Thursday, November 19, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Words of Hope from Emily Dickinson

Thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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This has been a difficult week. A few days ago I received the news that Sunscribe Publishers, the company I signed a 3-book contract with, is closing, which means that my books will not be published anytime soon. My publisher, who has poured so much of her time, talent, and energy into creating Sunscribe, is facing an unexpected and devastating medical diagnosis, and in the interest of her health is closing her fledgling company. I appreciate all of the time she has spent helping me edit and polish my manuscripts, and it is my hope and prayer that she will beat this disease and come through the battle stronger than ever. (You can read the company's announcement here.)

Looking forward, I know what I need to do—start submitting my books again. It feels strange and a bit scary to be back at square one, but I have been here before and know the drill. My favorite part of the submission process was always having “tiny pieces of hope” floating around out there in the world. So I’m holding tightly to hope right now, for my former publisher and for my books.   

One of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson is about hope, so I decided to share it for Poetry Friday this week. It is a wonderful reminder that, no matter how stormy life gets, HOPE is our faithful friend.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 
by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Saluting Our Veterans

Thank you to Bridget at wee words for wee ones for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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On our way to school Wednesday morning, my boys and I had a great discussion about Veterans Day and the true meaning behind the holiday. When I was growing up, we always had Veterans Day off of school. I remember talking about this at school each year, and recall the teachers emphasizing that Veterans Day is a special day to honor those who fought for our freedoms. It is sad to me that this is no longer a school holiday (at least where I live), but I am somewhat mollified each year when my boys come home and share how they observed the holiday at school.

In honor of Veterans Day, I am sharing a poem by American poet Joyce Kilmer, “Prayer of a Soldier in France.” This poem is especially poignant because Kilmer was killed in France during WWII at age 31. (For more posts about Joyce Kilmer, click here and here.)

Prayer of a Soldier in France
by Joyce Kilmer

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

I hope your Veterans Day week was reflective and meaningful. Enjoy your weekend, and Happy Writing!

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Interesting Veterans Day fact: The correct spelling of this holiday is “Veterans Day” with no apostrophe. Since I am nit-picky about apostrophe usage, I looked this up. Here is the explanation from the website of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs:

Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SUNSHINE at last!

I am normally someone who enjoys cool, rainy fall days—it’s the perfect weather for settling in and getting some writing done, and encourages me to stay inside and work. However, after days and DAYS of rain, I am so happy to see the sun shining today!

There's some sunshine, and even some blue sky. We really hit the jackpot today!

I love the leaves in the fall, especially with sunlight filtering through, and with a stretch of several cool, SUNNY days in our upcoming forecast, I am looking forward to getting outside and catching up on my Vitamin D. I have gotten quite a bit of writing-related work accomplished over the last few weeks, though. What is your “perfect weather” for making progress with your writing, completing projects, or just staying focused and on task ? I am interesting in hearing what others have to say, so please share in the comments below!

I have another reason for celebrating today aside from the beautiful weather—I just found out that my poem “Monster Bash” was one of the Best Descriptive/Mood Piece winners in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest, which I posted about on October 30th! Thank you so much, Susanna! For a list of all the winners, including the outstanding top 10 (who won AMAZING PRIZES!!!), please check out Susanna’s post here

Have a wonderful week everyone, and Happy Writing! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Monster Bash!

Thank you to Jone at Check it Out for hosting Poetry Friday this week! 
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This has been a fun, CRAZY week, and it all culminates this weekend with my twin boys’ 13th birthday party sleepover tonight, Halloween tomorrow night, and a family party on Sunday. And this afternoon I am sharing some wonderful spooky poetry with some fabulous fifth graders (but more about that next week!).

Earlier this week, I learned about Susanna Leonard Hill's Halloweensie Contest, where she challenged readers to write a short Halloween story of 100 words or less using three words: costume, haunt, and dark. (Thanks to Johnell for bringing this to my attention!☺) I always love a writing challenge, so I have been thinking about this during the last few days. Since my boys have invited seven 12- and 13-year-old boys to their party (translation: a total of NINE boys!!!!), I finally decided to write a little poem about a Monster Bash. I am not sure if it technically counts as a “story,” but I had a ton of fun writing it.

I hope you enjoy reading Monster Bash! Happy Halloween, and Happy Writing!

Monster Bash
By Becky Shillington

Monster Bash tonight—beware!
Come and join us, if you dare.
Grab your costume, shine your shoes,
Spiffy up, then come and schmooze.
Bob for eyeballs, conga line,
Pin the bolts on Frankenstein,
Walk the haunted treasure maze,
Dance the latest boogie craze,
Hear some spooky haunted tales,
Snack on roasted newts and snails.
When darkness falls, the fun begins,
So come and join the party, friends!
 ©2015 Becky Shillington

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Big News!

Edited on Nov. 19 to add: Please read this post for an update regarding this news. 
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I am thrilled to announce that I have two books coming out in 2016 under Sunscribe Publishers' children's imprint, Dancing Squirrel. I wrote the earliest drafts of my picture book  Josephine Abilene, Bona Fide Cowgirl and my chapter book Glory Osky: Perfectly NOT! over 10 years ago when I lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and I am so glad they both finally have a publishing home! Sunscribe is a new South Carolina publisher, and I am honored to be included in their debut list. 

This has been a long, twisting, and sometimes emotional road, but I am happy to finally be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have learned a lot along the way, but the most important lesson has been to never, ever, EVER give up. I have met so many wonderful writing friends over the years, and am excited to take this next step in my writing journey!

Thanks for helping me share my news, and Happy Writing! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Fall Poetry by My Childhood Self

Thank you to Amy at The Poem Farm for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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I have missed participating in Poetry Friday lately! I am happy to be back and thought it would be fun to share some poems I came across this week. Fall has always been my favorite season—even when I was very young, I loved the cooler temperatures, the beautiful leaves, and the anticipation of winter’s cozy embrace.

This week as I was reading through some poems I wrote growing up, I was tickled to realize how many I came across that were about fall. I don’t know if this was due to the fact that my teachers had more creative instruction time in autumn as opposed to spring’s annual round of standardized testing and end-of-year field trips, or if it was because I just liked writing poetry about fall. Whatever the reason, it was fun to go back and read what I’d written so long ago!

Here are a few of the poems that I found. When I typed them, I did edit for punctuation—proving that we will always have the urge to go back and edit our work, even over 30 years later! 

Here is one I wrote in about third or fourth grade (and yes, I grew up with the name "Becky Bookout"): 

Fall is here,
Winter is near.
The weather is cool,
We go back to school.

The leaves are falling,
Winter is calling.
As red, gold, and brown
Leaves fall all around.

And here is another, written about the same time:


Halloween is coming soon,
Halloween, with a bright full moon.
Ghosts and goblins
Everywhere in sight.
And jack-o-lanterns glowing
Brightly in the night.

Halloween is coming soon,
Halloween, with a bright full moon.
Witches flying
Through the air,
On magic broomsticks

This last one is from second grade, I believe.

Fall is nice.
There’s a nice cool breeze
As we play in the leaves.
Winter is on its way,
And it’s almost Halloween day.

Do you have any of the poems you wrote as a child? If so, please feel free to share in the comments below. 

Thanks for taking this autumn stroll down memory lane with me! Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I have always enjoyed rainy days. I love the muted colors of an overcast day (especially in autumn), the cool lift of the air that accompanies a storm, and the quieter feel of rainy mornings and afternoons. There is actually a word for someone who likes rainy days; according to, a pluviophile is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. I was happy to find this definition a few years ago!
But the rain this morning is a double-edged sword. After last weekend’s historic flooding in South Carolina, today's rain is not a welcome sight. Although the rain has effectively ended our recent drought, it has caused a glut of new issues. Many bridges are still out, much of the state is under flood watches through tonight, and already-swollen rivers continue to rise and rise. Although my area thankfully came through last weekend relatively unscathed, I am so sad for our neighbors to the south in Columbia, Charleston, and all of the other areas affected by this wet weather.

I have heard such tragic stories this week—and I am sure you have, too, if you’ve watched the news at all. But in the midst of all the BAD, there has been a lot of GOOD. This week my boys’ middle school collected cases of water to send via the Red Cross to the affected areas, and one of my sons' teachers left to serve as a National Guardsman in the affected areas (what a wonderful example for our young men and women!). Donation centers have overflowed with offerings for flood victims. And the welcome that USC is receiving in Baton Rouge for the Gamecocks vs. LSU Tigers game today is touching and profound. Who would’ve thought?  

Since I haven’t posted in awhile, I decided that this rainy Saturday morning would be a great time to jump back in and post a link for anyone interested in helping flood victims in SC. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website has information about how to donate, as well as a link to a list of most-needed items (click here for more information). 

I will have some exciting writing-related news to share very soon! Enjoy your weekend, stay dry, and Happy Writing!