WordPress Photo Challenge: Cover Art


This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is titled Cover Art. The challenge reads, “Abbey Road. American Beauty. Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl.” A General Theory of Love. These are just a few famous examples of cover art that uses photography to convey a mood and to suggest what we might find in the work itself. They have a quality that echoes a particular character of their respective subject matter, an essence that words fail to capture with simplicity.

For this week’s Photo Challenge, stimulate your creative process and imagine which of your images you would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine. Would the image inspire us to take a peek through the pages, listen to the music, or buy a ticket to the show? Would it strike a chord with viewers, making them reflect on or revisit memories of places, people, and experiences?”

I chose a photo I took last week to represent, or be the cover art, of a novel titled When Autumn Leaves. It’s written by Amy S. Foster. Here’s a book description I borrowed from Goodreads.

“In Avening, a tiny town on the Pacific coast, it’s hard not to believe in magic. This is a town where the shoes in the window always fit, where you can buy a love potion at the corner shop, and where the woods at the outskirts of town just might be the door to another world. And, of course, there’s Autumn, Avening’s beloved resident witch. From what’s known of its mythical founding, Avening has always been a haven for people who are a little bit different, a place where they can come to discover what makes them so special.
When Autumn receives news that she’s been promoted to a higher coven, she also learns she has to replace herself. But who in Avening is in tune enough with her own personal magic to take over the huge responsibility of town witch? Autumn has a list of thirteen women and men who just might have what it takes-but how can she get them to open their eyes to the magic in their lives?

This endlessly surprising and heart-warming debut is the story of coming to terms with the magical things we take for granted every day-our friends, our community, and, most of all, ourselves.”

Okay, finally here’s my When Autumn Leaves cover. Think it works? Let me know.

photo by S. Thomas Summers


WordPress Photo Challenge: Refraction

This week, WordPress tasked photographers to “play with light.”  So, I did. I lassoed a smidge of the sun and bound it to a rock below a tree. The captured light then illuminated the underside of the tree’s leaves.

Don’t worry, I set the sun free after I took this photo. Like it? Let me know.


photo by S. Thomas Summers

I’m Moving to a Little Place on the Western Edge of Mirkwood


Map of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth

Recognize this map? If you do, then your imagination might be as expansive as my own. It’s a map of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth, that wonderful, terrible place where Tolkien set his novels The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. Tolkien’s work established what is today a most popular genre of literature – fantasy. These fantastic lands, including Middle Earth, provide a home for monsters, elves, dwarves, knights, wizards, magic, quests, and adventures. They provide a place for me to “live.” Yes, if I could own a small cottage on the western edge of Mirkwood, near the heart of Middle Earth, I would. Here’s why.

1. Adventure – In Middle Earth, each day the impossible is probable and the probable is only a step out of your door. Avoid orcs and goblins. Welcome elves (and even some dwarves). Heed the voice of wizards. Hide from the dragons and wave the giant eagles. Adventure!!!

2. Good and Evil – In Middle Earth, evil abounds, but it is easily detected. If it looks evil, it is. And, generally, if it looks good, it is. In our world, good and evil – it’s difficult to tell one from the other. In Middle Earth, it is plainly obvious (most of the time).

3. Yore – Middle Earth harkens unto days of old. Life is simple. Yes, it may be difficult at times, but even it that difficulty, I discover a simplicity that a tend to reach for.

4. Friendship – In Middle Earth, friends are true and honest. They care and they trek over and under mountains to prove it.

I could go on (and on); however, I believe I made my point. Anyway, I’m a busy man. I’ve a house to build on the western edge of Mirkwood. You are always welcome to visit.

Dickens, a Mad Scientist, and a Monster: Why I Read

Charles Dickens

The books I’ve decorated this blog with (See them? Yup, there they are.) are there for a two reasons. I like to read. I like to write. However, when I was a boy, a teenager, I loathed turning the page just as I loathed wielding a pen. In high school, I was assigned an arduous task. Rather, at the time, I felt I had been cursed (cursed and burneded and punished!!!) with a terrible task. I needed to read Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Who was this guy Pip? And Havisham? What was her deal? And, really, how did any of it connect to me? It didn’t. This Dickens guy – what a jerk! Needless to say, I read a page here, a page there, but I, in my junior year of high school, ultimatley failed to read Great Expectations.

Frankenstein’s Monster

In college, I believe it was my sophomore year, I enrolled in a British literature class that focused on the Romantics, Keats, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, etc. Yup, we read a lot of poetry. Hated it all. I was surprisingly thrilled when my professor assigned a novel. Thank God (and I did thank Him!). No more poetry. That novel was Frankenstein. Well, I thought, at least this book has a monster. You know, that big buy in the drab sport coat, with the flat top, a scar, and a few bolts jutting out from his neck. You know – that  big guy, the monster, was Frankenstein. Now, to make a long story short, I was wrong. Frankenstein isn’t the creature, I discovered. He’s the doctor, the scientist. And the creature, he’s not slow and awkward and stupid. Nope!!! He’s graceful and intelligent. He feels sorrow, tremendous terrible sorrow. And it hates. And it loves. And it wants…it wants all the things that I want, that all humans want. That it is a he – a person, a wonderful, terrible person. You guessed it. A reader was born.

After reading Frankenstein, I went back to that poetry I disdained. Loved it. I opened new books. Loved them. I even read Dickens and, yup, I loved him…and all of his words, every single one.

This year, I am celebrating my 22nd anniversary of being a literature and writing teacher at Wayne Hills High School. I also teach the same at a local community college. Oh yes, I’ve written and had published two books of poetry. Finally, my novel is well on its way.

That Frankenstein guy created more than a monster. He created me.

And Dickens? He’s okay too.

The Heavy Days of Autumn

640x410_17444_The_woods_2d_fantasy_landscape_mist_autumn_picture_image_digital_artI keep several journals. In one of them, I allow my imagination a bit of room, allow it to venture where it might. This is where it went a few days ago. These small bouts of adventure help me to keep this writer’s blood flowing.

The day is heavy. Yes, the sun shines, a great gem in the sky. The air dances with itself – the new cool of autumn with the last heat of summer. The leaves have lost their April green and begun to blush. Breathe it deep. Taste it. Fill your lungs and smile; yet, smiles dance with dark reflections. Frowns and sorrow sleep in the shadows between the trees. A day will come when each sorrow will wake and unfurl its wings. It is my task to prepare for that day, to slay the dragons of shadow and sorrow. Yes, this day, today, is heavy.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Dreamy

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is titled Dreamy. The challenge reads, in part, “A misty morning, your handsome spouse, your grandmother’s house that’s also your elementary school and the Eiffel Tower — this week, show us something dreamy.” I snap the photo posted here earlier today. The sky, blue as the ocean, possesses a dreamy quality. And those tracks – where do they go? What’s around that bend?

The second photo is of the same tracks going the other way. Nice place to take a photo or two.

photo by S. Thomas Summers


photo by S. Thomas Summers

WordPress Photo Challenge: Signs


photo by S. Thomas Summers

Often, especially during this time of year, I take to the woods. Stepping away for a time allows me to regroup. I can think and pray and imagine. In the woods, I find myself, Jesus, and now and then, a troll or two. (Those trolls help me write!!) I may walk for miles, but I always return refreshed and renewed.

Here are a few photos from some of my recent treks between the trees. The photo of the sign well fits this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. The challenge is titled SignsIt reads “From the street signs we see on our commute to work each day to the vintage neon signs put to rest in an outdoor museum in Las Vegas, signs are functional, but can also be decorative. Signs can direct us where to go, but they’re also pieces of art, which reveal much about the time period and culture in which they were made.

For those of you who have a less literal approach to our photo challenges, a sign can also be a gesture or a cue. Something welcome. Or mysterious. Or even foreboding.”

Like my sign?

Who’s up for a hike?


photo by S. Thomas Summers


photo by S. Thomas Summers


photo by S. Thomas Summers


photos by S. Thomas Summers