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Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire

10 Jan

Hi, everyone! Welcome.

Since September, 17.9 million acres of Australia have burned in one of the country’s worst fire seasons on record. That’s an area larger than West Virginia, and more than eight times the area that burned in California in 2018, the state’s most destructive year for wildfires. 

The fires have now killed at least 27 people and destroyed almost 2,000 homes. The blazes turned skies orange and made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes. Those are just the impacts on people. The destruction of the country’s land and biodiversity is harder to fathom. An estimated 1 billion animals have been lost, and scientists fear long-term damage to many sensitive ecosystems. 

Though rain brought firefighters a slight reprieve Wednesday, the AP reports that hot and windy conditions that will keep the fires burning are expected to return later this week. 

It’s a disaster that’s particularly ominous: In a warming world, extreme fire events like this one will only grow more likely to occur. – Australia Fires: 7 Things Everyone Should Know About The Brushfire Disaster.

Photograph by Cris Saur @crisaur

What is happening in Australia right now is devastating. I feel terrible for the families that have lost loved ones and are suffering through this hellish brushfire disaster. The number of animals that have perished in the fire is perturbing. 1 Billion animals dead! The firefighters that are putting their lives at risk every day battling the flames are amazing. It is easy to feel helpless, especially if you live on the other side of the planet, but there are things we could do to help.

  • If you’re in Australia, Givit has a list of specific items needed by people and organizations affected by the bushfires.
  • People with emergency response training can sign up to volunteer in Queensland.
  • The World Wildlife Fund is collecting donations to restore habitats for koalas impacted by the fires.
  • You can donate to the Australian Red Cross’s fire recovery and relief fund.
  • You can also donate directly to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Service Foundation in South Australia, and the Country Fire Authority in Victoria.
Photograph by Mark Galer @markgaler

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 159, #Poet’sChoice

I chose to share this beautiful and heart-wrenching poem by Philip Salom dedicated to the men and women who fight these fires. Below is part one of the poem. You can read the rest of it here.

Bushfire

As if going into battle, the knapsack 
full on my shoulders, its pipe and nozzle
slung up like a rifle.
We fought along the river, seeing shrubs
explode, riddled with fire,
eerie sounds of trees shrieking
like things alive, feral, flames like faces
spilling down into the ferns.
We staggered, sick with the hammering heat,
dousing endless flames that slammed at us
like nightmares, sullen ghosts
groping at our limbs. We plunged
into that day's red thunder,
subsumed like suiciders who stare into
the rifle, gulp the flame. Individuals
meandering in something huge.
We choked in smoking semi-darkness,
shadows through the lead-coloured
air of limbo.

Now the aching blistering weight
of the knapsack pulling my shoulders.
Exhaustion worries the scorched end
of some unity: thought and action
fused into one. Sagging now,
heavier than the slopping drums
behind the tractors coming in.
We see the new men walking in
and seem to meet our earlier selves
but are more certain and more tired.
I, older than my youth, seeing these men
as if they were children.
Photograph by Liam Pozz @liampozz

Enjoy the rest of your day!

What Happened to Flying Cars?

3 Jan

I hope everyone has had a great start to the new year.

I remember all the promises of technological advances for this period. By this time, we were supposed to have flying cars, robots in every home, and teleportation, among other things. So what happened?

I have no doubts that the technology for flying cars is already out there. They probably have not figured out a way to implement it without us killing each other in transit. I mean, we have trouble operating a car on solid ground. I do not think we’re ready to drive amongst the clouds. How would you know which lane you’re on? Where would they put the traffic lights, yield, and stop signs? I could see it now, vehicles crashing into skyscrapers and firefighters getting cars out of trees.

I love to travel; it is one of my passions. Traveling and reading give me the tools I need to write, especially for worldbuilding and characterization. Although I enjoy visiting new countries and enjoying the people and culture, I’m not too fond of airports and airplanes, so I was looking forward to teleportation. To be able to enter a pod and in seconds, be transported to another country––what a dream. Of course, what is probably delaying the process are the test subjects. I don’t know about you, but I would not want this technology tested on animals or people, so there’s the problem the scientists are facing. The last thing I want to hear on the news is that they tried to test teleportation with a human subject and only hamburger arrived on the other side. Gross! What if the other scientists are vegans? We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

Seriously, although we did not get every technological advance promised for this decade, we did get a plethora of cool things. I own an iPhone, and it’s like walking around with a calculator, compass, dictionary, camera, and computer in my pocket––among other things. If someone had told me in 1999 that my phone would speak to me, answer questions, and assist me with specific tasks, I would have thought that person was talking about something he or she read in a SciFi novel. How about gene therapy, reversing paralysis, Wi-Fi (devices powered by the air!), Nanotechnology, computers that are figuring out how to do things no programmer could teach them (anyone thinking SKYNET?), 3D metal printing, artificial embryos? Wow! We’ve come a long way since 1999, but have we gone too far in certain areas?

Let me share with you the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2019, curated by Bill Gates.

1. Robot Dexterity – Robots are teaching themselves to handle the physical world. (SKYNET comes to mind again)

2. New-Wave Nuclear Power – Advanced fusion and fission reactors. (This reads scary. Did anyone see the drama miniseries on HBO, Chernobyl?)

3. Predicting Preemies – A simple blood test can predict if a pregnant woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely. (This I like. I worked in the NICU (area in the hospital that provides care for premature infants and seriously ill babies) for a while, and it was heart-wrenching.)

4. Gut Probe in a Pill – A small, swallowable device captures images of the gut without anesthesia. (Another good one. Anesthesia is not suitable for everyone.)

5. Custom Cancer Vaccines – The treatment incites the body’s natural defenses to destroy only cancer cells by identifying mutations unique to each tumor. (It’s about time.)

6. The Cow-Free Burger – Both lab-grown and plant-based alternatives approximate the taste and nutritional value of real meat without the environmental devastation. (I do not eat beef, but I did once, and I do miss a good burger. Maybe I would try the plant-based one––lab-grown does not sound appealing.)

7. Carbon Dioxide Catcher – Practical and affordable ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air can soak up excess greenhouse gas emissions. (How do plants feel about this? Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, right?)

8. An ECG (Electrocardiogram) On Your Wrist – ECG-enabled smartwatches, made possible by new regulations and innovations in hardware and software, offer the convenience of a wearable device with something closer to the precision of a medical one. (Well, it’s practical, but that means ECG techs will be obsolete in the future.)

9. Sanitation Without Sewers – Energy-efficient toilets can operate without a sewer system and treat waste on the spot. (What does it use concentrated sulfuric acid?)

10. Smooth-Talking AI (Artificial Intelligence) Assistants – New techniques that capture semantic relationships between words are making machines better at understanding natural language. (SKYNET)

There you have it. We cannot teleport to Bora-Bora, but there were so many advances in the last twenty years I cannot wait to see what this new decade has in store. Please excuse my somewhat weird sense of humor. I wish everyone happiness, good health, love, and prosperity in this new decade.

What are some of your goals for 2020?

Happy Holidays!

20 Dec

I want to wish all my followers, friends and family a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Kwanzaa!

I’ll be popping in and out of social media during my holiday vacay, but my next blog post will be next year. Take good care of yourself, keep warm, and enjoy!

Poetry Friday ~ Photo Prompt

22 Nov

It’s Colleen Chesebro’s Middle of the Month Poetry Photo Prompt Challenge!

This month we will use a photo chosen by last month’s “Photo-Prompt” Poet of the Week ~ Linda Lee Lyberg.

My contribution this week is a Butterfly Cinquain. I hope you enjoy it.

She yawns
spreading her wings
blinding the stars with light
chasing away the dark shadows
of night
angel of dawn
heralds another day
clouds set aflame with amber glow
birds rise

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I wanted to thank everyone that follows and visits my blog. I’m grateful for your friendship and support. I get excited whenever I post a poem, story, or article in anticipation of your visits and comments. Thanks for being so great!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Poetry Friday ~ It’s time to check your “virginity” again.

8 Nov

Hello, everyone! Welcome.

Have you heard about rapper T.I.’s podcast interview in which he revealed that he checks his daughter’s virginity? I saw this on TV, but it’s all over the internet. In case you haven’t heard, this is the gist of it: Grammy-winning rapper T.I. (Clifford Harris) told a podcast that he forces his teenage daughter to undergo an annual virginity test at the Gynecologist. The day after her birthday, he takes her to get her hymen checked to ensure that she’s still a virgin.

To say I was outraged by this is an understatement. Firstly, how backward and ignorant do you have to be? Having sex isn’t the only way a hymen gets torn. It can happen in many different ways. Secondly, what lessons is he teaching his daughter? That she’s only worthwhile if she’s a virgin? Her entire worth as a woman is based on her virginity status? Her word has no meaning because instead of asking her if she’s sexually active and trusting in what she tells you, you need medical proof? Why doesn’t he make her wear a chastity belt?

As if this yearly ritual wasn’t humiliating enough, he revealed everything on a podcast heard by thousands of people. His daughter is eighteen. Even if you don’t know who rapper T.I. is or listen to his music, you need to know that this goes on right here in the USA. And you know what? Even if you’re a fan, you have to admit this is insane.

To top it off, T.I. has a fifteen-year-old son who disclosed that he’s sexually active, and the rapper is fine with it. What? It’s okay for his fifteen-year-old son to have sex, but his eighteen-year-old daughter has to prove her virginity by going to a gynecologist and getting her hymen checked? This is a huge double standard, and I can’t stand it.

I guess T.I. doesn’t care if his son impregnates several girls his daughter’s age or younger, and either he doesn’t know or care about all the sexually transmitted diseases his son could easily catch. Why can’t this man talk to and educate his children, so that they can learn to make the right decisions on their own?

I understand some fathers are overprotective with their daughters, but in my opinion, this is going too far. Deyja Harris is T.I.’s daughter, not his property. And his fifteen-year-old son is in danger of contracting aids, herpes, hepatitis, among other diseases – not to mention getting someone pregnant.

What is your opinion on this subject?

“It’s the first of the month, and you know what that means! Poets choose your own prompt words.” Colleen’s 2019 Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 152

A
woman
who speaks her
mind is not a
bitch. She doesn’t need
men to validate her.
She’s not his sex toy or a
baby machine. She’s who she wants
to be. Society won’t make a
puppet of her, because she’s a woman.

Thanks for the visit. Please, let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Poetry Friday ~ Calling All Weirdos​!

11 Oct

Hi, everyone! Welcome.

Photo by Kim Carpenter ( @kimberly123 )

What does it mean when someone calls you a weirdo?

If you describe someone as a weirdo, you disapprove of them because they behave in an unusual way that you find difficult to understand or accept.

Well, some people may feel that way, but this is not my definition of a weirdo. In this day and age, it’s weird for someone to be their genuine self. It’s strange to speak your mind, regardless of others’ opinions. In these times, when so many people pop pills in order not to feel, it’s strange for someone to wear his or her emotions on their sleeve. I like weirdos. They’re my kind of people, honest, open, free thinkers. They don’t fear to be unique. They think outside the box and go with their creative flow.

It’s refreshing to be with people who are not numb to the world around them but instead embrace every emotion that makes them human.

Sometimes I’m surrounded by so much apathy and hate that it becomes unbearable. Why are there so many desensitized people? Stop popping pills every time you’re in danger of feeling something. Be a weirdo and feel. It’s normal to be sad when you lose a loved one. It’s okay to feel angry, scared, unsure, insecure sometimes. Deal with it because that’s what makes you human.

I understand that there are people who genuinely need to be on medication, but there are too many folks out there taking medications they shouldn’t be, and this has a dehumanizing effect.

I’m tired of being in the presence of cyborgs. I want to be around real people. Being a genuine person comes with a price, though. Not everyone will like you, but then not everyone should matter to you. Calling all weirdos!

Empty and Space are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer.

*The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Etheree or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

weirdo-Poetry_Friday-Vashti Quiroz Vega-Vashti Q-author-Tamara Bellis-poem-be kind-be real

Photo by Tamara Bellis @tamarabellis

Here’s my contribution to Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The Poetry form is an Etheree.

There’s
no where
to suffer
in this dark place.
Oh, my vacant life
there’s no happy surprise.
I pop a pill the moment
I realize that I’m alive.
Then I’m hollow, no feelings inside.
There’s only this disguise of constant lies.

Photo by Bart LaRue ( @bartlarueeppler )

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Have a Happy Friday!

Poetry Friday ~ Instagram

9 Aug

Hi, everyone! Welcome to The Writer Next Door (Blog).

I’m Vashti Quiroz-Vega (Vashti Q).

 

Let’s talk about Instagram. I joined Instagram a while ago but I created the account, managed to post some pictures and then never looked at it again for months. There was a lot going on in my life at the time and I couldn’t handle another social media site. I’ve gotten a lot more involved on Instagram in the last few months and I plan to stick with it, because it’s actually a great site. Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert. I’m still learning and making mistakes left and right but I’m beginning to catch on. I just discovered how to do an Instagram story and I’m having some fun with that.

I love photography and art, so at first, I had joined Instagram to look and share beautiful and interesting photos and art. Now, I realize that Instagram is a lot more than just a gallery for pretty pictures.

Did you know that Instagram has been around for about 9 years already? Did you know that influencers are charging up to $100,000 for a sponsored post?

Like Facebook and Twitter, hashtags are also used on Instagram and posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement. As authors, we know the importance of engagement. And speaking of authors, Instagram is now the new social media place for writers. It’s a place where creativity and bookworms abound. So here are:

10 Instagram Tips for Writers | Jane Friedman

Instagram-writers-vashti quiroz vega-Vashti Q-poetry_Friday-author-book_cake

Book cake from the launch party of ‘A Touch of Gold‘ by Annie Sullivan

Also check out, 25 Instagram Facts That You Want To Know – PastBook

Poetry_Friday-Vashti Quiroz Vega-Instagram-Bookstagram-author-writers-poetry

As authors, it is extremely important for our work to be seen. What’s the point of writing books if no one knows about them or reads them? I believe we can gain visibility, followers, and increase sales by being active on social media and my favorite sites right now are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you haven’t joined Instagram yet, give it a try.

Check out my Instagram and follow if you like.


UPDATE:

I’m done with the first draft of The Rise of Gadreel! Yay! I’m busy doing my first round of edits. I’ll probably do one more round of edits after this one, before I send it to my beta readers.

Here’s today poem for Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Prompt Challenge. It’s the first challenge of the month, so it’s ‘Poet’s Choice of Words’.

BOOK

See me, read me, please!

I was written in her blood

for your enjoyment.

Unread I’m not a story.

Reading me will make me live.

The Rise of Gadreel-Vashti Quiroz-Vega-Fantasy_novel-ghosts-witches-medieval times-magick

I’d like your opinion on my WIP’s title, The Rise of Gadreel. What do you think? Is the title interesting, intriguing? You can be completely honest.

 

Poetry Friday ~ Meaning & Passion

15 Feb

Hi, everyone! Welcome to my blog.

 

I’m back in my writing cave working on the 3rd installment of my Fantasy Angels Series. For me, writing the 1st draft is the most difficult part of the writing process, but it’s equally exciting. The process of creating a new plot, new worlds, and fleshing out new characters is exhilarating but can also be overwhelming at times. That being said, I am passionate about writing and don’t know what my life would be like if I didn’t write stories and books.

I’ve done all the research I needed to do for now and have written a loose outline of the story. Now I’ve begun to write it. Of course, once my characters take over, my outline will be thrown to the wind and things will probably go quite differently from what I had originally planned, and that’s okay with me.

During this time I tend to be in my head a great deal, so I’d like to apologize to my husband and family in advance.

♥♥♥

Meaning and Passion are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer.

*The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Etheree or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

Our love made no sense

But your kiss was medicine

Now you own my heart

Your warmth was what I needed

Your lips deserve my kisses

heart-love-valentines day-poetry friday-the writer next door-vashti q-Vashti Quiroz Vega-tanka tuesday-twitter

Wishing everyone a happy Friday and days filled with love.

Poetry Friday ~ Love & Time (Synonyms)

17 Aug

Hello, everyone! Welcome!

 

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news about the ‘Red Tide’ algae affecting southwest Florida, but what’s going on here is a real tragedy.

Toxic algae, called ‘red tide’ are killing the marine life in the southwest coast of Florida. Sea creatures have been washing up on our shores. The situation is so bad that our governor has declared a state of emergency.

This kind of thing upsets me beyond belief. Scientists are trying to figure out how to get rid of these tiny creatures and there has been some wild speculations as to how they had come to be. Well, I have a theory of my own. I believe The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (BP oil spill) in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010 is one of many things to blame. Nature always tries to protect itself and that includes marine life. All the garbage and oil in the water have killed many aquatic creatures and vegetation. Maybe, some of the gulf’s algae mutated into what are now known as ‘red-tide algae’ to protect itself long ago and maybe they plague us for disrespecting their environment. Yes, I know this reads like something out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but it makes perfect sense to me. When a life form is placed in a toxic environment it will either die or change to adapt to its new surroundings. Only this algae has mutated into a monstrous form that kills off every other creature around.

Now, I know that it is a natural phenomenon, but the exact cause or combination of factors that result in a red tide outbreak are not necessarily known. I also know that this phenomenon has occurred since ancient times. Biblical scholars and early marine biologists of the late nineteenth century postulated that the first plague of the Exodus story, the blood color of the Nile, might have been an outbreak of Red Tide. But who’s to say that pollution, oil spills and other unnatural disturbances in the water doesn’t have something to do with a Red Tide outbreak occurring.

Anyway, here’s an article from the Washington Post you can read for yourself:

Florida’s governor this week made official what residents of southwest Florida already knew: The bloom of toxic algae that has darkened gulf waters is an emergency. The red tide has made breathing difficult for locals, scared away tourists, and strewn popular beaches with the stinking carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark. Continue reading . . . 

Mother Nature’s Lament

In an age of greed

Seas once clean now choke with oil

My darling sea life

Leaving your bodies on shore

As red tides lap my beaches

red tide-toxic_algae-Florida-Poetry_Friday-Vashti Q-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Quiroz Vega-marine_life

 

Love and Time are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer. *The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

Thank you for visiting!

Haiku Friday – Tyrant & Hope

15 Jun

“The common mistake that bullies make is assuming that because someone is nice that he or she is weak. Those traits have nothing to do with each other. In fact, it takes considerable strength and character to be a good person.” 

~Mary Elizabeth Williams

Trolls

by Vacuous

Trolls,
a mythical creature now real.
They roam the internet looking to eat.
Looking to eat emotions.
You get a kick out of pain from another.
You kick them down on the ground while they are already under it.
Using technology to get into their brains and heart.
You find it funny to bring suffering to someone who can’t take anymore and has already taken it all.
You let them slip farther down into the hole when they confide
in you something they won’t tell others.
You think it is funny, cute, fair to treat others with the disrespect you have honed.
You practice day in day out to make those around you
feel less significant.
Unequal.
Lifeless.
No matter how far a person thought you could push
you always found a way to push a little farther.
That’s all you’ve known.
That is all you will ever know.
Because at some point in life,
you decided to become a
troll.

How much does bullying hurt? If we don’t know by now, after all the school shootings, teen suicides, mass murders in public places . . . The effects of bullying are painful and can sometimes lead victims to suicide as an alternative to pain. Bullying has a negative effect on everyone involved; the target, the bully and the bystanders.

We see the effects of bullying on the news almost every day. We read about it on social media. I don’t think anyone can turn a blind eye any longer. So what do we do about it? Spread awareness of the negative effects of bullying. If you see someone being bullied, try to do something to stop it. If you are a bully, and many adults are, stop bullying others. When you bully someone you take away their self-confidence. Bullying makes children feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. The effects of bullying can be devastating and lead to depression and suicide. In order to grow, we need to learn to lift others up, not tear them down.

bullied-bullying-Haiku_Friday-Poetry-Vashti Quiroz Vega-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-teen depression-teen_suicide

 

She yelled hopeless words

Like an old edifice, I

crumbled to the ground

bullies-trolls-Poetry-Haiku_Friday-Vashti Quiroz Vega-RonovanWrites-bullying-haiku

 

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

~ Mark Twain

Tyrant and Hope are this week’s prompt words chosen by Ronovan Hester of Ronovan Writes.

Ron hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge every Monday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your haiku poem. He is an author and poet and also does author interviews and much more on his blog. Be sure to check it out. Read Ron’s Haiku Prompt Challenge Guidelines for more information.


I’m almost done with my self-edits for the 2nd installment of my Fantasy Angels Series. Tomorrow I will be sending it off to my editor. I am also working on revising my first book, The Basement, which touches on the subjects of bullying and verbal abuse. So stay on the lookout for that one. 😉

The Basement-thriller-suspense-novel-Vashti Quiroz Vega-book-Vashti Q-bullying-child abuse-verbal abuse

Illustration by George Miltiadis for The Basement

Have a great day, everyone!