Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

The Wonder of Books: A Childhood Memory

Bedtime Stories

A quote from author Eudora Welty:

“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them — with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.”  (One Writer’s Beginnings)

How I can relate to Welty’s introduction to books!

My mother treated books with all the delicacy and reverence of a holy relic.  Every Friday night, the family would pile into the station wagon and drive into town. The public library loomed before us like some great cathedral, magnificently lit, silent and austere; a place for study and reflection; a place of refuge and escape. My brother and I browsed through the racks, carefully opening the precious treasures, awed by the words we could not read and the colorful illustrations that dazzled our eyes. We carried off the chosen books, secure in our arms, and with smiling faces, looked forward to our bedtime story hour.

I remember The Cat in the Hat and Madeline and so many more. I remember my mother’s voice, lulling us into sleepiness, and then the final ritual before going to bed:  putting the books away in a special cupboard, high enough so that we could not reach them without my mother’s help. Books were special. Books were expensive. Books were rare. They needed to be locked away and protected like royal jewels. But most of all, they required love, a deep and abiding love that would last a lifetime.

Dawn Pisturino

February 5, 2014

Copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The oak chest and the bride who rushed to her death

Everybody loves a good ghost story! Click on photo to read the story.

freaky folk tales

The Mistletoe Bride

“Within lay the body of his lost bride, now a fleshless skeleton, wearing the beautiful wedding robes in which he had last seen her. The wedding dress was yellow and stained with age and corruption. Her fleshless hand was raised in a pathetic attitude as it trying to open the door of her tomb.”

Read the whole story: http://freakyfolktales.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/how-a-new-york-society-girl-came-to-inherit-the-ghost-of-an-english-bride/

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

DM du Jour

prosit-neujahrShould auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pou’d the gowans fine.
We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae sported i’ the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And ther’s a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
We’ll tak’ a right good willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.

 

With all best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2016!

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HAMMER n ANVIL mini

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Right on, Bree Ogden!

this literary life

In 1912, Henry Gilbert released his epic novel, Robin Hood.

In 1922, released was the stunning Ulysses by James Joyce.

a_wrinkle_in_time_original_coverAldous Huxley published the ground breaking Brave New World in 1932.

Albert Camus brought us Existentialism with The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus in the year 1942.

1952, had us all crying over a spider with E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

A Winkle in Time, Something Wicked Comes This Way, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Clockwork Orange all blew our minds in 1962.

No one will ever love a book more than The Princess Bride which 1972 brought us.

Roald Dahl owned the year before I was born, 1982, with James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.

In 1992, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey  by Ernesto “Che” Guevara had us rethinking our lives and the journey’s we have taken.

2002 had us evaluating family…

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Lots of good things out there to read for Halloween!

Underneath the Juniper Tree

The prolific and terrifyingly talented (ingenious, I might add) Neil Gaiman has started a new tradition called All Hallow’s Read. Watch the video below for details, straight from Gaiman himself.

Here at Underneath the Juniper Tree, we think this is just splendid. BEYOND splendid. We encourage everyone to partake in Gaiman’s tradition.

Inspire reading and inspire terror.

If you need a few suggestions of books to gift, the website for All Hallow’s Read offers many (even a great list from Neil himself) or you can check out some of my suggestions below:

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Red Rain by RL Stine

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

I Spy a Skeleton (or any of the “I Spy” books) by Jean Marzollo

ZOMBIES: The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics by Craig…

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Poe and Halloween belong together! Enjoy this poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

this literary life

As Hallowe’en creeps closer, I thought I would post my all time favorite poem by one of the greatest talents to ever live.

I also thought I would sprinkle in a few more of those Halloween Pin Up girls!

The Haunted Palace

by Edgar Allan Poe

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago),
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tunëd law,
Bound about a throne where, sitting
(Porphyrogene!)
In…

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A Writer 24/7

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by Dawn Pisturino

Adopting the writer’s mantle places us instantly in the spotlight. Everything we say, write, and do is being evaluated and judged by people we don’t even know.

With this in mind, it’s important to display our best writing at every opportunity.

I recently read a blog post by an English writer that was poorly formatted, riddled with errors, and unprofessional-looking. The purpose of the blog was to dispense writing advice to budding young authors. But what can a young author learn from run-on sentences and words that blend into one another with no punctuation or spaces? Needless to say, I no longer follow that blog.

Many self-proclaimed authors haunt Facebook and other social media sites. They promote their books with quickly-composed, ungrammatical sales pitches that reflect poorly on their abilities as writers. My thought is this: if they can’t write a simple post on Facebook, how can they write the next Great American novel? The answer is obvious.

E-mail tends to be a casual form of communication, but some people take it for granted that it’s okay to write in texting jargon and incomplete sentences. Clear, concise communication should be even more important when writing e-mails. I check my grammar and spelling every time I send out an e-mail because I want my readers to see me as a real writer.

My elderly aunt in Michigan fills her hand-written letters with poetic descriptions of the seasons and countryside where she lives. She’s not a writer, but she knows how to write. She knows how to turn a phrase and color a description so that it sticks in my head. She makes me imagine that once upon a time she wrote poetry in some dark garrett. That reminds me–I need to ask her!

Writing is a 24/7 job. And everything we compose should reflect our abilities as a writer. Our readers expect it. Our profession demands it.

Published in the July-August 2012 issue of Working Writer.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Fabulous First Lines

The first line of your novel or story can make it or break it. Are your words intriguing? Compelling? Do they make the reader hungry for more? Consider these first lines written by well-known authors. How do they make you feel? What images come into your head? Do you want to read more?

1. “Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town.” Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show

2. “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.” Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

3. “When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.” Cormac McCarthy, The Road

4. “The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought.” Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

5. “Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

6. “When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.” H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror

7. “On these cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.” Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

8. “The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.” David Sedaris, squirrel seeks chipmunk

9. “‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.'” Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

10. “The witnesses standing at the edge of the field were staring in horrified silence, too stunned to speak.” Sidney Sheldon, The Doomsday Conspiracy

11. “I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.” Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

12. “Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.” Mario Puzo, The Godfather 

13. “I see . . .” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.” Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

14. “Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.” Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

15. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

And the list goes on, ad infinitum. But you get the idea.

Dawn Pisturino

April 24, 2012

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Lessons from Lewis Carroll

Have you ever felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole? It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she found the tools to cope with her environment.

Or what about the White Rabbit? His obsession with time makes him sound like a classic Type A personality.

We all know people who act as if they are running a marathon race against Time. The most familiar thing out of their mouths is, “I’m busy. I don’t have time. Not right now. Good grief, I have to be somewhere in five minutes!”

Like the Red Queen, they are always running in place and getting nowhere fast. And no matter how hard they try to catch up, they never will. And no matter how much we try to convince them to slow down, they never will—until they suffer a heart attack or some other misfortune.

Appearing and disappearing like the Cheshire cat, they smile smugly and proudly tell us how terribly important they are; but they may as well be saying, “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Alice had many curious adventures in Wonderland, but even she had her limits. When she finally got tired of the Queen of Hearts screaming, “Off with their heads!” and all the other zany, madcap characters, she stood up and cried, “I can’t stand this any longer!”

And with one pull of the tablecloth, she was back home again with her beloved kitten Dinah.

The wacky world of Lewis Carroll can be seen as a reflection of our own crazy world. And, just like Alice, we sometimes have to pull ourselves in many directions to adapt to our environment. But when we can no longer tolerate living in this way, it’s time to stand up and shout, “Enough is enough!”

Dawn Pisturino

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, September 11, 2007.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Young Love, Undying Love

Young Love, Undying Love

When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love with my algebra teacher. Teaching silly high school students earned him a living. His real goal? To complete his PhD. in physics.

His curly dark hair shimmered with dandruff, detracting from his coffee-stink breath. He wore wrinkled blue seersucker suits in warm weather and corduroy jackets with patched elbows in cold. Nervous and shy, his hands and voice trembled when he stood in front of the blackboard explaining algebraic formulas to a bunch of disinterested teenagers.

He seemed young and old at the same time. And he had violet eyes—I kid you not! The most beautiful eyes I had ever seen behind a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.

My heart burned with love for this nervous nerd. I adored him throughout algebra and again during Life Sciences. I worshipped the ground he walked, waiting expectantly to catch glimpses of him between classes and after school.

I even wrote him a poem.  I forgot it for many years, and suddenly, one day, I remembered part of it.

Bitter Fragment of a Beautiful Dream

My love, thou hast hearkened to my sorrows

Ere the night as ere the day;

Among the grasses of these meadows

Hast thou hearkened to my laughter

Clearly echoing the joy bound in thine heart.

Beyond the hill hath mine hand wept in thine:

Thou wip-ed away the tears.

Beside the stream—how sweetly flows the rivulet wine!—

Thou rejoiced as mine;

We wept for the years,

Since-parted, we knew each other not.

Belov-ed, thou hast planted deep the seed of love,

And how it grows!—

Reaching, reaching for the height of its passion,

But endlessly reaching—

I love thee.

My sweet, thou hast made pure of me a lover.

A burning fire scorches the flesh and tendons of my soul,

Melting fast the waxen candle:—

I love thee as myself,

For I love thee as thyself,

And as one should we destine,

Striving for the highest and deepest aspirations

Of Life!—

Or Death . . .

(Beginning of poem written Spring, 1970 for R.B, remembered Spring, 1986)

You see here, of course, the influences of the great Romantic poets, with whom I was obsessed: Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Byron, and especially, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. How the world burned with love, passion, and death! For love had to end in a tragic, prolonged death. Young love, undying love. Romeo and Juliet. Catherine and Heathcliff.

I found a photo of R.B. in an old high school yearbook. Examining the greasy hair, weak chin, thin body, I could only exclaim: WHAT WAS I THINKING BACK THEN? Romeo and Juliet? Hardly. Catherine and Heathcliff? No way!

I often wonder if he achieved his goal. Is he a Doctor of Philosophy now in Physics? Does he still teach? And I still remember his deep, soul-sinking violet eyes. But not my cup of tea. No, definitely not! But he was my love, my very first love, and I treasure that memory. Always.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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