Six Word Memoirs II

Want a fun way to start off the school year? Something short and sweet, easy enough for reluctant writers and challenging for engaged writers. Try Six Word Memoirs.

Legend has it that the famous writer Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. He wrote: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The power of this story lies in the questions and possible meanings that the words could have. Why are the shoes being sold? What happened to the baby? Why haven’t the shoes been worn?

Years later, in 2006, a magazine publisher revised the challenge for his readers. He asked them to write about their lives in six words. The readers responded, and since then he has published more than a million of their stories.

What about you? What’s your story? I invite you to create your own six-word memoir. Write about your life, what you are doing, thinking, or dreaming. You can use sentences. Or not. Use punctuation to help guide readers to your message.

But remember, only six words. Feel free to share them using the Comments tab.

I’ll start with a couple:

Eat, write, exercise, sleep, dream. Repeat.

I am not what I do.

I’m Cheerios, cheese, and chewing gum.

Your turn…

Use the Comments tab to post them.

Road Trip Update

My 3,000 mile road trip turned into 3,800 miles and took me through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho before returning to my beloved Oregon. The trip was everything I hoped for. Plus more!

In addition to connecting with family and friends, I was able to take some time to focus on the Lobo story. In Santa Fe, NM I got to meet up with David Witt, Director of the Seton Legacy Project, and a great resource for me when writing the graphic novel. He has studied Seton for several decades and wrote a biography: Ernest Thompson Seton – The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist. I had peppered David with questions over several years, clarifying and verifying information I came across. David answered them all, with patience and grace. When we met in Santa Fe, David shared many of Seton’s original artistic creations, and he walked me around the house that Seton built.

David Witt, with one of Seton’s most famous paintings: Sleeping Wolf.


From there, I drove to the northeast corner of the state, where I visited the National Scouting Museum, which interprets Seton’s contributions to the founding of the Boy Scouts as well as houses artifacts from his life (including Lobo’s pelt).

Outside the National Scouting Museum


Seton’s ledger


Traps used by Seton










To top off the experience (literally), I walked the trail atop nearby Capulin volcano. From up there I got a wonderful view of the surrounding area. This was Lobo’s territory, where the story took place. It was amazing to be there, and I couldn’t help but feel the wolf’s presence.

Lobo’s territory


Since returning home, Daniel has sent me his finished artwork and layout for notes. As you’ve seen in his samples along the way, he’s doing a great job! I’m going over the entire thing, wearing my “picky” hat, trying to find anything that needs revision for the final. We’ve had several communications around this, and things are moving along nicely.

The end is nearing…for real!

LOBO Update

Daniel Becker, illustrator of my graphic novel, recently posted this for our Kickstarter backers. He’s doing a fabulous job, and is closing in on the completion. If you missed the Kickstarter and would still like to get a copy for a friend, family member, or yourself, you can order here:

Daniel and I really appreciate your support and interest.


The progress is progressing

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Daniel A. BeckerCreator

April 26, 2023

Hello everyone,

A quick update on the artistic front.  The book is slowly but surely being coloured now.  Being the end of April, this is the point at which I was hoping (and working very hard) to have the WHOLE book completed and in print.  It truly does disappoint me that my own speed and work regiment wasn’t what I thought it was, and couldn’t keep to this already over extended deadline.  Alas…. it is what it is.  I won’t go into any excuses, only that quality takes hard work and time, and somethings you just can’t short cut.

But rest assured that the work that is being produced is coming out great.  I have been working straight through weekends the last 3-4 weeks, trying to get the whole book at least FLAT coloured.  What are ‘flats‘ you ask?  Well, its the part of the colouring process where I tediously select all the significant shapes and objects with the lasso tool in Photoshop, then give it a ‘flat’ solid colour.  This allows me to select shapes, objects, characters based on their unique colour and render them later when I put in the final colouring.  It’s not a glamourous job, nor a quick one to be done as it needs to be done correctly or you end up having to do a lot of cleaning up later.

Nonetheless, its also 60%-70% of the whole colouring process.  By getting a lot of the lighting and mood right for the scene, little more needs to be done to the overall image later.  I like to get a whole process (like the line art and lettering) done at a time, so that I stay consistent with that ethereal and flighty artistic ‘groove‘ that underlies the very fabric of the universe.  The result is what you see above and below:

There’s still a lot that will be done to these colours, but in many cases, less is more.  But when the lighting and tone is set up well from the beginning, it makes the final image really SNAP.

Even this is probably a little overcooked, but nonetheless, very pretty.  I’m also trying to emulate Ernest Thompson Seton’s own style of painting, or at least some of the colour tones, mixes, and moods he made with this artwork.  He was indeed a fantastic painter, and had a knack for capturing wintery and autumnal tones and mood very well (he also had a real penchant for painting wolves).

‘Sleeping Wolf’ by Ernest Thompson Seton

My plan for the colouring process is to have the colour pallet slowly change, both with the seasons (Seton arrived in New Mexico in October, and left in February 1894), and with the mood and theme for some of the scenes.  I wont spoil too much more of it for you, dear reader, but if all shapes up the way I’m planning, it should come out really nicely!

‘Fox and Mitten’ by Ernest Thompson Seton

Here’s a few more coloured images to tide you over for a while more.  I hope you’re all staying healthy and happy out there in the wider world.  Thank you ALL again for your incredible patience with this project, I truly believe that you will be rewarded for it (SOOON!!).


Daniel A. Becker~

Let The Journey Begin

I love road trips! Some of my best memories are from traveling by car: my mom and I driving from Florida to New Jersey, high school buddy Tom Powers and I setting out from NJ for the west coast to go to school, Tyler and I on an epic father-son coast to coast trip, Ava and I hitting the road for the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

I’m long overdue for another journey, on which I’ll be soon leaving. First stop will be LA, where I’ll meet up with iconic singer/songwriter Gregg Sutton. Gregg has been in the music biz for more than 50 years. He’s played in a number of bands, toured with Bob Dylan, and was the music director for Andy Kaufman. He’s written songs for everyone from Dolly Parton and Percy Sledge to Eric Burdon, Joe Cocker, and Joe Bonamassa, and he’s collaborated with scores of people, including me. Our song, Happiness, is a clever and upbeat adaptation of lyrics I sent Gregg a while back. He often plays it on the Sunday Salvation show he does every Sunday at noon on his Facebook page. Check it out sometime.

Greg Sutton

From LA, I’ll head south to Murrieta, where Tyler and fam reside. We’ve got two grandsons there I look forward to catching up with. We’ll caravan over to Arizona, pick up Ava from the airport, then drive north to Sedona to spend a few days among the red rocks. Hiking will be a top priority.

At the end of our stay there, Ava and the rest of the clan will head home and I will continue on to New Mexico. In Santa Fe, I’ll meet with David Witt, Ernest Thompson Seton biographer and curator of the Seton Legacy Project. David was very helpful to me when I was researching and writing the Lobo  graphic novel. He endured many questions with patience and aplomb. I am very grateful for his assistance. I’ll try to hit the Georgia O’Keefe museum before leaving town. I have always enjoyed her work, and I’d enjoy seeing it up close and personal.

From Santa Fe, I will aim my trusty Prius northeast to the Currumpaw Valley, where the Lobo story actually took place back in the fall and winter of 1893-94. I’ll visit the Scouting Museum outside Cimarron, which contains Seton artifacts as well as a memorial library. Why would they have stuff of Seton’s? Good question! The answer is simple: Seton was one of the founders of the Boy Scouts.

From the northeast corner of NM, I’ll enter Colorado, then head due west toward Utah. I hope to visit Mesa Verde along the way. It was the topic of one of my books back in the 90s (A Personal Tour of Mesa Verde), and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. There are several cliff dwellings in the national park, but I like Balcony House the best, because you have to access it either by climbing a ladder or crawling through a tunnel.

File:Approaching the Top of the Ladder to Balcony House, Mesa Verde  National Park (4851976994).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Then it’s on to Utah, and another of my favorite places: Moab. More red rocks and more hiking opportunities among the amazing arches, beautiful gifts from nature. Top arch to hike to is Delicate Arch, which stands nearly 50 feet all and is the arch that is featured on the Utah license plate.

6,700+ Delicate Arch Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free ...

When I’m all hiked out, I’ll hightail it north to Idaho to visit with good friends from high school. Actually, I’ve known these guys from elementary school days, as early as second grade. I feel so fortunate to have such longstanding friends. When we get together, the years just peel away.

And then it will be time to return to Oregon, the place I call home. 3,000 miles weary, and hopefully 3,000 miles wiser…


Retirement Rocks!

What’s to love about retirement? Where do I start? Get up when you want. Go where you want. Do what you want, whenever you feel like it.

I get up early, because I want to. I meditate, and I work on my music lyrics ’cause I love doing both. I also volunteer at a local school. Roosevelt Elementary, named after the earlier Roosevelt president: Theodore.

I work in a fourth grade classroom, home to Ed Steiger and his stalwart students. They are a friendly bunch, and I always feel welcomed there. I’ve been helping Ed support his students with their writing. He doesn’t need much help, as he’s really good at engaging the kids as well as modeling good writing habits.

One of my favorite activities is teaching young writers the “language” of writing. This involves six traits that characterize effective writing: Ideas/Content, Organization, Voice, Sentence Fluency, Word Choice, and Conventions. We introduce the traits, discuss the elements of each of them, show examples, do activities, and the students then use the knowledge gained to enhance both their own writing and their abilities to edit others’.

I am really impressed at how the class is taking to the editing process, something they have not previously experienced. It is really enjoyable to watch the kids grow as writers.

Zoey and Abby created a poster to highlight the trait of Conventions. (periods are like stop signs.)

32 And Counting!


32 years. That’s how long I’ve been visiting schools and doing author visits. I’ve done them as near as my local school and as far as Buenos Aires, Argentina. What began as a presentation about chewing gum and my first book evolved over the years as my bibliography grew to 28 books. Having so many books has provided me the opportunity to feature many different topics, from Teddy bears to atomic bombs, from sneakers to wolves. Despite the varied topics, three common threads have always been an integral part of my presentations:

  • the importance of writing
  • curiosity
  • revision

Over the past several years I have been exploring different forms of writing, including graphic novels, screenwriting, and song lyrics. Recently, I’ve been able to incorporate the latter into my presentations to offer kids another writing outlet.

G.T. Albright, a longtime music pro, has been taking the lyrics I create, adding music, and making them into songs. We have copyrighted 20 so far and are poised to add 10 more before we start recording the best ones in the spring.

During the presentations, I still focus on the writing threads as well as some of my books, but then I segue into lyrics and then bring on G.T. to demonstrate how he does his magic. More magic follows as he takes lyrics the kids have written and creates music to go with them. We are all amazed and enthralled!

Last week we had the honor of working with Todd Grassman’s fifth grade class at Pleasant Hill (OR) Elementary. We had such a great time, it was hard leaving. Hopefully, Todd’s students will be inspired to share their thoughts and feelings through lyrics. They (and others) can even post them in the Comments section here to share and get feedback from others.

G.T. and lyric writer


Three Questions for Sheri Mabry


I’m on a Three Questions roll right now, as I’ve reconnected with another talented and interesting person I’ve come across on my writing journeys. So, here goes:

Sheri Mabry is an author with a writing services business. She also teaches yoga and meditation.

I had the pleasure of working with Sheri over several years. She was my literary agent, but she did a lot more than just market my manuscripts to publishers. She was a trusted partner in developing each of my writing projects. Her story-sense as well as her attention to detail were of great help in improving my work. I am grateful for her assistance and pleased to see she is working with other writers as well as successfully sharing her own work with young readers.

1.  What qualifies you to work as a writing consultant/teacher?

I have a masters in curriculum and instruction and have taught writing to children when I worked in the public school district.  So I understand the elements of writing. I founded a non-profit in the arts where we offered opportunities in the visual, performing and literary arts, so I understand the benefit of such expression.   I have experience as a literary agent, so I am connected to the industry.  I am a published (award winning) author with twelve books published, one to be released within a year, and a few more in the process, which gives me the experiences needed to give honest and true feedback to writers.  But I think what qualifies me the most is that I love working with writers and words. I love the process of writing as well as revising. It is like treasure hunting, uncovering something beautiful and brilliant. Working with new as well as seasoned writers is inspiring, and being able to support their path to publishing is an honor.

2. How do your personal pursuits (yoga, hiking, meditation) inform your writing?

That’s a great question! Yoga is “uniting” and so to me, writing is a form of yoga, bringing elements together to access that creative space and then expressing what you discover. Meditation allows you to find that peaceful space within where you have that access to truth and where story ideas can be discovered. Hiking in nature allows me to unite with my inner nature, and so it all works together to help cultivate the most beautiful conditions to create.

3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to get published?

I have lists of tips and bits of advice for those seeking to be published, but to keep it simple here:  take it seriously, and treat it like a profession. Read, learn, take classes, connect with others.  Ask questions.

Honor your time to write and commit to it.

Find ways to cultivate your creativity every day. Even if it isn’t writing—keep creating.

Have patience.

Mostly, never stop finding inspiration. Stay passionate. Nurture gratitude in this most exquisite way to express. And while you need to take writing seriously, also, be playful; find joy in the process. Finally, know that writing is a powerful way to express, and you have a great responsibility to share your talents and messages with the world. So…never give up.

Anything else you’d like to say?

My contact info is: You can find information on my website about the books I’ve written as well as the complete menu of writing services that I offer. If I can be of support, please schedule time with me. Wishing all of you the best in your writing endeavors. Write your Light!

Three Questions For Author/Illustrator Mark Fearing

Three Questions is an occasional feature on my blog when I want to spotlight interesting people I come across on my writing journeys.

In addition to having worked as an animator and creative director for Sony, Pearson, and Disney, Mark Fearing is a multi-talented author and illustrator of books for kids. He’s got more than twenty books to his credit, including Castle Gesundheit and the Middle School Bites series. His latest project, Welcome to Feral, will be released this fall. It’s a two-book graphic novel about the strange occurrences in the small town of Feral. Freya, a curious middle grader, keeps track of all the strange goings-on in town. And there are many, including deep secrets that attract strange beasties and ghouls to the town!


When I first attempted to write a graphic novel, a writer-friend put me in contact with Mark, who has extensive experience with that genre. Mark has been absolutely reMarkable in the help he has provided me, from basic formatting suggestions and marketing ideas to reading my manuscript and providing detailed notes that were useful in making revisions. I am so grateful for his assistance. 

Here are Three Questions for Mark:

1. You live in Portland. What impact does your location have on your work?

Compared to Southern California, it’s much easier to stay in to work because it rains nine months of the year! It’s a beautiful area. We are close to the city, not out on a sprawling country estate so it’s busy but not busy like Los Angeles. There’s plenty of walking paths so I get out several times a day with my dogs and that is important. Sitting at one’s desk, trying to ‘be creative’ will burn you out. I stay in contact with many of my friends in Los Angeles and I still Zoom into a critique group in LA when I can. Having moved here as an older adult and having a child the issues of good schools and an easy city to navigate and live in became more important so I have not totally integrated into any Portland scene. But I’ve met a lot of great people and I can’t imagine leaving the West Coast.


2. What writers and illustrators have had the most influence on your work?

Oh man…do you want me to write a book? I am enamored by countless authors and illustrators. IT starts with my dad who was an editorial cartoonist for 40 years or so. I can’t easily point to one person or style or genre of work even. I love expressionism, artists like Otto Dix, I love the line-driven illustrators like Ronald Searle, Quentin Blake, cartoonists like Walt Kelly, Sergio Aragones, Wally Woods, Jack Davis. Not to mention dozens of other animators, illustrators and comic artists. I love to see the personality of the artist in their work. As for authors, the list is as long and as varied. From Stephen King to Christopher Buehlman, Ursula K. LeGuin, Philip K. Dick and John Horner Jacobs. Favorite books include Frankenstein, Lord of the Rings, The Stand, Valis. Then you get author/illustrators in the children’s lit market and that list is long too. John Agee, William Steig, Valerie Gorbachev, John Burningham. And that’s just a start. I am interested in work that I could never imagine doing and work that is like what I do – but brings something different to it. I will stop here! 

Quentin Blake illustration


3. At the risk of being inundated with requests, why are you willing to help fellow authors and illustrators?

Many authors and illustrators have been generous with me in my life. I owe so many of my opportunities to people taking the time to help me, introduce me to someone and offer advice that I can’t imagine not doing that. And sharing what we know, what we have experienced, is a natural desire. I also try to understand exactly what the person talking to me is asking. What stage of a career they are in. I have known illustrators (especially) who seem to take delight in being cruel and judgmental with young people who come to them for advice. I think it’s important to understand exactly what they are asking and what they want to do. I mentor high school students and understanding what they want to do with their art is key. Some want to be illustrators/cartoonists. To do original work and fine tune their ‘voice’. That is different than a young person who wants to be a storyboard artist at Walt Disney. If they want to work in a studio, you can discuss exactly what they will need in a portfolio, what skills they will have to demonstrate. That is a different discussion. Start with understanding where the person wants to go and then direct their attention to the issues they may face moving in that direction. Ultimately there aren’t that many of us that are deeply interested in the issues around drawing,

Author Visit +

Yesterday I had a rare opportunity to share the stage with my music collaborator, G.T. Albright. G.T. has been in the music biz for 40+ years. He’s played in bands, recorded, produced, and written songs. We have been working together for about a year-and-a-half, with me writing lyrics and him adding the music. To date, we have collaborated on 24 songs, with many more to come.

Yesterday, we met with two 5th grade classes at Oakridge Elementary School in Oakridge, Oregon. The kids prepared by studying the lyrics to two of our songs. I spoke about the lyrics and then G.T. played the songs. He spoke about his process for developing the music, and he shared two different versions to one of the songs. It was a thrill to witness the responses of the students: they grooved to the rhythms, gushed with praise, and had lots of questions. Some had even developed their own music to the lyrics are were not shy to share them. Amazing!

Great job teachers, Emily Howard and David Gordon, and kids too. You made our day. We hope we made yours!

What’s In A Title?

You might notice that the title for our Lobo book as been revised. Originally, it was “Lobo: The Wolf That Changed the Man Who Changed America.” Quite a mouthful, huh? Quite lengthy, but them it really summed up what the story was about.

The trouble was, we got feedback from some folks who are planning a major motion picture on the project. They reminded us that a while back, there was a BBC broadcast on the topic with a similar name. That means that people who search our project will be linked to that broadcast rather than the movie they will be making.

Good point. So, we brainstormed several possibilities and came up with “Lobo: The Hunted and the Hunter.” Much more succinct and it still provides a taste of the story, and even adds a little mystery.

We even like it better than the original. Collaboration is good. So is mutual support. The movie makers are on board with us and will help spread the word about our project. As we will do for them.