Reading Material

If you are looking for some light reading, check out In Print! on my blog. I have several articles published in local magazines. Some of my favorites are:

Cultivating Gratitude is a Work in Progress – Radish Magazine Sept/Oct 2018 – Pg 22. This article was one of my all-time favorites to write. I worked with the most beautiful human being. Kristi Nelson, Executive Director, Gratefulness.org. This article features a book about gratitude. The book is filled with thought provoking and inspiring quotes, and the illustrator did an exquisite job hand lettering every page.

Exploring Minnesota – Radish Magazine July/Aug 2016 – Pg 27. I loved writing this piece because of my love of Minnesota. I’ve lived in Minnesota for nearly 10 years, and I have loved exploring different corners of the state.

Before my battle with cancer, and now my current back issues, I haven’t been able to get out for long hikes or bike rides. This article is a great reminder of the beauty all around me, and I know, one day soon, I will be out exploring again.

Cats in the Hood – Wagazine Winter 2016 – Pg 22. My husband and I are cat parents. We love, love, love every aspect of our little cuties! I miss them when we travel, daydream about what they’re doing throughout the day, and I can’t wait to get nose kisses when I arrive home every evening! This article is about rescuing feral cats and the great lengths that people go to in order to protect them.

Women & Wine: From Grapes in France to Your Glass in Rochester – Mar/Apr 2017 – Pg 34. I learned so much about one of my favorite wines. I love sparkling wine! While I don’t buy champagne because of the cost, I seek out the lesser expensive Prosecco or Cava, it tastes just as good.

I hope you enjoy reading these selections as much as I enjoyed researching and writing them. Let me know what you think.

~Nicole

Girl on the Go: Gone Girl

I am putting a different spin on Girl on the Go today. I want to go right on over to my couch and read Gone Girl. Why? Because this girl needs to relax and lose herself in a creepy story. I don’t forsee this happening today, tomorrow or Sunday, but maybe next weekend. Even if it’s only for an hour or two. I want to read and relax.

For now, I have three articles to write and in-laws to hang out with this weekend.

gone-girl-book-cover

Today’s Haiku:

she opens a book
and huddles on the sofa—
she tastes each word

~

Anyone else need to relax, but find the to-do list too long?

Are you looking for Bucket list items? Check out some of mine here. Or, feel free to suggest a fun activity for my list! I love adventure!

Have a great weekend!

~Nicole

Magazine Writing: The Nutgraph

Tuesday’s Writing Tips 

Portable MFA in Creative Writing: Magazine Writing

The Nut graph: 

After the lead is crafted, the nut graph follows (I never knew it had a name). It tells the reader exactly what they’e going to read next. This is the one place where you can invert the old adage, Show don’t tell. This is the time to tell.

For instance, if you are writing an article and the lead is about a particular patient with breast cancer, the nut graph might give a brief history of breast cancer treatments, bringing the reader up-to-date on what you’re going to be talking about in the rest of the article: the latest treatment.

Next week: Style Tips

I highly recommend The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. It’s on Amazon for under $13 right now. This book discusses Fiction, Memoir/Personal Essay, Poetry and Magazine Articles. The information I have been providing for the past several months has been from this book.

Today, I leave you with this brilliant quote…

dr-seuss-quotes-standout-haiku

Today’s Haiku

the magic inside
creates an original—
drummer dances

~

Have fun being YOU!

~Nicole

Burrr, Winter is Here!

I noted yesterday that although the winter solstice hadn’t begun, in my eyes, winter had officially arrived because it was spitting ice, it was pitch black by 5:30 p.m., and I had to run on a treadmill. And today, it was confirmed. Snow. And not a dusting of it either. There was three or four inches, and the roads were icy too.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write my first winter weather haiku.

Winter is here!

Winter Weather Haiku

The door is ajar—
Piercing air hovers over
heavy, damp snow.

Tuesday’s Writing Tips:

The Devil in the Details

We’ve reached week three in the poetry section of The Portable MFA. Focus on sensory details, images that capture and evoke your experience. All things that you feel, dream or think about. Search for the perfect details.

Continue writing for 45 minutes each day (I am getting better), there are a couple of writing prompts you may want to consider exploring.

There are seven listed in the book, but I’ll give a few for inspiration:

  1. Describe a place you’ve never considered including in a poem.
  2. Write about hunger.
  3. Write about an article of clothing: the feel, smell, color of it.

Continue researching your favorite poet, try to discern feelings, emotions, dreams or thoughts the poet was thinking.

Week 1 poetry tips

Week 2 poetry tips

Who spends time reading and studying poetry each day?

~Nicole

November is in Full Force

What’s up November?

A few days behind…

My first piece for the Rochester Women wine column is coming out in November. The article features Dessert Wines. The latest edition hasn’t been posted on the website. When it’s available I will share it right here at The Whispering Pen.

My first article for Radish Magazine, a healthy living magazine, is available today. The article is about the healing power of Reiki.

I donated a painting to a foundation called Hello Gorgeous. It is a non-profit organization that provides complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to all women battling all cancers.

A woman from St. Charles is getting a make-over and the ladies hosting it wanted to have a painting for her friends and family to sign.

Hello Gorgeous painting I donated to the non-profit organization.

Denise and I are hosting another Wine & Canvas Event on November 15th. This is our fourth event! We are painting a Rustic Tree. Here’s a sneak peek!

Wine & Canvas Rustic Tree

Rustic Tree Haiku

Off in the distance
a tree is drenched in rich hues.
Winter skies are near.

I’ll be traveling to a few local wineries for the next edition of Rochester Women Magazine. We are featuring Sparkling Moscato and Sparkling Cider.

And finally, what am I reading? A true crime book by Anne Rule, The Stranger Beside Me: The shocking inside story of serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

I literally went to Barnes and Noble and asked an associate for a book that would scare the bejeezus out of me. I told her that I wanted to be scared to go to sleep at night! I love all things creepy.

Oh, there will be several haiku poems to round out the month! Here’s to a great start to the week!

What’s everyone reading?

~Nicole

The Rustling Leaves

The shorter days are forcing me to run at dusk or in the dark. Last night, I chose a section of town that is new and only has a couple of homes in the subdivision. I knew this route would have less traffic, but it’s heavily wooded and lacks sufficient lighting.

What I didn’t count on was crossing paths with another person enjoying the evening. I was a lone runner climbing the hill leading into the woods when I met another person walking towards me. It’s a strange feeling when all that is recognizable is their long shadow and illuminated silhouette.

At that point, my imagination began to take over.

Eerie Haiku

The rustling leaves—
stranger lurks in the shadows.
Gone, without a trace.

~

Tuesday’s Writing Tip from the book The Portable MFA in Creative Writing:

This week is about “stirring the pot.” Spend about 45 minutes each day (break it up into 15 minute increments if needed) writing in your notebook.

“Record snippets of dreams or thoughts you have throughout the day…pay attention to sounds you hear, foods you taste, sensory physical details of your daily life that stick in your mind. Just ‘fool’ around with some words.”

Mantra for the week: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

I allowed myself some time to do this today, although I find it difficult to break away from the morning pages. Those take about 30 minutes, and I don’t have an additional 45 minutes on top of that to let my mind wander some more.

So today it was a combined effort. For the next few weeks I am going to try to adhere to the MFA guidelines rather than the Morning Pages. Sorry Julia Cameron, you’ll have to wait.

I love this book and plan to share more information as I read along. I think it would be an amazing experience to go back to school for an MFA in Creative Writing.

Do you have any EERIE stories to tell, or poems to share? I would love to read them.

~Nicole

The Peregrine Falcon

I am reading the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Though I am not finished, I am loving this book for many reasons.

First, it’s peculiar. A teenage boy’s grandfather fills his head with tales from the past and pictures to spook anyone. As the boy becomes older, he is skeptical of these tall tales. On the grandfather’s death-bed, he asks the boy to find out if the tales are true.

After his grandfather’s death, the boy does just that. He travels to a remote island off the coast of Wales. He discovers an abandoned orphanage that houses very surreal looking photographs that are all to familiar.

The book is strange and thought-provoking. I don’t believe the author intended this, but I feel like it’s also a story about a seemingly ordinary boy wanting to be extraordinary, while many of the extraordinary characters in the book wish they could be ordinary.

I also love this book because it has many peculiar photographs included to help paint a picture of what or who resided in that orphanage. I am a visual person and love pairing a good photo with a bit of prose or poetry.

In the book, Miss Peregrine is known as the headmistress of the orphanage. A haiku follows…

The Peregrine Falcon - Worlds Fastest Bird.  I was lucky enough to rescue one many years ago....

 The Peregrine Haiku

Bird of prey soaring—
She’s high above the island.
Protecting her young.

 Is anyone else reading a good fantasy novel?

~Nicole

Comfort Food to the Rescue

A disaster at work, a melt down after ruining one painting for Wine and Painting, four writing assignments, two events for The Press and the Blacklight Bubble Party over the weekend has left me a little under the weather. Nothing major yet, hoping my healthy body plows through the head congestion and cold chills.

Since I wasn’t feeling well last night, I opted for comfort food instead of a four mile run. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I am sure my feeble muscles enjoyed laying on the couch with the book 24 Hours by Greg Isles.

The comfort food made me a little nostalgic last night. I cracked open a can of Vegetarian Vegetable, by Campbell’s, and toasted a grilled cheese sandwich with wheat bread, butter and Muenster cheese.

I felt like a grade school student eating in the cafeteria. Except the cafeteria grilled cheese was always made with stale white bread…and the cheese…well that’s questionable. The kitchen staff always served grilled cheese with tomato soup. But, by the time I sat down to eat, the tomato soup was always cold. The kitchen staff insisted on filling the bowls and putting them on the long dining tables as kids lined up to pay for lunch.

And because the Haiku Challenge has me thinking in short bursts, I thought a haiku from last night’s dinner would be appropriate.

Comfort Food

Haiku Challenge

Seeking remedies.
Warm and toasty bread and cheese.
Hints of nostalgia.

What is your favorite comfort food dish?

~Nicole

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Friday was a productive day. And though I haven’t had time to post any haiku poems in the last couple of days, I am ready to make up for lost time.

I left work at 1:30 on Friday and went to Cabin Coffee. I had a bowl of soup for lunch and wrote an article from the event I covered Thursday evening at the local elementary school. The event was Bingo for books. There were about 40 elementary school students with their families playing Bingo. The winners of Bingo were able to select a book of their choice. It was refreshing to see little bookworms so excited about reading.

I finished the article and cut lines for the photos and sent them to my editor. After a working lunch (which is how I spend most lunches) I went home and started a painting. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up in October. Actually, I have two in October, one the first weekend in November and another one on December 12th. I finished the background of one of the paintings and decided a hike would be the perfect way to round out the day.

Since Whitewater State Park is close in proximity (and it’s gorgeous this time of year), I decided to hike the Dakota Trail. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. I wore a long sleeve shirt, but soon realized it was unnecessary.

The Beauty in Whitewater State ParkTHe Dakota Trail

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Although, the treetops were fiery shades of orange, red and yellow, there were already many leaves that were asleep on the trail. The curled leaves crackled and crunched beneath my feet and every so often there was one sad green leaf that didn’t have the opportunity to turn a warm golden or fiery red color.

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Overlook on the Dakota Trail

I wound my way up the rocky cliffs and followed many stairways, some as steep as ladders. The chipmunks put me to shame. Those critters scurried up the steep staircase like their tail was on fire. When I arrived at the top, I couldn’t resist taking more photos of fall foliage.

I took the shortest loop because it was after 5 p.m. I didn’t know how long the hike would take, plus I wanted to go to the Marnach house. The hike to the Marnach House was about 45 minutes round trip.

The Marnach House was my final destination. This building has been restored as a monument and tribute to all Luxembourg pioneer immigrants by the Luxembourg Heritage Society of America.

It was first built in 1857 by John and Nicholas Marnach. They were immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It’s masonry and architecture are typical of small Luxembourg farms of the nineteenth century.

Dakota trail at Whitewater State Park

And now, for the Haiku Challenge

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park Day 25: Haiku Challenge

Writhing snake-like roots
intertwined with earth and rock—
creeping and crawling.

Fall trees starting to turn colors

Day 26: Haiku Challenge

Minnesota hills
and the warm treetops embrace.
Good night setting sun.

The Dakota trail overlooking whitewater creek.

Day 27: Haiku Challenge

Like a bird soaring
high above the river, I
look, listen and breathe.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

How did you spend your Saturday?

~Nicole

 

 

A Hauntingly Good Book

I just finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This was the first time I had read one of her books. Would I read another one? Yes! If you like books that will haunt you and thrill you, you’ll love this book.

The protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a wounded soul with an upbringing that could only breed the addictions that Camille possesses. Her character made me disgusted and frightened at times, but I was always rooting for Camille to overcome her demons.

sharp-objects-book-cover

Here are a few tidbits from Sharp Objects:

“I was ten and writing every other word my teacher said on my jeans in blue ballpoint. I washed them, guiltily, secretly, in my bathroom sink with baby shampoo. The words smudged and blurred, left indigo hieroglyphics up and down the pant legs, as if a tiny ink-stained bird had hopped across them.” Pg. 61

“This was the place my sister died…A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day.” Pg. 74

“I was hoping Betsy Nash would disappear. Literally, she was so insubstantial, I could imagine her slowly evaporating, leaving only a sticky spot on the edge of the sofa.” Pg. 89

“When we got home, she’d trail off to her room like an unfinished sentence, and I would sit outside with my face pressed against her door and replay the day in my head, searching for clues to what I’d done to displease her.” Pg. 97

“A dried-out tree rustled its branches against my window screen as if it wanted to climb in next to me for comfort.” Pg. 116

There were a few more, but I don’t want to spoil it…

Now, for the haiku challenge…These little guys posed for the camera back in July when my husband and I went to South Dakota.

Prarie Dogs in Custer State Park on the Wildlife Loop (640x480)

Day 15: Haiku Challenge

Prairie Dogs basking
in the blazing July sun.
Perfect summer day.

~Nicole

Has anyone read Gone Girl? It’s another Gillian Flynn book…