In a Flash

By Virginia Parker Staat

“To write short nonfiction requires an alertness to detail, a quickening of the senses, a focusing of the literary lens, so to speak, until one has magnified some small aspect of what it means to be human.” ~ Bernard Cooper

How do we describe flash nonfiction? Author Carol Guess believes it is where compression meets passion. Lee Martin says it’s all about voice. In his article When Flash Nonfiction Strikes You, Michael Cohen writes, “Flash creative nonfiction is somewhere between the lyricism of poetry and the narrative potential of prose.”

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The Mission Continues

By Virginia Parker staat

“The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.” 
~ Lynn Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Many of you may not even have noticed. Over the past several years, I have written about National Punctuation Day for each of my September Rocky Mountain Outdoor writingarticles. I did not this year. I was mourning the demise of one of my favorite organizations, The Apostrophe Protection Society. In 2001, the Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) began with “a mission to preserve the correct use of this important, though much misused, item of punctuation.” 

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Trust Me

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”  ~ Albert Einstein

After this year’s RMOWP conference, David and I headed to Idaho in hopes of finding cooler climes and some wildlife to photograph. We were delighted to discover an old growth forest near Elk River. Some of those red cedars were over 3,000 years old. Camping beneath the towering giants brought back a long-forgotten memory. 

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It Depends on Your Point of View

Text and photo by Virginia Parker Staat

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”
~ Margaret Atwood

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s wildflower season here in Texas, and each spring David and I take a trip to the Hill Country to find and photograph as many bluebonnet fields as we can. Because we store our truck camper at a friend’s farm in East Texas, it takes a day to pick it up and another to take it back. We were short on time this year, so we decided to tent camp instead.

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It Depends on Your Point of View

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”
 ~ Margaret Atwood

Before writing any story, we must choose our narrator’s position to describe events and opinions. Then we must stick to it. This position is called point of view (POV). It is an important discipline in our writing because readers become confused when writers head hop from one character to another, particularly within the same paragraph. Point of view is about creating intimacy between our reader and our subject. 

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Telling the Bees

Text and photo by Virginia Parker Staat

“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier, 1858

Our beehive is draped in black. While my rendition of this time-honored tradition may be a little backwards, the sentiment is much the same. The custom of “telling the bees” is believed to have come from Celtic folklore when beehives were an intricate part of a family’s existence. Bees were informed of major events in a beekeeper’s life, including births and deaths. Some would even provide a slice of wedding cake for the colony if the beekeeper married. John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1858 poem, Telling the Bees, immortalized the tradition by relaying the story of the narrator overhearing a chore girl talking about him, whispering to the bees about his true love’s death.

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Crikey! It’s National Punctuation Day

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

I recently edited a children’s book written by a Glaswegian friend of mine (aka, a native of Glasgow, Scotland). I quickly recognized that editing his book would take a bit more effort on my part than I originally anticipated. I had forgotten about the many differences between American versus United Kingdom styles of spelling and punctuation. 

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The Doctor is IN

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “What kind of advice do you expect for only a nickel?”
~ Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts, Lucy van Pelt from her Psychiatry Booth

Lucy van Pelt didn’t have a lemonade stand in the Peanuts cartoon series. She had a psychiatry booth. From behind her rickety, wooden booth, Lucy offered her own brand of advice to whomever had a nickel. Surprisingly, Lucy can be a role model for us writers. 

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Wisdom from a Master

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
~ Barry Lopez

Acclaimed nature writer Barry Lopez passed away on Christmas Day, 2020. I recently read a tribute to Lopez in the journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. I learned several interesting things about the man. For example, Lopez was an accomplished photographer before he became a writer. Perhaps his beginning in photography enabled him to paint those lovely landscapes into words. Lopez was a master at writing landscapes. His lyrical descriptions earned him a National Book Award and other exemplary honors.

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The Original Photo Essay

Photos & text by Virginia Parker Staat

“Visual storytelling utilizes both language and art to pass on
the essence of who we are.”  

~ Debbie Millman

It has been over a year since David and I visited Australia. One of the highlights of our journey was our trip to the Mitchell Falls rock art complex. These ochre paintings are believed to be among the oldest surviving rock art in the world. Some as old as 80,000 years.

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