The Earth is Flat

I’ve thought about my personal manifesto a lot and I’ve reached some principles, some prime rules for living. These eternal truths shall rule the future:

  • The earth is flat. Anyone can see that.
  • Humans are not causing global warming. It’s just summer time. Anyone can see that.
  • AIDS only affects gay men because God is trying to punish them for their sins. Anyone can see that.
  • The Holocaust was a fiction perpetrated by a bunch of liars. Anyone can see that.
  • The moon landing was a fake made in a movie studio. Anyone can see that.
  • It’s perfectly okay to rape someone if they aren’t paying attention at the time. Anyone can see that.
  • God wants you to love everyone. Unless the person you love is the same sex as you are. Anyone can see that.
  • Immigrants are the scourge of American society. Anyone can see that.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “the earth is flat.”

Posted in fiction, Opinion, Writing prompt | 3 Comments

My Story

I wrote this in 2006 as a guest post for a blog called A Little Red Hen. It popped into my face the other day for some reason and I decided to put it here.

I didn’t imagine when I was younger that I would enjoy my 50s and 60s so much, or look forward to my 70s with such anticipation. The elder years have been among my happiest, a bit of information that would have shocked my younger self.

I was an only child and I live alone now. It suits me, being alone. It’s one of the reasons I’m happy. I love my family and my beautiful grandchildren, my friends, my online communities. But I like having a room of my own, too.

I made some major changes in my life after my 50s began. Many people thought it was bold or brave, but to me it was merely finding that soul-place where I’d always wanted to be. My internal image of myself always was as a writer, never as a teacher. Yet I spent a lot of years teaching. Toward the end of that career, I trained in cooperative learning and in the writing process. The combination of cooperative learning and writing process were a perfect fit for me. I wrote four books that help teachers teach writing. I was also very active in writers’ groups and attempted all sorts of writing on my own.

I wanted to retire from teaching in the public schools and leave the little town in New Mexico where I lived. Someone told me Austin, Texas had a great writers’ group, plus seven nearby universities and a nice music scene, so I moved to Austin. I drove a U-Haul truck by myself with my car hitched on behind. I didn’t know a soul in Austin. The writers there were wonderful and helped me find work and keep writing. I took a class that I thought would help me find a day job as a technical writer, which led me to a class in HTML. That HTML class really changed my life. It was about 1995, the Internet boom was just beginning, and I thought if I knew HTML I could publish some of my writing on my own web site. This was long before blogging. Little did I know that everyone would be her own publisher in a few years! I fell crazy in love with HTML. I was in the zone, in the groove, a goner. I couldn’t stop making web pages. I did find work as a technical writer, but what I was actually doing was making web pages that happened to be on technical topics. I was soaking up new technical information as it if would sustain me like food. Ambrosia!

I started teaching web page building at the same college where I’d learned it myself. That started me on a crusade to change the way the books that teach web design approach the material. I’m still yapping on about that topic, and have written two books of my own about making web sites now. I blog about teaching web design at

The Internet boom hit Austin hard; thousands of people a month moved there for high tech jobs. The traffic was awful and I was at an age where an 8 to 5 job didn’t look as good as Social Security and retirement income. I also realized I missed the mountains and the seasons. Austin is beautiful, but it’s endless summer there. I wanted some spring and fall to go with summer.

I packed it all up again and headed back to New Mexico. I downsized in the process: smaller house, fewer things. If I still have something, it’s because I really want it.

I missed my old writing practice group from Austin, though. I decided to make my own writing practice group of one. I started First 50 Words. No technical writing allowed, instead I write 50 or so words about anything at all. I can’t seem to stop dreaming up writing prompts as if I were still teaching youngsters to write. I love that minute or two each day when I can be creative for 50 words.

I can’t say I’m actually retired, since I’m writing more than ever, but I don’t have to go somewhere during rush hour each day to get to my computer. I just crawl out of bed and start typing. There’s a mountain right outside my front door, and the full array of all four seasons. For me, this is the right place and the right time.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words (I went way over today. You can, too.) on the topic “my story.”

Posted in About Us, Essay, memories, Writing prompt | 6 Comments

Write Today

The title page of the book I started yesterday gave me a shock when I realized how many books I’ve read by this author. Plus, how many books she’s written! I tweeted this.

J.A. Jance has some objections to the word prolific. She said,

I asked what word she’d prefer and a fan (dare I say another fan since this fan didn’t know the answer) told me.

To that I say, YES! Write something today. Just write.

Even if all you write is your first 50 words on the topic “write today.”

Posted in Children's Writing Prompts, Essay, Writing prompt | Tagged | 4 Comments

Call Now

I sat at the table with a book and a salad. One of those infomercials was playing on the TV in the background. I heard, “Call now, operators are waiting,” about 15 times. It distracted me from my reading. I thought about my son. I wondered if the last phone number I had for him still worked. I wondered if I called him he would talk to me or hang up immediately. How many efforts to get through to him were enough?

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on topic “call now.”

Posted in Children's Writing Prompts, fiction, Writing prompt | 6 Comments

Gawd Awful

Rocky Ford, the little berg in Southern Colorado where I grew up, had gawd awful tasting water. When people who weren’t used to it unwittingly downed a swig they most often spit it out. I’ve been other places, like Odessa, Texas where the water tasted bad, too.

But most places in the US have great water – clean drinkable water. Yet we insist on paying $3 a can for sparking water with lime or $1.50 for someone else’s tap water in a plastic container. I think that’s a bit crazy. So I’ve . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “gawd awful.”

Posted in Essay, memories, Writing prompt | 3 Comments

Casual Interaction

Most interactions in the course of a day are casual, cloaked in correct social conventions and surface level conversation. The advent of social media has increased the number of casual conversations that pass by in a day’s time. You don’t know anyone in great depth. Yet sometimes events come along that reveal deep truth. You see inside, beyond the casual interaction. That’s how I learned that . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “casual interaction.”

Posted in fiction, Writing prompt | 3 Comments

Better Eating

They say that your taste buds don’t have the same zing when you’re old that they did when you were young. But that can’t explain how much better eating was back in the day. When pancakes were slathered with real butter and real maple syrup they just tasted better and it wasn’t because of eating today’s artificial everything with old taste buds. When cakes were frosted with a concoction of actual sugar and some fat-filled horror, they just tasted better than whatever that sorry stuff is they put on cakes these days. And you know what – we were healthier when we ate that stuff. Not because of our food but because of . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “better eating.”

Posted in Children's Writing Prompts, Essay, Food, Writing prompt | 3 Comments

Cloudy and Gray

I studied his eyes. Obsessively. I could tell when to make myself scarce by the color of his eyes. When they were a light blue it would be okay to be around him. But when they turned a cloudy shade of bluish-gray it was time to be out of his reach. I felt bad about leaving my mom there with him while I fled, but I couldn’t get her to leave him. The only way to save my mom from those flat gray eyes was . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “cloudy and gray.”

Posted in Children's Writing Prompts, fiction, Writing prompt | 3 Comments

Before Sunrise

She was up well before sunrise. She drove carefully, never over the speed limit. She reached the pull-out that lead to a small parking area under the bridge. She backed the car up as close to the river’s edge as she could get it. All her work with free weights paid off as she hoisted Matt’s body out of the back of the SUV. She dumped him in the river with a splash and used a big branch to push his body away from the bank and into the current. Then she drove home and made a big breakfast for herself.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “before sunrise.”

Posted in Children's Writing Prompts, fiction, Writing prompt | 4 Comments

To Infinity and Beyond

The other day on Facebook I saw one of these joke graphics that said, “My pin number is the last 4 digits of Pi.” I got a laugh out of it but it made me think about the wonderment I felt as a young person when I finally understood what infinity was, what an infinite amount was. It astonished and delighted my mind. As adults we so seldom find those things that astonish and delight, it would be good if we could learn to let more things carry us to infinity and beyond.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “to infinity and beyond.”

Posted in Childhood memory, Children's Writing Prompts, Essay, Writing prompt | 6 Comments