Author Archives: Andrea R Huelsenbeck

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 12

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Today I’m using the Writer’s Digest prompt: Write a poem using at least three of the following six words: convict, great, play, race, season, and voice.

Watching the children play in every season

Summer in Arizona means we can’t stay outside 
for long (too hot!) unless we’re wet. A few hours a day 
we play in the pool. I swim a lap, then sit in the shade to watch
games of Marco Polo or diving for rings. My children’s
happy voices are music to my ears.

Fall’s temperatures gradually cool until the pool
no longer sings its siren song. Off to the park to play,
to swing, to climb monkey bars, to run races.

Only an Arizonan understands
the need to wear a down jacket when the winter temperature
hits a frosty 50 degrees. Can we go somewhere there’s snow?
No. Mama doesn’t remember how to drive on icy roads.
I’ll watch you ride your bikes ‘round the cul de sac instead.

Spring is short in the desert. The blooming orange trees and wildflowers
remind us that blazing heat will return soon. Now is the time for baseball. 
It’s great when we win! Juice boxes and chips after the game.

©ARHuelsenbeck 2021

Monday Morning Wisdom #305

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Monday Morning Wisdom #305

“Somebody said that writers are like otters… Otters, if they do a trick and you give them a fish, the next time they’ll do a better trick or a different trick because they’d already done that one. And writers tend to be otters. Most of us get pretty bored doing the same trick. We’ve done it, so let’s do something different.”
~Neil Gaiman

From the Creator’s Heart #302

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NaPoWriMo2021 Day Ten

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Today’s prompt is Junk Drawer Song. The song I chose is Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, sung here by Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen in 1976. You might as well play it in the background while you’re reading.

custody battle


no love for us this morning
I found a hair on your pillow and
it wasn’t mine

I went off to the city
you vanished into the forest
distance our common goal

I took the wrench
you took the screws
who took the sharpie

you didn’t say goodbye
neither did I
will we ever greet one another again

do you remember
when we walked together
and our feet always landed at the same time

I took the matches
you took the electrical tape
I lost the scissors

our lives ran parallel
like the shoreline and the sea
then you ran off at a tangent

my eyes were hard as flint
your eyes were soft with sorrow
we weren’t the first disparate souls to fall in love

you took the string
I paid for that screwdriver
whatever happened to the 9-volt batteries

©ARHuelsenbeck 2021

Online Critiquing—Is It For You?

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Online Critiquing—Is It For You?

I used to be part of a wonderful weekly critique group of six very committed members plus a few others who came as they were able. We called ourselves Tuesday’s Children, and we’d been together for decades.

And then stuff happened. A wedding. An illness. Having other things to do besides writing. And our little group slowed down. Some put writing on the back burner. Eventually our meetings dropped their writing focus, and became occasional social get-togethers.

And then Covid happened. And one of our members passed away (not from Covid).

We gathered once on Zoom, and maybe we’ll do it again, but it’s not the same.

You may or may not know this about me, but I hate change, unless I initiate it.

I know, I know—change is inevitable, not optional. The ability to embrace change is critical to our survival. I get it.

Even though I do have several friends I can send manuscripts to, the loss of my weekly group hit me hard. Writing is such a solitary endeavor that my “colleagues” served as my support structure as well as my social circle.

Recently I joined a national writers’ organization (I’m not going to tell you which one), and one of its features is an online critique network. I wasn’t sure how that would work for me, but I signed up for the monthly orientation, one day late, thinking I wouldn’t start until April.

Instead, they included me in March’s email orientation, assuring me I could do the training (and homework) at my own pace.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any type of class, and I felt overwhelmed. The organization has a certain way they want the critiques performed, in a very particular format. Initially I felt stupid; I couldn’t grasp the fine points. But, actually, as I went along, everything became clearer, and easier. I finished the 5-lesson training and was launched into the large group.

You’re required to do at least two critiques before you submit something of your own. You can submit up to two chapters (or multi-chapter excerpts of up to 2500 words) per week, but you must do at least two critiques for each submission you send in, preferably more. You can expect at least three people to critique your pieces, and if you don’t get three, you can send the group an email requesting enough critiques to equal three.

I read a bunch of submissions before I found one I was comfortable critiquing. Some were not good. Some left me at a loss of ideas for suggesting improvements. But finally I found one that resonated with me, and I dug in. Since then I found a WIP that I really like, and which I’d like to critique every future chapter of.

And then I started submitting my WIP, a middle grades fiction. I only have three chapters done at the moment, but I sent them all in.

The responses were very encouraging. The group has given me excellent feedback and shown me where my phrasing or structure is confusing. They’ve been very kind, and a small group of MG/YA authors asked me to join them. I haven’t committed yet, but I think I might, since I like their writing, and they seem to like mine.

The online critique network will never take the place of Tuesday’s Children in my heart, but it’s a viable substitute for a difficult time. As Covid slows down and gathering with others gets less scary, I know of a local writer’s group (I’ve been on their email list for a year) that I can start attending. And perhaps, in time, I’ll be able to attend a weekly in-person group again. One can only hope.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have an artistic support group or a critique group for your creative endeavors? Would you ever consider an online arrangement? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

NaPoWriMo Day Nine

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I used Writers Digest’s prompt today: write a persona poem for an inanimate object. A persona poem is when you write a poem in the voice of someone (or in this case something) else.

Wedding cake
The Wedding Cake Knife

I was your honored servant the day you were wed
I was so handsome; you loved me so
your soft young hand encircled my silver handle carved with lilies
your husband’s hand guided yours
my blade quickly excised the first slice of cake at your reception
oh, how the crowd applauded
it was my proudest moment

thereafter, I was always included in your family celebrations
and when people remarked on my beauty
you explained I was the very knife that cut your wedding cake
I sparkled with pride; I glowed with the memory
I performed my task with excellence

over the years, I felt myself growing weaker
yet you loved me just the same
you continued to require my presence 
whenever there was cake to serve
and it was my pleasure to comply

when your fifth child became a teenager
she asked you for an ice cream cake for her party
and you did not deny her
I tried to execute my duty
but the frozen confection was beyond my ability
I strained with the effort, aware this would be my final assignment
but I failed

my blade separated from my handle
and the party guests laughed with glee
I was ashamed

but you said, “This was a wedding gift;
it was the knife I used to cut our wedding cake.
I love this knife.”
the girls’ laughter hushed
they heard the affection and the grief in your voice
and they mourned with you

as you cast me aside
no longer the prized possession
I took comfort in knowing 
I had served you well
and my service was acknowledged and valued

©ARHuelsenbeck 2021

Creative Juice #237

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Creative Juice #237

Beauty and fun.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day Eight

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Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt is metaphor.

Life 

sometimes it goes smoothly and effortlessly and
you take it for granted

but it doesn’t always move in the direction you expect
sometimes you fall when you really need to get up

sometimes your progress comes to a halt multiple times
before you reach your desired destination

sometimes it gets stuck and there’s no way of escaping
all your best efforts have no effect

you think you’re in control
but you’re really not

life is an elevator

©ARHuelsenbeck

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Climb, Little Vine

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Arbor vine

So here’s the thing: last year, the arbor vine that draped over our pool pump fence died off, and I cut it down to the ground. But sprouts came up from the roots, and a couple of months ago, I tied some strings between them and the fence, hoping they’d twine around and find their way up. So far, no progress, but I have my fingers crossed. Here’s what they look like when they bloom:

More Oddballs.

Video of the Week #300: African Architects Creating in Context

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