Category Archives: #AMWRITING


On June 23 I vanished from socials with the message that I was taking six weeks off to write a novel. I planned to be back on August 4. Then all hell broke loose. Severe COVID, human and canine deaths, my husband was randomly attacked, a spider bite… that sums up July. It was a grueling month of nightmares. Somehow I managed to finish the novel by my deadline. It became my tether to sanity. Other than editing, it was over. I thought.

My hat vanished!

Then, thanks to a friend, I was invited to apply to participate in a special program… if I could have a screenplay written by September 1. New project! I did a cursory look at screenplay formatting, signed up for a free trial of Final Draft and dug in. That screenplay is now finished and sent in.

With that, I’m officially back. I have some catch up: the next issue of Space & Time ( is underway, I need to get the HWA Poetry blog scheduled, the Showcase needs to be wrapped up, reviews and blurbs I’ve promised… all before we leave for Brazil next week. It will happen.

The past few months changed me. After I came out of the week long COVID fever I was convinced I had been “rewired” and that feeling hasn’t left. I’ve written since grade school but I’ve never had focus. It’s been a compulsion, a need rather than a choice. No plans.

About five years ago some things changed that and I started focussing in with more purpose, but I’ve been doing a lot of groping. Tortured Willows further narrowed that purpose but it was sloppy. The last two months have stripped everything away and I feel all I have left is purpose.

I’m not even ready to share all that has happened yet—still processing. To sum it up, I tried to step back for a minute and fell off a cliff. At the bottom of the ravine I found what I was looking for. I’m back to work with a mission.

Plans after Brazil? I’ll be finishing the I Ching studies I started at the beginning of this year. I’ll be starting a second novel, most likely a follow up to Inujini titled Kintsugi. I’ll be keeping promises, but taking a pause on making new ones. It’s been an eventful year and I need to catch my breath. And look for my hat… it vanished while I was sick and I’ve never seen it again.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting trip details+ on my socials and catch up here when I can.



Just a fast and exhausted post to say I just wrote the ending to INUJINI, my first novel. I started back on June 23rd with the crazy idea that I could write a WWII inspired novel in six weeks and I did, but I feel like I’ve been through a war myself.

Shiisaa by Kyra Starr

With all the things that happened, this has been one of the darkest months of my life. All the loss and pain became linked in my mind with this novel.

I was writing about a small island overtaken by war, and in the process I became a small island overtaken by war. The book both drove me insane and was my tether to sanity.

This is my first novel. I can already see there will need to be a followup to this story but first I need to catch up on life. I have some short stories, poems and a column piece I owe. I need to wrap up the HWA Poetry Showcase, finish some feeback and answer a giant pile of emails and messages. Then I need to turn around and write the screenplay for this. I hope the screenplay is a little less like a battle to write.

This has been my first novel. Everything so far has been novellas. It didn’t turn out much like I planned at all. I thought I was going to write something like Alma Katsu’s The Fervor. Instead, I went deeper into the magic element then I planned. I was trying to write magic realism, so that’s okay. It just surprised me.

I also planned to tell the story of only one girl, but she split into three. I hadn’t planned on using shiisaa that much, but the Okinawan lion-dog guardians took over the plot. The only thing that doesn’t surprise me is that the story did its own thing. That always seems to happen.

At one point in the story there is a brave little boy named Shoji holding a male shiisaa aloft to bring encouragement to a room full of terrified people… no spoilers but that moment will be etched in my mind forever. I cried for a fictional boy. That moment is what tied it together.

But now I’m writing another book here. It’s 6:30 am and past my bedtime. Novel done, but now begins the next phase: editing, editing and more editing ∞. And a screenplay. For now, I just have had the immense pleasure of writing THE END.

And going to bed.


As of tonight, I’m over halfway on Inujini, my current work in progress. I had no idea how hard this would be. Besides being my first novel, it’s my first historical fiction and will be my first screenplay as soon as I’m done but that’s not the hard part. Life has thrown everything at us this month—see the list below 😲

Right now if I stay on a 2,500 word daily goal I’ll still finish on time. I’ll do what it takes to get it done.

Since I started writing Inujini on June 23:

  1. Lost an old friend.
  2. Husband shot with a pellet gun.
  3. Son went to ER for abdominal pain.
  4. Son caught COVID.
  5. I caught COVID—the horrible version.
  6. Husband caught COVID—the horrible version.
  7. Family member passed away.
  8. Beloved pet passed away.
  9. Bitten by a brown recluse.

I also have 12 students, 2 mentees, Space & Time open submissions, and the HWA Poetry Showcase to wrap up. So far, all the hardships seem to have passed and I’m back on my usual track. All I’ll say on the recent streak of bad luck… glad that’s over.

Now, on to the finish line—or as close to as possible.

Finally able to get to the post office and mail some poetry postcards!


I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more interesting blog title. It’s been a little bit crazy around here. We switched to a night schedule to optimize my writing schedule, my husband was randomly shot with a pellet gun, and my son went to the ER and came back with a positive COVID test. I look forward to going back to boring writer life. This will be happening as soon as I post these updates.

Schedule Reversal: Thursday we decided to swap our schedules back to nocturnal so I could get some work done during the quiet hours. Since Ryan works until midnight anyway, it worked for both of us. Now I wake up and all my messages are waiting for me rather than tricling through all day and distracting me.

Random Ryan Shooting: While the staying up all night went well, the second morning my husband was randomly shot in the park with a pellet rifle. The pellet embedded in his forearm about two inches. An inch higher and it would have been in his abdomen. It could have also hit bone or done nerve damage. We were lucky.

I tracked down who did it and we got a hold of some video, posted below. The first shots you hear were my husband being shot. Then you see the shooter step into view and shoot another man whom I’m pretty sure is part of our local homeless population. Yes, this has been reported. This is a TikTok trend all over the country. Everyone take care and stay aware! Read about the TikTok trend here.

And here’s the COVID: And just when we were thinking COVID might be a thing of the past, my adult son went to the ER last night and came home with a positive COVID test. So far we are all asymptomatic, which makes me wonder if I’ve had COVID before and not known it or will we get hit again in a few days. Getting losts of rest and taking our Vitamin D like always.

Poetry Postcard Fest: This has kept me sane. I signed up to send 31 postcards (+an extra one) with original poetry and decided to make my own postcards. I feel like I’ve posted about neurographic drawing (or neurographica) before. It’s art meditation. I’m decorating all my postcards with my neurographica. Find out more about the Poetry Postcard Fest here:

Back to Inujini: Remember how I was cooking along on Inujini? I haven’t written a word since July 1. I attended a presentation on the Battle of Okinawa and read The Girl with the White Flag by Tomiko Higa. I’ve been processing since. Earlier tonight it all clicked and I’ll be able to push through this to the end, probably still by my deadline of August 4. I did the same thing with Tortured Willows. I spent a moth “processing” and then I could suddenly get it all out.

My neurographica poetry postcards

There have been quite a few distractions the past two weeks, but I’ve managed to cut through them so I can return to Inujini. This next week is glorious and clear so I can stack up that word count ahead of Camp Necon.

I have two meetings, a friend’s book signing this Saturday (A Three-Letter Name by Annie Lisenby) and this Sunday at 2 pm CST is Instagram Poetry Live with fellow poet friend Amy Zoellers. You can watch for that on her IG channel here: hipness_and_outrage.

Now, for that shooting video I promised:


Image by Nina Garman

Pre-pandemic I was sharing a poem every week on Poetry Nook. This is a great free weekly contest for poets where you can win cash prizes (I have a few times), get a Pushcart Prize nomination (I have once) and just out there in the poetry community. There are quite a few award winning poets that frequent this site, so it’s a good place to hang out if you want to get your work noticed.

I’m posting my recent Flarf poem from Cake & Hyperbull in their 357th Weekly Poetry Contest. I invite you to submit your own poem—pre-published work is okay. If you do, let me know in the comments. Special shout out to my wonderful friend Marge Simon for reminding me to enter today!

You can go check out this Flarf I’ve been on about all weekend, or (even better) enter your own poem! Register at Poetry Nook for free here.


On yesterday’s Cake & Hyperbull, Amy Zoellers randomly picked a poetry challenge from her copy of A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch. This last month it was Flarf, and we shared our Flarf creations live.

What do I think of Flarf? I love it. The idea of using Google to mine poetry appeals to me. It reminds me of a sculptor carving a woman out of a block of marble. Flarf is poets carving poetry from a block of search engine. I’m posting my Flarf at tomorrow, or you can watch the show and hear it here.

Now, on to a new month and a new challenge! This time Amy randomly paged through A Poet’s Glossary and picked “canzonet.” Holy Hell, what the heck is that? So far I have found little on the internet except that Oscar Wilde wrote one. This is fine… but how do I write one?

The only thing I have to go from is this description (below) from A Poet’s Glossary. Oh, and we decided writing the mysterious canzonet isn’t enough. Our creations must include the phrase “My beret is full of questions” as well.

If you want to participate, send me your canzonet here and I will read all I on the next Cake & Hyperbull—every first Saturday.

Are you a canzonet expert? Feel free to post any helpful links or insight in the comments.

From A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch


Amy Zoellers and I are back again with more poetry. This month we will interview each other, discuss new projects coming up and share our Flarf poetry challenge. Yes, Flarf—not a typo.

What is Flarf? According to Wiki, Flarf poetry was an avant-garde poetry movement of the early 21st century. The term Flarf was coined by the poet Gary Sullivan, who also wrote and published the earliest Flarf poems. Its first practitioners, working in loose collaboration on an email mailing list, used an approach that rejected conventional standards of quality and explored subject matter and tonality not typically considered appropriate for poetry. One of their central methods, invented by Drew Gardner, was to mine the Internet with odd search terms then distill the results into often hilarious and sometimes disturbing poems, plays and other texts.

Want to Flarf? Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments.


Things I never thought I’d say: I wrote my first Flarf for this weekend’s Cake & Hyperbull!

Flarp is nor Flarf

Let me translate. This weekend will be another Cake & Hyperbull poetry show with Amy Zoellers and I. We have set ourselves a challenge to try new poetry styles, and this month we will be playing with “Flarf.” Yes, Flarf is a literary form.

According to Wikipedia, “Flarf poetry can be characterized as an avant-garde poetry movement of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Its first practitioners utilized an aesthetic dedicated to the exploration of “the inappropriate” in all of its guises. Their method was to mine the Internet with odd search terms then distil the results into often hilarious and sometimes disturbing poems, plays, and other texts.”

Okay… this answers what is Flarf, but not how. From what I gather, one method of Flarfing is to do a Google search and then pull phrases from it to create a poem. I imagine there are many ways to Flarf, but that’s the method I chose. This was Amy’s suggestion and I thought it sounded ridiculous… so of course I was all in. Let’s Flarf!

I chose “What is a human” as my search. I came up with a list of places where I could go for more info, but I was only interested in that first page for my Google Sculpting (also a term). I like the idea of taking a page of info dump and chipping away, looking for the poem trapped within. I didn’t see how the poem would be any good though. I am pleasantly surprised and now a fan of Flarfing—but I’m probably misusing it as a adverb.

Flarf as poetry is being taught in universities and if you do a Google search on it you will also find a lot of information. My favorite link for literary Flarf is “How to write flarf” at Jim Murdoch’s blog here or this one by The Los Angeles Review of Books—Funks of Ambivalence: On Flarf.

Tune in to Cake & Hyperbull this weekend to hear Amy and I present our Flarf experiments and interview each other by reading randomly drawn questions off strips of paper. Cake & Hyperbull will be live this Saturday at noon CST here or just show up here and I’ll have it posted on the day. I will most likely post my Flarf poem Monday at


Statue haiku… statue-ku… stat-ku? These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night. This is my first statue-ku for a fun side project I’m working on. In case you can’t read it in the photo, the haiku is a tribute to the most important person in any writer’s world—the reader. So, if you are one of my readers, thank you. This golden statue is for you. 😊😊😊

Bless the page turners—
in a world without readers
writers don’t exist.


From the Missouri Writers Guild’s 2021 President’s Writers Contest—So excited to be awarded a first place in Best Short Story with “Skin Dowdy” from Black Cranes (yes, the same Black Cranes that is a Shirley Jackson Awards finalist!)

I was awarded a first place for my nonfiction interview “Potter Magic: Guiding Libraries in Pandemic Times” in Space and Time #137 Summer 2020 and a second place for my poem “Riding the Exhale” in HWA Poetry Showcase Volume VII and a current Rhysling nomination).

On top of that, my husband Ryan Aussie Smith got a finalist for Shadow’s Lament. As his first book, a finalist is more impressive than a placing. For a first book to get any recognition at all is phenomenal. I am proudest of his accomplishment… and that’s a win for that amazing editor he worked with as well 😉

Congratulations to all the entrants this year. If you are writing and publishing, you are a winner. I’m proud to see all the fine work coming out of Missouri and look forward to seeing even more next year. You can see a list of all the Missouri Writers Guild’s 2021 President’s Writers Contest winners and finalists here.