Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year 2012

Wow!  We only have a couple of days left in 2011.  It's hard to believe another year has come and (almost) gone.  Personally, I hate to see it go -- I didn't have a problem with 2011, did you?

I've been thinking about all the years I've seen come and go.  Each of them was good.  Some were actually great.  I can't really remember any years that were only so-so.  Come to think of it, I don't think I ever lived in a year that I wished was over.  It's just like what Forrest Gump said in the movie.  "Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get."

I believe I've touched on what excites me about another new year -- the surprise of it all.  Of course, it would be nice to have a crystal ball.  In 2012, will I sell five million books?  Will I finally be rich and famous?  I'll just have to wait and see ...

So, come Saturday night, I'll pour myself and Robert a glass of bubbly to greet another new year ... too bad we'll probably be asleep on the couch by the time midnight arrives.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Morning at Our House

(Yawn ... s t r e t c h ... yawn ... scratch-scratch)

  (Jumping out of bed in sudden realization) ...

(poke-poke) "Claud? You up? Wake up, it's Christmas." (poke-poke)

(loud yawn) (stretch-s t r e t c h)  "Stop poking ... I'm up. You sure Santa was here?"

"I think so. Let's go see.  Shhhhh, we gotta be quiet. Don't wake anybody up ... not yet. We have to see if he came, first. Then we'll wake 'em up."

(stairs creaking) (tip-toe - tip-toe - c  r e a k - tip-toe - c r e a k)

"He came. He came!"

"He did?  Let's go tell them!"

"Shhhhh, wait. Can you see anything, Claud? Can you see what he brought?"

"Nope. It's too dark. But I can see presents under the tree! I can see the puffy stockings and there's stuff sticking out of 'em! C'mon, Cath'. Let's go get 'em up!"

(creak-creak) (tip-toe, tip-toe, tip-toe) (creak-creak) (tip-toe, tip-toe) (creak-creak)

(pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter)

(doorknob turning)

"Bill!  It's Christmas and Santa was here.  Get up ... shhhhh." 

(pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter)

(doorknob turning)

(nudge) "Timmy, wake up. Santa came." (nudge-nudge)

(yawn) "I'm up ... stop that."

(poke-poke) "Chippy, chippy? Wake up. Santa was here. It's Christmas!"

"Don't poke. I'm awake, I'm up."

"Shhhh, where's Shari?  She's not in her crib."

"She ... she's prob'ly sleeping with mommy and daddy. She has a cold."

"Everybody, c'mon. Let's go get mommy and daddy up!"

"In a minute. I gotta potty."

"Me too!"

"Me too!"

"Me too!

(door opening, flush ...closing, opening, flush ...closing, opening, flush ...)

(feet shuffling in the hall) (pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter)

(doorknob turning)

(hinges squeaking)

"Mommy-Daddy, Merry Christmas!   Wake up, Santa Came!  Wake up!"

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree Rant ....

You just can't beat a REAL Christmas tree.
I have a small rant today.  Robert and I have been searching the whole town for a REAL Christmas Tree for a week now.

We can't find a single parking lot anywhere where real Christmas trees are for sale.  We find that so totally strange.

There used to be Christmas tree lots everywhere!  The boy scouts sold them, and the fire department did, too.  Even the local high school used to sell Christmas trees as a fund raiser.  

You could spot the lots easily, too.  They always had long strings of colored lights strung high overhead, all the way around the lot, and visible from a block away.

I remember when I was a child, Daddy would pile all of us into the Parrish station wagon and, like they did in the movie "Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase, we would head out into the country to cut down our tree.

But it was so much more than just cutting down a Christmas tree.  In my family, it was a tradition and it was the kick off to our holiday spirit.

While Daddy was putting the lights on the tree, we wrote our letters to Santa.  Then, that done, everyone helped to decorate the aromatic pine with decorations.

Is there a lack of real Christmas trees because everyone is buying artificial trees these days?  I suppose fake trees are okay ... for some people.  They sure look real, not like the spindly ones that first came out years ago.  I hear they even come with lights already attached, too.

(shaking my head)  I'm just NOT buying an artificial tree, and even if I have to drive to other towns, I WILL find a Christmas tree lot selling REAL Christmas trees.

I would miss the smell of pine and besides, I love tradition.   No wonder I never want to grow up ...

Update:  After a lot of searching, Robert and I did find a real tree that year.  It was beautiful and it made our home smell wonderful.  We had a traditional Christmas, just the two of us, like we wanted.

Since our move to Florida in 2012, I have to confess, we both decided we would go the artificial route.  We don't spend a lot of time at home, preferring to be out seeking new adventures in our golf cart or visiting family and friends.

So, last Christmas, we found the perfect tree for our home.  It has all of the lights attached and it goes up in a matter of minutes.

I do miss the scent of a real tree, but we found a pine-scented room spray at Pier 1 and it does a pretty good job ... and tradition?  Well, we're all for starting our own tradition right here, right now ...

Merry Christmas from us to you!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Children's Poem: Dear Santa

Santa Claus

Dear Santa ...

by CJ Heck

You always bring me many things, 
my little sister, too, 
things we love to play with 
and so many things to do. 

I see you in big limos 
waving at us in parades. 
I see you in the shopping malls 
and even in arcades. 

I see you on the corners 
where you're ringing little bells. 
I see you talking on TV 
advertising big hotels. 

It causes me to wonder 
if you're really really there, 
or are you just too busy 
with all those things to care? 

See, I have a best friend, Tommy, 
and I'm sending his address 
so this year you won't miss his house, 
'cause Tommy, he's the best. 

Please, Santa, take some time off 
from those other things you do 
and this year, visit Tommy's house? 
He needs some presents, too.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Friday, December 2, 2011

Coshocton Tribune Interview

Coshocton Natives Find Common Ground with Writing ...
7:21 AM, Dec. 1, 2011

Coshocton Tribune
Coshocton, Ohio 43812

Written by
Leonard Hayhurst
Staff Writer

COSHOCTON -- Two childhood friends from Coshocton now are sharing their lives and their literary talents with the world.

Coshocton natives Catherine Parrish, who writes as C.J. Heck, and Robert Cosmar got reacquainted two years ago during a multi-class reunion for graduates of Coshocton High School that Cosmar organized. Although they were two years apart in school, they said they can't really remember talking or seeing each other since they were young kids, almost 50 years before.

"We were often thrown together as a group of kids," Parrish said. "(Cosmar) said he didn't remember me at all in high school, although I'm sure we passed in the halls, but he said 'my last memory of you as a child is you sitting beside me in the back seat of my parents' car. I was about 9 years old, and you were about 11. I remember looking over and seeing those blues eyes and thinking 'oh my God, it's a girl.'" He said he never forgot those blues eyes.

Parrish received an email from Cosmar sent by another classmate about the reunion and from there, they began writing back and forth. A rekindled friendship flamed into love, and Cosmar eventually moved from Coshocton to be with Parrish in DuBois, Pa.

"We're motivating and stimulating each other to grow and more fully express who we are," Cosmar said. "We do what we love to do, which is basically write and share stories."

Cosmar knew Parrish was a children's author, and the two often would talk about writing and literature. Shortly after getting together, Cosmar mentioned he had written three short unpublished stories about 20 years ago. Parrish said she asked to read them and was impressed immediately by their quality.
"I demanded, 'Why haven't you published these? They're wonderful!' He answered, 'Who'd want to read those? They're so old,'" Parrish recalled.

Parrish offered encouragement and editing, which resulted in Cosmar publishing his first book, "Trilogy of Awareness" in September, 2011.

Cosmar describes the book as one meant to inspire imaginations. One story deals with a banished alien prince; another tells of a middle-aged man, lost in life, who is whisked to a parallel dimension, and the final tale is about the ghost of Jimi Hendrix aiding young guitarists at a music camp near Woodstock.

"My stories are allegories. On one level, they're like your 'Twilight Zone,' Rod Serling-type stories. They present a platform that's very obvious and understandable that applies to life in general, maybe your situation or someone else's situation, but somewhere in it, it takes you to a place of awareness and that's why it's called 'Trilogy of Awareness,'" he said.

Parrish has published four books since 2000, the most recent being a collection of short stories and flash fiction entitled "Bits and Pieces from a Writer's Soul" and "Me Too! Preschool Poetry," both in September. Her newest book "Barking Spiders 2," a sequel to her "Barking Spiders and Other Such Stuff (2000)," has been nominated for the 2011 Cybils Children's Book Award in the poetry category.

Parrish said much of what she writes about comes from her children or from her childhood in Coshocton. Although she can't remember her teacher's name, Parrish never will forget how a fourth-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School encouraged her to write poetry as part of the class. She said she and Cosmar still have friends and family in the Coshocton area and visit often.

"We had such a wonderful childhood living (in Coshocton)," Parrish said. "We could go anywhere. It's not like today where (parents) are afraid to let their kids go out alone. I remember walking down Main Street up to Elm Street by the hospital and (Cosmar) remembers the same thing. We'd play outside until dark, and nobody worried about us. We loved Coshocton growing up. It's such a wonderful, wonderful town."; (740) 295-3417

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

CJ's Dear (someone) Letter

December 1, 2011 (from DuBois PA)

Rain, rain go away ...
Dear Rain,
Please go away.  It's the first of December.  How can I think Christmas, without the white stuff you could so easily become?

Dear Santa,
Christmas seems to arrive a month earlier each year.  Do you have your elves working earlier, too?

Dear Freshly-laundered Bed,
I will dream of you all day long.

Dear Newly Clean Duplex,
Never let yourself go.  You are so worth it and I love you.

Dear Hair,
Let's find a conditioner and shampoo that work well together and stick with it.

Dear Squirrel,
I didn't mean to laugh when you fell off the pole yesterday, but I couldn't help myself.  Hey, aren't you supposed to be hibernating anyway?

Dear Robert,
I adore you.  Please never change.  Your kisses make my whole world go round.

Dear Florida,
Please hold a sunny spot for Robert and me.  We hope our move will be sometime next year.

Dear Bank Account,
Grow, fool, grow!

Dear Universe,
Please help my books sell and send people to my website.  It's awful, feeling invisible ... and I hate poor.

Dear Family,
I love you all and wish we lived closer.  I have a mountain of hugs to share.

With All My Love,
Me, CJ

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lunch with Friends

This came to me today from a friend that I value very much.  After you read this, I think you'll understand ...

"One day I had lunch with some friends. Bob, a short, balding golfer-type about 69 years old, came along with them.  All in all, it was a pleasant bunch.

When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, all except for Bob who said, "Ice Cream, please -- two scoops, both of them chocolate."

At first, I wasn't sure my ears heard him right, and the others were aghast, as well. "Oh, and along with some heated apple pie." Bob added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time. But when our orders were brought out, I found that I didn't enjoy mine.  I couldn't take my eyes off Bob as his pie a-la-mode went down. I noticed that the other guys couldn't believe it either. They ate their lunches silently and grinned suspiciously.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Bob. I lunched on white meat tuna and whole grain bread. He ordered a parfait. when I smiled, he asked if he amused me. I answered, "Yes, you do, but also you confuse me. How come you order rich desserts for lunch, while I feel I must be sensible?"

Bob laughed and explained, "I'm tasting all that is possible.  I try to eat the foods I need, and I do the things that I should do so I'll be healthy, but listen, life's so short, my friend! I hate missing out on something good. This year I realized how old I was."  He smiled, thoughtfully.  "I haven't ever been this old before.

Before I die, I've decided to try those things I had always ignored. I haven't smelled all the flowers yet; there are trout streams I haven't fished; there are more hot fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown over my head in the wind. There are too many golf courses I haven't played, and I've not laughed at all the jokes yet. Oh, and I've missed a lot of sporting events ... and potato chips ... and cokes.

I want to wade barefoot again in puddles and feel the ocean spray on my face. I want to sit in a country church one more time and thank God for everything. I want peanut butter spread every day on my morning toast; I want un-timed long distance calls to all the folks I love the most.

I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face, and I want to be in love again. So, my friend, if I choose to have the dessert, instead of having dinner, then if I die before night fall, I'll be able to say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired.  I would die a happy man."

With that, I called the waitress over. "S'cuse me, Ma'am. I've changed my mind. I want what he's having -- only add even more whipped cream!"

This is my gift to you -- let's make this our annual Friends Day. The rest of the year, we'll live well, love much and laugh often -- in other words, we'll be happy.  And we have to be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige. It's all about relationships with the people we like and love and respect.

Money might talk, but chocolate ice cream sings ...

Thank you, Craig Latham! Many hugs, my friend.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book News: "Barking Spiders 2"

The Sequel Book 

News! (a little shamless plug)

"Barking Spiders 2" (October 2011) 

Nominated for the 2011 Cybils Children's Book Award in Poetry!

Finalists announced January 1, 2012 
Winner announced February 14, 2012.

Buy Barking Spiders 2 at

About the Book:

In this sequel to her first book, CJ Heck continues her journey to help children experience life through humor, insight, sensitivity, and with the understanding that like adults, children wish to make sense of the world they live in.

Read a Preview/Excerpt of Barking Spiders 2


"My grandchildren--4 1/2 and 7--and I had enjoyed reading and sharing CJ's first children's poetry book for children (Barking Spiders) and were very happy to learn that she had written a second volume. As a mom, grandma, and school librarian, I am always delighted to find books for children that are entertaining, educational, and FUN to read; that you just need to read aloud and can't wait to share with others. This one is all that but manages to stay above "too cutesy" or "talking down" to children. 
The kids just know they like what's in there--both the poems and the illustrations. My granddaughter had to get the first book out so she could re-read it and compare the two books to see if she "thought the second one was as good as the first one." She declared that, indeed, it is. She took it it school to share with her friends and classmates. 
Poetry is such a good way to get children interested in words and in reading..CJ's books are fun ones to add to your collection.  Two thumbs up from each of the three of us!" ~Jot 2000 

"The book had great poems. Each poem painted a picture for me. The words made them come to life. As I read them I felt like I was right there. Also, the variety of the poems made them more interesting. No poems seemed like any of the others. I am happy I got to read the book. Thank you!" ~Alyssa (Colorado) 

"In this follow up to her popular first book, Barking Spiders and other Such Stuff, CJ cultivates and enriches the innocent spirit within us all. As you read to a child, a parent is transported in heart and feelings to the simpler and more innocent time of youth. The two hearts bridge the gap of age and meet in the middle, where heart and soul are eternally young." ~Magic Man

"We all know, the mind of a child is something we'll never fully understand. However, CJ Heck has written three books that prove she is the master of a child's illogical, logic, a child's innocence, their unfiltered honesty and boundless love.

Barking Spiders, Barking Spiders 2, and Me Too! Pre-school Poetry all sit on my bookshelf waiting for me to read to my grandchildren. If a child has thought about it, CJ has written about it. No matter how many times I read CJ's poetry, I am amazed at how well it correlates to watching the antics of my children and grandchildren.

The good news is that us grown-ups enjoy CJ's writing as much as the children do. Enjoy the laughter, wonder and joy of a child. Read CJ Heck." ~Russell Daily

***Note:  We didn't win, but that's okay!  It was an honor to have my book nominated.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Friday, November 4, 2011

Children and Rules

Playing Dress Up
I remember one of the hardest things about being a child was learning the rules of growing up.  To a kid, things were always black or white, good or bad, and right or wrong.

The way I learned best was by listening to and minding my parents, yes, but I also I learned by testing the very rules they imposed, and then finding out that there were consequences.  I spent a lot of time thinking about rules in the "naughty chair" ...

From a child's vantage point, grownups had it easy.  They could stay up as late as they wanted.  They didn't have to go to school every day and sit in a classroom.

They could do anything they wanted to do and, most important, they held the key to just about everything in a kid's life, too -- what they should eat and when; what they should wear; where they could go; when to come inside; when to take a bath; when to go to bed; when they should get up; when to pick up toys or clean their room; even what they could watch on TV.

Growing up couldn't come fast enough. I could hardly wait not to have any more rules ...


by CJ Heck

Parents sure have lots of rules,
things to do and not do.
I’ll be glad when I get big
and growing up is gone through.

I won’t need a dentist
or a barber for my hair,
and I’ll go buy a chocolate cake
that I won’t have to share.

Maybe, I’ll stay up all night,
eat junk and watch TV.
If I want, I’ll sleep all day.
No more rules for me!

“How will you get up for work?
You might get fired”, Mom said.
“You won’t make any money
by sleeping late in bed.”

Why would I need money?
Who needs money anyway?
Rules are bad. When I grow up
I’ll do fun things all day.

"How will you pay your rent?
How will you buy a car?
How would you buy your grownup clothes?
(you’ll be bigger than you are) .

You’ll have to buy the food you eat.
You’ll have to have a phone.
How will you pay your heating bill,
‘cause surely you’ll buy a home?"

I hadn’t thought of all of that.
I can’t do that stuff.
It doesn’t sound like fun at all
and I don’t know enough.

Mom said as I get bigger,
the rules get bigger, too,
but when we start at my age,
growing up is fun to do.

She said, "People grow like houses,
step by step, and brick by brick.
That’s the way we all grow up
and having rules is part of it."

(from the book, "Barking Spiders 2")

Isn't it funny, how we long for the days of childish innocence and gentle rules ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When I Finally Close My Eyes ...


When I Finally Close My Eyes

by CJ Heck

When I close my eyes
for the last time,
I want to have lived,
really lived.

I want to know I've tasted
the smorgasbord of life,
having relished the good
and spat the bad back out,
knowing at least I tried it.

When I'm done here,
I won't have to wonder
whether someone caught
the kiss I threw,
I will know.

I don't want to leave this life
with a heart as empty
as my pockets have always been.

I want to know, without a doubt,
I've left something of me behind,
something that's good,
not regret
for never making a difference.

When I close my eyes
for the very last time,
I would like
someone to remember
... I was here.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Role of a Poet

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say,
but what we are unable to say.”
~Anais Nin

The Role of a Poet
CJ Heck

To say what others cannot
is truly a mark of greatness.
But have all the noble poems
been written by classical masters
and the gifted poets of today?
Are there meaningful works
still left to pen,
not merely big words
from our swollen egos
spilling their contents
at the whim of a moment,
nor with the simplistic meanderings
of joy, or grief or love?
To answer my own question,
I say write on, dear poets.
Allow not your words
to decay unwritten
in the brilliant minds of today
where they'll lie barren and unread
only to wither and crack and parch
as clay in the desert.
I do believe there are jewels
left to be written.
But if we must write,
it should be for the future,
for the common man
who will gain most from
these words he cannot write.
We have an obligation
to write in a way
that he may glean what he can
from writings of poetic merit,
not stumble through
obscure words which are,
to him, as bird droppings
on a splintered windowsill,
left to die in obscurity
gathering nothing but dust.
If we must write,
let us write for those who are unable,
so the future might find our words
alive and fertile, their tilled soil
begun as thoughts and feelings
first seeded in keen minds,
then sown into black and white,
rich and green and lush,
to live on in future hearts and minds
even as we crumble, ashes to ashes,
and blow away, dust to dust.
May we always write
not to say what we can all say,
but what we are unable to say
-- not just for now, but for forever. 

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Questions About Writing

I belong to a writers group online, and since I am an author, I was asked by the group moderator if I would help out by answering questions from aspiring writers in the group.

After doing this for a couple of days, I thought there may be others who have a few of the same questions.

Dear CJ,
before you published your first book, did you ever come close to throwing in the towel and giving up? what kept you going?

No, I never even considered giving up. If anything, when I got discouraged, I doubled my efforts, because I wanted it so bad I could taste it! I think I mentioned, I gave up a full time job to try and get my book published. I decided if I didn't get a contract by the end of six months, I would go back to work and consider my writing a nice little hobby.

Well, it's a good thing it worked out, because I know now, after having four books published and with another five children's fiction books in the hands of a wonderful illustrator that I found online -- I never in a million years could have pushed the writing aside -- it isn't a hobby. Writing is as much a part of me as my eyes, or my hands are.

Remember, it only takes one "yes" to be published ... be persistent, be dedicated, and believe in yourself and your work.

Does it sometimes happen, when you write for children, to get 'carried away' into something that is too complicated and then you have to simplify? In other words, how do you know what a child aged x years old will understand?

Hi Marc,
As to how, and if, something works, and if it can be understood by children at certain ages, I guess I cheat ... well, actually, I prefer to call it "get a leg up".

When I write something for children, whether it's a poem or a story, I try it out first on one or more of my grandchildren in that age group -- I have nine grandchildren, boys and girls, and ranging in age from two up to fourteen. They're my best (and most painfully honest) critics. When it works, it works. When it doesn't, I get the audible "raspberries" and, after finding out why it was ditzed, I head back to the drawing board to lick my wounds and re-write.

If it passes the first test with my grandchildren, I often take it along on an author school visit. During each of my presentations, I ask the children and teachers if they would like to hear a new story (or poem).

Children know what's funny, what's scary, what will make them cry, or mom and dad angry. Ask your children, grandchildren, go to a library and find a group of little ones. Go to the source ...

Thank you!

hey cj,
congrats on being a published author. Just a couple of questions. How do you first plan a story? Develop your characters or plot? And how do you create that pefect 'voice' of the narrator?
thankyou for your time :)

Hi CJ!
I would like to write stories/books for the 12-17 age group. Currently I'm writing a fantasy (I've been writing it for about 7 years now).

My question to you is, I know generally what I want to happen in my story but I can't seem to fill in the blanks! Has this ever happened to you? If so, what did you do to get around it or fix it?

Great Questions, Ladies,
Milly, I first plan a story probably like you and everyone else does -- somehow, an idea just comes, and when it does, I run with it. I like to call it "being inspired". I have a strong belief in the universe and everything happening for a reason, and also exactly when it's supposed to happen.

I think we've all had an "inspiration" with our writing; you know, where a story or poem almost writes itself. When the inspiration comes to us, it's all we can think of and the words flow so easily from our hearts to our minds and fingers.

I can give you a couple of my own examples. A few years ago, I was driving to visit my youngest daughter in North Carolina from my home in New Hampshire. On the way, I couldn't stop thinking about some possible children's poems that were banging around in my head, wanting to come out and be written. When I stopped at a traffic light I scribbled ideas and lines in a notebook, or scribbling in a restaurant while I had lunch, even when I stopped to use a public restroom, I scribbled ideas and lines. When I arrived at my daughters sixteen hours later, I had written six poems. I was ... "being inspired". As writers, you probably all know what I'm talking about because you've experienced it.

I've also had it happen the other way, where I couldn't write anything, no matter how hard I tried. I've learned to just let it go, when that happens -- set it aside or put it in a drawer. When the inspiration isn't there, just let it go until you sense and feel the inspiration again. I have one poem about my first husband's military funeral, called "Taps for my Soldier", which took 31 years to write. It was there inside me and wanting to come out, but it was so close to my heart and soul that I couldn't see past the pain of my loss to write about it in more than a line at a time. When enough years had passed, it suddenly flowed when the universe was ready for it. The complete poem now lies in the Arlington National Cemetery as part of the "Taps Project" by invitation.

I guess my answer to you about "filling in the missing blanks" of a story would be, just wait it out. Put the story in a drawer and come back to it at another time. When it's time, the story will finish itself through inspiration. Even characters will write themselves -- they literally will come alive when you write a character and almost tell you what they will say or how they will act in the story.

As to the 'voice' of a story. Try it many ways, Milly. There will be one way that "speaks" to you in a louder voice -- again, that inspiring voice. When I'm writing a story, especially if it has some truth to it (from a personal memory or experience), writing it in first person sometimes feels better, more right, than writing it told from an imaginary character's POV.

I think what I'm saying throughout this whole diatribe is this ... trust in yourself. Trust in being inspired. All things happen exactly when they're supposed to. With the universe, nothing is ever wasted.

Thank you!

Hi, CJ,
I love all your short stories! What aspect do you think is the most difficult part of getting published?

Hi Melissa,
Thank you for your warm comments. There's nothing easy about getting published -- or self-publishing, either, but if I had to choose THE most difficult aspect from my point of view, it would have to be the infernal editing you have to do.
As writers, we have a tendency to think every word in a story or poem is necessary to the storyline. Wrong-wrong-wrong. Our readers are smarter than we think. When we can say something in twelve words, why take one hundred?

Edit, edit, edit. Read it again. Edit. Then have someone else read your story. Listen to their comments and edit some more. My partner, Robert, and I help to edit each other's work. I think the one word we overuse the most is "that" (laughing). I think in one short story of 1120 words, we cut 47 that's!

A Quick Example: I think that the most difficult thing that a writer has to think about is the fact that we have to tell a story in shorter words, using meaty sentences that allow our readers to use their imaginations to understand what is being said.

After Editing: I think the most difficult thing for a writer to do is write concisely, giving readers the freedom to feel and imagine.

So, I guess my answer to your question is -- "Editing".

Thank you, Melissa!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book News!

Big News Today! I hope you will join me in my excitement ...

"Bits and Pieces of a Writer's Soul" and "Me Too! Preschool Poetry" are now in print and available at 

 If you wish to buy, just click on the links. 

Also now in print, Robert Cosmar's new book:

Congratulations, Robert!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Monday, September 26, 2011

More on Self-Publishing: Robert S. Cosmar

I thought maybe today, I would add a few of my own thoughts on self-publishing. ~Robert S. Cosmar

I think self-publishing is for those who feel that they have something to say and share with the world.

It would be nice to be picked up by a publisher, using their money and resources to produce, advertise, market, and sell your thoughts to the masses, but very few writers have this opportunity presented to them, especially when you get to be my age.

The publishing industry is going through massive changes and publishers are becoming tight with their purses and very frugal when it comes to publishing a book by an unknown.

There is also the ridiculous game of major publishers wanting you to first have an agent to submit your manuscript to them, and then agents who require you to have a contract with a publisher, before they will represent you.  It's a Catch 22, to say the least.

With the growth of eBooks and publishing services that allow anyone to publish a hardback or paperback book, it's only a matter of time before you'll see a decline in the major industry of those who control who and what goes into print and then when it's published.  I suppose this is both good and bad -- and for many reasons.

There is a lot of worthless material being published by those who seek to satisfy an ego urge to stroke their vanity; however, there is also excellent, brilliant material that touches the heart and makes the spirit soar on wings of imagination.

It is the writer who has to decide if what they've written is important, needs to be said, and should be published. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn what it takes to produce a book, or eBook.

In conclusion, there is a joy that comes with sharing your heart's creations and seeing them released to others through self publishing.  It feels like a kiss of satisfaction on the cheek of your heart and soul.


"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I have been published, and I have self-published.  It's been interesting, difficult, grueling, and yet even a little exhilarating.

There are pluses and minuses to either way, but the end result is the same -- you have a book "out there" and, in a [very small] way, you are immortal -- well, at least your words are.  Your words will live on, long after you're gone.

When you have a publisher, a lot of the work is done by them -- formatting, editing, cover design, interior set up, distribution, ISBN numbers, copyrights, advertising, marketing, and in the case of a children's book, they have staff artists who do your book illustrations.

None of this is so, when you self-publish.

When you make the decision to self-publish, you will ultimately have to decide how much of the burden you want to, or can, carry on your own.

There are self-publishing companies online that will gladly sell you  publishing packages, some costing thousands of dollars.

They will do most of the work I'm told, however, you have to ask yourself how long it will take to recoup the money you've spent -- not to mention, your cost per book is about $20.

To make any money -- this is a business, remember -- you would have to set your selling price in excess of $25-35!  Robert and I quickly decided this was not for us.

A further search into self-publishing brought us to P.O.D., which means "print on demand".  There are several of these online, notably and Createspace, which is owned by

With each, you do most of the work and upload your formatted pdf or ePub book to them for printing, or publishing.  You should also do your homework here -- research, study, check out complaints on the Better Business Bureau's website for each, and then decide which company you will ultimately entrust with the birth of your book.

You have to also decide if you want the P.O.D. publisher to assign an ISBN number to your book -- understand, this technically makes them the publisher -- or whether you will obtain your own ISBN number for your book.  This is daunting, trust me.  There is only one place to get ISBN numbers, Bowker, and they're expensive.

With our first self-published book, Robert and I decided this was the way to go -- we're decided we were doing all the work, so we are the publishers.  Since we each have several books we want to self-publish, we went to Bowker and jointly bought a small block of ISBN numbers. It was far less expensive than buying one ISBN number at a time, which was $125 per ISBN.

Keep in mind, in most cases, you also need to purchase a separate bar code for each ISBN number.  That's for the back of your book.  The bar code carries the price you're charging per book, and has the ISBN number, as well.  Each bar code costs $25.

As you can see, when you self-publish, you've made a concrete decision to BE the publisher of your book.   You take on the whole exhausting process, beginning with  learning everything you have to do to publish a book, and then learning how to do each step.

Believe me when I say, it's a mind-boggling, tedious and frustrating process.  I don't know how many times Robert and I felt we had a handle on something, only to find out we had done it wrong and had to start over.  There are even times when you wonder if your book is even worth all the trouble.

In our case, we felt our books were worth the work of self-publishing, daunting as it was going to be. Deciding who to go with was relatively easy at first glance.  Since we both belonged to, we initially went with a P.O.D. company that AuthorsDen had a working affiliation with:

That was a wrong decision and we backed out of almost immediately.  We would not recommend them, but whether you choose to is up to you.

Whoever you ultimately go with, please never, ever assume anything ... trust me.  All I'm going to say is, if you go with, just be sure when you get to the end point -- that of ordering a proof of your book to check whether it's the way you ultimately want it to look -- that you do just that.

You will also be offered the chance to order bulk copies of your book.  Make sure you do not order personal copies at the same time you order your proof and then make the mistake of assuming your proof will be sent first -- it won't.  Enough said. is not clear on that point, as well as other points, so be very careful.

Robert and I were extremely happy with CreateSpace [Amazon].  They make payments on time and keep excellent records.  You can see at a glance on your Dashboard on their website, how many of your books were sold, your royalty per book, which countries your sales were from and whether they were Kindle or print sales.  They handle all sales and shipping, too, freeing you up for writing even more books.

We liked Createspace so well that we went ahead and allowed them to be the publisher on several more books -- it made things so much more simple for us. We highly recommend CreateSpace.

I wish you success!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ebooks or Books?

Which would you rather read, books or ebooks?  Interesting question, isn't it?.

For the past month, Robert and I have been self-publishing.  It's grueling, re-writing, editing, re-editing, researching P.O.D. (print on demand -- no upfront costs) companies, applying for and buying ISBN numbers (so the P.O.D. company isn't the "publisher" of your work, you are), working with bar codes and learning new programs to create pdf, and modify jpg image files, learning how to correctly paginate, designing and creating back and front covers, yada, yada, yada.

The Dream:  Our Books Published
In Robert's case, he wrote the three stories in his first book nearly twenty years ago, so they first had to be brought into the light and dusted off before doing anything else.

In my case, I worked on the sequel for eleven years.  The preschool book was actually an afterthought, because I felt some of the poems were too young for Barking Spiders 2.

Drawing my own illustrations was also an afterthought, but after making the decision to self-publish, it was something I wanted to do.

Once the books were ready to go, we uploaded them to the P.O.D. company and got in the queue, waiting our turn to have them printed.  In the meantime, we decided to go ahead and publish them in ebook format while we waited ... holy crap ... no one tells you how crazy it is to do that.

Each ebookstore has their own requirements for uploading a book and covers to them -- oh, and each way you publish it, you need a separate ISBN number and bar code, too.  Some require uploading in a pdf format, some, ePub, some in Microsoft Word.doc., and all have different royalties and ways they pay, direct deposit or paypal.

Readers are the Rage
Okay, that brings me back to the original question ... which would you rather read, books or ebooks?

Robert and I were talking about it last night, cuddling on the couch with a cup of decaf.  The ebooks on a PC, Kindle or Nook device are certainly the new rage ... but we both agree, nothing is better than reading a physical book.

I don't know, there's just something special and unique about a book ... the weight of it in your hands, the anticipation of what will happen in the story when you turn the next page, the smell of the paper and the ink, and the most important thing of all ... having a book in your hands creates a feeling, a real and caring relationship with the book, the words, the characters, and even the author ... and no batteries are required.

What's your opinion?

"Writers soon learn that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nuffing on My Plate

Today's blog, I'm going to dedicate to my niece, Katie Craig Wean.  I remember visiting my sister, Claudia, years ago, in Dayton, Ohio, when Katie was about five years old.  Both families, (her six and my five) were all seated around her dining room table filling our plates and talking.

I looked over to my left and there sat little Katie sniffling quietly, with huge tears making their way down her cheeks.  I leaned over and asked, "Katie, what's wrong, honey?"

Katie wiped at her tears and softly said, " I don't like (sniffle) nuffing on my plate (sniffle-sniffle)."

That one precious comment made its way to my heart and I never forgot it.  This poem is lovingly dedicated to you, sweet Katie ...

Nuffing on My Plate
by CJ Heck

I’m sad, I don’t like nuffing
that’s laying on my plate.
Maybe it will go away
if I just sit and wait.

I sure don’t like the liver
and I never, EVER could.
Can I have peanut butter
with grape jelly? That is good!

The smashed potatoes are okay,
yucky gravy it is NOT.
It’s like having icky oatmeal
and I hate that stuff a lot.

I almost like the green beans,
they’re green just like my frog,
but NO ONE likes dumb broccoli,
not even Hank, my dog.

Uh oh, mommy says we’re having
chocolate pudding for a treat.
Maybe if I hold my nose
stuff won’t taste so bad to me. 

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Saturday, July 23, 2011


I have the coolest friend. His name is Rusty Daily.

We met on a writing website years ago where we both wrote poetry for children.  Like me, Rusty is still just a big kid with a few more years on top.

Anyway, Rusty and I decided we would like to write some poems together. We did and I would like to share one of our favorites with you:

Pulling a Wedgie


by Rusty Daily and CJ Heck

You know what makes me laugh
and puts me into stitches?
It's when I grab ahold and pull
the waist of someone’s britches.

It’s fun! It's called a WEDGIE
and what a super name,
just pull and yell out WEDGIE!
It‘s really the coolest game.

Hmmm, I wonder who I'll get,
lil sissy or my big brother?
Or maybe, I should get my dad,
but definitely NOT my mother!

I'll NEVER do grandmas or grandpas.
To do that, you‘d have to be nuts,
'cause everyone knows, old people
don't even have any butts.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Growing Up A Girl

I don't know about you, but as a child, I was happy most of the time and I felt relatively normal. I know it was that way all through elementary school.

By the time I went to junior high, though, my normal didn't feel so normal any more.  For one thing, I wore thick glasses.  I was also very shy and a late bloomer, so I started to have some real doubts about myself, especially when I saw the changes all my friends were going through.

I remember one day after school Mama asked me, "Honey, what's the matter? You seem so quiet today. Is everything okay?" 

Once that door was opened, I ran through it at full speed ... metaphorically speaking, of course. What follows is the conversation between Mama and me that day ...

Me -- Elementary School Age

Mama, Am I Pretty?
by CJ Heck  

Mama, am I pretty? 
"Why do you ask?" she said. 
She held me gently to her, 
and kissed me lightly on my head. 

"Your clothes are neatly ironed. 
Your face and hands are clean. 
You’re such a sweet child, little one, 
what does your question mean? " 

Mama, am I pretty? 
I really need to know. 
Am I pretty like the other girls 
at school where we all go? 

"You have a very loving heart, 
You’re gentle, kind and good. 
Your friends all think the world of you, 
anybody would." 

But, Mama, am I pretty? 
Sometimes, kids point or stare. 
I’ve got these real thick glasses 
that I wish I didn’t wear. 

Mama said my time would come, 
be patient and I’d see. 
The things that really matter 
were there, inside of me. 

But, Mama!  Am I pretty? 
(I didn’t mean to shout). 
Then Mama smiled and told me, 
"Sweetheart, yes, inside and out."

[From the book, "Barking Spiders 2", by CJ Heck]

Buy at Amazon

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do I Remember You?

There's a true story behind the poem I'm posting in the blog today.  I wrote it in 2000, after I received a letter from someone I hadn't heard from in over thirty years.  

I lived in San Francisco back in the early seventies, and I was a flight attendant with the now defunct airline, TWA.  This was what I had decided to do, after my husband, a combat medic, was killed in Vietnam the year before.  What I discovered very quickly, after moving so far away from my family in Ohio, was that grief follows you, no matter how far away you  move.  I couldn't understand why it still hurt so badly and I thought there must be something wrong with me.  

People didn't want to hear that my husband was killed in Vietnam.  Vietnam was wrong!  Vietnam was what people were protesting!  People said he shouldn't have gone and "get over it".  And yet, there I was, having a terrible time even coping with being alive -- I loved him, I missed him, and I wanted to die, too.  We didn't know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) back then -- so I couldn't have known that I had a form of PTSD.  I've come to see that mine was caused by the trauma of Doug being killed, by the trauma of being informed by army personnel, (strangers), in my living room, by the trauma of having to wait sixteen more days for his body to be flown home, and probably because I was young, only twenty, and the anti-Americanism crap only added further to the problem -- it was as if they were bragging that Doug died for nothing, for no reason at all ...

I met the nicest man in San Francisco, within about six months of living there.  From Oregon originally, he was tall, very handsome, and we enjoyed each other's company very much.  He didn't tell me to "get over it" when I was overcome by my feelings.  As a matter of fact, he encouraged me to talk about Doug, lent me his shoulder and held me when I cried, and this unselfish comforting was all he seemed to expect of me.  He was my friend.

I don't remember now what happened, why we went our separate ways, but we did.  Knowing what a difficult period that was in my life, I was probably the one who broke it off.  But it wasn't until I received his letter in the mail thirty years later, that I found out that he had loved me, and I was stunned.  He had never told me.  When I read that, I remembered having feelings of my own, too, but over the years, I came to see those feelings more as deep gratitude, for being such a wonderful, caring friend when I desperately needed one -- and also for his strength of character, by not taking advantage of a grieving young widow.  

I'm happy to say, we've kept in touch since that letter came in 2000 -- email is a fantastic invention.   Now, I dedicate this poem with love, to my friend, Lee:

Do I Remember You?
by CJ Heck  

Do I remember you,
you ask, 
from so many
years ago?
(Who? The man with
a gentle touch
and loving hands?
The man whose
arms once
saved my life?
The man with
a caring shoulder
that welcomed
a widow's tears? 
Budding passion,
almost lovers,
undermined and
rent by fate?)

Many miles away
the years have passed.
Our mirrors echo 
younger faces, 
all gone now,
lives lived on
tandem shores. 
Silent hands reach 
through the ages 
spanning years 
from then to now, 
while fingers 
ply the keyboard
to fill in the
time between. 

Love and memories
come flooding into
present from the past
and I cry from
just one letter.
Yes, I do 
remember you ...

(c) 2000 CJ Heck

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chippendales

Today, I decided to post one for the ... er ... the mature ladies of the world.  

I don't know if you've ever gone to see male strippers, but I've been there.  Well, to be honest, it was only one time.  

My friends took me to see them on my 40th birthday, but it truly was wild and sexy and it implanted some really nice memories.

Sexy Mail Stripper

Visiting the Chippendales
by CJ Heck

Back when I turned forty, 
some friends took me 
to see the male strippers. 

I never knew 
there was a place 
you could go 
where there was 
so much action 


We were small dots 
in a sea of faces, 
distorted by the 
strobing lights 
set to music, 
sexy, seductive, 
and LOUD,
but it had to be loud 
to hear it above 
the screaming women ... 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

“Take it OFF! Throw it HERE!” 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

“Shake it, Ooo baby! Take it ALL off!” 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

while a tan, muscled,
sexy young stud
humped and ground 
a well-packed G-string 
in a woman’s face


I remember thinking,
what if I’m next?

Mama always told me
'look but don’t touch' 

but somehow, 
the not touching 
was SO much easier 
when I was five ...

[From CJ's book, "Anatomy of a Poet"]

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lady Bug

My Lady Bug 
by CJ Heck

Hi there little lady bug,
whatcha doing on my arm?
Please don’t fly away.
I won’t bring you any harm.

I’m glad to have you with me.
I was feeling so alone.
Somehow I got me turned around.
I can't find my way back home.

I only took a little walk
behind a pretty butterfly.
Now I’m really scared and lost
and I think I’m going to cry.

Stay with me my lady bug,
please don’t fly away, 
and when my mommy finds me,
come home with me and stay.

I’ll let you share my bedroom
and when it’s dark at night,
Mommy leaves the lamp on.
Monsters hate it when it’s light.

Hey, that sounds like Mommy!
It is! She’s calling me!
Now you'll get to meet her.
You’ll like her, wait and see.

Lady bug, where you going?
I'll bet you're going home too.
Thanks for being lost with me.
Bye lady bug -- I love you.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Preschool Poem: "Ten Little Piggies"

Ten Piggies

Ten Little Piggies

by CJ Heck 

Ten little piggies
standing in a line.
Mom and daddy told me
the piggies ALL are mine!

One by one we point to them.
Every piggy gets a name,
and then a place he goes to.
I really LOVE this game!

When Mommy sings the song,
I see ten piggies wiggle,
then when Mommy kisses them,
it makes me smile and giggle!

When the game is over,
we put them in warm socks.
Hmmm ... just how many piggies
does a mom and daddy gots? 

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Monday, July 4, 2011

Short Story: In Honor of Life

Beautiful Flowers

by CJ Heck

It was Memorial Day and, as she did every year, Sharon Cleary drove to the Eternity Gardens Cemetery with three of the prettiest spring bouquets she could find.

She took this day seriously. It was her private, personal time to honor family members who died in war. It was her way to show she cared.

One bouquet was always for Great-Grampa, "PJ" Mullerton, who died in a bunker during the first world war. Another bouquet was for Uncle Theo Tarns, who was killed when his bomber was shot down in the second world war.

She had never met Uncle Theo, but she was still fiercely proud of him and, as with great-grampa, forever indebted to him for his service. The last bouquet of flowers was always the most difficult for her. She always made sure this bouquet was the largest and most colorful of the three. This one had to be special. It was for Daddy.

Sharon was only six when she hugged Steven Cleary's neck tightly for the last time at the airport in Stewartsville. She remembered crying and pleading with him to stay. "Please, Daddy, don't go. I will miss you and so will Mommy. Please stay with us. We need you." She knew her father had been just as sad to leave them. She saw the tears he silently wiped from his cheek after he hugged her and then turned to hug and kiss her mother.

Steven had been killed in action in Vietnam six months later, a decorated soldier and a hero. Her mother, Sarah Cleary-Buddig, had eventually framed his medals and they still hung on the wall beside his picture over the fireplace. Sharon remembered what a sorrowful time that had been, after the family learned of his death. But as sad as she had been, she had never felt so completely helpless as she did, hearing her mother sobbing into her pillow at night and not knowing how to comfort her.

Sharon had been so lost in thought that she nearly missed Uncle Theo's grave. She had to turn and walk back two rows and she chided herself for not paying more attention. After she finished her prayers and was done talking to Uncle Theo, she took a deep breath -- it was time to find Daddy. Her heart always felt like it was in her throat as she walked the steep path to the upper section where her father rested in the Cleary family plot.

Just as she reached the top, she noticed an elderly woman bending over one of the older headstones on the left. Sharon watched in silence as the woman tenderly kissed a folded paper and then slipped it under a vase of roses on the flat marble headstone. Then she adjusted the small American flag that was stuck in the ground to the right of the marker.

As she stood, she suddenly turned and their eyes met. Sharon was stunned. She could almost feel the woman's thoughts through the look on her face and what was in her eyes. Then just as quickly, the moment was gone and the woman had turned away.

How amazing, Sharon thought, as she watched the woman walk slowly back down the path towards the entrance gate. The woman was crying -- I could see her tears, Sharon thought -- but she had the most beautiful smile on her face at the same time. Sharon felt compelled to go over to the headstone and read the letter the woman had so carefully tucked under the vase.

"To my husband, my lover, my friend:
I will always love you.
I hope you like the roses.
All my love forever,
Your Maeve"

She read the short note and, now crying herself, the words filled her with a beautiful new awareness. She could almost see the wheels of time turning the days and months to years, and then you realize that it's been a whole lifetime that a loved one has been gone. One day, like a bucket with a hole, you can see the sands of grief sifting slowly through, and instead of mourning their death, you begin to celebrate everything they meant to you in life.

Sharon closed her eyes and, as she replaced the letter under the vase of roses, she quietly thanked the elderly woman and walked back to her family plot. Then she placed her third bouquet on the engraved marble monument for her father.

And as Sharon thanked Steven Adam Cleary once more for being her father, she remembered the love and the good times they did have together. This time when Sharon cried, she could also smile -- and the tears were tears of joy.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ride, Buffalo, Ride: by John A. Roof

John on Lisa
It was getting close to the fourth of July and there was always a big celebration in Cimarron, New Mexico. At the time, I was working as a burro wrangler at Harlan Camp.

We had been in the high country for three weeks and I was hoping that Bill Leach, my Camp Director, would let me have a couple of days off around the fourth. I always enjoyed going to the rodeo and, of course, checking out the girls.

Cimarron was a small town located at the mouth of the Cimarron Canyon and on the Cimarron River just on the edge of the high country and the plains which lead to the Texas flat lands and Lubbock, Texas.

I was going to college there at Texas Tech University, and working on an art degree in studio painting, which my father considered to be a waste of time.

This was also my third year at Philmont Scout Ranch and, in my mind anyway, there was no place greater in the world to be than there.

Later that day, Bill Leach said I could have the Fourth off, if the staff would let him have July 20 off so he could watch the first moon landing. Steve, the other staff member, had no problem with either one of us having our desired days off. He just wanted to have three days later that month so he could go to Denver for a weekend. So it was set. I would have the fourth off.
The problem with being in the high country camps was, even if you had the day off, you might not be able to get in because there was no traffic to the camps. So you would have to hike in or wait for a ride to show up.

I decided to take a different route. I was going to ride my horse, Lisa, in to headquarters. It was faster than hiking and I thought it would be a great experience, being on horseback for part of the day alone, and taking in the beauty of the landscape from the back of a horse. As a little boy, I had always dreamed of being a cowboy -- back then, I think everyone wanted to be.

The day of my departure, I grained the burros, cleaned the corral, gave a lesson on burro packing and showed the scouts how to tie a diamond hitch so their equipment would not fall off. 

Then I gathered my things, shoved them in the saddle bags, checked out with Bill, and headed for the corral. I saddled up Lisa, tied on the saddle bags, swung into the saddle and I headed out. I was really looking forward to this ride.
I followed the trail which led to Camp Cimmarroncito, between Deer Lake Mesa and Antelope Mesa. I had hiked this trail many times, when I was a Ranger, but this was the first time I had on horseback. I was hoping I wouldn't run into any bears.

I had been riding fence a couple of weeks before and Lisa and I ran across a bear at one of the stock ponds and she really gave me a ride. I don’t think she likes them very much.

I checked my map and ahead was a cut off that would lead into the pasture and on down to headquarters. I found the cut off, it was old and not used very much, so it was like unexplored territory. I followed the trail till I found the first fence gate, dismounted, opened the gate and went through. I rode for the better part of an hour and then came to two gates. Without checking my map, I took the gate to the right, figuring that was headed the correct direction towards Headquarters.

After a while, I saw some cattle up ahead and I thought I would investigate. As I got closer, I pulled my rope and thought maybe I would do a little roping. “Wow! Those are some big Angus cows!” I spoke out loud to the open spaces. I didn’t know the ranch had any Angus Cattle. The closer I got, the bigger they looked. “Those are the biggest Angus I have ever seen!” I said again out loud to no one.

Then in a flash, it came to me. “Shit! I'm in the buffalo pasture! Oh hell ...” this time, speaking even louder, again to no one.

For the next few minutes, all you could hear were my spurs singing as I pushed Lisa into a hard run and headed for the nearest gate.

Coming up on a small rise, I dismounted, making sure I was not being followed by any of the buffalo. Quickly, I checked my map and located the closest gate out of the pasture and headed straight for it.

Once I was out of the buffalo pasture, I again spoke out loud, but this time it was to my horse, “Okay, Lisa, this is OUR little secret. We won’t tell ANYONE that we were in the buffalo pasture.”

We continued our ride to headquarters and then had a great Fourth of July.

The whole time I was in headquarters, and while I was at the rodeo, there was a smile on my face. The ride back on July 5 was not as exciting but it was a ride back in time and the beauty of the west. I was in the saddle early that morning and I am still in the saddle, in my thoughts.

An Honest to God True Story
Happy trails.
John A. Roof

About the Author

John and Betsy Roof
John Roof graduated from Texas Tech in December, 1973, with a BFA in studio painting.

Bill the Calf and the Ride Down the Road

The Walk: Short Stories of a Teenage Boy in the 60's

Visit John's Website

John and his wife, Betsy, live in their home amid  the wildflowers and fruit trees in Staples, Texas, where they are accomplished artists and photographers.  They also love to build and restore antique furniture together.

He's one of the nicest and most regular guys you'll ever want to meet.

John is fond of saying, he has found his garden ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck