Tag Archives: A to Z Challenge

A is for April Challenges

A is for April Challenges

A is for April, and with the beginning of April come the start of two challenges that I participate in.

The A to Z blogging challenge participants will post 26 posts in April, each having something to do with the letter of the day.

napo2020button1-1April is National Poetry Month, and also National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). So each day, I will try to compose a new poem.

295px-Louisa_May_Alcott,_c._1870_-_Warren's_Portraits,_BostonHere, as a special A to Z bonus, is a quote from Louisa May Alcott:

Resolve to take fate by the throat and shake a living out of her.


a-to-z HEADER [2020] to size v2


Z is for Ziggy Marley

Z is for Ziggy Marley

When I taught elementary general music, one of the songs in our series was Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, and it was often requested by my students. Here is Ziggy singing his dad’s song.

David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley (born 17 October 1968) is a Jamaican musician and leader of the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and the son of reggae icons Bob Marley and Rita Marley.

In 1979, Ziggy and his siblings Sharon, Cedella and Stephen formed the Melody Makers – named after the British weekly pop/rock music newspaper, Melody Maker – and made their recording debut with “Children Playing in the Streets”. The track was written for them by their father, who had composed the song for them four years earlier and wanted to share this gift with children around the world. All royalties from the single were pledged to the United Nations, to aid its efforts during the International Year of the Child.

In 1984, Ziggy Marley got back into the studio with his siblings and English producer Steve Levine for what became the single, “Lying in Bed.” The following year, they released their debut LP, Play the Game Right. The album was produced by their mother, Rita Marley, and featured Aston and Carlton Barrett, who were originally the rhythm section for Bob Marley’s Wailers, on bass and drums, respectively.

Skipping forward to 1995, the group signed a record deal with Elektra and released “Free Like We Want 2 B” accompanied by the group’s own recording label “Ghetto Youths United”. The album charted at #170 on the Billboard 200 chart and #3 on the Top Reggae Albums chart. The single “Power to Move Ya” charted #13 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles.

In 1996 Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers released a song called “Love Power” for the Jim Henson soundtrack movie Muppet Treasure Island with the composers Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil. He also performed the song “Hey What a Wonderful Kind of Day” which was later released as the theme song to the Arthur TV Show on PBS.

Here’s a more recent version of “Hey What a Wonderful Kind of Day” with friends Jon Baptiste and Chance the Rapper:

In early 1997, the group performed at the tribute concert “Marley Magic Live” in Central Park, New York on the Summerstage. They also released their second best-of album “The Best of (1988-1993)”. Later that year, the group released their ninth album “Fallen Is Babylon“. In 1998, the second single “Everyone Wants to Be” charted at #16 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart. The album earned the group their third Grammy award.

The YouTube video below of “Everyone Wants to Be” has an annoying crackle. Another YouTube video was redubbed directly from the album, without the crackle, but after a while it doesn’t sync correctly. I’d say watch this one until the crackle starts.

In 1999, the group released their tenth studio album, “The Spirit of Music”. The album peaked at #1 on the Top Reggae Albums chart. The album spawned the singles “Higher Vibration”, “Jah Will Be Done”, and “One Good Spliff”.

Ziggy Marley’s debut solo album, Dragonfly was released on 15 April 2003. The album featured the single “True To Myself.”

Something more recent, Rebellion Rises, which came out in 2018:

AtoZ2019tenthAnnMuch of the text of this article was excerpted from Wikipedia.

Photograph of Ziggy Marley by John Mathew Smith, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Monday Morning Wisdom #204: Y is for Yoda

Monday Morning Wisdom #204: Y is for Yoda

Do, or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back.



X is for Xu Wei

X is for Xu Wei

Xu Wei (1521–1593) was a Ming dynasty Chinese painter, poet, and dramatist famed for his artistic expressiveness. He is considered the founder of modern painting in China.

Xu, a child prodigy, was raised by a single mother who died when he was 14. At 21, he married a woman surnamed Pan, who died five years later.


Chrysanthemums and Bamboos

Though he passed the county civil examination at age 20, Xu was never able to pass the provincial civil service examinations, even after attempting it eight times. Nevertheless, Xu found an unspecified job working with Hu Zongxian, Supreme Commander of the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Fujian coastal defense against the wokou pirates.

During the 1550s and ’60s he succeeded in gaining a reputation as a poet and painter, but as his reputation as an artist grew, so did his infamy as a drunkard and a madman.

When General Hu was arrested and lost his position, Xu Wei feared a similar fate for himself. Xu became mentally distraught and attempted to commit suicide nine times, such as by axing himself in the skull and drilling both of his ears. His mental imbalance led to his killing of his second wife Zhang after becoming paranoid that she was having an affair. He was jailed for seven years until a friend managed get him released at the age of 53 by reason of insanity.



Xu spent the rest of his life painting, but with little financial success. However, his paintings are highly sought after in modern times.

Xu Wei wrote a play based on the Ballad of Mulan. Yes, that Mulan, Disney lovers. She may have been an actual female warrior between 420 and 589 AD. He also wrote three other plays with women’s themes. Xu was an early women’s rights advocate.

Xu Wei was also an accomplished poet. Xu’s collected works in 30 chapters exists with a commentary by the late Ming writer Yuan Hongdao.

Of the various arts Xu Wei practiced, he held his calligraphy in highest esteem. Next was his poetry.

It’s ironic that a scholar who could not pass the civil service examination is remembered today for his achievements in the realms of literature and art.

Bamboo 624px-Hsü_Wei_001


You can see more of Xu’s paintings here.

Information for this article came from the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia.


V is for Video of the Week #198: How a Children’s Book Spawned a Treasure Hunt


Wordless Wednesday: U is for Unicorn




T is for Theme

T is for Theme

Simply stated, the theme of a story is a universal truth about the human condition that your story illustrates. Your theme may be as general as love, or death, or taxes. Or it could be as specific as think before you speak or be prepared to deal with the consequences of your words. Or try not to buy a house next to a serial killer’s. (This article on the Reedsy blog does a great simple job of defining theme.)

But if simplicity is not your thing, some writers and teachers will tell you that the theme drives the entire story. The theme is what your main character needs and the story relates the journey to achieve it. (See this wonderful article by K.M. Weiland.)

I think a good definition of theme is the message the author is trying to convey through her writing. Even if the message is covert, it underlies the entire story. I dare say it underlies most nonfiction writing as well.


That being said, I’m not always able to articulate the theme of books I’ve read until I speculate about the author’s purpose. For example, I recently read Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. I suspect Thomas wrote Starr’s story to give white people a clue of what it’s like to be a Black person in America. But what’s the theme? Maybe Black lives matter? White people often change that to all lives matter, to which Black people retort, you don’t get it. Thanks to Thomas’ book, I’m beginning to understand.

My ulterior motive for writing The Unicornologist, my YA mystical fantasy work-in-progress, is to encourage my readers to be open to the supernatural. My main character comes face-to-face with Jesus through a centuries-old legend about the unicorn.

Do you have to have a theme in hand before you begin writing your story? Yes. And no. Your story will seem ungrounded and pointless if you try not to have a theme. But sometimes your theme hides from you while you are writing the first draft. Before you start your rewrites, though, it would be beneficial to analyze and identify what your story’s message is and tailor your rewrites so the theme is always just below the surface.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any additional insight into theme? What is the theme of the books you are writing or have written? Please share with us in the comments below.

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