If You Love Poetry…

If you love poetry…

I’ve found a great place to submit your work! It is a little newspaper called The Webb City Sentinel located in southwest Missouri in the Joplin area. The submission process is simple and free. If your work is approved by the poetry editor, it will be shown on the online portion of The Webb City Sentinel. Here is the announcement on their site. I love this. I love what they wrote:

“I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.”

Billy Collins, 2001-2003 United States Poet Laureate   

We want your poetry. We want poetry from your children and your grandparents.We want poetry from seasoned poetry veterans and those just putting ink to paper (or, finger to keyboard).

We want to feature them here in Webb City’s “newspaper.”  Then, we want you to print them out and slap them on your refrigerator, carry them in your pocket, give them to someone special.  We want your poetry on the school bus to Mark Twain and Eugene Field, while you’re waiting in line at Crazy Llama and the Sub Shop, and while you’re walking around King Jack and the Frisco Greenway Trail. 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

Here is the link to the submission board:

I was super fortunate to be listed on their site recently. Here is the poem I submitted:

Little Pawn

by Janea Speer

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.
Serene, graceful, and applauded.
Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.
As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,
how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.
The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.
Who risks much although so little…..
One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…
Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory
when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

With this blog, I also wanted to do a shout-out to the poetry editor there. I met him in Fall 2019 at the Joplin Writers’ Fair at the Joplin Public Library. There were many great local authors there showing their books. He was at a table across from mine and was nice and friendly. We talked about publishing books and Ray Bradbury and joining writing clubs. It was fantastic to meet someone with an avid interest in reading and writing and helping other authors. He recently published a new work to help authors too.

His name is F.C. Schultz and here are a few links to some of his books. Type in his name on Amazon and you will find, on his author page, a large group of books he has written or co-written.

My daughter read the book titled The Rose Weapon and she did think it was quite good. It is a Viking story about fire-breathing dragons. There is a sequel to this book as well called When Embers End.


The Best Valentine I Ever Got: Taking a Road Trip to See Waterfalls

A few years back, my husband picked me up in his truck with our kids sitting in the back seat. It was on a Friday after a long week of work and it happened to be Valentine’s Day Weekend. There were suitcases packed in the back seat with the kids and there was a red card on the passenger seat. He said, “Hop in!” He smiled at me with a hint of mischief in his eyes as we headed mysteriously down the road to an unidentified destination point.

I settled into the passenger seat, curious to see what he was up to. I opened the Valentine card and a paper fell out. It was a small printed off map. It looked like a route with a blue line through various places in Oklahoma. I later learned from him that our family was going on a waterfall adventure trip through Oklahoma and each spot designated on the map signified a special place to visit to see gorgeous and musical sounding, calming rushing waters.

It turned out to be an awesome and fun 2 -day family trip through Oklahoma. My favorite destination on the excursion was Turner Falls. It was really pretty and a great place to wade in the waters with family or take photos together by the waters. There were hikes for exploring and other tourist spots to see.

Most states have these type of tourist routes on certain websites online. Here is one for Kansas with various routes for ghost towns, rock/geology adventures, chicken restaurant routes, and other topics. And yes, this one in Kansas has the waterfall adventure too.

So if you are planning something for Valentine’s Day……consider a weekend road trip route like these. Just Google your state and type in road trip routes. The waterfall trip is very family friendly and sorta romantic too. Or maybe your partner is more interested in things culinary or things paranormal or science related destinations.

I highly recommend these ideas as great “spontaneous” and fun Valentine gifts. Trust me, your partner will like it. I know I certainly did! It didn’t seem to cost too much either since most of the destination spots are free to visit. The only costs are gas for your vehicle and overnight stays somewhere. This would be fun to do with an RV too.

Midwest Etiquette

I recently read a few Instagram posts on strange and unique Midwest etiquette. It made me laugh. I’ve lived in the American Midwest most of my life and yes, these behaviors are accurate. Here are just a few silly things we do in the Midwest:

  1. If you are a Midwest man and your buddy helps you with home repairs or hauling furniture, the typical repayment for services rendered is a 30 pack of Busch Light.

2. If you are a Midwest woman and another Midwest woman compliments your blouse, your immediate response should be to say thank you and indicate where you got the blouse. Be sure to also inform whether you got it on discount or not. Midwesterners love discounted stuff. Then both of you should nod at each other approvingly.

3. If you are a MIdwesterner and you have been conversating with another MIdwesterner for a while but must leave, you should slap your knee lightly and say, “Well, I guess it’s about that time.” The other person should reply, “Yep, I guess so.” Or something similar to that in agreement. Then you should proceed to go to the door. Place your hand on the door knob and then turn and have another short conversation for about ten to fifteen minutes before you finally decide to go.

4. If you are on a gravel road and another Midwest driver drives up near you, It is customary to lift the four fingers of your driving hand at the other Midwest driver. For bonus measure, add a slight curt nod. Do not smile or wave your hand otherwise you will put the other Midwest driver on guard and they’ll mutter something under their breath like, “There’s something not quite right with that boy.” Also, if you refuse to show your four fingers to the other MIdwest driver, they will be offended.

5. Never try to out-nice a Midwesterner. We are notoriously known for being overly nice BUT if you try to out-nice a Midwesterner, they will fight ya. Consider the following scenario: A Midwest man holds a door open for another Midwesterner and smiles. He says, ” Go ahead.” But the other Midwesterner steps back politely and says, “No, no. You go first.” Then the first MIdwesterner will motion with his hand, ” No, please, I insist. You go first.” Now, the second Midwesterner will come back with the following comment, “No, it’s alright. You go.” At this point, the Midwesterner holding the door will exhibit an exasperated face and say, “Now look here pal……I said YOU GO FIRST!” To which the second Midwesterner will get suddenly taken aback and say, “Alright, alright….I guess.” The second Midwesterner will go promptly through the door but think to himself, “No need to get huffy!”

This strange contest of wills regarding Midwest niceness can be seen often at 4 way road stops, door entryways, and at all major Midwest airports.

6. Midwest men LOVE to strap stuff down in their truck. After ten to fifteen minutes of carefully strapping something down in the truck, the Midwest man will always slap the tightened strap lightly and turn to you and say, “That ain’t going nowhere.”

7. Midwest men answer the phone by saying either one of the following: “Yello.” This word is the colloquial term for Hello. Or if it is a close buddy, they will typically switch to Spanish and say something like this, “Que paso, amigo!”

First Book Reading

We had a great time at the Joplin Public Library attending the Joplin Writers’ Faire. There were around 30 writers at the event doing readings and signings. We donated 2 books to area libraries and sold books as well. We bought a book by FC Shultz titled The Rose Weapon. It is a book about Vikings and dragons. We also bought a children’s book and a Vietnam true stories book by Ronald Mosbaugh. It was a great event. Thanks to the Joplin Public Library for their beautiful new building and wonderful hospitality. This was my first reading of Searching for Fire and it went really well. Here are some photos of the event.

Red Ferns

Where the Red Fern Grows was written in 1961 by Wilson Rawls.    According to the book, if you see a red fern in the wilderness, it was planted by an angel.

In 1974, the children’s book was turned into a movie and portions of the movie were filmed in the Ozarks region of Arkansas and into Oklahoma.   These pictures are from Natural Falls State Park near Siloam Springs.

This beautiful waterfall location was filmed for Where the Red Fern Grows, a book about rural life in the Ozarks and a boy hunter with his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. We had the chance a while ago to visit Natural Falls State Park and we captured these pictures.

Near Siloam Springs, there are lots of other interesting tourist attractions like this one in Gentry, Arkansas.

You can drive through the wilderness park and view the many animals or stop and feed some of them like these cute baby goats and the kangaroos.

There are other fascinating tourism attractions in this area of Arkansas that I love like Crystal Bridges Art Museum owned by the Walton Family, Petit Jean State Park, Eureka Springs’ spooky haunted Crescent Hotel on the hill, and my personal favorite is Hot Springs bathhouse row and downtown. The best time to visit the Ozark Mountains is in October when all the tree leaves turn brilliant shades of orange, yellow, and red. It’s truly breathtaking. And if you come this way, best stop off in Branson, home of some great music, fantastic caves, and the Silver Dollar City theme park.