Does This Poem Need to Sit at the Kids’ Table?

I don’t think I’ve ever told you that one of my favorite poems (I do have a few ahem) is by Delmore Schwartz.

i am cherry alive

‘I am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,
“Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be somone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too,
And I put it in along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing : It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit,
The pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong
When I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups, because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up
And forgot what they knew
And they are sure
I will forget it some day too.
They are wrong. They are wrong.
When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold,
I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me,
I will always be new!”

I love the magic of this poem. It was posthumously published in 1979 as a picture book, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

The poem has been included in poetry anthologies for children. Apparently another picture book was published in 1995 with a different illustrator, but it is out of print.

Why is it considered a poem for children only? It’s certainly a wonderful poem for children, but also for adults. After all, we know that the little girl is wrong and she will forget–most of the time.

But we adults also know that we easily can be reminded to allow the child into our adult selves!

That’s why I love dolls and cats and theatre and digging in the sand with a plastic pail and shovel.

Playing reminds us that we can be tree, cat, blossom, and a witch in a zoo! Sound a lot like writing?

How do you feel about dividing poems into those for children and those for adults?



Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Children's Literature, Dolls, Poetry

Here at Last: The Best Guide to Structuring Your Novel or Memoir

Last summer I explained that structure was a problem for me in writing a full-length book. I wrote a couple of posts here and here about a book I found very helpful: Stuart Horwitz’s Blueprint Your Bestseller.  By following Horwitz’ directions for isolating “series” and creating a bull’s-eye target, I was able to get past the biggest hurdle I’ve had in writing the book.  Horwitz’ method is known as the “Book Architecture” method. He critiques, edits, and coaches writers on their manuscripts and can be found here.

After Blueprint’s help with my book, I discovered a smaller and farther-down-the-road structural problem that Blueprint didn’t address. I contacted Horwitz and asked him about it. He said something like “funny thing you should mention that as it’s going to be in my next book.” That’s when he asked me to be a Beta Reader for his new book!!

And here is the masterpiece:


I almost feel like one of the midwives for this book. Gee, I wonder how Stuart Horwitz feels about me using the childbirth metaphor for Book Architecture!

If you’re writing a novel or a memoir or any full-length book–or planning to write one–you will want to click the link above and order the book.

You haven’t started your book yet? Unlike his previous book, you don’t have to have written any pages. Dig in and learn how it’s done. He doesn’t provide you with a formula, but a clearcut and easy-to-follow guideline to create the bones of your unique book.

He uses a handful of books and films–one per chapter–to show how others have done it–and you can, too. You don’t have to be familiar with the stories ahead of time. Horwitz tells you what you need to know. If you are familiar, it’s even more fun. I knew some and not others.

The first chapter begins simply, with a children’s book, Corduroy. 

The other chapters cover the book The Great Gatsby, the film Slumdog Millionaire (I saw the movie, but it wasn’t until I read this chapter that I understood what it was all about!), the film The Social Network, the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the book Catch-22, and The Metamorphosis, a novella  by Kafka. The last is the most complex, but by the time you get to the last chapter of the book you will easily understand Horwitz’ points.

His first book explained the concept of series and how to use them as building blocks for a book very well. But in Book Architecture we learn how to use series arcs and series grids to pull together  a rich plot and subplots.

I have a different reason to love each chapter, but one of my favorites is the Joseph Heller/Catch-22 because Horwitz shares the series grid that Heller created for his novel. What a fascinating document–and so helpful to understand how it’s all done.  It’s as if Horwitz pulls aside the curtain and lets us see the wizard at work.

Best yet? After reading Book Architecture, I was able to solve the remaining little problems with structure. I am happy with my structure now, plus I understand how it works so if I decide I want to change things around it won’t be a big deal because I have knowledge of my building blocks and how they can work together via series, series arcs, and series grids.

Thanks so much, Stuart Horwitz! Your new book rocks!



Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Novel, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

Doll God Makes an Appearance on AZTV

I’m still trying to crank out a revision for Stanford, but I thought I’d give you a snicker of enjoyment today. I want to remind you that the night before my TV interview I did not sleep AT ALL. Therefore, I don’t feel I should be responsible for the baggy, wrinkled state of affairs in this video. I’ll be back Monday!


castle promotional cover



Filed under Arizona, Book promotion, Doll God, Dolls, Interview, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Vintage American culture

#AmWriting #Editing #WroteToday

Remember the memoir I’m writing? I can’t blame you for forgetting. I pretty much forgot it myself ;). I have to turn in my revised draft on Friday. Stanford University has given me extensions for this last portion of the Writing Certificate program, mainly because of selling our business over the past year plus, and this is the last one. I haven’t gotten enough done, what with an overload of work (yeah, still lots of work-work) and my dad’s illness.  So this week I am writing like mad. Hence not much of a post today.

Here is what the desert looks like right now as I write: covered in yellow blossoms.

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Filed under Blogging, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Author of the Week, Luanne Castle! ~ #AuthorTag @writersitetweet


Thanks to Cate Artios for her sharing community of and for writers.

Originally posted on Octopus : The Blog of Cate Russell-Cole:


Our scribe for this week is… Luanne Castle! Find her at and you can tweet sweet to catch her attention via @writersitetweet

2015-01-13_11-15-17_01Luanne Castle has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside.  She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. She taught English for fifteen years at California State University, San Bernardino.

Her first collection of poetry, Doll God, is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. Additionally, Luanne’s poetry and prose are forthcoming or have appeared in Grist, Barnstorm Journal, The Antigonish Review, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, Wisconsin Review, The Review Review, Ducts, A Narrow Fellow, Redheaded Stepchild, The MacGuffin, and other journals. She contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. She divides her time…

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Filed under Blogging, Book promotion, Publishing, Writing

Remembering National Poetry Month

HAPPY POETRY MONTH. I can’t let the opening of this month go by without mentioning this happy month (although T.S. Eliot did call it the cruellest month).

The Academy of American Poets partnered with award-winning designer Chip Kidd to commission this poster to celebrate National Poetry Month.  This year’s poster was designed by National Book Award finalist Roz Chast and inspired by Mark Strand. Even Pear Blossom likes it (or is it the crinkle sound?).

With so much on my mind lately, I haven’t organized a list of what I wanted to do for poetry month this year, so for now I think I will read at least one new poem every day. If you like that idea, here is an easy way to do it. Sign up for Poem-A-Day through here.

Here is a new one for me by “America’s favorite poet”:

Billy Collins history of weather

I love that this poem begins with spring since spring is breaking open the ground now. I love how the poem goes back farther and farther in time and ends with a realization that the speaker who is trying to get his mind around all this is lying outside with “his jacket bunched into a pillow, an open book on his chest.”

What do you plan to do for National Poetry Month?



Filed under Art, Poetry, Writing

The Truth Behind My Hiatus

When I went on hiatus over a week ago, I didn’t mention why and maybe because it was spring break season you assumed I went on vacation. But hubby and I went to visit my parents because my father is very ill. Many of you will remember that my father, who was a very active and strong 86-year-old when we visited him in October, had an aortic dissection mid-December. He had a tear in his ascending aorta and was given emergency open-heart surgery that lasted all night long. He had a 50-50 chance to survive the surgery.

At that point, my father had already had three different types of cancer (not to mention squamous cell skin cancer). He beat them all. He had had 4 knee replacements and 2 hip replacements. He developed a MRSA infection from a replacement surgery. Only one kidney functioned at 25%–the other at zero. But he was fine! Still hauling heavy things, working long hours, and traveling.

He’s had a miserable recovery period from the surgery (in and out of the hospital, nursing homes, etc.). He toughed it out and doctors, family, and friends all encouraged him, telling him he was getting better.

But he wasn’t. His body had–unknown to doctors–developed multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer, and cancer cells were multiplying, making him weaker every day.

Hubby and I traveled to see my parents in time to go with them to the full diagnosis and treatment explanation, to help them with treatment analysis and decisions, and to admit him to hospice care–all in one week. He is now under hospice care at the nursing home and hopes to be admitted before too long to a hospice facility.

This has been such a hard time. My father is a larger than life person who fills all the empty space around him with his presence. None of us can imagine the emptiness ahead.

I haven’t forgotten your blogs, peeps. I will be back to reading them quite soon. The oddest thing happened, though. At the same time I left for Michigan, I stopped getting email notifications of your blog posts! It was as if WordPress didn’t want to send what would overwhelm me!

But how do I get them back again?

By the way, this is my 300th post, according to WP.



Filed under Nonfiction