Thoughts for a Doodle Do…

So my pal Mike Allegra over at heylookawriterfellow is doing his semi-annual Doodle Contest. So here are my words: panther, dapper, samurai, flying pig, poetry. Because the Middlebury College mascot is a panther (and let’s face it, my cat Musashi is kind of like a very formal, tuxedoed panther), Musashi is dapper, I studied Japanese fencing, I had a coaching company with a flying pig logo, and um, er, uh, can’t remember the reason for the last one, might have to think about it more…


To get your name in the drawing, leave a list of five words in the comments section below. They can be any words at all, but – and this is important – the words cannot be completely random. Each word must be connected to you in some way.

For example, here are my five words:





Chip ‘n’ Putt

The connection between you and the words doesn’t need to be deep or profound, it just needs to exist.


Want me to stuff the ballot box in your favor? Fiiine. I’ll add two more ballots if you announce this contest on your blog and link back to this page. That’s three chances to win!

Don’t have a blog? No problem. I’ll give you one extra ballot if you announce this contest on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. (Be sure to post links in the comments.)


As I mentioned, the winner of the drawing will get a custom made, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra doodle suitable for framing! Woo!

But the winner will also get something else:

An original, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra-penned story! This story will contain all five of the words you supplied to enter this contest. I can’t promise you a good story, but I will do my best.

So do me a favor and choose fun words, OK?


Your entry is due on or before Tuesday, April 5. The winner of the drawing will be announced on Wednesday, April 6.

That’s it! Give me five words and get going!


The Lovely Blog Award!


I was just nominated for the Lovely Blog Award by the lovely Writer Chick! Thank you for that, Annie.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Thank your nominator, if you’d like.
  2.  List 7 facts about you
  3. Nominate 15 blogs for the award

So here goes:

Seven facts about me:

  1. I once played the trumpet, but I never practiced enough.
  2. My cat is named after 16th century Japanese swordsman extraordinaire, Miyamoto Mushashi.
  3. My Musashi has had a blog for years,, but has been oddly lazy about writing for it since I took up writing this blog…
  4. My party trick is writing sestinas, or, failing that, stealth refrigerator poetry.
  5. I have over 900 books, even with a yearly culling.
  6. I can pretty much identify Buffy the Vampire Slayer quotes by season and episode.
  7. I can still read some French and speak some Japanese, so basically, I have 1.8 languages.

+8. BONUS: This picture is what I did on Saturday: Boston ComicCon 2015!


Here are the blogs I will nominate:

  1. How to Fangirl for Adults
  2. Art-Colored Glasses
  4. rachelmankowitz
  6. annemichael
  7. Wine and Cheese (Doodles)
  8. Thomas H Brand
  9. writingtutortips
  10. heylookawriterfellow
  11. Meredith With Her Mouth Open
  12. Emily is an adult
  13. Alycat
  14. Luna, the Little Chomper
  15. Author Matt Bowes and the Dog’s Breakfast

Answering the Call


Well, after a long time away from the Grueling Slog that is submitting work for publication (I had a coaching business and then went and got a second masters degree; I wasn’t just sitting around eating bonbons), I am finally back in the game, and my word, how the game has changed. Ten years ago I was still printing poems out and sticking them in envelopes with a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope for return. How 19th century that feels now. In comparison, the new online submission vehicle, Submittable, feels like a flying car.

One thing that has stayed the same, though, is how I feel about Calls for Submission that are vague or cheeky. “Our only criterion is excellence” is a load of horse hockey; once you get past the beginner stages of creative writing, excellence becomes more and more subjective. What I like better is when they tell you who they’ve published. Also, general calls are less interesting to me than theme-based calls. If somebody says the theme is “storms” then I have a good idea which of my poems to submit, whether the stormy weather in them is real or metaphorical.MUSASHI_MIYAMOTO_by_BARCYD

A recent one that I have been playing with is “elements.” This one is cool because you could take it to mean parts of a whole, the Table of Elements, or any of a variety of cultures’ primary elements, from the four of Western Euro-culture (earth, air, water, fire) to the five of China or Japan or…. For example, the 16th century Japanese sword master Miyamoto Musashi (pictured above) after whom my cat is named (pictured below, photo by Jack Siberine), split The Book of Five Rings into five parts named after earth, air, water, fire, and the void. I wrote a really cool poem about the void that I am sending out (yes, it mentions lost socks). But I can also send out one about the painter Hiroshige, who was a fireman’s son in Edo (now Tokyo) in a time and place when/where a small fire could wipe out whole portions of a city where most buildings were made of wood. I could write about alchemists trying to turn lead to gold, or about Superman’s trouble with kryptonite. The themes not only make it easier to pick out poetry I have already written, but it also inspires me to write more.

Mu with String

And we all want to find ways to write more.