Stuff Happens

OK – I managed to maintain my commitment to write someting on this site once a month. I was determined to keep writing, so my company – – wouldn’t totally derail me from my fiction-writing goals.  How well did that work?  My last post was in March and I am writing this on August 25th.

Stuff Happens!  

I didn’t want this blog to be a journal or a place to vent my opinions.  I wanted to write short fiction – maybe some poetry or a piece of informative non-fiction – to keep my mind ‘writing’.

I’ll start again.







Rainy Monday

“Choose!” The bearded man said, pulling out his chair and sitting down at the computer. “Decide now.”

“You think this is easy? You’re asking me to make a big decision. It’s not like your question was ‘do you want vanilla or chocolate ice cream?’

“I can’t work until you decide.” The man said. He turned on the computer and opened a new document. He typed a short paragraph and leaned back in his chair. “Here’s the picture. It’s a rainy Monday. You decide.”

Mary Catherie Starr.jpg

“Why rainy?  Why not a sunny day?” Asked the young man who was often described as tall, thin and energetic.

“Stop stalling,” the man said. He took another sip of coffee and stared at the cursor blinking at him from the computer screen.

“How about I flip a coin?”

“Not in character,” the bearded man shook his head.

“OK – I’m going to leave for a few days,” the young man told him. “I’ll give you an answer when I get back.”

“You don’t have a car!” The man told him. “And how far do you think you can walk with a broken leg?”

“I don’t have a broken leg.”

“Not yet.”

“Now you’re taking charge, so why don’t you decide? Make the choice for me.”

“That’s not how it works!” The bearded man slammed his fist on the desk. “You decide or I’m done with you.”

The young man snorted. “Yeh, sure! After two years, a hundred thousand words and three murders? I don’t think so.”

“I’ve been thinking a woman could have committed those murders,” thebearded man said. “In fact, a woman serial killer is a great idea.”

“I choose YES,” said a tall, thin energetic woman. “And I’ll have chocolate ice cream, please.”


                                         When Characters Talk, Writers Listen    Huffington Post 03/19/2014
Karen Dionne, Author, THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER              I woke up in the  middle of the night, and this character was in my head talking to me, telling me her history and who she was.  I wasn’t dreaming about this character. She was just there, as real as if she were sitting in a chair beside me.          
Rainy Day photo by Mary Catherine Starr (



She saw dry branches moving in the wind and heard them rattle. She inhaled the sweet scent of damp earth and tasted salty tears running down her cheeks.

Brown Bare Tree

“Alexa,” he said. “Tell me about the weather.”

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The Silk Worm

Written by Joyce Martin / eleven-years-old / 1954

6th Grade – Mrs. Farrington’s Class  –  Jackson Avenue School – Room 202

I have been fascinated with Japan since elementary school. My curiosity began with a class assignment to write a report about another country. Since I lived on Long Island, I chose to write about the island country Japan. Over the years I have collected vintage blue & white Japanese fabric and learned to stitch sashiko (a kind of running stitch embroidery phttp://www.sashikosouthwest.comracticed by farmers’ and fisherman’s wives in the 1600’s).

I now teach sashiko and design patterns for my company, Sashiko Southwest.  



The Silk Worm

I was born on a leaf. A Mulberry leaf to be exact. I was a little egg, and I was born on the same leaf as 200 other eggs.

Our leaf was then stored with many other leaves in a cool, dark place until spring when we hatched. We were about one-fourth of an inch long and we were dark in color. We right away climbed to a tray covered with mulberry leaves and we started to eat. As we are eating we hear two farmers discussing something.
sixth-grade-mt-fuji“Every egg hatched. I was lucky I caught that batch in time, they were just ready of the incubator,” said one man two the other.
“Incubator? What’s he talking about?” I asked. An older worm stopped eating long enough to explain , “You and your sisters and brothers were placed in an incubator with a high temperature. You didn’t notice the change because you were worried about getting out.”

“Oh,” I said and went back to eating. For 4 or 5 weeks we just ate and slept always growing rapidly.  We were growing so rapidly that we had to change our skin 4 times before we were full grown.

I would like to tell you about our home. We lived in a tray and were fed fresh mulberry leaves. In six weeks we were ready to spin our cocoons.

First we spun a long thread which hardens. We fastened this thread to ourselves then we covered ourselves completely. This takes 3 or 4 days.

Some of us were chosen and put on trays. I was one of these few. In a few days I was cutting the threads of my cocoon. During this period of time I had turned into a moth.

“I know,” he answered turning towards me. “I heard the children talking about it.”

“Alright,” he consented, “First they put the cocoons into an oven until the worm is killed. Then they unwind the threads of the cocoon. After that the threads are wound on reels. The thread is too thin so be machines twist the threads till they are thick.

sixth-grade-shoes“Then these threads are washed in soapy water.”

“Look here comes Shu-Ming the farmer’s daughter.” I said as the pretty child approached

“See that dress she has on?” he asked me.

“Sure it’s so shiny looking,” I said again turning towards Shu-Ming.

“That dress was made of our cocoons,” he said looking at me intently. “Each thread of that dress took five cocoons to make.”

I agreed as I started to lay my eggs. I am dying now but I hope you have learned something about silk.




FALLS                                COLD



FALLS                                WINDS



FALLS                                EARLY



FALLS                                WINTER




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Hello, Joyce. Thank you for agreeing to an interview about your writer’s blog: I understand you also have an e-commerce website. What can you tell us about that?

JMP: My business website is  I sell sashiko stitching supplies with traditional Japanese patterns and my own designs, inspired by the landscape and cultures in the southwest.

So your web business is a full-time job and you also write?

JMP: No, I would describe myself as a person with two jobs.


What role does the blog play in your writing?
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JMP: The blog started out as an experiment. At first I wrote about my garden and places I visited. But at this point, the blog is a scrapbook of writing exercises I don’t picture trying to publish.  There is a series of six short stories about the animals on my sashiko designs inspired by Mimbres pottery. One story was written in an airport when I had a long wait because my flight was cancelled.





What are you working on now?

Image result for milton avery

JMP: Last week I completed the second draft of “Red Moon”- a middle grade novel with a female protagonist.I am also working on a first draft of a story with a male protagonist. Those are my two ‘active’ manuscripts.  There are other drafts I have set aside for now.

Who writes middle grade novels you especially enjoy reading?

JMP: Off the top-of-my-head: Andrew Clements and Louis Sachar; Lois Lowry (of course) . And two new authors – Grace Lin and Anne Ylvisaker.





What adult novel have you read recently?

Image result for milton averyJMP: David Lagercrantz’s  book “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”- his book follows the characters in Stieg Larssons’ “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. The original books were wildly popular and I wondered how Lagercrantz would handle the challenge of writing a sequel with another author’s characters and voice. The result is an uneven simulacrum and I didn’t come away with any sense of how he might write subsequent stories that are more his own.


Do you have anything you would like to share about your process?

JMP:  Over the past five years I have experimented with plotting and seat-of-your-pants writing. Both approaches have become part of my process. I begin with a character that takes off on their own. These pieces tend to be short and usually there is nothing more to add. Occasionally I follow an interesting character with complex issues. At this point I do some rough plotting to explore plot possibilities. What I am going to do with my next book is write the last chapter first. I heard John Irving speak on a book tour and he mentioned how he wrote the last chapter and then figured out how his characters got there.

Thank you, Joyce. Time for a cup of coffee and I hope we can do this again.

NOTE:  Paintings on this blog were all done by MILTON AVERY – one of my favorite artists.