Fences–Monday Meanderings

Today, walking the dogs through the neighborhood with my camera, a subject caught my attention: Fences.

I saw a variety of designs and purposes: both utilitarian and decorative.

A few appeared to be for the purpose of keeping things in: dogs, horses, mulch, flowers:

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto


Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

One was clearly built with the sole purpose of hiding something unattractive: an HVAC system or utility box:

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Many were obviously there to keep things out: other people or animals such as bears (not out of the question here in the Sierras during these days of drought):

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

And then there were those that contributed to the overall beauty or character of the house:

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

They can even serve to hold things up:

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto


Fences are powerful metaphors, and it’s fairly easy to apply them to human behavior. I won’t go into detail because you will figure it out yourself.

I’m going to post an older poem of mine about fences and invite you to join in with one of your own. A short story or essay would be great, too. You can either use the Mr. Linky icon below or add the direct URL to your work in the comments. Feel free to use any of these photos–but I would appreciate the credit for them if you do!


Why do we build fences? They can’t hold out wind,

or leaves that flutter from neighbors’ yards into ours.


A flock of quail descends into our spent garden and feasts,

pilfering seeds that would have been fertile in the spring.


Remember the night raccoons purloined our koi?

Or how in summer we lay awake, listening to the long,


long, short, long whistle of the trains, into, out of Reno, dragging loads

of who-knows-what to destinations east and west? Sound’s intrusion.


Tonight, my fears are not of robbers or of things that harm.

What scares me most is what’s within—the limits of closed minds.


Have a wonderful week of writing and life. On Thursday, I will be hosting Meeting the Bar over at dVerse and hope you will show up there with a poem of your own. A short clue to get your muse in gear…patterns.

Color My Mood–Monday Meanderings

Image: silkhlens.com

Image: silkhlens.com

(Note: If you’re looking for The Sunday Whirl, find it here.)

As a would-be artist and a former museum docent, I enjoy playing with the elements of art in my writing–both in fiction and poetry. A favorite is to use color to create mood. In art, abstract expressionists often use color as the primary tool to convey their “story.” There are many interpretations of the meaning or symbolism accorded to each color. I’m offering a few of my own:

Yellow is a happy color and can be used to liven up a scene–to make it joyful, while Red signifies anger, passion, love. Think about it: when you’re feeling intense emotions, such as rage and close your eyes, sometimes your visual field appears red.

Blue and Green convey calm and  peace.

Black represents the unknown or fear while Brown is a grounded, earthy color.

Violet or Lavender speak of spirituality while White is used to represent truth and innocence.

I’m including a short description from my novel, “Winter is Past,” that strives to convey a mood using color.

In the dim light, the church, clothed in red, marked the joyous season of Pentecost. The altar was covered in an abundance of flowers—gold, yellow, orange and red gladioli—tongues of flame marking the climax of the Pascal season. Helene’s mood, however, was somber, spiraling into blackness. The red surrounding her spoke to her of blood and death—the death of her spirit. She suppressed a sob…

Do you have an example from your own writing you would like to share? How do you see color as it influences mood? Join in, using Mr Linky at the bottom of this post, or comments, if you prefer.

Happy Hour--Mixed Media--V. Slotto

Happy Hour–Mixed Media–V. Slotto

March Desert


English: Orange blossom and oranges. Taken by ...

Image via Wikipedia

March Desert
Form: American Sentences

Overnight, citrus trees explode in fragrant blossom, ravish our world.
Remnants of a nest lay empty in deep grass, spring promises: illusions.
March wind batters the garden; hummingbirds struggle to take in nectar.
Early morning birdsong. Crow caws—inviting silence. Hawk swoops in, kills.
Moon escapes behind a cloud, stars take center stage, the night holds her breath.
Sing of winter oranges, desert sun. Dance on mountains topped with snow.

This week I ordered a new book on poetry by Kim Addonizio: Ordinary Genius. In an early chapter, I encountered a form and prompt invented by poet Allen Ginsberg known as American Sentence. Inspired by the Japanese Haiku, three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, Ginsberg build this poetic form on the foundation of the sentence, but a sentence comprised of seventeen syllables.

For this week’s Write2Day, I’d like to throw out the American Sentence as a prompt that can reach out to either prose or poetry writers (or those who write both). For my poem, I’ve strung together six sentences on a single theme, all things I’ve experienced here in the desert in the last few days as the changing season defies all expectations.

Because I’m currently working under deadlines, I need to continue to budget my time spent blogging, so I’m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse Poets’ Pub where poets from all over our wonderful world meet to share a poem, friendship and cheer. Our talented host this week is Joseph Hesch. Come on in; you will not be disappointed.

If you would like to link to Write2Day:

• Post your poem or prose sentence, based on the prompt, on your own blog or website.
• Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
• Share your name and the direct URL to your post.
• Take time to visit and comment on other participant.

The link for dVerse is here. I hope you’ll join both prompts.

Photo: GNU Free Documentation License

Write2Day–A Love Affair with Words

English: A multi-volume Latin dictionary (Egid...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I enjoy most about my Kindle is the dictionary feature. If your bring the cursor to a word in the text, the definition pops up at the bottom of the screen. Hit “return” and it takes you to an expanded expose of the various meaning of the word. .. wonderful feature for word-addicts like those of us who write.

This morning as I was reading a bit of the Bible, there was a footnote on the word SPIRIT. Because I’m interested in biblical exegesis and the Hebrew root of things, I went to the footnote to see which Hebrew word for soul (there are five, if I remember correctly) John (or whoever wrote that gospel) used. When the cursor landed on “SPIRIT” and the definition appeared, it drew me in, so I had to explore. I knew there would be a number of definitions and I was right. Here are just a few of them:

  • the non-physical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul;
  • a part regarded as the person’s true self and capable of surviving physical death or separation;
  • such a part manifested as an apparition after their death–a ghost;
  • a supernatural being;
  • short for the Holy Spirit;
  • qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period;
  • a person identified with their most prominent mental or moral characteristics or with their role in a group or movement;
  • a specific emotion or mood;
  • a person’s mood;
  • the quality of courage, energy, and determination or assertiveness;
  • the attitude or intentions with which someone undertakes or regards something;
  • the real meaning or the intention behind something as opposed to its strict verbal interpretation;
  • strong distilled liquor!

Wow; all of that in one word!

For today’s prompt, let’s write a poem, essay or short fiction that revolves around the word SPIRIT.  Take it wherever you like. If you choose to participate:

  • Write your submission and post it on your blog;
  • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and add your name and copy the direct URL of your post into the link;
  • Visit and comment on the work of other participants…there are not too many so it shouldn’t be a huge task;
  • Enjoy the process of writing and reading.

I’m still having some challenges with my back, but we’re working on that, so excuse me for not being too “present” in the world of blogging these days. I will be posting at dVersePoets’ Meeting the Bar tomorrow and hope to see you there. It is a great place to share poetry and friendship. I may need to vary the days that I do my weekly “Write2Day” entry so expect a bit of the unexpected. Thanks for being a part of the creative SPIRIT that happens here in the world of blogs.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Ceretto Slotto. All rights reserved.

Image: GNU Free Documentation License


Write2Day: Music and the Written Word

Data of manuscript unknown. Held in Florence, ...

Image via Wikipedia

Over the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate the interconnectedness of all the various expressions of art. Consider how many photographic bloggers participate in poetry communities. How often do you see prose or poetry bloggers insert links to music in their work? Or how about visual or performance arts as an inspiration for the written word? Today, I’d like to present a few brief thoughts about how music and writing are wed.

Music and meter.

We discover an obvious connection between music and poetry when we write or read form poetry, which often is defined by meter. But even in prose, the writer often (consciously or not) seeks to create a rhythmic sequence of words that is pleasing to the ear. I’ve found myself searching for a word of a certain number of syllables or with emphasis on a particular syllable because my ear tells me it will work better than the word I may have chosen in the first place.

Music as a metaphor.

Use of musical metaphors can be so effective in evoking certain moods. Think about how you “feel” listening to a symphony as opposed to hip-hop. There are scenes where I’ve mentioned background music just for the purpose of creating an emotion. Use of musical instructive words, words that tell the musician to slow down (adagio), speed it up (allegro), play louder (forte) or softer (pianissimo) are just a few examples of techniques to add an emotional context to both prose and poetry. There is a very useful glossary of musical terminology at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_terminology

Music as Inspiration.

Many writers and artists use music to help inspire their work. I once read in a novel-writing how-to book (sorry, I can’t remember which one) the suggestion to create a sound track that represents the nature of your manuscript.

For today’s prompt, let’s turn to music. Here’s a few suggestions of how you might do that:

  • Write a form poem that calls for a specific meter such as iambic pentameter.
  • Use music as the subject of your short fiction or poem.
  • Employ a musical metaphor in your work.
  • Write a short essay on how you use music in your writing, or how music has influenced you in the past.

To participate, post your work on your blog. Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and include your name and the direct URL of your post. Visit and comment on other participants in this prompt. Have fun with it!

Here’s a poem I posted a while back, a sestina, that combines music as a metaphor and meter.

Photo: David Slotto

Song of Songs

a Sestina

All the world’s a stage set to music.

You stroke my life like strings of Your guitar.

We’re born to fly so Your touch of gentleness

sounds a chord in my core that thrills.

Round and round You lead me in a dance—

the whirling rhythm swirls in my heart.

Rejoice, oh world; you hold grief in your heart.

Defy those who claim silence lacks all music.

Refute the clowns who refuse to dance—

Who, though called to joy, strum a dirge on their guitars.

Avoid the fool who rejects life’s thrill,

who sinks into the void with gentleness.

At dawn, mockingbird chants a song of gentleness

awakens the earth, enlivens her heart.

You stir in my Spirit-womb, Your Presence thrills.

Your promised love resounds of music,

Your hands play me as You would play Your guitar.

Our beings entwine and we enter the dance.

The earth and stars conspire to join the dance.

Ocean waves lick the sands with gentleness,

winds pluck the strings of willow tree guitars

while rain plants seeds in Earth—the Mother’s heart.

By day, the sun sings bliss—at night moon-music

plays arpeggios You designed to thrill.

I hear the door You open with a thrill,

arise to greet Your entry with a dance,

breath in the air You fill with sounds of music,

surrender to the call of gentleness,

responding to the rhythm of Your heart—

the wild beat of a classical guitar.

Submit my soul to music, the stroke of Your guitar,

Your voice, Your gentleness, never fail to thrill.

I yield to the tempo of your dance, lay down my heart.


Photo: Google Images

As we approach the end of the year and the beginning of another, a theme inspires me: endings.

We’re writers/poets, so we must be (better be) readers, first and foremost. How often do you succumb to a late night reading marathon and regret it the next morning when you have to drag your weary bones out of bed and face the day? Chances are, the author of a book that keeps you turning pages into the wee hours of the morning has mastered the art of chapter/scene endings.

I learned a bit about this from my good friend and writing buddy, Judy. She’s written a medical thriller and my first novel was literary/women’s fiction. During one of our critique sessions, she told me there was nothing at the end of the chapter that made her want to read on. I had pretty well wrapped up an event without any inducement to the reader to want to know more. I countered that literary fiction is different from genre fiction, but as I thought about it, I had to refute my own argument. True, the conflict might be internal rather than action-oriented, but it’s still critical to leave the scene and/or the protagonist hanging off the proverbial cliff.

We can achieve this in a number of ways, but here are a few that I have found helpful.

Interrupt the action.  Avoid allowing a scene to come to a logical conclusion. Set up the narrative so that the reader knows something important is about to happen, but leave her dangling. Here’s an example from that recently-published first novel, “Winter is Past” in which Claire has to make a phone call that she dreads facing:

I punched in the numbers and held my hand on my chest as though to slow down my racing heart. Maybe she won’t be home, I hoped. She answered on the second ring.

By leaving the call incomplete, I invited the reader into the next scene. If I had continued through to its conclusion, that would allow her to close the book, turn off the light and go to sleep–maybe never to return.

Close the scene with a question. I find this works well in literary fiction where, as you know, the protagonist is plowing her way through a series of internal conflicts. Let’s look at another example from “Winter is Past.” Claire’s mother is on the verge of disclosing a family secret:

“I’ll do better now, I promise. It’s just that . . .” she fell back into silence. “Oh, never mind. It’s not important right now—we’ll talk another time.”

When? I wondered. And about what?

Complete the chapter scene with a promise. In this example, one of the characters is withholding information from another:

The dogs nabbed milk bones from the floor as I released control and eased into my husband’s embrace. “What do you have planned?”

“I’ll tell you in the morning. Just get a good night’s rest, okay? Come on, dogs; last call to go outside.”

Interrupt a scene in the middle of an unresolved emotional climax. Raise the question, What is she going to do about it?

By the time I met Josh downstairs, that dull ache had returned to the back of my head. I faked a smile that made me feel like a clown hidden behind makeup. “Let’s go,” I said, trying to squash the emotions still raging inside.

Those of us who write fiction may want to browse the work of our favorite authors and take a look at the chapter endings. What techniques have they used to keep us moving through the book? Now, lets look at one of our own manuscripts and see if there’s anything we can apply to our work to keep the reader turning the page.

While this post seems to apply more to fiction than poetry, take a look at some poems that offer endings that surprise. I ran across one today by Sheila Moore, posted for dVerse OLN on Tuesday that meets the bill. Endings offer poets fertile ground for ideas: death, ending of a relationship, meeting a life goal.

For today’s writing prompt consider one of the following:

  • Write a poem or a piece of short fiction about an ending. You may want to reflect on the ending of 2011.
  • Share a chapter or piece of short fiction with an ending that induces the reader to want to know more.
  • Write a poem with a surprise ending.
  • If anyone takes the challenge to review your own work in progress and revise it based on the idea of tantalizing the reader, you may want to share the result with us. Include both the first write and the revision if you like.

To participate:

    • Post your poem or story on your blog.
    • Copy and paste the URL into the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post. Be sure to include your name.
    • Visit other participants and offer your comments.
    • Enjoy.

I wish everyone a blessed and peaceful New Year. That is what I wish for our poor world, as well. If I’m absent next week, it’s because I will be in the midst of travel. While I plan on posting, timing and Internet connections will be the bosses.

Write2Day–Writing from the Light Side

English: Binswood Avenue in the sun and snow. ...

Image via Wikipedia

This will be a somewhat short post, since I’m compelled to give my elbow tendonitis a rest. Last week we discussed writing from the dark side. We all know, there’s plenty of darkness to go around. So today, in order to add contrast to our writer’s palette, let’s light up the place…an appropriate topic for this season of the year when so many traditions celebrate light in one form or another. Think of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Diwali…all celebrations that revolve in one way or another around light.

So, for today’s prompt, consider writing about your celebrations of light–or light sources such as the moon, the sun, stars or candles. Maybe you would like to post a humorous piece or something with bright happy colors. How about an event that features joy: children at play, dancing, or music. Take it wherever you like, but let’s get out of the doldrums for this week’s prompt.

To participate:
Write your poem or short prose and post it to your blog.
Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
Include your name and the direct URL to your poem.
Visit and comment on other participants.

You will find my poem for dVerse OLN in the previous post!

Next week at dVerse I will be hosting Meeting the Bar (Thursday, 3 PM EST). In that post, I will focus in more depth on the subject of contrast. Hope to see you there as well.

Write2Day–Writing from the Dark Place

Shadows in the late afternoon.

Image via Wikipedia

As the winter solstice approaches–here in the Northern Hemisphere, our thoughts turn to long, dark nights and, often, gloomy days. Winter is a time for introspection in many spiritual traditions, and the body itself calls us to go within.

Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, calls attention to the various aspects of the human personality, contrasting that part of us we show to the world (even the world of bloggers, perhaps) with that aspect that we’ve so conveniently shoved into the unconscious: our shadow side. As we mature, an important developmental task is to integrate these two parts of us, to face those things that we would just as soon forget about, to work toward balance and to learn to tap into the darker energy, harness it and allow it to touch our creative selves. It is in the unconscious that our creativity thrives and it behooves us to unleash that energy by naming it.

Beauty and light are, no doubt, important attributes of poetry and poetic prose. But think about photography. If a scene is over-exposed, flooded with light, lacking shadow, it is uni-dimensional, flat, boring. It is the contrast that calls attention to the light.

Some of our best known, loved poets grappled with depression, addiction and similar disorders. Think of Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton and Jane Kenyon to name of few of them. This doesn’t mean that, to write good poetry, we need to wallow in angst. Rather, it means that we need to be willing to open our eyes and SEE what is before us in all its complexity. The majesty of a soaring hawk contrasts with its predation of a tiny wren. Both are part of a hawk’s reality.

For today’s prompt, I invite you to go dark. Deal with a topic you would rather ignore, whether in society, in a particular cultural setting, or within yourself. Do not ask yourself, as you write, “What will ‘they’ think of me?” Don’t try to write to please or be accepted. Go ahead. Dive into to the dark, murky waters of the unconscious and allow that shadow side to emerge.

To join: write your poem, copy and paste to Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, read other participants and have fun…sorry this is late. My automatic scheduling skills are deficient.

Write2Day–Finding the Muse

Hesiod and the Muse

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll, asking which day of the week would serve best for a post combining my on-going features about writing technique, trends and prompts (Monday Morning Writing Prompt and Wordsmith Wednesday). Wednesday afternoon to Thursday took top spot. Several of you told me to go with whatever works best for me, so there may be some variance from time-to-time.

In today’s ponderings, I’d like to explore a topic I’ll call, Finding the Muse. It’s a topic that’s been a recurrent visitor to my blog because, from time-to-time we (should I say I?) need a kick in the butt to jumpstart truly creative writing.

Quantity writing can be a symptom of a complusive disorder…especially if that writing lacks quality. There are times when we need to find balance between writing and not-writing, with the goal of using that downtime to nurture the muse. Writing is a priority in our lives, but it isn’t the whole story. To be a good writer, in my opinion, it’s important to do more than write. We need to conceive our work before taking up pen and paper, and we need to hone the work once it’s completed.

Here are a few outside-of-writing considerations to help produce quality poetry and/or prose:

  • Write what you know, but go out and learn something new so you have more to write about. Take a class, read, consult experts in other fields, learn a new hobby or skill, spend a day with someone on the job.
  • Meet and interview people who have a different take on life. Write from a point of view that differs from your own, read essays and op-ed pieces. Explore other religions.
  • Travel. If you can’t afford to take a trip, watch travelogues, jump on the Internet and go new places. The world can come to us through our monitors.
  • Read something from a different era or country. Pick up a book or watch a movie that packed full of adventures you’ll never experience in your own life situation. Do whatever you need to in order to get out of the confines of your day-to-day existence.
  • Take time to notice the details of life that is within your scope of living but that you tend to ignore. Observe the baristas at Starbucks. Watch the chefs in a diner or pizza joint. Take a field trip to a brewery, a manufacturing facility or warehouse.
  • Invite your imagination to go on a date with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Stay home and daydream.

For this week’s prompt, chose one of the above suggestions and write whatever came out of that experience. Write poetry or prose. Make a list. Share a journal entry. Whatever. If you’re stuck in the quagmire of writer’s block or mediocre writing (like I am) this may be just the Rx you need.

To join in:

  • Share the results on your blog.
  • Copy your URL, access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post. Share your name and paste your URL
  • Visit and comment on other blogger’s work.
  • Extend an invitation to one or more of your favorite blogger to join us.
  • Have fun.

The link will be open until a new Write2Day is posted.

Image: Hesiod and the Muse: Public Domain

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Do the Details

Wine tasting in Sérignan, Vaucluse

Image via Wikipedia

For today’s prompt let’s focus on details. We know it’s those minute sensory excursions that bring our writing to life, whether poetry or prose. Engaging the five senses allows the reader to share the experience.

Perhaps you’ll want to focus on the sensory overload of a Thanksgiving meal, the particular scents and colors of the season of the year (wherever you are), the crowds milling about in the mall. It’s always fun just to go someplace and observe, then write your experience.

Beginning next week, I will be combining Monday Morning Writing Prompt and Wordsmith Wednesday into a new weekly writing event that will post at 4PM PST. I hope to see you there!

To participate in today’s prompt: Write your response, post it on your blog, copy and paste the URL into Mr. Linky and take a few moments to visit others. Don’t forget, we welcome both poetry and prose.