkin. I search my kitchen for just the right utensils. Ah, there it is, smooth and sharp on one side and has a great handle for making sure the cut is just right. The pumpkin has an oblong shape with a jaunty thick stem sticking out to the side. It will be just perfect for making sure it has a wide mouth, triangle eyes, and a silly round nose.

Once everything is ready, I set to work. I begin with the cutting. One must be careful during this process because you don’t want to make a cut too thick or too shallow, but just perfect. Oh, it is beautiful! Soon the kitchen full of wonderful smells, but I must admit my kitchen does get messy from all my preparations. I clean up all around as I await the outcome of my handiwork. They are perfect! I set them aside and wait a half an hour.

Next, I consider the deep orange color that is a must with my perfect pumpkin. It mustn’t be pale but a mixture of red and yellow with a hint of brown to make it that rich orange color of a ripe pumpkin. I spread the perfect orange frosting on the cookies. When I am sure the frosting is dry, that’s when I begin to pipe on the black frosting to decorate the pumpkin shaped cookies. I outline a wide mouth with a snaggle tooth here and there; next, I place the two triangle eyes above the mouth; and finally just underneath that a round nose. Then I mix a green to set off the pumpkin stem. Once everything is dry I take a bite! Yum! I allow the sweet taste to mix with the mild crunchiness of the cookie. Ooh so good! The perfect pumpkin!

Below is the recipe I found from In Katrina’s Kitchen to make the best sugar cookies to cut out. Enjoy!

pumpkin cookies

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 6-8 minutes

Total Time: 38 minutes


  • 1 Cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes
  3. Beat in extracts and egg.
  4. In a separate bowl combine baking powder with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer turn out the dough onto a counter top surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.
  5. DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to 1/4 inch rather than 1/8).
  6. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.


  • If you must chill the dough just leave it on the counter top for 10 minutes before rolling or work the dough with your hands for a few minutes.
  • You can omit the almond extract if you do not have it available, however, the taste is really fantastic with the hint of almond.
  • Keep in mind that the recipe yield will vary according to how thick you roll your cookies and how large or small your cutters are.
  • Bake for 6 minutes to test. They should be soft. Leave them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cool completely. If you reach 7-8 minutes and the edges turn brown your cookie will be crisper.

Original recipe © In Katrina’s Kitchen 

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

I started working on my idea for NaNoWriMo this week, despite all the distractions of real life, i.e., the roof that needs replacement, and the dog that won’t eat, etc. I sat down and did some mind mapping trying to decide what my main theme would be and how that would mesh with the story. I like the idea of the second chances and am trying to weave that into the story.

Idea Scribbles

Then I considered the questions about the characters. Who wants what? Who is against the main goal and why? What’s the main problem that needs to be solved? Once I had some ideas written down for these questions, I went on to think about what the main character’s flaws and failures could be and what situations could lead her to learn and grow over the course of the story.

I also wrote up a few details about the Main Character (MC) and what the critical elements of the conflicts and theme should be in the story. The setting seems to be a big element of this story, so that has to be considered too. I know I will need to do some research about the setting and some other key parts of the background to the story next.

Next week I hope to get more of an idea how to set up the plot of the story which still doesn’t have a clear path in my mind. Lots of work to even get to the point of starting to write those 50,000 words!

How are all of you coming with your ideas for NaNoWriMo? Share with me in the comments below.

Fun and Games with NaNoWriMo

Typewriter 1

It’s hard to believe that October is here. With all the storms, fires, and bad luck the country seems to be having, it is difficult to believe that soon Halloween will be here and after that November! Ah November – that means it will soon be NaNoWriMo time! Not familiar with NaNoWriMo? Well if you have ever thought about writing a book of novel length NaNoWriMo is for you. Everybody has a story, so why not try and write yours?


National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” The challenge was begun in 1999 in California. It was spearheaded by Chris Baty with 21 people and has grown to be a huge annual event all around the world with hundreds of thousands of participants. There have been many published novels that have come from this crazy sounding challenge.

I first participated in NaNoWriMo in 2009 and was pleased to actually have written 50,000 words – not exactly a novel, more like a soap opera with no end! However, I was hooked and have since tried each year to make that 50,000-word goal. My first book  The Peacock’s Tale was conceived during the 2011 NaNoWriMo. There were a few lean years and then in 2015 I again won the certificate for writing 50,000 words. I liked the novel but life’s little bumps slowed me down, so it took a while before I could whip it into shape, but having edited and re-edited the work now, I am seeking an agent for the novel tentatively titled The Baby’s Tale.

I have been thinking all October about what I would like to write about next. I have become excited about a character I featured in a short story I wrote recently for the Winter Garden Ink & Quill writing group. Time to set about deciding on the theme of the story as well as the plot.  Time to get brainstorming!

Won’t you give it a try? Skip on over to the National Novel Writing Month website and find out what it’s all about. Join me! I’d love to hear about your efforts.

The Dreaded Blank Page

blank page

It’s time again to write something new. You pull up a new document in WORD, and there it is – the dreaded blank page. There are times you gleefully look at that page and dive into writing because you have had the mother of all ideas and can’t wait to write about it. However at other times, you stare at the blank page and have no idea what to put on it, or you may have an idea but don’t know where to start. When that happens what do you do?

Well here are some helpful hints:

  1. Brainstorm – now you can do this many ways; make lists, make a pro/con list, or just randomly write ideas. Your lists can focus on the plot, the characters, or even the setting. The idea is to get down as many ideas as you can.
  2. Outline what you want to write.
  3. Mindmap an idea. It is similar to brainstorming but in a more methodical way. (Here’s a bit of a tutorial on Mind mapping < http://www.mindmapping.com/ > )
  4. Do a bit of research on the subject about which you are thinking.

Then there is the ‘seat of the pants’ way of dealing with a blank page – just start writing what’s on your mind. Once you have some words down on the page, you will be surprised how a story begins to form. You can always go back and edit away until the story has a beginning, a conflict, and an end. Or you can write a poem, like this:


Butterfly Ideas by Marie Staight

Thoughts like leaves float through my mind

Swinging down to the very depths

They soon are whisked away with the wind,

Leaving only flecks

That break apart and flutter away like butterflies

I reach out to catch

But they morph into lies.


I so want to catch those fellows

But they skitter away

Butterfly ideas of blue and yellow

I do not know why on this day

They do not land on my paper mellow

A big net I need to catch so they will stay.


Comments are welcome!