Monday, July 30, 2018

The Pineapple House

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The Pineapple House

Clementine had a pineapple house
that grew pineapples on every wall.
They grew so fast and so many she said
"I'll never have time for them all."
She invited her family and friends, 
the whole town came to join her big pineapple bash.
They ate pineapple ice cream and upside-down cake
and ran the pineapple yard dash.
Folks had pineapple barbecue, pineapple juice,
and pineapple filet mignon.
They threw pineapple frisbys and pineappleoons
and played pineapple tag on the lawn.
When the sun had gone down and the party
was over, and all Clem's relations withdrawn,
she turned to go in to her pineapple bed
and found her whole house was all gone.

-Sarah Allen

Monday, July 23, 2018

I Don't Know How To Act At Funerals

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I Don’t Know How To Act At Funerals

because the person I want to ask about it
the person I want to talk to about it
the person I want to explain to me
why my stomach has vortexed my skull
isn’t here.







Monday, July 2, 2018

I Can’t Focus on Writing Thi...

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I Can’t Focus on Writing Thi...

I can’t focus on writing a
Why is there so much dust on my
Was that my stomach or a knock on the
My math worksheet should come first or maybe
When did teacher say to turn in our
Should I write mine on Cleopatra or
How many notifications do I have on
Oh look a video about
Could that be what this poem
Was it due tomorrow or the next
If I told my teacher I can’t focus what would she
Mom says it’s time for
We haven’t had pancakes for dinner since
Maybe if I just put one final
And they lived happily ever

-Sarah Allen

Monday, June 25, 2018

Pet Diaries

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Pet Diaries


Yay! I love you!
I love the smell of your breath in the morning!
I love the sound you make walking on the squeaky stairs!
Squeaky! Yay! I love my squeaky!
I love that you’re pouring kibble in my bowl!
Yummy!
I love the chew marks on my bowl!
I love my rawhide that’s broken in half
and the fresh one on top of the washer
where I can stare at it
all day long!
I love the taste of toilet bowl water
Because it almost tastes like you!
Love, love, LOVE!!!
the dog
!


Dear Sirs:
I am sorry to say my orders have not been followed.
Perhaps I was not clear that from the hours of 11-3 p.m., I am to be left
Undisturbed. I will permit some level of frolic only outside those hours.
Another matter: you can imagine my horror when, on Tuesday last, upon leaping
Up to the living room windowsill, which, as you are no doubt aware,
Is my spot, I was confronted by a horrid collection of those plastic things
The smallish one calls Lego’s. It made my nap extraordinarily uncomfortable.
I’m sure this will be addressed in the future,
As will the unappetizing temperature of my dish.
Oh, one more thing.
Could you please do something about that obnoxious canine?
He was drinking out of the toilet again.
From her Majesty,

The Cat

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Dragon Inside

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The Dragon Inside

The dragon in my closet
left a black mark on my shoe.
She tore my jeans—and flip-flops
are her favorite thing to chew!
The dragon in the kitchen
always burns my whole wheat toast.
He scorched the trash compactor
but he makes a good pot roast.
The dragon in the parking lot
roars at all the buses
while they unload all the kiddies,
and he blazes, growls and cusses.
The dragon playing dodgeball
blows her short fuse every time.
One dragon burned my homework,
and the teacher thought that I’m
the one who's doing all the damage.
The secret though, you see,
is these dragons all got nothing
on the dragon inside me.


-Sarah Allen

Monday, June 4, 2018

REPRESENTED BY BRIANNE JOHNSON AT WRITERS HOUSE!!!!



Guys.

Guys.

I have been waiting years to make this announcement.

I sent my first agent query in 2012. It was for my first book which was rejected very justly for a multitude of reasons mostly being that it sucked. I still have a special place in my heart for that book.

Four books and hundreds of rejections later, I can finally announce.

I AM OFFICIALLY REPRESENTED BY BRIANNE JOHNSON AT WRITERS HOUSE!!!

It's been a few weeks now, and we've actually been on sub to editors for a month. I can't even believe I get to say that.

I'll do a longer, more in depth post about how it all went down at another time, I think. For now, its just celebration time!!

If you have agent questions or just need query trench commiseration feel free to comment and I'll be there for you!

Sarah

Monday, March 26, 2018

Star-Nosed Mole

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Star-Nosed Mole


Pig-snouted, fleshy-finger-feeler rimmed
star nose sniffer, using star-touch to push, tell, taste.
Do stars shine underground
if nobody can see?
Dig, dig, dig through the earth to a star
nosed center. Who knows of what earth-stars
smell, touch, taste?
She knows, the mole. She who has
sniffed the star-centered earth.
Star-dusted dust, dirt, grime.
Do you dare hold close the starry-faced
blind-eyed ground digger?
Do you dare draw near?
Come carefully, for the star-nosed
knows what stars dwell
under the surface of you.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Blurgsday

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Blurgsday

Sunday’s when we go to church
and say our prayers and scripture search.
Monday we go back to school
to make our brain a power tool.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: work
like bankers, teachers, moms and clerks.
Friday night is party time
unless you’d rather have downtime
snug with a book, then Saturday
we whip through chores so we can play.
Then comes the best day of them all!
Blurgsday, when ideas call!
On Blurgsday ride a purple horse
or take a Bigfoot finding course.
On Blurgsday you can paint with mud
or dance upon a flower bud,
sing too loud or scrape your knees.
You get to be whate'er you please.
Wait, hold on, what’s that you say?
You say there’s no such Blurgsday day?
Can I still wear my Blurgsday best
and welcome some dear Blurgsday guest?
Would you eat some Blurgsday cake
to celebrate that we’re awake?
If you check your calendar
you’ll see it’s best if you plan for
a Blurgsday minute, so to speak,
every single day next week.



-Sarah Allen

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Neckless Giraffe



The Neckless Giraffe


All giraffe clans have a neckless giraffe
hanging somewhere on their family tree.
Unfortunately in this giraffe family
the neckless giraffe here is me.
I can’t reach the treetops,
the juiciest leaves,
so I have to eat grass with the zebras.
The baboons won’t talk
to me. Meerkat pups mock
even more than the laughing hyenas.
How would you feel if
you had to do full-on splits
just bending down for a drink?
Or not being able to see
hiding lions?
It’s scarier than you might think.
My great, great, great grandma,
the one other member of my fam
without a long neck,
was so sick of jerk fuss
she joined a big circus.
She’s a clown, but get’s clownish respect.


But what’s this? Oh see here,
the Old Gnu Express delivered
some mail to my bunk.
A penpal for me?
Could it possibly be?
Signed, an Elephant without a trunk!


-Sarah Allen

Monday, February 26, 2018

Car Wash

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Car Wash

Whoosh, thwump, squirsh, squee
wax and polish, shampoo eddy
weesh weesh weesh wee
hwomp hwomp squeegy
whurring rub and tires shiny
pastel pink blue bubbly
whoosha hula jalousie
off dust, dirt, and debris
off boot print, mud sprint, miles of me
back with more miles soon as can be
no more of my miles can you see
the road isn’t new, but am I?
Maybe.






Monday, February 19, 2018

If Mrs. Clause Was President

Image Source, Stephanie Lee

If Mrs. Clause was President
I think that'd be pretty great.
If Mrs. Clause was President
there'd be smiles in every state.
She'd take care of us 364 days a year
while her husband took care of the one.
She would make sure each kid has a warm place to sleep
and never stop till she was done.
If Mrs. Clause was president
she would know every child by name.
She would welcome the white folks and brown folks
and black folks and all kinds of folks just the same.
Whenever our country had problems,
like our mom she'd have thoughtful advice.
She'd see each of us as our very best selves
whether we had been naughty or nice.
There would be fewer people out hurting each other
'cause weapons would only be toys
and she'd care for all creatures from Blitzen to Vixen
from Oregon to Illinois.
If Mrs. Clause was president,
I think that'd be pretty great.
But maybe if we treated all people like she would
we'd make smiles in every state.

Monday, January 22, 2018

5 Places to Rake In Picture Book Ideas


1. Hidden History

Ever heard of Grace Hopper? Jean Jennings? I hadn't until very recently. Did you know they were instrumental in the development of the modern computer, coding and programming in particular? Our history is full of characters, women especially, who made insanely awesome contributions to our world that we don't know about. And picture book biographies are the bomb! Find the hidden stories and bring them to light. Keep asking questions and keep researching. Who was the first African-American woman in space? Who was the empress who smuggled silkworms out of China?

2. Old Diaries and Photo Albums

Your life has hidden gems too. Nobody grew up quite exactly the way you did. Maybe you were an only child who lived in a high-rise in New York. Maybe you grew up on a farm in Idaho. Maybe your parents immigrated to Canada from Syria when you were 4 years old. Maybe your brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Whatever it is, find the richness and uniqueness from your own life and bring it to the page. Best of all you get to call it "fiction" so nobody can make fun of you for that purple underwear you wore every day of third grade. We know that was you.

3. Dreams and Nightmares

I once had a dream about sword-fighting a wolf in my old school's gym. There's something ethereal, childlike and whimsical about dreams, even scary ones, that might be a perfect match for the ethereal, childlike, and whimsical experience we want readers to have in our picture books. Its a good idea to have a notebook with you wherever you go, but for sure keep one by your bed and jot down the craziness that happens inside your brain while you're asleep.

4. Mythology and Folklore

I recently watched Myths and Monsters on Netflix and it was really fun! I learned a lot about western European mythology that I hadn't known before. It's a classic but excellent place to go digging for story ideas, especially if you look through areas that maybe haven't really been explored before. I'd be excited by some picture books featuring Ghanaian folk tales. I'd spend my grubby, hard-earned dollars on picture books about heroes from Korean mythology.

5. Other Picture Books

There aren't really very many "shoulds" when it comes to writing. Yeah there are wise suggestions that most likely it's a good idea to follow, but really we are free to blaze our own path. But one really solid "should", at least in my mind, is the idea that if you want to write something, you've got to read that something. I mean come on. Freddie Mercury only happened because the Beatles happened. We've gotta know what conversation we're joining otherwise we might get stuck playing in our own mess, thinking we're creating something new. So if you wanna write picture books, then read picture books. Let the ideas you love inspire you. Let the pictures you love best spark something in your own mind. And you'll have ideas coming out your ears as thick as Grandpa Norbert's wiry grey ear-hair.

Write on, everyone!

Sarah Allen

Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Habits That Will Amp Up Every Scene You Write


1. Admit that you need amping. I think sometimes we writers--and by we I most definitely mean me--think of some of our most precious scenes like songs from an acoustic guitar. We imagine these scenes like intimate notes sung quietly, soothingly, so poignant and whatever because by now your reader has fallen asleep. These scenes are where most of those darlings reside, those darlings you must rip out by the roots and toss into a wood chipper, no matter the stream of tears coursing down your cheeks. Here's the thing. Am I saying we can never have acoustic scenes? Not remotely. In fact intimate, acoustic scenes are my absolute favorite thing (examples to follow), but you have to earn them. They have to be placed just right, so that when the audience reaches them they're on the edge of their seats, chills running down their spine as they wait for that next, solitary chord.

2. Place your calm in the eye of the tornado. You know that seen in the movie Babe, where farmer Hogget has walked his pig out onto the field of the sheepdog trials and everyone laughs and then Babe beats every record and herds the sheep into the correct pens and as Farmer Hoggett shuts the sheep pen, slowly, so slowly, every single person in the audience is dead silent and you hear that final metallic clink of the latch and then everyone bolts to their feet cheering their heads off and in the midst of the applause Farmer Hoggett looks down at Babe and says, "At'll do Pig. At'll do." You know that scene? Well the feeling of that scene is sort of what I mean when say put your calm in the eye of a tornado. That look on the Farmer's face when he looks down, the sun shining behind him, is an acoustic, intimate moment. But it means everything because of what's around it. Because we've gone through jeers and mockery and dog bites and cat scratches and a myriad other animal hijinks to get there. Even that silent latch click moment. We get a storm of jeering and harsh laughter before it and an eruption of validation and applause afterward. A perfect, tender chord will stand out all the more for surviving the chaos that surrounds it.

3. Stare Down the Gun Barrel. Here's a story I read recently in Benjamin Percy's Thrill Me (which you should all go read immediately why are you still here go read it). He tells the story of a professor in a creative writing program. A gruff, boot wearing, bearded professor from the south. One day in workshop one of the students turns in a story about a young man being robbed at gunpoint. The robbers have the gun directed at his head and the young man thinks through all the things he's going to miss out on if he dies. He'll miss making love to his girlfriend. He'll miss ever visiting Australia, and a bunch of other things. The student finishes this story, and gruff professor tells him to start reading it again. In the midst of this reading the professor, with no warning, pulls a gun from his coat and points it between the kids eyes. "What are you thinking about?" he says.

The story may or may not true, but there's no doubt it's worth remembering. Your knight racing toward his opponents javelin is not going to be pondering the various shades of blue in the princesses eyes. He's not going to be thinking much at all. He's going to be fighting an aching shoulder barely able to lift his weapon. He's going to be feeling the roll of his horses gait. His vision will become tunneled. So get that metaphorical gun pointed at your forehead and ask yourself, "What are you thinking about?"

4. Activate Your Setting. This is another idea that has its basis in Benjamin Percy's Thrill Me book. We writers can easily slip into the habit of allowing their setting to be still. Unmoving. Static. That in many ways is how we interact with the world, isn't it? It's not like our desk moves. But keeping our setting's static gets us low-amp level scenes. Say you've got two neighborhood kids daring for the first time to approach the local haunted house. As you show your reader this house for the first time, what does move? What motion is your tour guide? Is there a breeze rustling the shredded grey curtains? Is there a grey mouse moving across the floorboards from the orange-stained kitchen to the cobwebbed library and down the creaking basement steps? Follow the motion. Make your setting dynamic. Make your world dance.

5. Think Triangle Dialog. We often think of dialog as between two people, but your scenes will level up if you add a third element. The best dialog is more than just talking heads. A conversation may just have a player and their guitar, but when you add an amp it boosts the music to a new level. That amp, that third element in your triangle, is something like action or active setting. An argument between father and son in the kitchen is fine. An argument between father and son during the down-to-the-wire ninth inning of a National's game is much better. Or maybe you need to put the seen in the kitchen. If so, have the muffins in the oven burn. Give them a leaky pipe in the fridge, or a cut finger while they're trying to chop onions. Have your characters do something while they talk, and the dialog will amp up to a whole new level of strength.

Write on!
Sarah

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