Saturday’s Share: What’s Your Pleasure?

Yup, rewriting is delightful…at least to me! Chameleon’s Dish is getting a makeover!

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

For today’s Share, I’ve got a couple of questions…

  • What do you do, just for the sheer joy of it?
  • How has that passion changed your life?

For me, it’s writing. I began when I was seven, but I’ve loved words all the way back to my crib.

For me, words and stories are like the air. They are always there, in my mind, ready to take flight.

When I was growing up, my writing was praised by teachers and parents- so long as it was done for school purposes. I found the praise pleasurable, and obliged by developing a knack for the purplest ofpurple prose . I was “an odd child”, and writing was a path to acceptance for me, and I indulged mightily.

Then, at thirteen, my life changed forever when my best friend, introduced me to (bludgeoned me with) Star Trek.

A half-Vulcan found his way into my soul, and hasn’t left since.

It was the early 80’s, and Star Trek was in a bit of a post The Motion Picture slump. As an already outcast teen, my new passion marked me indelibly as a geek – not, trust me, the cool version made popular by The Big Bang Theory, but the kind that, as one of my former classmates put it, “made it easy” for other kids to taunt and tease and torment.

But I couldn’t stop with Spock. I wouldn’t. He had me at “Fascinating”, and he is, as he said, a stubborn man.

So began years of clandestine writing activity. I exchanged spiral-bound notebooks with my friend throughout the day, for years. We committed character assassinations, logic implosions, and some physically impossible erotica fueled by hormones and an utter lack of actual experience (outcast, remember?).

It wad spectacularly bad writing. My parents saw me scribbling in notebooks while the drudgery of homework sat ignored, and demanded I stop. They had reasons:

  • Homework was important .
  • Star Trek was a stupid show.
  • I was being lazy, wasting my time, not doing anything useful, just sitting around, and it was all just a pipe dream….

All good parental reasons, I suppose – except that they weren’t true. I did well in school, sans the homework. Because of Star Trek, I learned about Occam’s Razor, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and acceptance of those different than myself. I was figuring out my self and my place in the world. My passion for Shakespeare blossomed, and I became interested in scientific topics I’d never paid much attention to, before.

I was also learning to write. Too many cheats to make things happen the way I wanted them to led me to an understanding of writing fair, of leaving the characters space to breathe onto the page, and to allow them their own integrity. I look at my life today, and see that I allow the people in my life the same, so those notebooks may have done more than improve my writing – they may have improved my living.

That fan fiction also birthed a world for me to play in – the precursor of Aletris, the world my original fantasies are set in today. Without those years of furtive scribbling, I might not have that world, or the cultures that populate it. I might not have brought those clashing cultures together, or helped them to see that they didn’t need to give up their own ways and values to coexist peacefully with others.

There’s something else that’s translated into the rest of my life. Where I used to be certain that my way must be the right way, for everyone, now I focus on living my life as best I can, and offering others a glimpse into why it fulfills me – and I’m eager to learn how others live, what they value, and why.

For years, it looked like a frivolous way to spend hours of my life, every week. It looked, honestly, like a waste of time, paper, and ink.

But I was evolving, as I wrote, and becoming. Those words and stories were and are a catalyst in my life, and they are my personal history.

Over the next weeks, I will be revising the first of five completed first draft novels. Some are Trek fanfic – I could never turn my back on something that has given me so much and so deeply shaped who I am. The others are original, but they can trace their pedigree back to those same notebooks I carried from class to class all through junior high and high school.

Because I would not and could not stop, I have novels to edit, novels in progress, and more novels planned for the coming years. I have blogs with hundreds of posts, and people who enjoy reading them. Because I wrote so much, despite the arguments, I have more ideas today than I could ever set down on a page or a screen. I have friends scattered across the globe, because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my passion to anyone else’s idea of what I ought to be doing instead.

Because I followed my pleasure, I am who I am today…as a writer, and as a human being.

How about you? Do you have a lifelong pleasure that’s shaped and enriched your life? Something you used to love, but set aside, and long to return to? What’s in your way?

I love to hear your stories! After all, Saturdays are for sharing!

Coffee and Conversation: Showerpiphanies

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again – and, around here, that means it’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…

Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.

Have you ever noticed that there are certain times or activities that tend to send your mind into new territory? Do you think of new dishes to cook while driving? Make up songs while vacuuming? Invent things while folding laundry or mowing the lawn or walking the dog?

Maybe it’s hereditary? Jeremiah at Paint Mines Creek, age 6.

Hot showers are my “thing”. There’s magic, for me, in being surrounded by steam, with water drenching my head. Several years ago, Jim and the kids got me a “rainshower” fixture for Mother’s Day. I love it. It sends a cascade straight down from above my head – and, since I’m tall and sometimes have to duck to fit beneath other showers, that’s a luxury!

I get in, after setting the water temperature just below my heat tolerance level – and then I just let my mind go. Often, I will have a story scene or an essay that I want to write in mind; almost as often, inspiration will come for something I wasn’t even thinking about, consciously – like a letter I might write, a different scene in another WIP, a brand-new essay or plot tribble…or a new way to arrange a room, a way to express something difficult to a loved one with kindness and clarity, somewhere new to go, or a new way of seeing things.

Annalise, at 5, in a happy lather!

It’s like the shower is my own personal idea machine (like a time machine, maybe, or, better yet, one of those money chambers where they blow bills around…only, the currency here is inspiration!).

If I chose to, I might consider the shower my muse – but I’m more inclined to see it as sinking the ideas into my mind, blending them with what was there, and playing with them as though they were soap bubbles…

I’ve decided to call the little revelations that come Showerpiphanies. Not because they needed a name, really, as because, that, too, came to me in the shower, as the steam relaxed my deeper mind into wordplay and diverse connections.

Creative communion, circa 2007. Photo credit: Eden F. Mabee.

I could maybe say more about this, but it’s chilly, and I feel some thoughts coalescing. I think I’ll go take a hot shower. =)

Do you have a particular place, activity, or ritual that you use as your dreaming and thinking space? I’d love to share a cuppa and listen! There are refreshing beverages and an assortment of tasty tidbits in the kitchen. Help yourselves, gather your thoughts, and let’s chat!

Oh, Sandy! – ROW80 Goals Update, Oct. 28,2012

Curious? Click here!

I had wanted to add a bit more to this post, but, with a hurricane looming and most of a day spent in preparation for what looks to be a pretty major storm, I don’t have what it takes to be pithy, so this will be a basic update….hopefully, by Wednesday, the storm will have passed, and we will be returning to our preciously scheduled lives….. =D




Honoring Myself  (Original goals post)


My goal for this round is to honor myself – my rhythms, energy, needs, truth, dreams, desires, and emotions.


A fundamental part of that is to identify my energy type each day, and summarize what I do. It’s my hope that, throughout the round, patterns will emerge which lead to a more joyful, organic writing flow – one that honors me and allows me to get the most out of my seldom predictable writing time.


Scarecrows….and not.

My energy levels and poems for the last few days..

  • Wednesday: Slack Tide, with shades of High Tide. Mellow hometending. Moved some firewood. Played CakeMania 2 for a bit; watched some TV; played with planning and ideas. ROW80 update and OctPoWriMo completed.
  • Poem: Wheel Spins
  • Thursday: Slack Tide with stronger shades of High Tide. Visit from my dear friend, Eden Mabee, who came to return Jeremiah’s laptop, which needed specialized attention. We talked about stories a little, and she helped me learn more about Scrivener. She left with my defective external hard drive, where photos and writing have been trapped for over a year, now.
  • And, a few hours after she left, she messaged me to say that it was working, and my 2009 NaNo draft (incomplete) was there! I had been preparing to recreate it, and now I am rereading what is really good so far! I completed my story plan, and my poem, and visited my nines and some OctPoWriMo poets. Answered some comments at shanjeniah.
  • Poem:  Yet Another Love Poem
  • Friday: Slack Tide, High Tide approaching. Some hometending, but tired and headachy. Finished reading Blood and Breath, my 2009 NaNo WIP. Input it into Scrivener. I will finish the draft there, likely over the winter. Worked a little on kids’ reporting pages. Played Animal Crossing for a while.
  • Poem: I Ask No Forgiveness
  • Saturday: Slack Tide, High Tide closer. I’ve had that unsettled feeling that comes before a phase of intense creativity. Also, the moon is near full, and there is a major storm headed our way. The children and I went to our village’s Fall Festival for a little while – a pleasant walk on a midfall, pre-storm day. Treats were purchased, Lise bounced in a dragon’s belly, we met some greyhounds, took some pictures, and Miah was grumpy because he was up most of Friday night learning Japanese, and woke earlier than he wanted to in order to come with us. I wrote my poem, did a little hometending, and started to clean up the yard in preparation for the storm. I spent some time exploring Twitter, and actually going though the tutorial. I reviewed suggestions to my logline- in-progress and was active on the NaNoWriMo Fcebook Page.
  • Poem: Beneath Visibility

    The Stillwater Blockhouse (replica).

What’s goin’ on..?


Priority Projects –


I am serving as a sponsor for this round.


The Hudson River, from the corner of the Blockhouse, Stillwater, NY, October 27, 2012.

I am participating in the OctPo WriMo Challenge throughout October.

I will be participating in NaNoWriMo throughout November, writing at least 50,000 words of another novel in my Trueborn Weft series, Sima Garo Provides.

  • Some major breakthroughs this last day or two – big, exciting ones!
  • I have completed my open-ended plan!
  • I’ve set the novel up on Scrivener, and a visit from my dear friend, Eden Mabee, has given me a far better understanding of the program. I am now really looking forward to composing in it.
  • I’ve entered some research, and set up the templates for the character sketches.
  • I now know an important piece of information that will enrich both this story, and a later installment that I have played with intermittently for years.
  • In tangentially related BIG NEWS, my lost NaNo from 2009, Blood and Breath, was released from my broken external hard drive, where I feared it might vanish forever!
  • I reread the draft, and moved it into Scrivener, where I expect to complete it over the winter months.
  • I have created a pretty awesome (to me, anyway!) SpotifyPlaylist just for NaNo, with music that inspires and delights me. I hope to add to it, and listen frequently during the next weeks.


Unsettled skies over the river….

I will be answering a rather embarrassing backlog of blog comments that have, in some cases, waited for months.

  • I will be answering comments atshanjeniah on Mondays and Thursdays, as long as that provides the best balance and timing for answering comments.
  • Answered comments on Thursday.
  • Answer the waiting comments on The Unfettered Life .
  • Nothing for this for this update. NaNo and other things have edged it out. Once I have things settled, though, I plan to return to a more regular pattern, here.

New Fitness Goals – I will focus on eating something each time I am hungry (and getting protein and magnesium into every other time I eat). I will be active enough that I can always feel my body and muscles. I will add more fruits and vegetables to my diet, and be more attentive to how much water I am drinking.

  • On the whole, I am eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, magnesium, and drinking more water. I’ve been less attentive this week than last, due to the turning inward of storyweaving, but I seem to be doing reasonably well at natural balance so long as we are home…I want a better approach for when we are out and about, though.
  • I have been moderately active each day, despite too little sleep and a body given over to perimenopause and unpredictability. My activities have included driving the Subaru (standard transmission), hometending yard cleanup, dancing and stretching, moving firewood, and walking.
  • I can feel my body, and it both feels and looks slightly trimmer and better toned, this last week or so.

    I don’t know who carved them but they are festive!

Short Term or Intermittent Projects:


New Projects:

Complete Logline Lesson reading, draft logline, and submit to class.

  • A week ago, I didn’t know what a logline is, and I am excited to learn, create, and then improve upon my creation. This will help me target my revisions for WIPs, and assist in future works Critiquing Robks, as well.
  • I continue to work on my drafts and receive feedback from the instructor.
  • With the latest input from the instructor, I feel I very nearly have a logline! There are a couple of small wording changes I am going to sleep on, and I will likely decide sometime Sunday.
  • The webinar is Monday evening, and I plan to participate – this will be first for me!



Read existing segments, and write my portion of Write A Story With Me!

  • Ironing out the linking for this.


Moving ahead with the Reporting Pages projects for both children..

  • My long-range goal, for the rest of this month, is to have enough material for each topic to construct the main body of the report, so that completing the reports does not conflict with my NaNo participation.
  • I completed Jeremiah’s English Language Usage Page.
  • I completed Annalise’s Arithmetic Page.
  • Jeremiah’s Arithmetic Page is mostly done, and may be y the time this update posts.
  • This project is not going as quickly as I had hoped. It’s much less fun than fiction writing, and it’s not writing I would see value in, if the law didn’t require it. It’s a dessicated retelling of each child’s rich, vibrant, and deeply personal learning life. I find it very easy to push these to the side and do writing I am personally passionate about, instead.
  • I do feel I have things at a point, nearing the quarters’ end, where I can come to it in lulls, add descriptions for a point or two, and then return to the more interesting parts of life…and I feel the blogs will make the whole process smoother…and, eventually, far more lively than it has ever been.

    Checking out the spot where her milk tooth recently and finally fell out, revealing a well-descending permanent tooth behind…love my windblown free spirit!

Revise and submit “Claiming My Passions”- WIP submission to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette .

  • This is another goal temporarily shelved. I suspect it will be perfect to pull out if and when I feel the Sima Garo Provides well running a little dry. Or if I seem to need to do something else in these last anxious days of wishing it were NaNo already!


What I’ve been reading…and watching!

Y is for Yelling

500 Words On…Yelling.

Yelling was an everyday occurrence, within my family of origin. With four children and two parents who hadn’t learned how to contain or rise above their rage, there seemed to always be some reason to yell at someone.

There were  times when my father went from child to child, asking questions that seemed designed to find us in some wrongdoing he could yell about. If he went through all of us without success, sometimes he would go through the process again – and, eventually, he either found or created a reason to vent whatever frustrations had driven the process.

There is much less yelling here, and what there is is generally short-lived and soon moved past. Nearly all the yelling there is is done by the children – when you are seven, or even ten, life can get too frustrating to take, very quickly, and yelling is a safety valve that prevents an explosion of a far greater magnitude.

I do the best I am able not to take the yelling personally – getting reactive and yelling back never helps, and usually makes things far worse, and it hurts my head, throat, and soul, besides.

Besides, it isn’t personal.  It’s just a young person, still relatively inexperienced at life and conflict, who is dealing with more than he or she can handle. The anger or hurt or frustration pour out, and sometimes the words that get used are hurtful – not because the child truly hates me, or their life, but because that is how they feel in this moment in time, and that feeling is too intense to allow them to realize, just then, that there will be love, peace, and joy again – and that they might only be moments away.

I’ve realized, over the last year or so, that, when I can remain in a place of love and calmness, neither feeding or ignoring the emotional chaos, but instead letting it pass through me like a stone through a deep still pool, it’s sometimes enough to help calm the tempestuous energies of the child, as well.

It’s a quiet way to say that I feel their emotional discord, and I still accept them. If the yelling was directed at me, I might say, softly but firmly, “I didn’t deserve that.”

And then, I go about my business, which seems to reassure both children that things are going to be all right – that they might be better than they thought.

Usually, the yelling child will take themselves to their room, to fling themselves on their bed.  Often, fatigue was the impetus for the yelling, and the child will be asleep within moments, to wake up happy and better-rested.

Other times, they will settle, and find a diversion. Miah might turn to a book, his 3DS, for games or a show on Netflix; Lise likes books, Littlest Pet Shop characters, and caring for her stuffed animals.

I don’t handle every episode as well as I might, but I keep learning, and each success grows the peace in our home.

Sometimes, I still yell – my ability to control myself is not yet as all-encompassing as I would like it to be.

I no longer excuse myself, not blame myself,  for that.

Instead, I keep learning, and healing – because I prefer loving, trusting peaceful life, and yelling isn’t a means to that end. =)

S is for Self-Awareness

500 Words On….Self-Awareness.

I wonder, sometimes, if there is a bottom – or, maybe, a core –  to me, or anyone. That might be more apt.

I keep reaching more deeply into myself, unraveling the mystery threads that have been woven into the fabric of my life and my psyche.

And, the further and deeper I go, the more I find, and the deeper the depths I sense, stretching into places so deep that they  seem as though they  aren’t within me, but instead are the stuff of the universe….the echoes, maybe, of the star stuff that makes up everything in our world.

I like thinking that I am made of star stuff, that we are all universal and interwoven with each other.

Or, as my friend Tanya said today, there is even a certain harmony in our disharmonies, in the times and ways that we simply cannot get along with one another.

I am always what I live, in one sense or another, and I change according to what I experience in every moment, and how I process those happenings.

And yet, self-awareness tends to be seen as something people have, in the same way that some people think that happiness and peace are commodities.

The more deeply I go, learning myself, the more certain I am that I will never get to the deepest parts of me, because, as I learn myself, I am still living and growing and changing.

I am always changing – even when it seems that everything in my life is static and unchanging… those time, when I drift or rush through my life in a kind of trance of unfeeling or to-do lists and obligations and schedules.

I think that, in those times, I am building  a thicker and thicker shell around myself, and reducing the amount of space  my soul  exists in.

When I  live this way for too long, maybe it becomes nearly impossible for anyone – even me – to find a way though it to the flow of life and self that is still there, somewhere, deep inside, choked and nearly rescued to a trickle…..

We are all interwoven, and a choked-off flow in any of us affects us all.

If the choked off places are within me, I can move along the threads until I find the place that is twisted and tangled, and begin, carefully and tenderly, to learn the shape and contours of the knot, to test the strength of the thread, and to figure out whether to weave back through the flawed place, eventually setting it to rights; whether it would be better to cut the offending place out, and repair the rupture with a patch I may weave more tightly over time; or whether there is nothing to be done but to live with a snag in my soul, because, at least for now, there is nothing else I can do, but to be aware of it and wary of causing it further danger.

What do you do about the snags in your own soul? Are you aware of them? Have you effected repairs? If so, how well did it work, or is it an ongoing process?

R is for Resistance

500 Words On….Resistance.

Resistance is futile. You WILL be assimilated.

So goes the threat, warning, or merely informational greeting (depending on your viewpoint upon hearing it, I suppose) of the Borg.

The Borg have no sense of humor, and they don’t bluff. If they say you will be assimilated – well, it’ll take a lot of fight to prove them wrong.

I’ve been known to be pretty good at resisting. I think that can be said of most of us who are looked upon by others, and maybe even ourselves, as stubborn.

It can be a good thing, to resist, if I am resisting an impulse that leads to harm for someone.

Other times, though, resistance is not only futile, but actually self-destructive.

Some things simply are, and cannot be changed. As much as I wish it might be otherwise, Elijah died. As much as I might wish it to be otherwise, Jim was involved in a serious, life-threatening motorcycle accident a little less than two months ago, and, whether I or he or anyone else resists it, the lingering repercussions will be a part of our lives for quite some time to come.

As much as I might wish it to be otherwise, I cannot have peaceable relationships with certain of my family members, despite having spent the maority of my life resisting that knowledge – knowledge that I suspected long before I allowed myself to fully and consciously accept the fact of it.

Until then, I resisted. I capitulated. I apologized for wrongs I did not feel I had committed, accepted the responsibility of atoning for crimes that were of far lesser magnitude than those they  inflicted upon me. I allowed those who disregarded my well-being, who hurt me intentionally as a way to feel better about themselves or to punish me, do so with impunity.

More than once, I returned to the strongholds (in our family, the homes) of those who had physically, emotionally, and verbally abused me.

Once there, I watched my every step, every word, every action, knowing without doubt that I was being constantly watched and assessed. Those who assessed might appear sweet and friendly, or aloof and disinterested, or anywhere in between.

But I knew that, if their moods shifted, there would be another attack.

And still, I resisted, acquiesced, tried to get along despite knowing that, sooner or later, there would be rage, pain, and suffering. I resisted because I needed to be loved just for myself, as myself, even when I screwed up.

Always, I believed that I was somehow to blame for the rage and ugliness of those moments – until the day that two of my siblings spent 18 hours in a torrent of ugly and sometimes slanderous comments on my Facebook wall, because I had posted a general comment that they took objection too.

I had been away from my computer for the first 12 hours or so, and had contributed nothing, and yet the attacks went on and on….

From that point, I began to release my resistance. The thing is, when something is not right in my world, energy will be required to set things right. If I give some of my energy to resisting the facts, I have thrown that energy away, making the problem larger.

Resistance is futile.

I’ve stopped resisting the family dynamic – nor do I tolerate abuse. I simply accept each family member as they are – and avoid any private interactions with those who may become abusive.

Not perfect, maybe – but far more peaceful than resisting truth.  I have been assimilated, and that is healing.

“Watersdeep’s Edge” – A Storyteller’s Writing Challenge

The Storyteller Writing Challenge

Are you a Storyteller? What inspires you?
What stirs you to pick up your pen, open your word doc. and write?

I offer TWO prompts for you to CHOOSE from:

 An Image prompt and an Other prompt. 

1. THE Image PROMPT:

Source within the picture.
For this weeks image prompt, tell us what is evoked by this image.
Where is it? What story tumbles from your imagination?
What is she doing? Who is she?

You decide.

“Watersdeep’s Edge” – copyright 2012 by Shan Jeniah Burton

The stench of the pyres – for her son, her sire, and so many beloved others, caused her to retch each time she was minded of them, seared her each moment she left herself unguarded.

They twisted into the burning of her chosen Solemate, lost now to her, somewhere in the vastness of Everdeep.

To him, now, she was only madness…

She was stirring the huge stewpot, in Osiraan’s greatroom, bursting with a jumbled mass of Tribed and untribed, – so many faces blank, such a stench of burning and pain.

Shinjao took the ladle from her hand, and added stew to the handful of herbs in a wooden bowl. .

“Eat, Huntleader.”

She shook her head, trying to hide the dizziness. “Others have greater need.”

“You are three days past birthing, Huntleader. You ARE Huntleader, and Kai, and needed. If you don’t eat, I will sit on you and force you.”

She offered the bowl, but Jeniah didn’t move.

Shinjao drove her down and away from the cookfire – thick furs beneath her; Shinjao’s weight above. The spoon forced past her lips,and she spluttered, then swallowed.

The stew was laced with arytana nectar, and piqued her hunger. She allowed Shinjao to feed her, taking the spoon greedily, and the other woman chuckled. “You are a fine Huntress. There is more than enough. Of stew, time, support, and sleep….”

The words were like new fog. “Sleep?” She recognized the subtler taste of nightbalm, and knew she had been fooled….”No – the fires….”

“Will be there until you find healing. Sleep, dream – and begin to heal.”

~~She was standing on a rocky promontory, waves reaching almost to her shod toes. The seabirds cried raucously, tossed and wheeling in the stiff wind.


The reeky,  fertile scent of Watersdeep filled her nostrils, scrubbing away the char of death…


She was in garb more useless than any Mother would have demanded she wear, even when she most wanted to impress her Court. One of those new contrivances meant to keep rain off was in her right hand….and, in her left, the cast iron keys to the Kai’s Courtyard- Hallii’s killing grounds.


Grief constricted her soul; tighter than the laces that entrapped breath. She was apart from all of life, bereft. Liacivaar dead; Tacivaar – so many others.


All pointless… the damage Kaitiiraan and Tacivaar had birthed.


What profit had it been? Mother had poisoned her, and lost her throat…. Jeniah could still taste her blood, curdling, and she retched, gasping for what air she could draw into her compressed lungs.


Her breasts throbbed, and her milk let down suddenly, soaking the bodice of the dress, meant for the child who would never suckle. Her womb clenched, its emptiness tearing into her soul.


Tacivaar  had asked, cajoled, manipulated, and finally forced her to conceive his Truestborn.


It had taken longer for the old Huntleader’s machinations to kill him, but they had, as surely as Mother’s.


And my child, too – “Liacivaar,” she cried, to Everdeep, to Watersdeep…..


She yearned for her child, for her Chosen.


The wind whipped the long, spray-damped skirts; hobbled her legs.


All gone – freedom, Huntleader, child, sire, lover – all gone with nothing left but duty she hadn’t chosen, and did not want.


She felt something welling up from her depths, and she did nothing to stop its coming. “Sima garo provides…”


The screaming arched her back, drew her tight against the bones and lacings. She set her legs wide despite the layers of sodden cloth and ill-suited shoes. The seabirds cried answer.


Huntlust broke loose, and her arms swung out. The keys vanished beneath the breaking waves; the umbrella bobbed wildly, attracting the birds.


She clawed and tore away the clothing, until she stood naked on the wet rock, at last only herself, and nothing other.


And then she dove, sobbing, into the sea, letting the salty waters close over her.~~

“You will be fine, now, sisterkin,” Shinjao whispered, as she crawled into the furs to stroke Niah’s quaking back. “You have found your tears, and can cleanse now for healing.”



Write whatever springs to mind from these three words, in 3 minutes:
No cheating or editing! Lets see what happens.

We are parked at the drive-in, a movie neither of us wanted to see, at least not really, blurred through the heat-fogged car windows.

Heedless of nothing but longing, not even the treacherous gear-shift, we do not realize we’ve dislodged the  shifter –  until we hit the police car parked behind us…..and we’re still tangled in our clothes as he approaches, his light a neon sign of our shame –  and then my elbow hits the car alarm button on my keys, as though to seal the legendary nature of our dalliance.

“Life Blooms; I ROW” – Goals Update #4

A busy day today. Up after not really as much sleep as I wanted, to get ready for co-op. Jim got a ride to work, so the kids and I headed to Hannaford and bought the supplies for the flarp we planned to make.

We got to co-op early, and there was a group of church children doing an activity in the room our tweens usually play in. So it was an unusual day, at least for a while.

The project went well…..a bit of chaos, and a bit of panic because the food coloring stained the counters of the church kitchen (thankfully, a good scrub with a little bit of borax on a scrubby sponge fixed that problem.

Making flarp with our Live and Learn Co-op gang!

It was a pretty day, a little unsettled, but the filtered light was good for making the colors of the flowers really pop, and so I got pictures of those.

I had a walk with Jeremiah (a tradition of ours), and another with Annalise and her friend Gabrielle (who was wearing roller skates). The kids had Shield Battles, Simon Says, and a girls vs. boys romp through the church and grounds.

Annalise and friends Gabrielle, Aleia, and Alana create flarp art.

There was ball play, and flirting, and then we came home, and both kids fell almost instantly asleep,. until I needed to wake them to go get Jim, because, at the moment, we are car-sharing, and we were his ride home. ~excerpt from Thursday’s 750words post ~

 Oh, and an invitation to Gabrielle’s seventh birthday party on Saturday…

Flarp fun with Jeremiah, Logan, Nolan, and John!

Where there was a bounce house, marshmallow shooters to make, necklaces and bracelets to bead, delicious foods to sample (Miah loved the veggie sticks, I loved the rice noodle dish, and Lise was crazy over the watermelon).There was a tire swing and a gazebo “shrine”, and the company of good friends, a house filled with interesting things,  and cake and ice cream and presents and love and laughter, and hiding out together, and snuggling, and many varieties of play, and computers and Netflixfor those who wanted them…

Springtime tulips....A welcome splash of color on a cloudy day.

And mostly lovely weather that had only a little, much needed rain…

A busy second half of the week, and, fitting into the spaces around those hours were other parts of living –  home and yardtending; snuggles, hugs, and play; lots of conversation; some stress and conflict and hurt feelings; tending to myself and my family; and shifting to the rhythms of a busier season.

More lovelies!

And there was reading, and writing, and claiming my dreams.

Round 2 Goals:


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • Completed for 4/11.
  • Read at least 5 blogposts a week (not including my own), and like, comment, and/or share as I am moved to.
  • Completed for 4/11.
  • I read K is for Transplant, and was deeply moved to comment.



  • Create flash fiction, short stories, dialogues, character sketches, alternate scenes, and poetry for  Chameleon’s Dish.  Wander cow trails, and learn these people and their lives more fully.
  • I have had an idea of what may be a far better prologue for my story, and one that will foreshadow some of the important conflicts.
  • I am letting this idea simmer for a while, to dream on and play with, until I can’t wait another moment to write it, and then I will begin!
  • Pull material from 750 words posts not part of the Chameleon’s Dish first draft.
  • I have separated the June 9, 2011 post into one snippet and a complete essay, perhaps needing minimal editing.
  • Create essays, stories, and other pieces based upon these writings.
  • I have reread and done a rough edit of the first original essay pulled from this area.  It seems to need a few additional paragraphs, and some polishing.
  • In the meantime, I will decide whether I want to post it on my blog or look for a market to submit it to.
  • Find all chapters of Blood and Breath.  Input into Scrivener; possibly begin rewrite.
  • I have input Chapter One into Scrivener.
  • Next up is creating a story arc for the rest of the novel, and playing with characters and settings.
  • Finish father-in-law letter and send.
  • I am still allowing ideas to surface and be written out via my A to Z posts.
  • There seems to have been a reason I chose some of the topics, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

Gabrielle and Annalise enjoy birthday tire swing fun at Gabrielles's house.


  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I have written the rough drafts of my posts up to letter V, leaving 5 to write.
  • I have edited, embellished, and scheduled up to P is for Playfulness, leaving 10 posts to complete before meeting the challenge.
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I have posted both flow charts, and will begin easing into using them as I finish  the A to Z writing.
  • My goal remains to be using both flow charts by May 1.

Naomi and siblings Carson and Olivia model for me.


  •  Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest;and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • Am beginning to add connections and get braver in posting to LinkedIn, even posting my first link on Thursday.
  • I have pinned a couple of items on Pinterest, to test the Chrome extension I installed last week. Added a new board, Time Images.
  • I joined the Story Dam Facebook Page.  I’ve peeked around a little bit, and will be learning more, and likely interacting more, on future visits.
  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • I have looked at Shah Wharton’s latest Storyteller Writing Challenge.
  • I will let the words and image seep into my awareness for a day or three, then write.  I know I only need to do one, but both tempt me.  I’m a glutton for storytelling, I guess! =)

Jeremiah loves exploring the principles of physics - anytime, anywhere.

  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I realized I haven’t been posting my A to Z posts on the Row80 Facebook page, so will be posting 2-3 there each day until I catch up.
  • So far, I have shared posts up to F is for Food there.
  • I am reading ROW80 update blogs and A to Z  blogs, as I can manage them.  There will be considerably more blog reading once I have finished my fourth book (in progress) of the month, and/or I get all of the A to Z posts written (I am up to V, at the moment).
  • I am mustering my bravery to begin posting links to my writing at the Story Dam Facebook Page and She Writes sites.  Soon, I think!

Marshmallow shooter making!

  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I have posted a note to the ROW80 Facebook Page, seeking guest slots and guest bloggers.
  • If that doesn’t pan out in a day or so, I will write a separate blogpost with my request, and widen it to include The Unfettered Lifewhich would be an ideal place for fellow unschoolers to guest post.
  • I now have three guest posters……next up, working out schedules! =)

  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I am currently  pondering which pieces of flash fiction and poetry  I will submit to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.  They accept previously published work, one piece at a time.
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.
  • I am allowing the thoughts to coalesce for my Anything Goes submission on becoming/being a blogger.
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • I have submitted once to The Storyteller’s Writing Challenge.
  • I am contemplating posting there again this week, and also to Chuck Wendig‘s Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge.

Those bouncing young Burtons....


  •  Organize all photos on hard drive; move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I deleted all redundant photos in my download file, after assuring I had a copy of them in my Picasa Web Albums.


  • Add useful articles to my shanjeniah Marketing Articles page.
  • I added two links to this page, with brief descriptions of both.  The first was on Book Promotion; and the second on creating a Rough Sketch of a WIP, which I believe will be useful later, when I create pages or blogs for my  WIPs.
  • Use this information to help define my direction; adjust as needed.
  • I am letting the ideas from the articles I read seep into my awareness.

Birthday cake!


  •  Get Scrivener  downloaded; begin learning by inputting first an essay, and then Blood and Breath.
  • I have input all the available chapters of Blood and Breath into Scrivener, and will next be creating a story arc for mapping out the action in the missing chapters.
  • Use Twitter and Tweetdeck at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • I am replacing Tweetdeck with HootSuite, which is much more to my liking.
  • Future goals updates will reflect the change.
  • I am running Hootsuite today (Sunday) –  a very, very quiet day thus far…
  • For WordPress, create a running list of questions; work on finding answers!
  • I have created a rough list of questions to start with; next will come the learning the answers part, and, of course, more questions!


  • Begin learning about how to publish ebooks.
  • I have begun reading here.  There is a lot to absorb, so I will be reading in stages.
  • Begin research list/research for  Chameleon’s Dish second draft.
  • I now have the beginnings of a research list. Next step is to look through the links I browsed in the rough draft writing more carefully, and gather them in a central and more accessible location.

  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • Both children have been asking for some of my online space to share what they want.  Since The Unfettered Life is intended to be an unschooling/life blog, I am going to begin by creating a page for each of their  creations, and help them to add to them as they wish.
  • This is likely to necessitate a change in layout, which I had been toying with, in any event…
  • Input Blood and Breath and Chameleon’s Dish to Scrivener.
  • The existing chapters of Blood and Breath have been added.
  • Next, I will begin gathering and rereading the chapters of Chameleon’s Dish.  These are all in my possession, but not yet gathered in one place.
  • Clean up computer downloads, documents, photos, and other clutter – move it or lose it!
  • I cleared a number of redundant photos from my Downloads file.

Lovely bits of Gabrielle's home...


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Thursday: Attended Live and Learn Homeschool Co-op.  Organized and orchestrated group Flarp making activity.  Lots of social  connection with like-minded moms and kids.  Photographed children and spring flowers.  A bit of reading and writing. One-on-one time with both children.
  • Friday: Recovery day from Thursday.  Reading, writing, uploading and editing photos.  Coffee in bed with Jim.  One-on-one  time with both kids.  Home and yard tending.  Worked in my new space.
  • Saturday: Very busy day! Friend Gabrielle’s seventh birthday.  Attended her party; lots more unschooly socialization with moms and children we love, and some dads, too.  Watching Lise and Miah enjoy tire swing and bounce house and time with friends.  On-on-one time with both kids.  Beaded a necklace.  Took a lot of pictures. A bit of work in my space.
  • Sunday: Coffee in bed with Jim.

More tire swing fun!

  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Thursday: Shopping.  Lots of movement at co-op.  Walks with both children, orchestrating activity,  and cleanup (we rent space in a local church, and so must tidy and put things to rights before we leave if we want to remain welcome tenants (which we do; the space is perfect for our needs – we even have access to a large kitchen and yard).
  • Friday: Half an hour each raking and working in my new space.  45 minutes of hometending.
  • Saturday: Birthday gift shopping.  Lots of walking, swing-pushing, and similar activity at party.  Helped with cleanup.  Worked a bit in my new space.
  • Sunday: One hour hometending.  35 minutes yardtending – raking (nearly done!); dog waste removal, and yard cleanup.  35 minutes working in my space – it’s coming along, and I plan to post progress pictures on Wednesday.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • I decorated myself with a necklace and headband on Thursday.
  • I wore the necklace I beaded on Saturday until bedtime.
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Thursday: Social time with like-minded people of varying ages.  Photography – children and flowers in bloom.   Writing. Planning and orchestrating an activity. Time with both kids.
  • Friday: Home and yardtending. Reading and writing. Working in my space.  Editing photos.  Coffee with Jim. Time with both kids.
  • Saturday: More social time.  Celebrating.  Photographing children and decor.  Beading.   A little working in my space. Time with both kids.
  • Sunday: Yard and hometending.  Working in my space.  Reading and writing.  Editing photos.  Goals update.  Coffee with Jim: snuggles with both kids.

Girl eats Dandelion, #1

  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Jim: Coffee and conversation.  Flirting.  Being on time or early when picking him up from work.  Home, yard, and childtending.
  • Annalise: Snuggles.  Sharing in her imaginative play.  Helping her with reading and spelling. Conversation.  Arranging to go to Gabrielle’s party, and giving her the freedom to choose the gift.  New Littlest Pet Shop friends.  Pushing her on the tire swing.  Bringing beading supplies home so she can bead when she wants.
  • Jeremiah: Snuggles.  A soda while out shopping.  Answered his questions about driving.  Conversation.  Hanging with him at the party when he wanted me nearby.  Beading together.  Helped facilitate his cooking.  Honored his sleep patterns, which are currently a bit out of sync with everyone else’s.

Girl decides dandelion is not for her!

I am loving this writing. I am making myself a happy, peaceful place in which to focus my writing energies, and less removed from the life of the rest of the family. I can be nearby, even carry on conversations with the children, but still have a measure of privacy and room to myself.~ Excerpt from Friday’s 750 words~

I am so glad I realized I needed a writing space, and that there was this little tucked-away corner of the house just collecting debris……

had no idea I was going to write a flash fiction piece for this one. I couldn’t find a way to begin an essay on vision; maybe I’m not quite ready for that.

Everything I wrote felt like lecturing.

So I deleted, and it occurred to me that what I was meant to write about was Henry and Nockatee.

And that is what I did.

Every time I write one of these little pieces, I connect more fully with the characters, and in a more visceral sense.

Maybe it’s because so much needs to be accomplished in a very small space. Maybe it’s because I’m not trying to create an entire novel, just to create a vignette.

It occurs to me that doing a slew of these BEFORE starting a novel would give me a much better sense of the characters and their interactions and motivations.

OOOH! I want to do some of these as the basis for each scene in Blood and Breath’s missing chapters…

If each scene is an embellishment of a flash fiction story, there will always be a degree of conflict and resolution, and probably tautness, too!

~excerpt from Sunday’s 750 words~

 And now, for five more fans…please, step forward, and take a bow!

N is for Names

500 Words On….Names.

A baby girl named Shannon Danielle...long, long ago.

Humans are the only animals who  feel a need to name things. All things. All ideas,  all colors, shapes, moods, and weather.

It’s as though we feel, as a species, that if we name something, we own it, or at least can control it.

We all use names on a near-constant basis. They seem to be in every thought.

But do we really take time to think about the names we assign to things, and what ideas and assumptions we get from those names; the associations they make for us?

This little girl still liked her name, and goats, too. =)

My parents named me, nearly 43 years ago. It was an unusual name, at the time: Shannon Danielle.

I enjoyed my name, when I was small. I knew that I had been named for a river in Ireland (one of my father’s favorite places from his Navy days), and for my severely  disabled Uncle Danny, who lived in an institution (and whom I would not meet until I was a teenager).

I thought it was a fine and distinctive name, although my parents seldom called me by it.

So Shannon became my school name. At home, I was Dee – and an endless stream of often-insulting nicknames my mother delighted in giving me… of the nicer ones of these was “Physical Wreck”.

Shannon, in choir, age 16.

It was almost as though I had two selves, and lived two lives.

In both of them, I was bullied and ridiculed.  In both of them, I thought that somehow I must deserve it.

I thought that for many years – well into my 30s.

Even when my eyes opened to the realities of my childhood, it was several more years before I could move beyond the phrase, “There were abusive incidents in my childhood, but I was not abused.”

...And Dee, age 19 or so.

And a few more still, before I realized that I was still holding on to that childhood, still allowing my parents (and an emotionally abusive sibling, as well) to hold a certain power over me.

I was still, in too many ways, a victim. Just as I had been at 19, when I came home after curfew (I had been in the emergency room with a friend after a night of particularly bad judgment on both our parts). My mother dragged me into the house, I think by a handful of my shirt, and then got a double handful of my hair and forced me backward down the hall and into my bedroom doorway, where there was a wall. Once I could go no further, she spent what seemed an eternity yelling in my face and hitting me in the face, head, shoulders, and upper chest.

Time to break free.....and searching for a name of my own.

It never occurred to me, then, that I was an adult, and that this was unprovoked assault. I had been powerless my whole life, and this was not by far the first violent incident in my life, from either of my parents. It never occurred to fight back: I was careful, even , of how I tried to protect myself, because experience had long since taught me that it might be interpreted as aggression against a parent. a felony in our home.

After some time, I realized that, to reclaim my own life and the power in it, I needed to shed the victim mentality. And, to do that, I would also need to shed my name….

Just call me Shan.......Shan Jeniah is MY name.

Some time and thought and feeling later, I renamed myself Shan Jeniah - a snappier form of my given name, and one borrowed from my alter-ego heroine, who will defend herself fiercely, capably, and without delay, when there is a need.

I like it much better this way!

L is for Learning

500 words on… Learning

My daughter, not quite 8, is learning to read.

That perhaps doesn’t seem strange, although some might say that she’s on the older side for this, and is she getting remedial help?

The answer to that is that she is exactly the right age to learn, and has the ability to grasp reading – NOW.

How do I know this?

Because no one has taught or attempted to teach her to read.

She lives in a house filled with books (tonight, the children found a treasure trove – a large, heavy duty plastic bin that was overflowing with more books than could fit on our bookshelves).

She lives in a family of readers, who read  every day, for information and pleasure.

It is an often overlooked fact that children’s eyes can take until age 8 or so to develop the fine motor and focusing control necessary for the constant tiny shifts needed to follow a line of print across a page or a screen.

In schools, children who read at the age Annalise is learning are often labled “special needs” and placed in remedial classes.

They are getting the clear message that their best efforts aren’t enough, that there is something wrong with them.  They are learning to regard reading as complicated and hard, and maybe even to hate it.

Here, at home, none of that has been a part of Annalise’s life. She has been chafing to read for most of her life (she has a slightly younger dear friend who learned in toddlerhood, and she was immediately convinced that if he could, she ought to be able to, as well).

We talked often about different abilities emerging at different times, and that, just as she herself spoke early and fluently, and has a rich and complex vocabulary at her ready disposal, this friend has a rare ability for reading.

But she wanted fiercely to read.

And, over the last two years or so, she has begun, more and more, to read. Road signs. Words in her games, and in books, and on displays. Boxes and TV ads and things written out for her.

A few months ago, there was a leap. As a tooth was dangling in her mouth, through the uncertain terror very loose teeth cause her, she read aloud from the bindings on my bookshelf.

I bought her a game of Scribblenauts for her 3DS, and spelled many many words at her request..

Recently, she came to me and spelled aloud some words she’s learned: shovel, horse, others I forget at this moment.

Still, she wants to pick up any one of her books and read it – and her tastes run to chapters and nonfiction animal books by Usborne and DK EyeWitness.

Yesterday, there was a breakthrough. She came to me and read two pages of Hansel and Gretel. She did not even pause before she read ‘distance’.

Today, when the book bin was discovered tucked beneath a table, she read. She read Mrs. Wishy -Washy (one of Miah’s first books. too). She read Gallop.  A few months ago, she read me The Foot Book.

She is so happy with this new skill.

And me? I am more aware than ever that children do not need to be taught to learn.

They  need some exposure, and time, and help when they ask for it, and many ways to approach their goal, and for those around them to stay a little back and away, and let the learning belong to the child -

On their own schedule, and for their own reasons.

And they will learn.