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The Beauty of the Hermaphroditic Snail

by Betty Scott

Surrounded by political rancor, I found myself wishing Superman would swoop in and solve global chaos. Instead I read up on Gastropods and Mollusks. One night I dreamt about … oh Hail to the Chief … Super Snail!  

Snails weigh mere grams. An average adult male moves one millimeter per second. They cannot hear. Their sense of smell is their most important organ. Touch is vital too, especially in mating. Male and female snails produce sperm and eggs. After mating … drum roll please …both give birth, excellent for survival, which began for them in the Cambrian age, 540 to 585 million years ago. (Snail-world.com)

Yet despite their accomplishments and intriguing calcium carbonate shells, snails have been mocked. They’ve been turned into a symbol of laziness. In Christian culture, of sloth. We must travel back to the Greek poet Hesiod to find snails given significance. As time keepers and metaphysical mentors. When they climb stocks, it is time to harvest. (Wikipedia)

With all our human concerns in a life-feeds-on-life world, I still find solace knowing that scientists are researching Mollusks. They’ve discovered the remarkable adaptability of Gastropods. If we listen, scientists will mentor us, too, about bio-diversity and symbiotic relationships: nature’s beautiful formulas. About snails, they tell us, despite their sexual prowess, snails are endangered. Like people, moving toward peace at a snail’s pace beneath the drum-rolling urgency of global chaos and climate change.

Snails speak softly. They don’t carry big sticks. Yet imagine Super Snail with a billboard-sized sign. It reads: Be wise. Live symbiotically by design.

On my snail days, when I wake slow and sluggish, I’m consoled by millions of common citizens world-wide who rise to their feet to march and plead for clean air, land and seas. Time is humanity’s hollow-ringed habitat, the shell on our backs. Left uncorrupted, science and nature … with symbiotic dignity, bring Earth’s needs for peace to light.

Here is the poem, written several years ago, that began my exploration into forgiveness.

Stirrings and Stews

Once betrayed
we stew. We live
a slow simmer.

So this prayer
is for
you and me.

May we remember
stirrings are good
for stews
and people.

One morning
may we wake

no longer angry
at anyone
not even ourselves.

Then on our snail days
slow and sluggish
may we know

snails are garden
pests to some
and to others, escargot.

Poetry often challenges popular uses of words. It’s one way to bring us toward accepting
greater abilities beyond personal gains and losses, likes and dislikes. I’ll conclude these thoughts
with a more recent poem which first appeared on the Cave Moon Press blog. Musician  JP
Falcon Grady often joins me to sing the italicized words.

An Earth Year Blessing

No man a salt shaker
No woman a sugar bowl

To pour, use up
Put out to pantry.

No more darting of eyes
Or senator sneers

When Mama’s Boys pilgrim
To Great Mama’s pastures.

To dance … step by step
With maternal wisdoms,

Tango and waltz
Arms and heads in precision.

Each foot-path a grace
Restoring Earth’s faith,

Mama’s troupes swaying
Singing and praying:

Single Mama, Widowed Mama
Holy sustainer of lives
May we be a blessing to you,
 
May your people tend, Dear Mama,
Your people tend to you. 

 Author’s Bio:   Betty Scott’s writing adventures as a poet and essayist began when she was employed at The Wenatchee World. She taught college students for twenty years before retiring into her daily writing life. She enjoys editing her daughter’s novels as well as poetry and essays written by colleagues. She is currently writing a third collection of poems and a book of essays. Her collection Central Heating: Poems that Celebrate Love, Loss and Planet Earth, will be published by Cave Moon Press in 2018.

Attention All RWB NaNoWriMo Writers!

Dear Fellow Writer,

Congratulations on your contribution to this year’s NaNoWriMo Red Wheelbarrow round robin novel Special Collections! Now it’s time to celebrate with a reading at Village Books next Friday, December 9, at 7 pm!  

Please respond AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but no later than Tuesday, December 6, and let us know whether or not you would like to participate in this reading. We expect many readers, so the time for reading will be around 3 minutes for each chapter, enough to give the flavor of each writer’s craft.

Just respond to rwbarrow@live.com and let us know your plans. We’ll then send you the instructions for the evening.

We’ve enjoyed playing with you this year and hope to hear from you soon!!

Laura, Susan, Linda, and Victoria

Full Strength Ahead

Ugh . . . marketing! I knew this day would come and I’m not prepared. Well, maybe a little prepared. After all, I have an MA in Communication and took at least one undergraduate course in Public Relations with my all-time favorite professor, Bob Vivian. He was “Professor of the Year” at California State University, Chico and an ex-public relations sports writer extraordinaire. Okay, it was only one PR class and a long time ago and even the best professor for one semester can’t impart the universe.

I did take one class in self-publishing at Whatcom Community College a couple years back. And . . . I did buy “The Complete Guide to SELF-Publishing” by Marilyn Ross & Sue Collier—Fifth Edition, no less! It says on the cover: “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to write, publish, promote, and sell your book.” Never mind that I haven’t opened it more than to take a brief overview stroll through the pages. I guess I’d better get off my high hobby horse and start reading. And, I’d better read fast because my book is due out this fall.

Oh, the best I did was a 45-minute phone call with Cami Ostman. From that call I got a crash course in marketing. Thanks Cami, from the bottom of my heart. I at least have a great “to do” list with the essentials and I’m working down my list to get all of my proverbial ducks in a row.

When I set out to write my book I didn’t carefully consider the marketing phase. I probably thought that my book would be so wonderful that one of the big publishing houses would be interested and my only effort would be to get picked up at an airport somewhere for the start of my fabulous book tour. FOFLOL!

Actually, I’m more prepared to write my next two books than to market my soon-to-be-published-by-Village-Books book. It’s likely safe to say that I will never be the Thomas Kincaid of the book marketing world.

My book is a biography of Holocaust survivor Ferdinand J. Fragner. The title, Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength came to me during an interview with Rena Ziegler one of Fred’s good friends. She was talking at the end of the interview about how I had done a great mitzvah—a worthy task—in writing the book. Then, she gave me a blessing and said “Yishar Koach”—literally, “may your strength be firm.”

Well, this was about two plus years into the project and I certainly needed that blessing. As of 2016, I’m in my fifth year of working on the book. But at least now it’s written, edited, with my designer, and out there being reviewed by Chanticleer and Kirkus.

Now, it’s a bit of a waiting game and working with Sam at Village Books to determine a date to do a reading and book signing. I’m also aspiring to do “A book launch and a movie” at the Pickford but I need to first locate a movie that is newly in release and would somehow parallel a theme in Fred’s life.

Oh, by the way, I’ll be doing another blog post on July 31st and will tell you a bit more about my book and marketing progress. In the meantime, I wish to all you aspiring writers “full strength ahead.”

Author’s Bio:

susan sloan

Susan Lynn Sloan is an author and communications specialist who has lived in Maple Falls, Washington since 2004. Susan was born in Chicago and she’s a transplant from northern California. Her interests include family, gardening, snorkeling, books, and film. Her biography of Holocaust survivor, Fred Fragner, is due out this fall. It’s called Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength. Susan is hoping it will inspire readers to understand the importance of persevering even in the midst of the most daunting challenges.

RWB Anthology

“So much depends…..on community”

We altered this sweet, succinct line from the William Carlos Williams poem when we first started Red Wheelbarrow Writers. Six years ago Cami Ostman, Susan Tive, and I began with some classes, but the concept of Red Wheelbarrow quickly evolved into something much less structured, much looser, more fun. When I am asked to describe Red Wheelbarrow, I always say it is a loose affiliation of lively writers.

The loose and the lively are equally important. We don’t have members. We don’t pay dues. We don’t take roll or assign committees. We have no Board, though we have a lively Bored who will now be meeting once a month. At least for a while. That’s also loose.

But the lively connection is all of you: people who have been ongoingly supportive of one another, who have formed writing groups, who have gone on numerous Write Outs together, who have shown up at your amigos’ readings and launches at Village Books, shown up to connect with authors who have come through town, who have, some of you, offered your homes for the annual August garden party. And for those of you who have brought your work to read to your compatriots at the monthly Happy Hour, perhaps Red Wheelbarrow’s finest contribution is the assurance that your voice is not echoing in a void. That though the writer’s is a lonely life, you need not be alone. There are listeners. There are readers. There are people who are just like you, who believe in the white chickens and the red wheelbarrow and the power of language to touch and move, to inform and enliven. People who love the smell of print, the heft of books, the lure of stories. People who have stories to tell, and poems to write.

With this anthology Memory into Memoir, which grew out of our first WhaMemWriMo in September 2015, Red Wheelbarrow takes a big step forward. We are still a loose affiliation of lively writers, but we are coming together to create our own book with our own voices.   And, of necessity, our own funds. Our own skills and talents.

Whether you submitted for the anthology or not, your writerly skills, your time and attention can be part of this important endeavor.   Red Wheelbarrow is calling upon all its lively writers to contribute to the process. Yes, we need money, but we also need readers and proofers, and copyeditors and a designer. We need people who are good with technology and publicity. We already have a sterling core of writers eagerly engaged in this process, but we need more. We need you.

Memory into Memoir I will be a signal achievement for the writers in this community. Be part of it. Contact us through the website or Facebook, or by email to let us know how you want to be involved. So much depends….

A MESSAGE FROM LAURA, SUSAN AND VICTORIA!

Hello RWB NaNoWriMo authors. We’re super excited to hear you read your magic this coming Thursday!

To make sure we’re all on the same page, we are re-posting the guidelines you received earlier.

Here you go:

We are delighted you are joining us for the Fourth Annual Reading of the novel at Village Books. JUICY FRUIT DON’T GROW ON TREES may be our best novel yet, perhaps because it took place in a bookstore and all writers love to read.

On Thursday December 3rd we will have a reading in our very own bookstore, Village Books http://www.villagebooks.com/event/red-wheelbarrow-nanowrimo-12/3/15. We will start on time at six o’clock. Please arrive 15 minutes early, by 5:45, and sit as close to the front as possible with the other readers to allow for easy, fast access to the podium when it’s your turn.

Amigos, the alloted time is short because we have a lot of readers, and also because as you all well know, no one can sit in those folding metal chairs for two hours without serious lumbago setting in. This means that each of you will have a 4.5-minute read, including a brief introduction, if you choose. No matter how brilliant your prose, your take on the novel, your backgrounds to the characters, 4.5 minutes is all the time you will have. If you go over that, a loud drum will sound with a dirge-beat, or perhaps a shrieking whistle will rend the air, and a couple of rodeo clowns will come and escort you off. Don’t find out. Please observe the time limit. Also, please rehearse your reading and make sure that it’s four and a half mintues and no more. Choose about 400 words of your chapter to read. No more.

Here are some thoughts and suggestions for keeping it fast-paced and lively:

Firstly, don’t try to make sense. The novel doesn’t make sense. It isn’t supposed to, and that’s the fun of it. Anyone who wants the larger picture can go online and read it for free.

Don’t recap what came before. (When we last saw our heroine, she was……..) No. Keep it in the present that you created.

Your intro might read something simple like:

“Hi, I’m ____________ [your name] and I took these characters [name the characters you dealt with; if they are new characters you created for your chapter then briefly identify: “I made up a new character, XXX who sells hats.” Keep it simple. If you made up new characters, and they don’t show up in your reading, don’t refer to them.

For the read itself select no more than 400 words (depending on the length of your intro) that best exemplifies your narrative voice. Your audience wants to hear your voice, both speaking and on the page. If you’ve got witty dialogue, use the dialogue. If you’ve created a great spooky scene, then use 400 words of that. If you have written something uproariously funny, use that. Decide what really sounds like you, the author. Feel free to skip about and edit from your chapter. Trust us, no one will know the difference.

Remember to read clearly and with expression so that your audience stays awake. And, lastly, do your edits and time yourself for the whole read. Don’t guess at it. Rehearse with a timer. Make your adjustments accordingly.

We have requested a lot of chairs because of course all writers have their entourages, and you should all bring yours. We will also ask to have a table with some water glasses there as well.

We look forward to Thursday the 3rd to seeing you, your entourages, and all the Red Wheelbarrow Writers, to hearing your inimitable voices read successive portions of deathless prose. November is a great month for writers!

If you have questions, please feel free to zap a note us.

See you on the 3rd!

Laura, Susan and Victoria