'Twas the Flight Before Christmas

'Twas the Flight Before Christmas

Oh, I love Christmas tree decorations.

Imagine my panic when Susanna Leonard Hill decided her holiday contest would be a rhyming challenge like Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. She kindly provided an out: “… if the idea of rhyme strikes fear and loathing in your heart, you may write a prose version instead … “

If you make it to the end, I have a note.

Here’s my entry:

‘Twas the Flight Before Christmas
By Stacy S. Jensen

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the space
I pack, check and fret as we ready to fly to Grandma’s place.  
Did I complete the things on my long, long list?
Mail cards. Wrap gifts … I fear something is missed.
I double check each bag as Hubby carries them to the car.
Then I see Henry, our toddler, through the door ajar.
I shoo him away and consider all the things we’ll need,
As other moms gave kid travel advice for me to heed.
As visions of spit ups and diaper blowouts float through my head,
Henry grabs a carry-on bag with clothes and books to be read.
I think of Hubby as I pack one with pants and size 15 shoes,
So he has clothes, if the airline chooses his checked bag to lose.
With luggage ready to go, I carry Henry to bed.
He refuses to go night-night and his PJs are shed.
Hubby arrives to re-dress and rock Henry to sleep.
Minutes later exhausted Hubby and I fall in a big heap.
The trip to the airport was quick for an early Christmas flight.
At security, we put our stuff in trays as Henry clings tight.
He doesn’t like the buzzers and noises at the screening station.
TSA officers pat us down and send us to our gate location.
Hubby taps his watch pointing out our three-hour wait.
I smile unfazed by the time, as I hate being late.
Henry stares at a soldier and a girl’s neon tights.
He wanders over to the windows to check out the sights.
Hubby runs over to buy bottled water from an airport store.
As I guard Henry, a stroller, a car seat and bags galore.
When the announcement is made for an early boarding call,
We leap up with a cheer to line up against the wall.
At the plane’s door with Hubby, attendants and me right there,  
Henry walks across the threshold hugging his brown bear.
I scoop him up in the narrow aisle, so I can quickly find our seat.
We stow bags above our head and stuff Henry’s things at our feet.
All buckled in tight with trays upright, it becomes clear,
Hubby has second thoughts and doesn’t want to be here.
Ah, this is what I forgot:  Hubby doesn’t like to fly
I pat his leg and silently pray nothing goes awry.
Our plane takes off with us crammed in seats 26B and C,
When Hubby sees Santa by the window with a list on his knee.
Santa laughs with a twinkle in his eye and adjusts his light.
“No worries,” he says. “We’ll fly away and have a good flight.”

So, here’s my note: 

I tried.

On Sunday, the local Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators group had a critique and holiday gathering. I took a version of this entry with brownies. I received kind feedback. The main one: Get the rhythm to match the original ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem.

I pulled out my Poem Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry book and found a specific reference to the meter  — the anapest, which has a rising foot. The dust jacket says the book is for ages 9-13. I believe the book is in Greek, because I can’t understand it. I’m stuck on how to fix the meter.

I changed my point of view, names and cleaned up a few lines. Thanks ladies at the Colorado Springs SCWBI meeting for the input, especially Debbie.

So, I ask: What’s a good resource to study meter? I need an aha meter moment.

To enter the contest, post your story on your blog or in the comments section of Susanna’s blog between today and Dec. 22.

Thank You Mr. Bill — Wrap It Up

Thank You Mr. Bill — Wrap It Up

I learned about the Wrap It Up – Blogfest through Leigh Covington. She planned to celebrate her birthday (Happy Birthday Leigh!) with a blog hop, but decided to join the one by David Powers King and J.A. Bennett — both are reaching 500 followers and wanted to celebrate.

Here’s my entry:

Dear Mr. Bill, 

Thank you. Thank you. I don’t know how Santa knew. My new toy wasn’t in my letter and I never asked for it. I never dreamed of asking for such a cool thing.

I rolled my cars over and under it. I cooked food in my plastic pots and pans on it. I built a wall with my blocks around it. 

I pushed my baby sister around the floor in it. I stuffed my Blue Bear, Cow Bunny and dog in it. Mom searched for 10 minutes calling my name — downstairs, upstairs and across the living room — as I hid in it. 

I kicked my balls — one, two and three — into it. I grabbed my blanket, prairie dog and lovey and took a nap in it. Dad shook his head and said something about my toy kitchen, when he joined me inside it. Santa has great taste, because I use it all the time. I will play with it every day.

I love my box! 



P.S. Dad doesn’t believe an elf would be named Bill. He said your name would be Jingles. I showed him the paper you left in my box, which had your name Bill printed on it. Well, it had Receipt on there, too, but I told my dad Elf Receipt would be a silly name. Elf Bill makes more sense. Please tell Santa I said thank you, thank you. I loved my surprise. My box is my favorite Christmas present. See you next year.

About my entry: I’ll let you decide whether the note is to a fictional or real person. It’s in the form of a 253-word Thank You note. I didn’t value Thank You notes in my late teens/early 20s. Once I embraced them, well, it changed everything. I love writing Thank You notes. They are handwritten hugs. 

There is still time to enter the contest today. Have a great weekend!

The rules:
Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) for someone you know (real or imaginary). It may be in any genre, but it must have a holiday theme (real or fictional). Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. You will then give it to that someone, sometime before the new year.

Give it in the form of an email, on fancy stationary, or laser-etched onto a solid gold plate. Your choice. Telling us who you’re giving it to is optional. 

Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of a few special gifts. The linky will close at 11:59 PM, Friday the 16th (MST). J.A., Leigh, and David will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: An Amazon Gift Card for $15
2nd: “Champaginer Challenges 2011” and “Totally Clichéd” E-books
3rd: A 5-page critique from David Powers King
4th: A 5-page critique from J. A. Bennett
5th: A 5-page critique from Leigh Covington

Judging will be based on the effectiveness and quality of your writing. There is no point system, no popularity votes, and you do not have to follow (the organizers) to participate.

Thanksgiving contest: Off to Grandma's House

Thanksgiving contest: Off to Grandma's House

Here’s my entry into Susanna Leonard Hill‘s Thanksgiving Contest. Writers are linking their entries to this post. So, get a little Thanksgiving cheer by stopping by and reading the stories. 

Off to Grandma’s House

By Stacy S. Jensen

They were supposed to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, but the blizzard came in fast.
Henry popped his head from under his covers. “What?”
“We can’t make it to Grandma’s house,” Mom said again.
“ That’s what we do,” Henry cried.
“We can’t,” Mom said.
“I can,” Henry said jumping out of bed and looking out the window to see the streets empty and everything covered in snow.
Henry dressed in his long johns, sweatshirt and snowsuit.
He fixed a ham sandwich, potato chips and water.
“Where are you going?” Mom asked.
“To Grandma’s” Henry said.
“You can’t,” Mom said.
“I can,” Henry said pulling his backpack over his jacket.
In the garage, Henry put on his snowshoes.
Dad walked by and asked. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to Grandma’s,” Henry said.
“You can’t,” Dad said.
“I can,” Henry said grabbing the rope to his sled.
Dad shook his head at Henry. “Wait a minute,” he said and returned in his own snowshoes.
“We’ll go together,” Dad said.
Father and son walked down the neighborhood through piles of snow. Henry slid down the hills.
It took a while, but Henry made it to Grandma’s house. She hadn’t fixed a meal as all the family stayed home due to the storm.
“I don’t have anything,” Grandma said.
“I do,” Henry said. “We’ll share.”
After lunch, Grandma made hot chocolate with a white frothy top for Henry.
“Now this is Thanksgiving,” Henry said slurping his drink.

A note:
I sought snow guidance from Hubby, who grew up in Iowa. He was quite the Debbie Downer on how to get Henry to Grandma’s house in a blizzard. Henry would be featured on a Dateline Special/news drama show had I used Hubby’s realistic advice. 
Earlier this month Jennifer Young from Castles in the Sky gave me the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m grateful she thought about me. She has a wonderful blog. She wrote a great piece earlier this month on Why I Write
I know I’ve been a bit wacky with my posts this month as I’ve been focusing on picture books and participating in a few extra events. I promise to return to my regular three posts a week in December.