Powerful Words

It starts as a childhood wish: When I grow up I wanna be . . . . Sometimes, you try on a lot of dreams, a lot of roles. One day, you discover your true dream. I discovered my love of powerful words. My dream was to write fiction.


I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. — W.B. Yeats


Many years ago, I had decided I would make my living as a writer. The first person I shared a story with was a family member. She thought they were cute, like the little stories I had read as a child.

I had sold several stories to magazines. The pay wasn’t great. So I decided I would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center.

I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class exercises, homework, and reading assignments for each class. I rehearsed and rehearsed. I was ready!

The Question

Finally, the day arrived. Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me. I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class. I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised. A question already?

“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked.

When? Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally? Not so much. I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said the words out loud for the first time. Instead, I answered with the information I’d prepared. I told the student that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote. I said that every time I send out a story or a query with the intent to sell it, I am saying that I am a professional writer. I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.

I was being truthful, my answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction. But, as truthful as that answer was, I didn’t believe it even as I said it. Still, my answer seemed to satisfy the questioner.

Powerful Words

I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years. My classes grew in size, I had many students who took every class. I defined myself as a professional writer in written and spoken words over and over again. The more I defined myself that way, the more I acted that way.

Life happened. I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life. But the dream was still mine. I continued to write and submit what I wrote. Sometimes I could only do a little, sometimes a lot. I kept saying that I was a professional writer to anyone who asked (and some that didn’t) because I’ve learned those words were powerful words.

Don’t Listen to Naysayers

Everyone has a dream. Maybe your dream is to be a writer, a chef, or a plumber. No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to believe it will ever happen. Self-doubt can be a monster if you feed it. Don’t be your own worst naysayer. Don’t call your dream a dream or a hobby or ‘something I dabble in.’ Don’t say someday. Say today.

Maybe you or your parents, your partner, or your friends call your dream cute, or a hobby, or call it your ‘little’ whatever. You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying. Yes. It. Is. Stop the negative energy where ever it’s coming from. Ask for the support you need.

Be Positive

Make a mantra, “I am a . . .” fill-in-the-blank. Write it in big letters. Pin it up somewhere you’ll see it every day. Say it out loud. “I am a –.” Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. There is power in the spoken word that grows with repetition. Feed yourself power, not negativity.

Follow through with your statement. Take classes. Improve your craft through practice.

Don’t let your fears of not being successful, of not being perfect, be an excuse not to try. Don’t let anyone keep you at the childish wish stage. Use the powerful words. Change I wanna be a . . . . to I am.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
— Henry David Thoreau

Top Ten Science Fiction Novels I Love to Re-Read

girl reading a book while sitting on stack of books
public domain image from clipartpal.com

Since I’m in a mild panic busy studying for my Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) certification, I decided I’d share a list of the top ten science fiction novels I love to re-read. I am deliberately excluding pure fantasy from this list.  Now, making this list was not easy.  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of books to choose from.  Yes, I’ve read a lot of science fiction.

Trying to narrow the list down to ten I learned a couple of things.  I’ve read a lot of what is considered classic science fiction, but there’s an awful lot that I’ve not read.  I’ve read many of the Nebula and Hugo award winners, but not nearly all of them.  And there are books that I like for specific reasons such as I love the characters, or the world, or the emotional feel of the book.  However, when push came to shove, some of the books are on my list because they spoke to me.  Sometimes, when I’m not burning a hole in my brain otherwise occupied, I may write lists of books with great characters, books with worlds and settings that felt real to me, or books that gave me a huge emotional payoff.  But today’s list is of favorites, in no particular order, but books I have and will read again and again because I want to.

The Top Ten Science Fiction Novels I Love to Re-read

Dune by Frank Herbert

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh

Pride of Chanur by CJ Cherryh

Dawn by Octavia Butler

The Watchers by Dean Koontz

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Coma by Robin Cook

Any of the Tom Swift books (and I make no apologies!)

So that’s my top ten science fiction novels that I love to re-read.  And if you study those books, I’m guessing you’ll learn a little more about me.  But enough of that.

What about you?  You can choose any genre you like, but limit your list to just one genre or sub-genre.

What are your top ten favorite books to read? 

A Meeting of Minds: the Alchemy of Science, Art, and Poetry

I have belonged to a local writer’s group for many years now. In this group, we have a colorful mosaic of like-, yet, different-minded folk. There are young and mature members, males and females. Some members write with a literary style, some have a dense, elaborate style, some are more minimalist. Yet, we have a meeting of the minds in that we are all striving to improve our work. More than that, we take disparate ideas from science, art, and poetry, and like alchemists, blend them into something different, something called science fiction.

It is my great pleasure to share with you the works of two of my writer’s group members: Karin L. Frank and Jan S. Gephardt. Not only have they had a meeting of minds that yielded science fiction, they added science, art, and poetry to the alchemist bowl resulting in a rare gem, a chapbook called A Meeting of Minds: Poems from the Two Cultures.

About Karin

Karin’s bio sets the tone:

Karin L Frank, A Meeting of the  Minds: the Alchemy of Science, art, and Poetry, lynettemburrows.com

Karin L. Frank (KL Frank) wrote her first story at the age of four and submitted it to her kindergarten teacher. No literary review accepted it but it was published on the family refrigerator.

Karin has since gone on to many adventures. She  writes insightful, literary poetry and science fiction. Recently she has published a chapbook of science fiction poetry, A Meeting of Minds: Poems from the Two Cultures. When she went looking for an illustrator to provide the art for her book, she had to look no farther than our writer’s group and Jan S. Gephardt.

About Jan

Photo of Jan S Gephardt, Artdog Observations, A Meeting of the  Minds: the Alchemy of Science, art, and Poetry, lynettemburrows.comJan is an artist, writer, and educator. She has been involved in fine arts, education, marketing, and many other adventures during the time that I’ve known her. Jan participates in multiple blogs, but her blog home is Jan S. Gephardt’s Art Dog Observations and Jan S. Gephardt’s Art Dog Studio. As an artist, I believe her finest work to be her paper sculptures. You can see one (imperfectly, photos don’t do it justice) here and at her shop on DeviantArt. Her pen and ink drawings are wonderfully detailed (I have one hanging in my office!) and reflect Karin’s words with a different kind of poetry.

Jan was quicker than I to post a blog review of Karin’s delightful chapbook. So here is a portion of Jan’s blog and a little peek into the blending of poetry, art, science, and  fiction:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Meeting of Minds . . . and Media

Image of cover of A Meeting of the  Minds: the Alchemy of Science, art, and Poetry, lynettemburrows.com by Karin L Frank, A Meeting of the  Minds: the Alchemy of Science, art, and Poetry, lynettemburrows.com
Karin L. Frank’s chapbook, A Meeting of Minds, is full of beautiful, intellectual poetry . . . and
also my artwork!

Last winter I had a pleasant opportunity to create a series of ink drawings to illustrate a poetry chapbook by a friend of mine, Karin L. Frank.

My first thought, when my friend approached me, was, “a poetry chapbook? Seriously?”

Ah, but then I read the poems.

Several had already been published in other—as in, “mainstream”—print media, such as the Kansas City Star or Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction.

I’d already known that my friend wrote interesting science fiction (prose), but the marriage of sophisticated science concepts with the poetry art form produced something rich and extraordinary indeed.

Karin titled her chapbook A Meeting of Minds: Poems from the Two Cultures, a reference to C. P. Snow’s concept of the sciences and the humanities as being two different “cultures” in “the intellectual life of the whole of Western Society.”

My holistic view of the world sees the two as integrally linked as the sides of a coin—not a strange thought to science fiction readers and writers. But the rest of Western society appears to see more of a chasm between the two . . . .    READ MORE

The strokes of the pen, of ink into words, of dots and lines into images is a transmutation that results in more than a bar of gold, it’s a fascinating Meeting of Minds.

Photos and illustrations are the property of Jan S. Gephardt and Karin L. Frank. You may not use or reproduce the images in this post without permission from the owners of the copyrights.

If you’re interested in other book reviews check out my Going to Mars: Word-by-Word posts.

What meeting of minds, or mix of cultures,

have fascinated you?

Thank you, Jan and Karin, for allowing me the privilege of sharing your work.  And thank you, readers, for following this blog, for commenting when you have time.  I cherish your words and the opportunity for us to have . . . a meeting of minds.

And the Answer is: Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.I’ve been watching the games of 11 Questions and the Lucky 7 Meme flying around the net lately and having great fun reading everyone’s posts. Being the shy type, I just lurked on those wonderful sites, kind of envious that they were having fun, but relieved I wasn’t tagged. Why relieved? Because I have a bunch of amazingly talented friends and worry that my words are pale compared to theirs. Then it happened.

The awesome Rachel Funk Heller tagged me for the 11 Questions game. Rachel writes mysteries and inspiring blog posts with fantastic metaphors. Be certain to visit her blog. You won’t regret it.

The rules for 11 Questions:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions on your blog. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

So here are the questions Rachel asked, and my answers.

1. What is your favorite cruciferous vegetable?

Ok. First I had to look up what the heck cruciferous vegetables were. When I did I got a list: Arugula, Brussel sprouts, chard, daikon, mustard greens, turnips, bok choy, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale, radishes, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, and rutabagas. What?! Are you kidding me? Those are vegetables? Ok. I admit having eaten fourteen of those. And in the right mood, I even liked most of them. But I’m more of a root vegetable girl, give me a sweet potato any time.

2. At what age did you realize Santa Claus, might not be real?

Noooo! Tell me it’s not so! I am a Christmas sap. Naysayers, go away–I will never believe you. Santa, I still believe in you and I always will!

3. Where is the worst place you have ever made whoopee?

Hmmm. Depends upon what you mean by ‘worst.’ And that’s all I’m saying about that. 🙂

4. What is your favorite rodent?

Generally, I keep as far away from rodents as possible. So this was another question I had to do a little research on. Did you know that rodents comprise 40% of all mammals and live on every continent except Antartica? There are more than 2,000 species! Wikipedia has a general information piece that I found interesting. There are all kinds of critters that are classified as rodents that I have had some acquaintance with. Some unfortunate. Some, I recall being quite fond of. So my favorite species of rodent are the cartoon chipmunks: Chip and Dale.
I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.
Go here for a sample of the cartoon.

5. List your five favorite letters of the alphabet.

REMWB – my DH’s and son’s initials, who else?

6. If you could be a Spice Girl, which one would you be?

So we’re talking Baby, Posh, Scary, and Ginger. I think I’d have to go with Ginger Spice, because of her hair color and the fact that she’s writing books for children.

7. If you were a superhero, what are your superhero name and your special power?

Oh, my gosh, I have to choose just one superpower? How? Let’s see . . . Speed? Then maybe I’d have a chance to get everything on my to-do list done. . . but would I be able to savor life if I just sped through it? Strength? No, I just don’t run into a whole lot of problems that would be solved by strength. Healing? Now that would be wonderful, except I’d never been able to touch everyone that needs the healing. . . Shape-shifting? Weather-controlling? Aw, man. There are so many to choose from!

I know! I want the power to be able to have whatever power I need at the moment. You can just call me, The All-Powerful Oz Ozette!

8. What is your Drag Queen name? Take the name of your first pet, and the name of the first street you lived on.

My first dog was a cocker spaniel we had when I was a toddler. His name was Buttons. The name of the first street I lived on is harder. I don’t know what that street name was. The first street name I remember living on was Montevideo. So, that makes my Drag Queen name, Buttons Montevideo. Kind of brings a character to mind, doesn’t it? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

9. Boxers or Briefs?

Hmmm. I’m more interested in what’s inside of them! 🙂 Now, now. Get your mind out of the gutter! I meant the whole person – really, I did.

10. You’ve just made an embarrassing fast dash into an elevator car after you make it and the door closes, you are panting and out of breath, you look up and there is your favorite celebrity of all time: what do you say?

Um, believe it or not, something like this actually happened to me.

I was at a World Science Fiction convention in Atlanta. The convention hotel had an open atrium that was maybe 100 stories tall (okay, my acrophobia is showing – would you believe 30 stories?). Glass elevators overlooking the atrium ran up and down on three sides. There was no alternative except the stairs. And 20 some flights of steps were no joke. So I took the elevators and tried to pretend there were solid walls.

It was my first convention where I was a published author and a member of SFWA (the Science Fiction Writers of America). I knew there was a strong possibility that I’d meet famous authors, so I’d prepared.  I planned on saying hello, introducing myself as an author, complementing the famed one’s clothing or hair or making a cogent comment about something the famed one had said on the panel, and casually mention a title or two by that author.

Well, I thought I’d prepared.

One day running late for an event, I breathlessly catch the elevator and stand as far from the glass wall as possible. A man stands, in front of the glass, in his swim trunks with a towel draped around his neck. He reads my name badge that proudly displays, member SFWA on it. He reaches out to shake my hand and says, “Hi, Lynette. I’m Alan Dean Foster. Welcome to SFWA.” I don’t even know what I said. I probably sputtered something all fangirl and inane like, “Oh, thank you, so much! I just love all your books,” while inside I was screaming Alan Dean Foster knows this is my first year in SFWA – how does he know that – what do I say – oh, my gosh – he’s in his swim trunks – what do I say?  Great trunks?  Ack!  ALAN DEAN FOSTER – what do I say??? I only hope I wasn’t opening and closing my mouth like a fish blowing bubbles! In my next life, I want to be all refined and cool, able to quote memorable passages and say something divine and intelligent.

11. What is your favorite Halloween costume of all time?

This one’s hard! I’ve had some fun costumes, but I think my son’s first Halloween costume has to be my all time favorite. He was 8 months old, a chubby, happy baby in a little blue sweatsuit with a sweatband around his head and carrying a sweat sock (clean!) for treats. It will always be my favorite.

Thanks, Rachel Funk Heller, that was fun!

I tag:
Indy Quinlen
Reetta Raitanen
Lynn Kelley
Louise Behiel
Debra Kristi
Karen McFarland
Shannon Esposito
Diane Capri
Jennette Marie Powell
Samantha Warren
Prudence MacLeod

Here are your questions:

  1. 1. What book or series can you read over and over again without getting bored?
    2. What TV show character do you hate and why?
    3. If you were a superhero, what are your superhero name and your special power?
    4. What is your favorite earworm (a song that gets stuck in your head)?
    5. If you could be any character of the opposite sex in any story, who would you be and why?
    6. What was the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
    7. What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
    8. What mode of transportation (horse, automobile, bus, train, boat, airplane, space plane, etc.) would you never want to use and why?
    9. What job/occupation would you never want to try?
    10. If you could tweet a warning or encouragement to one person in history, what would you tweet to whom and why?
    11. Tell us about one thing on your bucket list.

You don’t have to be tagged to play. In fact, if you would answer one of these questions in the comments, I’d be delighted to get to know you better.

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.

My dear friends, Pat O’Dea Rosin and Ginger Calem, tagged me for the Lucky Seven Meme. These two are mighty bloggers, too. Please visit their blogs. You’ll learn about Irish castles and a young girl’s donation to Locks of Love and a whole lot more. 

The rules for The Lucky 7 Meme:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
  4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.

Ok, here’s my snippet from my WIP:


“You go to Obelia to look for what? Because of the first client who was nearly killed, or for the mountain men, or for something else?”

Rena looked at Ahkim who smiled slightly and pretended an interest elsewhere. She leaned forward. “You and Jace are my family, Leandre, but I need answers.”

“What if the one you seek cannot be found?”

Rena glanced down at her hands resting on the table, then up, meeting Leandre’s look. “I must do this,” she said.

So that’s my snippet, I hope you enjoyed it. Now I tag the following authors:

Holly Messinger
Jan Gephardt
Karen McFarland
Indy Quinlen
Reetta Raitanen
Pat O’Dea Rosin
Louise Behiel

None of the folks I’ve tagged are obligated to play these games. You’re all busy authors, I know. But I’ll be tickled if you decide to join in the fun, and I know you’ll have fun, too.

Thanks to everyone who stops by and reads my blog. I appreciate your readership more than you know. And I so love it when you take the time to comment!