Friday, July 7, 2017


As you may have guessed, Yoda poetry is poetry written the way Yoda speaks--and it's harder to write than you might think.  This is my first (and so far, only, attempt).

Blowing through the clear blue sky cotton candy clouds are.
Shining on my face warm sunlight is.
With each step in the soft green grass I take,
Tickle my toes it does.
©  2017 Teresa Kander 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Story Fragment #14: Write a script scene of two people in conflict

The voice actor for a popular children's show has died, and the two characters in this scene are auditioning for the role.

Character #1: Gerry
Thinks Penelope is an entitled princess
Is sleeping with the show's producer
Wants to be successful to show up his twin brother, a writer on the show.

Character #2: Penelope
Thinks Gerry will ruin her father's legacy
Daughter of previous voice actor
Wants to win an award

Scene: Reception area outside producer's office. P sitting in a chair, waiting to audition, along with numerous others.
G enters and takes last remaining chair, next to P.?

P:  Oh no--MUST you sit there?
G: Believe me, Princess, if there were any other seats available, I'd want to be as far away from you as possible.
P: Fine. Just sit there and don't talk to me then. I can't believe you'd even show your face at this audition.
G: Me? What about you? I suppose you think that Daddy's little girl should just get the role handed to her?
P: Of course not--I'm banking on my talent, unlike you, who has to try to sleep his way to the top.
G: My relationship with Lily had nothing to do with it. I'm obviously the better choice to be the new Puddy Numkin.
P: Oh please! I've been preparing for this role my whole life--listening to Dad rehearse and talk about his motivation. I know this little cuddle bug inside and out--what do YOU know about him?
G: I know this role will be the key to the rest of my career. Kids love the little furball, and I'll be famous as his voice--and then the offers for other work will start pouring in...hopefully something a little less juvenile!

P gawks open-mouthed as the receptionist calls G in to read.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Story Fragment #13: Jean-Paul

Jean-Paul Robillard arrived at the lush penthouse apartment of his client, Hank Atkins, precisely at 10 am, just as he had done every morning for the last six months.

"Cuddles!" he called out. Are you ready for zee morning stroll?"

A fuzzy black toy poodle sped toward him, coming out of a door Jean-Paul knew led to Hank's study.

"Naughty girl--you know Hank doesn't allow you in zhere," Jean-Paul chided as he approached her with her leash.

Rather than meekly sitting at his feet, as was her usual custom, Cuddles turned and ran back into the study with a loud bark.

"No games this morning, Cuddles--I have a schedule to keep. Let's get going, non?"

As soon as he entered the study, Jean-Paul's bright blue eyes widened at the scene. Cuddles was pacing back and forth along the length of her owner's body, which lay in front of his desk. Jean-Paul couldn't discern Hank's injuries, but there was enough blood on the beige carpeting to make it obvious they were serious.

The Frenchman reached into his jacket pocket, intending to pull out his phone and call 911, but instead he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head just before everything went black.

When he came to a few minutes later--or he assumed it was just a few minutes, at least--he noticed a fireplace poker that had been left on the floor next to him, and surmised that was the weapon which had been used to render him unconscious. As soon as he could sit up without the room spinning, he made the 911 call. While he waited for help to arrive, he searched the apartment for Cuddles, but she appeared to have vanished along with his attacker, whom he presumed to all be the person who had injured Hank.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Story Fragment #12: P.T. O'Malley

P.T. O'Malley, the best-selling horror writer, flew through the door of the small town library at five minutes before two o'clock.

"Sorry I didn't get here sooner," she apologized to Melinda Lovejoy, the librarian. " I was working on the new book, and time just slipped away."

"Not a problem," Melinda assured her. "We're just about ready to start, and you already know the routine, so go ahead and take your seat at the table."

P.T., whose real name was Bella Chrisman, quickly took the remaining seat at the table, where she found herself sandwiched between Constance Newsome, director of the local animal shelter, and Patrick Kramden, church custodian and local gravedigger. What an interesting combination of judges, P.T. thought to herself.

At precisely 2 pm, Melinda walked up to the microphone and began to speak. "Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our first annual feline beauty contest."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Seventeen--What Is A Positive Memory That Stands Out From Your Childhood?

Just one? That's a tough choice. I have so many wonderful childhood memories, particularly with my maternal grandparents and my numerous cousins on that side of my family.

I remember Sunday afternoons when relatives would drop in at Granny and Grandpa's house at whatever time was convenient...we'd eat, talk, play, listen to America's Top 40, etc.

I remember holidays when everyone knew food would be on the table at noon, and we all tried our best to be there by then.

I remember New Year's Eve when an entire group of cousins would spend the night together. We'd watch New Year's Rockin' Eve, I'd get teased about my crush on Barry Manilow (who was part of the yearly tradition back then), and then we'd watch horror movies all night long, or until we all fell asleep in front of the television.

I remember "fair week" when Granny would have a bunch of us staying with her for the entire week---working in the house, garden and/or yard during the day to earn our way to the county fair every evening and all day on "kids day."

And those are just a few highlights off the top of my head!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Story Fragment #11: Marguerite

Marguerite exited the shuttle craft uncertainly, looking around at the unfamiliar terrain. "Are you sure this is the proper location?" she asked the pilot.

"Yes, ma'am--the outpost you're looking for is right at the top of that hill," the pilot responded. "Matter of fact, here comes the ATV that will transport you."

Now Marguerite began to feel excited again. After the long journey from Earth to Sabrah, and the shuttle ride from the main settlement to this outpost, she was just a quick ATV ride from her final destination and, hopefully, the answers she had been seeking.

As she climbed into the ATV, the driver asked: "Are you here to see The Master?"

"Of course," she snapped. "Does anyone come to this God-forsaken  place for other reasons?"

"Well, some of us just enjoy the solitude," the driver replied quietly. "Those of us who live here tend to give each other plenty of space, no pun intended."

Chagrined, Marguerite sat silently for the rest of the short ride over the smooth orange sandy ground. Even though the entire planet was covered with an atmospheric bubble, she knew that most of the areas which were not colonized remained in their original condition. It still surprised her to see barren land, however, having come from the stifling overpopulation of Earth.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Sixteen-- What Is Something You Regret Doing? Is It Affecting You To This Day?

I don't believe in regretting things. Everything that has happened in my past, both good and bad, has worked together to make me the person I am today. Any actions of mine which may have harmed another person in any way, I have apologized and tried to make amends, so there is no need for regret. There are some of those actions which still impact me to this day, but I wouldn't change them for the world.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Story Fragment #10: The Neighborhood

Assignment: Describe a neighborhood. Who lives there? What are their secrets?

From the outside, Paula's neighborhood appeared normal and sedate. There was block after block of  Cape Cod style homes, nearly identical except for the color combinations of siding and shutters. They had all been built in the early 1940's, and not much had changed since then as far as the look of things was concerned. The yards were all neatly manicured, and the trees and flowers well kept.

All of that was window dressing, however. In the five months since she had moved here, Paula had begun to see the cracks in the perfect facade. On her block alone, police and paramedics had been called to two different homes, each occasion resulting in at least one member of the household being led away in handcuffs--and in one case, a second person cuffed to the stretcher which was loaded into the ambulance.

Then there was the family next door to her--the loud rock music blaring was obviously an attempt to cover the arguing, but the houses were too close together for it to be successful. It came as no real surprise to Paula the morning she looked out her kitchen window to see the husband loading his belongings into the bed of his pickup truck and driving away.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Fifteen--What And Who Makes You Happy?

Who makes you happy?
My husband Barry
My children, biological and otherwise: Brian, Adrienne, Amy, Jennifer, Greg, Mickey, Lani, and Sarah
My grandchildren: Antwone, Tre, Jalen, Destiny, Micheal, Annamea and Lucian
My cat Gandalf
My mother
My Bible study group
My writers group

What makes you happy?
A good joke
A sunny day
Spending time with children
Helping others

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Story Fragment #9: Felix

Felix walked along the boardwalk next to his wife, wishing he were at a hockey game. "It's too darn hot, Mildred!" he complained. "And we'll end up with sand in our food, not to mention in all kinds of uncomfortable places."

Mildred smiled weakly. "Honey, it's just one day. Can't you relax and spend time with the kids and grandkids? You might even enjoy it!"

Felix ran his fingers through his thinning white hair and sighed. "Millie, you know if it doesn't have to do with hockey--and especially my Red Wings--I'm not going to enjoy it. Why couldn't I just take the boys to the rink for the day, and you girls could hang out on the beach?"

His wife turned to face him, her eyes flashing. "You retired from that darn sport twenty years ago, Felix. It's way past time for you to let it go and let other interests into your life. Your family needs to know that we're more important to you than hockey!"

By the time she finished speaking, her husband's face was nearly the color of his ever-present Red Wings jersey, which was already wet with sweat.

"Let it go? Hockey is my LIFE, woman--you knew that when you married me, and you still know that today. Stop trying to change me, would you?"

And so another family day passed as had so many before, with Mildred enjoying every second spent with her children and their families while Felix sat on a beach chair, glaring at everyone, reading yet another biography of a former hockey player.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Fourteen--What's The Top Priority In Your Life Right Now?

Right now the top priority in my life is a marriage/husband and myself. Fortunately, the two priorities work well together, in that if I am happy, the marriage thrives, and if the marriage thrives, I am happy.  :)  So when I go out and do things for me, like my writers group, or craft projects, or open mic poetry night, I come back refreshed and energetic, ready to dive back into the routine around here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Thirteen--Are You Putting Any Parts Of Your Life On Hold?

Currently, I don't feel as though any part of my life is on hold. For a lot of years, the writing was definitely on hold, but now I make sure that I do something writing related every day.  Some days that means doing a blog post, other days it's working on a manuscript, and still others it's searching out writing prompts or reading books about writing. I belong to a local writers group which meets twice a month, and I have also found a couple of writing groups on Facebook which are helpful.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Eleven--What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail And There Were No Limitation Of Resources?

If I couldn't fail, and resources were no obstacle, there are several things I'd like to consider

1) A Books and Cats cafe: Picture a bookstore with a coffee and pastry bar, and a separate room where, if they choose, patrons can read AND interact with cats/kittens available for adoption.  Sounds like heaven on earth for me!

2) Set up a community center of sorts, where kids could gather and hang out, play video games or board games, play sports (just friendly pickup games, not organized leagues or anything), start their own interest groups. We could do weekly movie nights, monthly book clubs, a Lego club, etc.

3) Set up a shelter for women and children who are trying to escape domestic violence situations. This is something that is VERY close to my heart, and I'd love to be able to set something like this up here in our town.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Ten--If You Could Do Something For Free For The Rest Of Your Life, What Would It Be?

Travel to all the places I'll probably never see otherwise: France, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, Aruba, Bermuda....those would make a good start, at least.

Another thing I'd like to do is help children. Not sure exactly what I would do, but I'd start some type of program to work with abused kids.

Monday, April 24, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Nine--What Are Your Biggest Goals And Dreams

Most of my goals and dreams these days have to do with my writing. I just recently published print and ebook versions of a book of my poetry, as well as entering three poems in a contest AND submitting a short story to a contest. I would like to see some form of success from any or all of those in the near future.

My next writing project is to finish a book of short stories (many of which are based on the fragments/writers group exercises I've posted here). The goal is to have twenty of them in the first book and to continue producing books of twenty stories on a somewhat regular basis.

A dream of mine is to be able to travel to Paris someday. Maybe I can make enough money from the books to make that a reality. Who knows, right?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Eight--What Are You Worried About? Will It Matter Three Years From Now?

I am a professional worrier. I can ALWAYS find something to worry about, no matter how ridiculous it might be. 99.9% of the time, the things I worry about are not going to matter three years in the future.

One worry that will matter in the future is my health and the worry of having to deal with cancer again. That's not a worry I have all the time, but more often it happens at night when I'm having trouble sleeping, and I just start thinking of all the worst case scenarios. I suppose it is always in the back of my mind, but I try not to let it become the focus of my life.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Seven--What Do You Fear? How Can You Overcome It?

The first fear that comes to mind is snakes....I've been irrationally afraid of them since the age of five. I've managed to partially overcome it by being around non-poisonous varieties...I'm now even comfortable holding those for a short time.

Another fear is rejection, whether in my personal life or my writing life. The best way to overcome that one is to just put myself, or my writing, out in the world, and take a chance. I'll be doing just that next month when my revised book of poetry is released.

Friday, April 21, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Six--What Advice Would You Give To Yourself Three Years Ago?

In 2014, I was actually in a pretty good place. I had finished chemo and radiation, been declared cancer free, and started the reconstruction process.

I was dealing with some disappointments regarding family members, so one thing I would tell myself is to stop letting their actions impact my mood, as things are going to get progressively worse, and I just need to accept it for what it is and move on.

I would remind myself to be thankful every day for all my blessings, and to be good to myself--that I am lovable and loved, and that I deserve all the good things I have and the ones yet to come.

I would tell myself to stop letting fear get in the way of putting any of my writing out into the world, and not wait so long to publish the poetry or to get back into writing fiction.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Five--What are the three biggest things you've learned in life to date?

1) I am stronger than I would have imagined. And I'm referring to emotional strength here, not physical.

2) Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, you have to just put them in God's hands, keep praying for them, keep loving them, but STOP enabling them.

3) I am lovable, and I am loved.  :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

100 Days of Self-Exploration: Day Four--What Are Your Values?

This is a hard one for me to really put into words, for whatever reason. So....I found a list of values online and I'm listing here the ones from that list which figure prominently in my life.

Meaningful work

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brain Bearing Scars

(Went to a poetry workshop at the library tonight, led by Joan Harris-check her website HERE--and we wrote a blitz poem. Will add an explanation of a blitz poem at the end of the post.)

Tax my patience
Tax my brain
Brain drain
Brain damage
Damage done
Damage unseen
Unseen angels
Unseen beauty
Beauty and the beast
Beauty fades away
Away we go
Away from home
Home sweet home
Homeward bound
Bound to fail
Bound by promises
Promises kept
Promises broken
Broken hearts
Broken dreams
Dreams become goals
Dreams come true
True grit
True love
Love unconditionally
Love scars
Scars don't heal
Scars remain

A blitz is a thirty-line poem comprised of connected phrases and images.

Line 1 is a short phrase or image
Line 2 is another short phrase or image using the same first word as the first word in Line 1.

Lines 3 and 4 are short phrases or images that use the last word of Line 2 as their first word.

Lines 5 and 6 are short phrases or images that use the last word of Line 4 as their first word, and so on until you've made it through 28 lines.

Line 29 is the last word of Line 28.

Line 30 is the last word of Line 27.

The title of the poem is the first word of line 3, a connecting word, and the first word of line 27.

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Three: What Are You Most Grateful For?

I am grateful for so many things:
1) being free of cancer
2) mature, responsible children
3) healthy, happy grandchildren
4) a husband who treats me incredibly well
5) a supportive group of friends I can count on
6) a writers group to encourage me, hold me accountable, and also be new friends.
7) a closer, more open relationship with my mother than I used to believe was possible.
8) music that can touch my heart
9) books that make me think, or make me laugh, or just help me relax.
10) the ability to learn something new every day.
(these are just the first ten that came to mind...there are dozens more!)

Monday, April 17, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day Two--What Are You Passionate About?

I am passionate about many things. Most importantly, I am passionate about my family: my husband, my children, my grandchildren. I am generally a quiet, reserved person, but if someone messes with a member of my family, I can become a tiger. I will do whatever I think is in the best interest of a family member, especially if they are not in a position to advocate for themselves, even if it means that another family member gets upset with me in the process.
In a larger sense, my passion is children. I have always enjoyed working with children, seeing them learn and grow over time--and it's been amazing to watch them grow to adults, knowing that I have played some part in their life, either as a Sunday school teacher, a kindergarten teacher, a babysitter, a friend's mom, etc.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

100 Days Of Self-Exploration: Day One--Who Are You?

I am Teresa Dene (Danner) Kander. I am the daughter of Richard Ward Danner and Gloria Dene (Johnson) Evans. I am the former wife of Douglas Brian Rankin and George Amyl Haffelt Jr. (both deceased) and the current wife of Barry Richard Kander. I am the mother of Brian Alan Rankin, Samantha Adrienne (Rankin) Swan, and Amylia Marie (Haffelt) Handwerker. I am the grandmother of Micheal Lee Swan, Annamea Kay Swan, and Lucian Alexander Rankin.
I am a Christian who is no longer part of any organized religion, because I choose to follow the words of Jesus as they speak to my heart, not the words spoken from a pulpit. I am a teacher, hopefully, every day of my life, as I try to offer inspiration and encouragement to all. I am a writer who feels more empowered to listen to her muse each day and less inclined to listen to those who don't believe in me.
I am living a life after breast cancer, finding the joy in every day and doing the things I've always said I would do "one day,"---since we never know when today could be the LAST day.
(Stay tuned for the whole 100 days as we all learn more about who I am!!)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Story Fragment #8: Genie Under The Sea

I was not having a good evening. My best friend, Jill, had set me up on a blind date with her cousin Hudson. He was a nice looking guy--6 foot 4, athletic build, with blond hair and blue eyes--and he had a very engaging personality. However, his choice of restaurant left a lot to be desired.

Some people might enjoy the idea of dining in an Italian restaurant located at the bottom of the ocean, but not this woman. I have a deep-seated fear of being underwater, which stems from nearly drowning in a swimming pool at age three. I had spent most of the evening on the verge of a panic attack.

As I left the table to visit the ladies room, mentally willing myself not to lose my dinner, I ran straight into a rather exotic-looking young woman.

"Excuse me, " I stammered. "I'm not feeling well, and I wasn't watching where I was going. Are you alright?"

"Yes, thank you," she purred, her accent one I couldn't place. "And because you reacted so kindly, I have a gift for you--any three wishes you make this evening will be granted. The only rules are that I can not bring someone back to life, and I can not make someone fall in love with you."

Story Fragment #7: Magic pebbles

Murgatroyd Largen was walking along the beach, muttering to herself and looking for more magic pebbles to add to her collection. It was just after high tide, on the day after the full moon, which seemed to be the optimal time for discovering new pebbles.

Most people would think that her "collection" was just a velvet pouch of some thin, flat pebbles, but Murgatroyd knew better. A self-proclaimed witch, she had felt called by each pebble she gathered, and each had come to her at precisely the time she needed the power it possessed.

As she wandered the shore, occasionally reaching toward a particular pebble  to see if she could feel it drawing her in, she failed to notice the young man on a unicycle who was approaching her. Just as she registered his presence, he quickly reached out, grabbed the pouch from her hand and sped away.

Later that afternoon, after a most disappointing visit to the police station--where she had basically been laughed out of the building upon reporting the theft of her magic pebbles--Murgatroyd sat in front of a roaring fire, drinking a cup of tea and absently stroking the fur of her beloved cat, Periwinkle. A loud, persistent knocking at her door pulled her from her melancholy reverie.

Opening the door, she found herself face to face with a young man she didn't recognize--but looking beyond him, she saw a unicycle lying in her yard, so she knew precisely who her visitor was.

The young man stammered as he began to speak. "S-s-sorry to bother you, ma'am, but I wanted to return you pouch and apologize for my behavior. I'm the person who stole from you this morning--I thought your pouch would contain money, and I have debts to pay. When I got home, I found nothing but pebbles. I took one out, and as soon as I touched it, I felt this irresistible  need to return the whole thing to you."