Analysis Week 2 Fall Writing Frenzy 2020

Hi Math is Everyone and Fall Writing Frenzy Friends,

This is the second week of analyzing the Fall Writing Frenzy winners’ work from 2020! Wasn’t last week awesome? If you missed it, check out the first week analysis here!

Every week I will try my best to share 5-8 pieces from the Fall Writing Frenzy Winners that have something similar, a theme, if you will. (Figurative gold star if you get the theme in your comment ;))

Please use the comments to share what you think is working for the pieces and why, and you even what you think can be improved if you notice anything. Then you can respond to each other’s comments and of course come back to the blog on Fridays for interviews and giveaways!

Please make sure to be constructive.

We want to learn and grow together in a safe environment. 

For example, if you think a piece was rambling (something I often do lol) please don’t say, “They’re rambling forever, can’t they just stop?” Try, “It seems to be a bit on the wordy side, maybe consider cutting out certain parts.”

Thanks for joining in the conversation!

Now off we go! 


THE STARS YOU DON’T SEE

by Andrew Hacket

@AndrewCHacket

https://www.andrewhacket.com/post/fall-writing-frenzy-2020

As the sun begins to dip, 

Dad and I climb. 

The white pines ushering us upward become sparse. 

Anticipation masks the aches in my legs. 

A little further and…

Arrived. 

We are alone, but together. 

The world, ours.

The sun gently touches the horizon. 

A goodnight kiss. 

I look to Dad. His silhouette outlined in the ombre twilight. 

In a moment, 

night has arrived.  

Stars wink into view. I crane my neck back.  

Eyes searching. 

Heart hoping.

“Ursa minor.” Dad points. “There you are, my little bear.” 

He tousles my hair and pulls me in tight.

I blink back tears.

“Can’t find Ursa major?” Dad asks knowingly. 

“Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re gone,” he whispers through a gentle smile. 

His hand swallows mine. 

Squeeze, squeeze.

We cuddle together beneath the stars, 

both seen and unseen. 

Wrapped in Dad’s warm embrace, I drift to sleep.

That was long ago. 

Now I climb 

alone. 

The breeze offers a comforting breath of a hug.

The sun gently kisses the horizon. 

A goodnight kiss. 

I glance to my side before looking skyward. 

Just because you can’t see them, 

doesn’t mean they’re gone.  

Alone, 

but together.

Goodnight Dad.


Big Sis, Lil Sis

By: Janelle Harper

@BXDanceEducator

“Big Sis is home!” Gabby dashes through the screen door, knocking Amber over with a bearhug. 

“Hey, Lil Sis!” Amber giggles. 

Gabby studies her Big Sis closely.

A cozy college sweatshirt, a spunky new haircut and lipstick the same shade Mom wears. 

Weird…Amber looks like a real grownup. 

Gabby peeks at Amber’s thick textbook.  So many strange words. This book isn’t like any of the stories they would read together at bedtime. 

Big Sis shakes a bag of fluffy treats, “I’ve really missed our fall tradition.” 

“S’mores Fest!” Gabby sprints to gather twigs.

The autumn air feels crisp against their cheeks. The crackling fire illuminates the sky. 

They roast marshmallows, snuggled tightly under their favorite blanket. 

WOOSH! A blurry red and orange whirlwind swirls and twirls the leaves. 

The sisters scurry to save their gooey snacks. The ground crunches under their retreating feet. 

Safely in the house, they shake lingering leaves loose of their kinky curls. 

They kick up their feet. Gabby grins at their matching fuzzy socks.

She sips warm apple cider while Amber blows on her steaming black coffee.

Drinks may change…

Books may change…

Leaves may change… 

but sisterly love stays the same.


Falling Apart

By Karen Keesling

@karenskeesling

Maddie studied her watch. 10 seconds slower on this last sprint. She needed to be faster, gazelle-like.

She glared at the empty road ahead with gold and cinnamon leaves waving her on. Cinnamon and cider…the conversation…the memory made her sick. 

The night after the visit to the orchard. Had she really looked at their faces? Dad stroked Izzy’s hair. Mom heated up apple cider and fried cinnamon donuts.

Why did they create such a perfect moment just to ruin it by telling them? 

Had she seen Mom’s taut jawline, Dad’s sad eyes when he smiled?  She should have known it was coming. In some sense she did. She heard the shouting. The doors banging. She saw the crumpled blankets on the couch.

Maddie’s heart slammed against her chest when she heard, “still love you…not each other.” Had they even said divorce? She didn’t know. Her body took flight, catapulting her out the door.  That was her first time running. Two years ago. 

Now Maddie inhaled the fresh, fall air. She stared ahead, sneakers striking the pavement, scattering dead leaves behind her. 20 seconds faster. She knew how to win the race on Saturday.


Mama’s Sunflowers

By Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

@sharonffj

https://www.sharonfj.com/post/fall-writing-frenzy-2020

On the last day of the summer sunflowers, we found out Mama was sick, very sick. Daddy said we all had to be brave. But I didn’t know how. Mama was so sick she missed the first day of Kindergarten.

When autumn winds blew through the trees, Mama had to have surgery. That day, my tummy felt like a bucket full of rocks, and I couldn’t eat my lunch even though it was my favorite. 

Winter dusted the trees with frost. Mama rested a lot. I helped her pluck the seeds of the dried sunflowers. “In the spring, we’ll plant them,” Mama said. 

At Christmas, I gave Mama the bravest idea I had ever had.

“Superhero capes,” I whispered when Mama opened her gift. “To make us brave. You can only see them if you believe.”

“They’re perfect,” Mama said. And then she put on her superhero cape and helped me put on mine. 

In the spring, new bird songs filled the air. Mama was getting better, day by day. And our sunflowers sprouted, like hope and courage and love. No matter what happens, I know we’ll be okay. Because Mama and I are superheroes. 


A song of light and dark

By Preeti Gopalan

@preetimeister

My silk pavadai, new this Diwali rustles as I rush to find mom. Jingling bangles add their song to festive Nadaswaram tunes. There she is, in gold jhumkas and an exquisite rust-colored Kanchipuram. So beautiful today. She has been a happy whirl of busyness this week. The rich smell of ghee thick in the air as she whips up delicious murrukkus and Mysore-paks. She’s not the mom who struggles out of bed at 9am and ends her day still in PJs.

Her spirits follow the seasons, sunny in summer, dropping with the fall leaves, leaving a homesick anxiety as winter shrouds Seattle. All thoughts then are of another home. When I ask if I need a jacket for school, she crimps her eyes , converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. At my smile, she sighs, “You don’t understand feeling divided, with your life of blessed simplicity. My recollections of warmth are in Celsius. My past has no present, my present has no past.”

But today, an easy smile plays on her lips, at memories I am not a part of. I don’t mind. The diyas she lights chase away her gloom. Today she is whole. Diwali is her festival of inner light.


I can’t wait to get this discussion underway about what we can learn from these creators and their pieces! Please make sure to RT this tweet to get others in on the fun!

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

PS. We’ve just recently got photos up for all my clients, so please take a minute to check out my wonderful literary clients page 🙂

PPS watch my twitter feed for a super fun surprise to be shared within the next week 😉

75 thoughts on “Analysis Week 2 Fall Writing Frenzy 2020

  1. These all are take place with normal events but are about much more. Each also goes deeper, reflecting on another topic or universal experience…illness, death, divorce. There is that meaningful emotional element but it’s written so it’s not “heavy”. Very nice work.

    I especially love the poetic language in the first story. I want to see this as a picture book!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree! Each story deals with “heavy” topics in a delicate way that makes them accessible to children without being emotionally overwhelmed. The emotions behind each topic are written in such poetic ways that the “heavy” topics don’t feel daunting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love these beautiful family-themed Fall Frenzy stories. Each one pulls the heartstrings and makes me think of my own family members. I had the honor of reading and critiquing the winning stories of Andrew Hacket and Janelle Harper. Great job, friends! I enjoyed rereading these poignant stories.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ding-ding-ding! That’s why I put them together, beautiful family-themed stories! And I love that you touched on how it reminded you of your family. When a writer can connect to others in a way that makes it feel so relatable, you’re in! And yay for wonderful CPs!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow. These four stories certainly tugged at my heart strings.

    For THE STARS YOU DON’T SEE it was the refrain that sunk into my soul “Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re gone.” Beautifully written. I felt the piece was brilliantly stripped down to heart and bones.

    Mama’s Sunflowers. Well that got me. Tears and all. This detail right up front “Mama was so sick she missed the first day of Kindergarten” hooked me. I was invested in the emotional well-being of this child and her mother.

    Falling Apart. Interesting connections made here with Leaf images and fall season and time period a big life event occurred. I especially appreciated the imagery at the end of “She stared ahead, sneakers striking the pavement, scattering dead leaves behind her.”

    A song of light and dark. Wow. That last line. “Diwali is her festival of inner light.” Truly makes me thinking of seeing the light in the dark.

    My guess at a theme: A memory brought into the present moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love all the wonderful feelings evoked for you here, I hope Big Sis, Lil Sis did the same. I love all the lines that stood out to you and why you felt they were so important. I also think the kinder part was a shocking and beautiful way to pull us in and YES to light in the dark, wonderful eye there! I didn’t think of memory brought on by a moment, but that works SO well too! It’s just like in our writing, those that read find connections we didn’t always even intend, but they’re so beautiful. Thanks for sharing and analyzing!

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      1. UGH. YEs. Big Sis, Lil Sis did as well! LOVE, LOVE, Love that last lines: Drinks may change…

        Books may change…

        Leaves may change…

        but sisterly love stays the same.! Yes. Such a great way to tie this story together. Sorry Janelle Harper! I was heading off to pick up the kids from school and I felt like there was something missing but had to hurry..so glad you pointed that out Kaitlyn and the opportunity to revisit this treasure trove of stories!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. THE STARS YOU DON’T SEE –by Andrew Hacket

    This piece is wonderful–full of layers & emotion, all in so few words. Love the instances of subtle foreshadowing wrapped inside the vivid visuals: “ombre twilight”, “a goodnight kiss”, & ““Can’t find Ursa major?” Dad asks knowingly. “Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re gone,” he whispers through a gentle smile.”

    Then this: “underneath the stars, both seen and unseen.” ❤ ❤ ❤

    You feel the narrator/MC the dad knows that their time together is short. But that night, they are basking in an eternal moment under an infinite sky.

    It's like that, isn't it? Brought back wonderful memories of star-gazing with my own dad who has been gone now for many years.

    Just lovely work, Andrew. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Big Sis, Lil Sis —By: Janelle Harper

    I tried to read as many entries as possible previously, but missed seeing this one! Lovely moment of memory making between sisters. It’s so sweet that the older sister reached across the space created different stages of life & connected with the little sister. Nice touches on the sensory details: “gooey snacks”, “kinky curls”—and this which was my absolute favorite “lipstick the same shade Mom wears.”

    Liked by 3 people

  6. These are all important family moments shared in lyrical writing styles. Each of them feels authentically written from the personal experience with a whole lot of heart.

    “The Stars You Don’t See,” especially pulled at my heartstrings. The pain of loss, yes, but also the joy of remembering those simple beautiful times. Well done, Andrew.

    Janelle’s “Big Sis, Little Sis” also touches on how it feels to miss someone. I love the alliteration woven throughout. I can feel the crunchy fall senses throughout the story. So well written.

    Karen’s “Falling Apart” brilliantly expresses what divorce can feel like from the child’s perspective. I love how her mc finds a way to channel her feelings through physical action.

    “Mama’s Sunflowers,” takes us on a journey (in only 200 words) from sickness to health from a child’s perspective. I love the metaphor of the seeds and how that is how the mother finds hope and something to look forward to, and the child uses the metaphor of the cape in order to cope. Two distinct voices coming through and the two coming together beautifully in the end. So uplifting!

    My favorite line in Preeti’s “A Song Of Light And Dark” is: “But today, an easy smile plays on her lips, at memories I am not a part of.” A beautiful description of the seasons and how they can affect our loved ones.

    Well done, everyone! I so enjoyed reading and rereading these entries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well you said what I thought even better! You must be a writer 😉 honestly though, yes I chose these as lyrical, family stories and most I even wrote hopeful next to them as well as you hit on in many of your analysis here! And Preeti’s is so powerful in that it really dives to such a deep, virtually unexplored place

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  7. Falling Apart–By Karen Keesling

    Karen chose a difficult theme & handled it extremely well in a short space. The “push/pull” tension between the lovely fall imagery & the terrible memory of the family going thru a divorce was very effective. The MC turning her “run away from it all” response into something positive by focusing on improving their racing is a satisfying ending to the story arc. Great work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed! And as Karen knows from our talks on twitter. I’m a long distance runner so this particularly hit on a cord extra hard with me. If you’ve been in “the zone” before anything running related really connects

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  8. All of these pieces have a focus on familial relationships and strong emotions while also using the passage of time as a major component of the story.

    Big sis, Little Sis
    I love the way the sisterly relationship is portrayed in this piece. The way the little sister begins to notice the changes in her older sister is handled so well. I also enjoyed how the older sister still fondly embraces the family traditions and time with her sister.

    Falling Apart
    I found this one to be so powerful. I love the way the story unfolds, piece by piece as she reflects on the previous events. I also think the fifth paragraph, with all the signs she noticed, is incredibly well done. Including the passage of time at the end only made me feel the depth of Maddie’s emotions more and the impact that this event had on her. Well done!

    Mama’s Sunflowers
    In this piece, I love the voice. It reads so authentic to the age of the character for me had me running the gambit of emotions from heartbreaking to heartwarming. My favorite line is “And our sunflowers sprouted, like hope and courage and love”. I love how this piece ends with a message of hope.

    A Song of Light and Dark
    In this piece, I felt the emotions of the mother so strong. I felt myself smiling for her with the descriptions of Diwali preparations and I also felt her pain and conflict at being away from home. I loved using the seasons to embody her changing feelings. All around I just loved the word choice and description in this one.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. YES! Again, you said why I chose these but in such a more lyrical way, ha! Great job! I agree with all of these and really wanted to point out that I, too, felt Mama’s Sunflowers really had the voice of the child. And now, where is the analysis or extra insight to your piece, dear Andrew?

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      1. Hmmm….extra insight into my own work. It was much easier to analyze the work of others. What I can say about this piece is that it was the easiest piece of writing I have ever done. When I read about the words flowing out of an author’s fingertips, that is what this was for me and I have not had that experience before or since.

        I am assuming that many may think this story was inspired by a loss I have experienced similar to the boy in the story, however, it really came from a cherished hike my son and I went on this summer, much like the characters in the story. During the hike, I was feeling all the feels about my growing children and seeing their youth slipping away (they are only 4, 6, 8, but still they are growing up!) and being so proud of that but also feeling down about it. I sought to find solace in these emotions by imagining how my children might think back on these special experiences and what they might mean to them as they grow up and when I am no longer around for them.

        In terms of the craft, I have to say I was channeling my inner Jane Yolen and thinking about the descriptive language and lyricism in Owl Moon. I had a very wonderful CP who suggested the line breaks which was not something I had thought of. For me, these added a lot to the story and how I read it.

        This was also my first writing contest and my first time writing anything lyrical. My other manuscripts are light, funny, and full of wordplay. I think these firsts really helped because I felt no pressure. I had no expectation of myself and felt very free to just put words on a page.

        I am very thankful for this contest for showing me I had this other side to my writing and for being the main catalyst for the connections I now have with the writing community.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Andrew, I am crying. Thank you so much for sharing that. Isn’t that flowing out the most wonderful feeling. I had never realized it until now (and probably only because of the running piece in this post as well) but it’s like making it into “the zone” in running, it’s only ever happened once for me and it was like an out of body experience. I hope it happens more for you, you are a true talent. And I ADORE ADORE ADORE the inspiration of this piece and the fact that you can give your kids this piece for them to cherish is absolutely the best. And you must let Jane Yolen know that you channeled her and her beautiful Owl Moon story, she would be so delighted to hear that!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Thank you for sharing a little bit of the backstory on your contest piece, Andrew.

          “I think these firsts really helped because I felt no pressure. I had no expectation of myself and felt very free to just put words on a page.” ❤

          You've captured EXACTLY the thing I love about participating in contests. Once we start writing "for real" with the goal of publication, it's so easy to get self-conscious about our work. I love the feeling of freedom within the strict limits of a contest. Brings out my creativity and the inner, "Hey, why not?!? Let's see what happens…" persona, which I don't give nearly enough opportunities to come out & play usually.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. Wow, thanks for sharing where you found your inspiration! Just after my daughter was born, I felt like I was constantly in this weird, hormonally-induced existential freefall. I found it to be such a solitary emotion until someone else randomly said to me, “parenting really forces you to face your own mortality, doesn’t it?” Having this person (a father of two) say it out loud was so jarring and SO comforting, because I think it’s a part of parenting that people don’t really talk about! And certainly not an emotion I expected to feel so early and so strongly. I love that you took that emotion and framed it from the child’s perspective. Amazing job!

          Liked by 2 people

        4. Andrew, this is absolutely amazing for your first contest and first lyrical story. I hope there are many more in your future. I was one who assumed the story was inspired by loss but the true inspiration of the story is just as heartwarming as the story itself. Thank you for sharing!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. A song of light and dark –By Preeti Gopalan

    There are a LOT of beautiful layers to this story: holiday rituals, the strain of learning the ways of a new place, the conflict between 1st generations of immigrants with the ones following, the heaviness of a young daughter living with her mother’s depression and changeable moods. I’m extremely impressed with all that’s packed into this story, while it remains lyrical–full of light & hope. This could easily be a poem.

    My favorite passage: “When I ask if I need a jacket for school, she crimps her eyes , converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. At my smile, she sighs, “You don’t understand feeling divided, with your life of blessed simplicity. My recollections of warmth are in Celsius. My past has no present, my present has no past.” ❤ ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. YES! I also want to add that beyond all of these wonderful things you touched on here, I was so impressed that Preeti didn’t sugarcoat this experience or even try to explain it because from the outside looking in to depression, there is no way to understand it, and she also hits on how hard it is for the person on the outside trying to deal with a person going through depression. I feel that pain with the daughter as I’ve been there with people in my life

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mama’s Sunflowers — By Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

    “At Christmas, I gave Mama the bravest idea I had ever had.
    Superhero capes,” I whispered when Mama opened her gift. “To make us brave. You can only see them if you believe.””

    Sharon perfectly showed us the power of a child’s faith & love for their parent. I’d never thought of hope as being a form of bravery, but here it clearly is. Beautiful piece–thank you for sharing it with us, Sharon.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. All of these beautiful family stories are able to capture emotion in just a few words. While some are in first person and others in third they all pulled me in from the beginning and made me feel a part of the story. Sometimes that was through dialogue and sometimes through the exquisite description. Well done everyone!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes yes yes! another person who took the theme I chose and made it sound so much more eloquent, thank you Rose! And I really appreciate that you as well as others have said they pulled you in to be part of the story, those are the kinds of stories I can’t peel my eyes from!

      Like

  12. Wow, all of these stories had big feelings with very concrete moments that made them jump off the page.
    Andrew’s: “ Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they are gone.” It hits completely differently the second time.
    Janelle’s:” Gaby grinned at their matching fuzzy socks.” This is such a sweet moment of connection.
    Karen’s: “Why did they create such a perfect moment just to ruin it by telling them?” The betrayal is so cutting. I feel like the narrator will never enjoy cinnamon and apples again.
    Sharon’s: “‘Superhero capes,’I whispered when Mama opened her gift. ‘To make us brave.’” This is full of a child’s hope and fear all at once. It is a small act, but gives the child agency in a big way.
    Preeti’s: “‘You don’t understand feeling divided, with your life of blessed simplicity. My recollections of warmth are in Celsius.’” I love the physicality and specificity of this. I have relatives and friends who think in Celsius. But I’d absolutely brilliant how it is used to suggest longing for another home.
    Kudos to the authors for sharing these stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As I read and re-read these beautiful stories, I was struck by the choices the authors made to evoke emotion and underscore themes—reminiscent of an actor who takes a script in unexpected directions through their choices in interpretation.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I really loved these family centered stories; all tug at the heartstrings, but in different ways.

    The Stars You Don’t See by Andrew Hacket
    Is just a beautiful father son story…”We are alone, but together…Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re gone.”A father planting seeds that will one day provide strength and comfort.

    Big Sis, Lil Sis by Janelle Harper
    I just love that Big Sis, even though she’s outwardly changed, she’s still the same sis to Lil Sis. I was rooting for that as I was reading. “Spunky new haircut, lipstick the same shade Mom wears…”She sips warm apple cider while Amber blows on her steaming black coffee” love the subtle college changes. Taking those first tentative steps towards independence and adulthood, while at the same time finding comfort in her sibling relationship and traditions. A rite of passage.

    Falling Apart by Karen Keesling
    I used the same picture for my story and also wrote about running. I was blown away by how poetically Karen told the sad story of Maddie learning of her parents impending divorce. The crystal clear details were so poignant heartbreaking. I love that Maddie gets out her feelings of anger and frustration through running. I can relate! Running has gotten me through many a rough patch. Beautifully done.

    Mama’s Sunflowers by Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson
    Another story that had me rooting along as I was reading – rooting for Mama to get better. Mama being so sick she missed the first day of kindergarten – ahh so powerful. Beautiful seasonal imagery, and I just adore the MC giving Mama, “the bravest idea I had.” And that she had a superhero cape to be brave too, not just Mama. Very childlike and hopeful.

    A Song of Light and Dark by Preeit Gopalan
    There is so much going on in this powerful piece of a young child’s view on a parent’s depression, and immigrant struggles She understands the rhythms of her mother’s illness and you can just feel her relief on this Diwali, that “today she is whole. Diwali is her festival of inner light.” “Jingling bangles add their song to the festive Nadaswaram tunes…so beautiful today.” Very touching piece, Preeit did an amazing job conveying so many emotions in so few words. Wow.

    Beautiful stories all.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. What a beautiful analysis, Penny, and I too use running (oh the natural calmer/high) to get away from it all–the soccer field is my favorite escape but running is the close second. I really like that you hit on how Preeti showed that the child understood the rhythms of her mother’s illness and how Diwali was a relief!

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  15. What beautiful stories about family and connection. Each piece so different but all tugged at my emotional heartstrings. The stories that were creating from single pictures, shows that talent that these writers have. I see why each of them won this contest. I could follow the emotion in Andrew Hacket’s story, the timing and pace of the story was perfect. I loved each of these pieces. Great Job.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I see a themes of emotion and adapting to change in these stories.

    The Stars You Don’t SeeThe idea that loved ones are still with us is a sweet one and it’s especially lovely tied here to the constellations and nature. I feel most connected to the earth and my thoughts/feelings in nature/hiking, so I found this story comforting. “Stars wink into view” was my favorite line.

    Falling Apart
    This one resonated with me. Running is such a great outlet for strong feelings. This phrase was my favorite – it conveys so much  “sneakers striking the pavement, scattering dead leaves behind her”. I love the use of a smell to conjure a memory. Nice job capturing the emotion and showing how the MC channeled it.

    Big Sis, Lil Sis
    This one captures the forever bond of siblings. The smores tradition is a lovely touch and I like the observations of the little sister. 

    Mama’s Sunflowers
    Thank you for the hope! I was sure that Mama was going to die and be remembered in the sunflowers and I was ready to cry. This story hooked me and brought me on a little journey, then surprised me. Lovely.  I love the lines “tummy like a bucket of rocks” and “winter dusted the trees with frost”.

    A Song of Light and Dark
    Joyful and poignant. I’ve never heard anyone explain the grief of leaving a life behind like this “My past has no present, my present has no past”. Succinct and deep.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Andrew Hackett’s The Stars You Don’t See was so incredibly moving, but I also loved the way he weaved in the imagery of big, little and gone. The line “Ursa minor.” Dad points. “There you are, my little bear” was such a treat in word play-and then the line “his hand swallows mine” helped to give this sense of closeness while looking at the vast space. Just so beautifully done Andrew! I loved it!

    Big Sis, Lil Sis by Janelle Harper was amazing because she captured the voice of the younger sister so well! I love the line “Weird…Amber looks like a real grownup” because I think it is exactly what a younger sibling thinks when they see their older one in a new light. I love how she keeps guessing at where her older sister fits in now-with the grownups because she wears lipstick and reads hard books and drinks coffee or with her because she can still enjoy their tradition. It’s brilliant the way she captures the details to try to make sense of it all.

    Mama’s Sunflowers By Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson nearly had me in tears. What I loved was how she gave her young MC the power to try to help her mom. I thought the lines “Winter dusted the trees with frost. Mama rested a lot. I helped her pluck the seeds of the dried sunflowers. “In the spring, we’ll plant them,” Mama said” were so powerful because of the converse imagery. Sunflowers are usually so happy, and bright and the dried sunflowers were such a great metaphor for how Mama must have seemed to the MC. I also love how winter is tied in with rest and spring with hope of new growth.

    Preeti Gopalan’s A Song of Light and Dark so incredibly shows a world of contrasts. I love the line “You don’t understand feeling divided, with your life of blessed simplicity. My recollections of warmth are in Celsius” precisely for the feelings it evokes and the contrast of how the MC understands that there are different versions of her mother and her mom tells her how simple her life is. I think for any of us who have ties to another country or culture, this piece so beautifully encapsulates all the difficulties of how to marry the two. I also love all the imagery of getting ready for Diwali.

    And…I just realized I used the word love a lot when writing about these incredible entries. I guess I loved them all 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  18. This was so hard to get through—I felt like my heart was breaking and being put back together with each one! Kudos to Andrew, Janelle, Karen, Sharon, Preeti for having such a deft touch on these heavy topics.

    I loved the details of A SONG OF LIGHT AND DARK. Preeti painted not just the picture, but also the character SO BRILLIANTLY. I felt like I knew the mom deeply by the end of it. Wow.

    Also love how MAMA’S SUNFLOWERS cycled through the seasons. As grown-ups we measure disease/recovery in days, months, years. The innocence really came through as the MC bookmarked critical moments in her mind with flowers, her favorite lunch, bird songs, and presents.

    THE STARS YOU DON’T SEE, you had me at title (and in tears).

    BIG SIS, LIL SIS and FALLING APART: I love how these were such small moments, time-wise, but have an immense impact on the MC growing up. FALLING APART was basically a thought while running, but it covered so much. BSLS pinpointed such a significant moment in a younger sibling’s life.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks Carrie and Kaitlyn! I actually stopped reading midway in the morning then resumed after the work day was done because I really couldn’t take it. Family + hope.. awww love this theme! So true at any age!

        Liked by 3 people

  19. I’m just catching up on the comments here and I love how these pieces work so beautifully together! I feel like they belong in a book of essays about family. Each one really captures those little moments that you remember a long time after because even if you didn’t know it at the time, they were incredibly impactful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that! It would be so cool for these stories to be in a compilation (I can’t say essays because die to my upbringing, “essay” sounds so BORNING to me lol) and YES to little moments! What about these pieces is able to capture these moments so well

      Liked by 3 people

  20. There is clearly a family theme going on among all of these pieces. Although initially, as I started to read, I thought they were all going to be about loss, but then the last few turned into a promise. Congratulations to all of these authors for doing such a great job creating a mood – albeit all different – with their words.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Loved all these family-themed pieces!

    The Stars you don’t see What a beautiful piece. I felt transported to a beautiful hike in the sunset. The mood is lilting and uplifting. The word choices are great like the stars winking into view, the sun kissing the horizon, wrapped in Dad’s embrace, the pines ushering, the use of ombre – they fit the mood perfectly. It’s a beautiful message and a perfect landing of an ending. Tiny suggestions- Anticipation masks the ache in my legs’ – is there a way to show with action to make it even more powerful? and ‘eyes turning moist’ and ‘Dad looks at me knowingly’ – is there a way to make it clearer? I would come back to this poem, again and again, to cherish and re-read.

    Big sis, little sis
    Such a sweet piece. Loved the observation from the little’ sis viewpoint how she felt her sister suddenly looked grown-up. Loved all the descriptions of how they spent their time together. The word choices were wonderful like the crackling fire reflecting their mood. The bond between siblings is unique and this piece captures it aptly.

    Falling Apart

    Loved it. I want to know what happens next! I could identify with the anguish Maddie felt and the relief she gets from running. I can see how the conversation became a permanent memory in Maddie’s consciousness.

    Mama’s sunflowers

    I can see from the eyes of this Kindergartener. I loved the description of the tummy feeling full of rocks. I loved the juxtaposition of seasons against the timeline of this story. A tiny suggestion- I really wanted to know what her favorite lunch was. Would love to see it in a complete story!

    A song of light and dark

    Loved the play of words in this piece. My past has no present, my present no past – how wonderfully expressed. All the scenes and the details made me nostalgic for Diwali. Loved the converting Fahrenheit to celsius detail – it is real! I want to see what happens next.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and for the insights. Great feedback! I have a slightly longer version of this story that I am currently querying. My next move will be to pull up that doc and see how I addressed your points in that ms. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. All of the stories this week are incredible. Some brought tears to my eyes due to the depth of feeling they projected.
    “The Stars you don’t See” the reader can feel the strong bond between dad and son.
    “Big Sis, Lil Sis So well done, one of my favorite lines was the one noting the drinks…apple cider, steaming black coffee! Hmmm!? Possibly denoting age differences at this point in their lives.

    “Falling Apart” was emotion packed! Running away from the reality of “losing” her parents through divorce and running to “win” …20 seconds faster as noted for that particular run.
    “Mama’s Sunflowers” Loved the creativity to devise “Super Hero Capes” . We all can use one of them!
    “A Song Of Light and Dark” The final line seems to express the theme of the whole piece “Diwali is her inner light”!

    Each piece emphasizes the importance of family and family ties. Courage, finding light amidst darkness, seeds showing growth and new life, as well as a bit of the magic of a super hero cape!

    Thanks, Kaitlyn! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Hey everyone,
    Since everyone already analyzed these so well, I’ll just share my original reactions. Remember these are short and sweet because I’m writing them for each piece, my original reaction. If you want to know more about how these pieces made me feel, it’s all in the comments above 😉

    The Stars You Don’t See, absolutely beautiful, great descriptions, then I wanted a twist or way to tie it up together and it was sure delivered, literally choked me up, eyes filled with tears

    Big Sis Lil Sis, super sweet well written

    Mama’s Sunflower, sweet and hopeful

    Falling Apart, so much feeling, nice imagery, can totally relate to running

    Song of light and dark, teaches a lot, very important, about feelings, come back to decide honorable or winner (obviously when we came back to discuss, it was a winner!)

    Thank you all again for sharing your stunning stories with us and for those who helped analyze, thank YOU, this is such a right spot for me these days!

    Liked by 5 people

  24. I cry every time I read Andrew’s piece — every word counts and paints a beautiful, emotion-filled piece from beginning to end. I love every single line!
    Big Sis, Little Sis is really fun, and I can relate to this one very much being the big sis in my family with a little sis almost 13 years younger than me. I enjoyed the S’Mores and loved the matching socks! I adore the closing lines, and find them 100%true.
    Falling apart is sad, and the author captured that hopeless feeling when relationships that we have no control over change, so the character finds something they can control. I like the way the character can’t recall all the words said. That’s very realistic.
    Mama’s Sunflowers is beautiful and hopeful. I love the invisible superhero capes, and really find myself rooting for both of these characters and hoping for a happy ending. . .
    I’m not familiar with many of the Diwali traditions, but I love the beautiful relationship pictured, and the details of the celebration. This is my favorite line: “She’s not the mom who struggles out of bed at 9am and ends her day still in PJs.” — we learn so much about this character from that sentence!

    All of these are beautiful depictions of complex family relationships. You guys rocked it! They are all different, but spectacular!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So well analyzee Tonnye, and I really like that you touched on things about Falling Apart that no one has yet, about finding control in other ways when there are so many things you can’t control, I bet many of us are doing this without knowing in these times. Also I totally agree with the PJ line on A Song of Light and Dark, we learn so much in so few words. Thanks for sharing and you totally got the theme 😉 excited to see what you share next week!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Loved hearing the inspiration for Andrew’s story. His first lyrical piece? What? That’s impressive! I especially enjoyed the term of endearment, Little Bear. So perfect for this special father son story in The Stars You Don’t See.
    What a sweet take away for Big Sis, Lil Sis. Sisters are forever friends! So true. I’m fortunate to have 3 forever friends! And I can definitely relate to that weird feeling of watching them become grown-ups.
    In Falling Apart, Karen did a great job of bringing the story back around to the original problem of running, using Maddie’s pain as fuel for achieving her goal.
    “Winter dusted the trees with frost” shows the passage of time in Mama’s Sunflowers. It reminds me of the movie sequence in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant is walking through all the different seasons. Beautiful job of moving us through the story, Sharon.
    I love Preeti’s use of sensory details with “jingling bangles” and “the rich smell of ghee” in A Song of Light and Dark. Lovely descriptions!
    In all of these winning entries, I see the theme of family love and resilience through the seasons of life, despite loss, change, and illness. Each of these stories tugged at my heartstrings. They should come with a box of Kleenex.

    Liked by 1 person

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