Pumpkin: On Writing Fiction

For the last few years, I’ve been slowly moving my writing from short-form personal essay to fiction. I’ve had a little success here and there, with short stories that show up in journals such as Apeiron Review, Saint Katherine Review and Ruminate Magazine, among others. It’s a great feeling to see a piece arrive in my mailbox.

It’s equally great to see it show up on my computer screen in online journals such as The Flash Fiction Press! They published one of my flash pieces last year, called “Dropping Tumblers” and  I’m pleased to say I’ve got another one there now.

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 11.15.48 AM

I’ve been playing around with “dialogue only” pieces the last couple of months and Pumpkin is one of these experimental flash stories. I hope you’ll take a look and let me know how you like it.

Keep in mind, I have a little yippy dog myself and I love him like the furry son he is, so, remember this piece is FICTION! 😉



I have this little habit of using the word “and.” Ok, yes, I know we all use the word “and.” I just happen to like to use it when most people expect a “but.”

I picked this up from my wise friend Paula. It struck me hard and stuck to me. I love it when that happens you know.

Here is an example:

I’m having lunch with a friend. She is lamenting about how hard things are with her kids right now. My response is this-
“Wow you know it sounds like things are really rough right now Joleen…AND I think you’re doing an awesome job with that whole parenting thing.”

I could easily have used “but” here…I chose not to.

“And” is inclusive. It means I’ve heard this first part. It means I’m not discounting just how hard things are. It means that there is HOPE regardless of the circumstance….not moving AGAINST the circumstance…moving WITH it.

It makes our lives a river instead of a flood.

It’s all a river…and we’re either working with it or fighting against it. The water is powerful and I know we can find our way if we put a mind to it.

Try using AND this week…see where it fits. See how it feels. See how it changes your perspective.

why write

Be prepared that I’m really tired and not above rambling here….

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m this moody enneagram 4 or because I’m just remarkably insecure and self centered at the same time. (I’m talented that way) I keep running up against this thing about my writing.
why write?

When I was younger I used to say that I wrote songs because I HAD to write them…because they EXISTED and they demanded to be heard. I suppose part of me thinks this is still true. (Yes, in fact, I do actually personify pretty much everything. Sometimes it even annoys me but mostly I think it’s endearing so that’s how we’ll roll.)

I was thinking the other day about the persistent nagging doubt that eats away at me as it concerns my songwriting in particular.

“Why I keep writing songs? Why do I need to do that?”

I guess most of us get to this point in life, why do something that has no monetary component..is it a hobby? like basketweaving or crocheting? what? I dunno.

Following on the heels of that, weirdly enough comes the second thing that bugs me.
“Is this any good?”
Or more specifically what I hear in my head is this:
“Does this song suck?”

After spinning out there for a little while I can meander around for, well, quite a while actually on the finer points of the why, the when, the how, the how much…ack. Crazy Making. I think that is the actual psychiatric medical term for this.

{insert deep breathing here}
here it is…

I keep coming back to this same thing in the end…it’s the only answer that even while not conveying ANY logical sense it does bring some heart sense to me.

In the end it’s just got to be about making something beautiful and putting it out there. It IS enough to create it and put it out there, whether it’s got a capitalistic bent or not.
It IS enough.

Which of course is complicated by the fact that I’m not independently wealthy so while it’s enough to create more beauty for the world I also have to eat…and feed and clothe my kids…yes?
There’s a balance to it…that’s the work, there. And so the tension is there too…that’s where I just feel like I need to press through and keep doing what I’m doing to whatever end it brings.

Sometimes we just don’t get to know the why. We just have to do it and be in it and let it become what it will be.

Sometimes it’s just got to be enough to do it.


it is nearing dusk
the sun…going down
i suppose
i’m only guessing
since the clouds, blushing violet and gray
hid that sun deep
as it made it’s
journey to the other side
of the world.

with the mist rolling to a stop
hanging just above the trees
in pregnant pause
and the lightning
tracing the faint echos
of cumulus outlines

while the fireflies begin
their blinking luminary dance
around the prairie grass
the last vestiges of obscured
but implied
daylight wane

it is then
that i remember fairy stories
and wonder
what ever became
of that magic.

Unfinished Things

I’ve been thinking today about writing. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about it.  I thought about it rather well. When the time came to actually put something down on what Luci Shaw referred to this weekend as the “democratic white page” I faltered. My fingers fumbled. Keystroke-like movements started and stopped.  I thought about the look of the dogwood trees blooming and could not come up with words to describe them with any honor large enough. This went on for most of the day and into the evening.  

I thought about the sound of the quiet, interrupted only by the uneven tapping on the keyboard when an idea came then followed quickly by the rhythm of the backspace key beating time with measured regularity.

It seemed so much more certain of it’s job.

At last all I am left with is the astounding realization and perhaps the appreciation finally, of the unfinished things.

that’s all.

Mrs Euphemism

A few days ago someone googled, “metaphor for kissing” and found me.  I have no idea which post they found, probably it was “The Holy Kiss” but who knows.  That got me to thinking though about kissing as metaphor and metaphors for kissing and of course that led me to thinking about the assignment I shall give this week while I’m at the Festival of Faith and Writing visiting my poet crush, Scott Cairns and soaking in the smell and feel of the written word.

So in light of that, it’s that time again…How long did you think it would take for us to roll around to the use of “euphemism” in our studies?  Ok, ok…I know you are all excited about this one but let’s take a moment and just explore this a bit, shall we?  

Some of us, when we think of the word, “euphemism” perhaps go straight to the gutter and think of words or phrases substituted for sex but in reality, according to the dictionary a euphemism is:”The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive.”So you see?  I’m not going to limit you to something as pedestrian as “sex” while creating or sharing your favorite euphemism.  You can feel free to use any harsh, blunt or offensive subject.

Hey, you’re welcome…I know you’ve been itching to try this one.

I could model this for you but I’d rather share with you a website I stumbled upon recently.  Be forewarned…it might get a little harsh, blunt or offensive, euphemistically but there were a couple that cracked me up pretty good and a few that made me blush.

make your own euphemism

best of luck to you…but remember, we do get underage readers in here once in a while…try to contain yourselves…

now hit me with your best shot

Fortune Telling Fish

I’m trying to space ’em out…I really am. This one goes along with my strong desire for a Magic 8 Ball from God.


fortune telling fish

it does not take a scientist
to know
that it is all
about heat
rising from the palm
lifting up the edges
and yet
in the moment
all I want
is to think
that even this flimsy piece of plastic
knows more than I do

The moon is not the poem

I wonder how much poetry I can post on this blog without completely driving my friends to drink.  Let’s just see, shall we?
I wrote this a few weeks ago after a low slung full moon captured me and just past that I had an online conversation with some artist types. Mainly, I think what we were discussing was “what is art?”  So, in light of this…I put this group of words to paper…
The moon is not the poem

the moon is not the poem

no matter how it strikes you
even so
it is no wonder it brings you further
to that place you hide
falling to pieces 
when no one watches

….but the moon is not the poem
it will not bring you solace
the morning after
it will not offer comfort
when it’s moment has passed

…because the moon is not the poem
it will shift it’s place in the sky
it will wax and wane
but the poem
it will remain
words on a page
pinpoints of light
constant as the day
follows the night

The Phoenix Tree

My daughter was telling me one day about this story she is writing.  In the story she describes several fantasy level animals and how they interact with one another.  The Phoenix Tree is the place where all the Phoenix gather to live and breed.  The phrase stuck with me for several weeks.  I wrote it down knowing that it was going to become something else to me.  The visual in my head was this actual tree which contained traits belonging to the Phoenix….the living, the healing, the burning and the rising again.  I like the imagery in that.  I like the metaphor for how we live.  I asked Riley if she minded my using her term in another way and she was alright with it.  So, here are the lyrics to the song.  One day when it’s recorded I’ll post that as well. 

The Phoenix Tree                            


every breath greeted clean

pure and new

as close as we get to divinity

when the branches close in

and wrap around

til it all comes down

in flames


The wounds are old

Like the ancient sea

but the roots are deep

on The Phoenix Tree


rising up

keep rising up

so we can see



every breath labored long

strong and steady

as close as we brush in the heavenly

when the leaves press in

whisper in our ears

til it all comes down

in flames


the wounds are real

like the raging sea

but the roots are deep

on this Phoenix tree


building up

keep building up

so we can see



breathing fast and greeted clean

it’s all new and ready

for whatever life brings


The wounds are old

Like the ancient sea

but the roots are deep

on The Phoenix Tree 


every breath greeted clean

pure and new

as close as we get to divinity


Mrs Poetry

I can’t help it…I’m waxing poetic (most literally) as I get ready to attend the Festival of Faith and Writing this year and see my favorite, favorite poet, Scott Cairns.  So, in light of this I’m going to keep posting my poetry.  You have an assignment,dear reader, ESPECIALLY if you are one who would normally eschew the poetic arts.  Your assignment is to tell me if one line or one word, one feeling, one visual jumped out at you.  That is for you.  Roll it around on your tongue this week and make it your own.  You do not HAVE to participate…you may keep this to yourself if you would like.  You will not be graded on this. : )  

The entire history of the world
is this:
ebony quiet
pressing strong

fountain moving
mountain grumble
pangea splits
like a mirror
in falling

green thaws
stream pulses
earth breaking
life arrives
in full form
and graceful completion
always becoming
always becoming
always becoming
deeper, yes.