Plagiarizing My Own Work

Many years ago, I came across an idea for a beautiful allegory. I took that idea, and wrote that beautiful allegory.

At the same time, a dear friend had a baby, and asked for writings that could be shared with the child as she grew up. I gave her a few things, including the allegory.

Also at the same time, an organization we were both part of had a writing contest.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend submitted my allegory.

It won.

I declined the prize, because the original idea was not my own.

I didn’t think much more about it. It never occurred to me that the piece was now “out there,” having been published as the winning piece (before I knew anything about it).

Fast forward a couple decades, more or less.

Editing a work for a client, I looked up a reference to something in another book to fact-check it. The reference was correct.

But on the next page, there was my allegory.


I checked before and after the piece, and the copyright page. No credit to anyone, or mention that the allegory was not her own. (The book was written by the wife of a very-big-name pastor and published by his ministry, several years ago.)

Well, I know how these things go. Friend passes it to friend, it gets posted online somewhere…it’s feathers in the wind. That author and/or publisher may have tried to find the source, and couldn’t. They may have thought it was public domain.

Whatever. I’m not upset about it. If they’d found me and asked, I’d have given permission anyway.

(FYI, though: no legitimate publisher will print something without knowing where it came from. So don’t try it!)

Point is, the beautiful allegory is out, under someone else’s name. Even that doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is that I can’t use it, or I could be accused of plagiarizing my own work!

Now isn’t that something?

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: T is for Time

Well, I obviously didn’t meet the April blogging challenge. Time and chance happen, and did in a big way this month.

Not gonna wallow in excuses or even apologize. It was beyond my control.

And now I’m so far behind in real-world stuff that I’m tossing in the towel on this challenge now. I’ll be back when I can. See you then.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: M is for Movies

Let’s talk about movies since we’re all stuck inside! From the FB post going around now:

Copy, paste, and change your answers. You can’t say the same movie twice.

Favorite movie: Anne of Green Gables; Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken; The Road Home (Chinese, subtitled)

Movie that makes you remember your childhood: Old Yeller and Rikki Tikki Tavi

Favorite Tom Hanks movie: That he was the star of? Forest Gump. That he acted in? Catch Me if You Can and A League of Their Own. That he produced? Too many to list.

Movie that makes you cry: Martian Child; The Art of Racing  in the Rain; Return to Me

Favorite 80’s movie: Back to the Future

Favorite B&W movie: Sergeant York; Adam’s Rib; Arsenic and Old Lace

Favorite comedy: The Jerk; Mrs. Doubtfire

Favorite sports movie: The Natural; Seabiscuit; Jerry Maguire

Favorite courtroom movie: 12 Angry Men; The Winslow Boy

Favorite “teen” movie: The Outsiders

Favorite gangster movie: Public Enemies (I admit I haven’t seen many gangster movies)

Favorite horror movie: The Village; Sixth Sense (Do those count as horror?)

Most overrated movie: Fargo; The Big Lebowski

Movie you can watch over and over: Stepmom; Ever After

Movie with the best soundtrack: Footloose; Lion King; O Brother, Where Art Thou; Dirty Dancing

Movie you’re embarrassed that you love: ? Can’t think of any.

Favorite Halloween movie: The Crucible; any Good Witch movie (Hallmark)

Favorite Christmas movie: Meet Me in St Louis; The Holiday

Favorite sequel: The Bourne Supremacy

Favorite musical movie: Mama Mia!; The Sound of Music; Brigadoon

Favorite war movie: Hacksaw Ridge; Shining Through; 1917

Favorite western: The Hostiles; 3:10 to Yuma (2007 version)

Favorite romantic comedy: The American President; Pretty Woman

Favorite sci-fi: The Martian

Favorite comic book movie: Batman Begins

Best movie you’ve seen recently: Ford v Farrari and Little Women


Today’s post is number 15 in the A-Z challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: G is for Guest, Edgar

Have You Earned Your Tomorrow

By Edgar Guest


Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

Did you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along?
Or a churlish sort of “Howdy” and then vanish in the throng?
Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way,
Or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today?

Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that’s slipping fast,
That you helped a single brother of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said;
Does a man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?

Did you waste the day, or lose it, was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say,
You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: E & F = Editing Fiction

A line in the movie Serialized struck me like a snake on a mouse. Three set-up lines first, then the zinger:

Publisher: We don’t pay advances anymore.

Author: Then how is an author supposed to make a living?

Publisher: Most of our clients teach creative writing.

Author: So in order to make up for the fact that it’s virtually impossible to make a living as an author, you want me to take money from other people by teaching them how to not make any money, too.

Ignoring the bad grammar, that is, sadly, all too true.

I know a LOT of authors. Big-name authors, even. NYT-bestselling authors.

And virtually all of them—I can think of only two exceptions—make money from other jobs in addition to their writing.

Most of them teach creative writing. Some tutor or teach related subjects like English or work as editors (as I do). Others do other things. The point is, they work at something in addition to writing.

(Or they did until retirement and now receive a pension/ss/etc. in addition to their writing income. And a few have a spouse/partner who earns enough income that the author doesn’t need to earn any.)

Want to be a writer? That’s great. Society will benefit from your voice, as it does all voices. But be prepared to work at something else as well. You might be one of the lucky exceptions, but best to be ready for the likely alternative.

‘I wrote what I know. It’s about a frustrated author being rejected all the time.’

This post is part of the A-Z challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: D is for Dandelion

What is it people have against these little yellow flowers?

Once considered among the most desirable of herbs, today the dandelion is widely reviled as an obnoxious weed. But it’s a valuable plant.

Dandelions are actually good for your lawn and garden.

  • Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil and help aerate the earth.
  • Their taproots bring up nutrients for shallow-rooting plants.
  • They help fruit to ripen by attracting pollinating insects and releasing ethylene

Dandelions are good for wildlife.

  • They’re an important nectar and/or pollen source for many early-emerging pollinators, including honeybees and several butterfly species.
  • The seeds are an important food source for certain birds.
  • Many other animals eat the plant.

More importantly, dandelions are good for YOU. The entire plant is edible and nutritious.

  • Dandelion greens are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, and also contain moderate amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, lutein, inulin, and manganese.
  • The raw flowers contain diverse phytochemicals, including polyphenols and
  • The roots contain a substantial amount of the prebiotic fiber inulin.

Humans have taken advantage of these nutritious plants for millennia. Dandelions were used by ancient Egyptians, by the Greeks and the Romans, and in traditional Chinese and Native American medicines:

Hand-colored print in A Curious Herbal, 1737, by Elizabeth Blackwell

  • as a diuretic;
  • to improve liver and gallbladder health;
  • to boost the immune system;
  • to support healthy hormone levels;
  • to address warts, acne, and other skin inflammation;
  • to improve digestion and overall gut health;
  • to support the health of people who have cancer;
  • to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomach aches and even depression.

No wonder that from ancient times through the nineteenth century, people pulled the grass from their yards and gardens so dandelions could grow!

So, how can we take advantage of the many benefits of dandelions?

  • Be sure any you pick have not been sprayed with pesticide, insecticide, or any other poison!
  • Wash them well.
  • Use the greens in salads or quiches, on sandwiches, or sautéed as a side dish—anywhere you’d use spinach or other greens, dandelion greens (both leaves and stalks) can be used. The younger and smaller they are, the more tender and less bitter they’ll be.
  • Put the blossoms (before seeding, for best results) in salads, or fry as fritters.
  • Wine can be made from the blossoms.
  • Dry and roast the roots to make root beer or coffee-type beverages.
  • An internet search will yield many tasty recipes.

Note: Dandelion’s strong diuretic activity makes it an inappropriate choice for someone with low blood pressure or excessive urination.

Non-food uses:

  • The yellow flowers can be dried and ground into a yellow-pigmented powder and used as a dye.
  • The latex, or sap, from the dandelion stems can be used topically on warts or other skin issues. Apply several times daily for best results.
  • The latex produced exhibits the same quality as the natural rubber from rubber trees. Scientists have developed a dandelion cultivar suitable for the commercial production of natural rubber.

And, of course, you can make a wish before blowing a seed-blossom. Who knows; maybe it’ll come true.

Best of all: you can probably find plenty growing in your own and neighbors’ yards, free!

This post is day 4 of the A-Z challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: C is for Chips

Classic Lay’s potato chips have been my favorite all my life. You can keep the fancy rippled or kettle chips and the artificial flavors. Give me a simple light, crisp chip every time.

And that “every time” is important. All my life, I could count on a bag full of chips just like that. Light, crispy, salty goodness.

But for the past several months, something’s gone wrong:

What happened to my nice, light chips, @LAYS? This is ridiculous. And it’s bag after bag after bag.

So I’m looking for a replacement. What do you recommend? Let me know in the comments, and maybe I’ll send you my other bag of Lay’s. 🙂


Today’s post is day 3 of the A-Z challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: B is for Blind

The subject of blindness came up at one of my writing groups, so lack of sight has been on my mind.

The sightless do miss much. The face of a lover. The smiles of their children. The beauty of nature. They also miss some of the ugliness in the world.

Despite what they miss visually, I wonder if they might see deeper than those of us with sight.


If we were all blind

There’s much we’d miss

The smile of a child

The sneer of a bully


Beauty and fashion

Would count for naught

All attraction would be

To the person inside


If we were all blind

We’d never see color

On flowers or birds

Or peoples’ skin


How would we judge

If we couldn’t tell

Whether they wore

A cross or a burka


If we were all blind

There’s much we’d miss

But without eyesight

We’d look with our heart


Today’s post is day 2 of the A-Z challenge.

Mama Hen’s Scratchings: A is for April A-Z Challenge

How many times have I written about wanting to post more regularly? *Sigh.* In yet another attempt, I’ve signed up for the April A-Z challenge. As you know, this entails posting every day except Sunday for the entire month, with each successive one based on a word beginning with the next letter of the alphabet.

Trouble is, these posts are all supposed to be on along some theme. I’ve tossed around several themes: Little House/Ingalls; Texas; local flora and/or fauna; Freemasonry; heroes…. But honestly, how many people want to read about any of that, or any one thing, for an entire month? Only the fans of the topic, who’d probably know more than I do about it anyway.

So here’s what I decided: my theme will be “Mama Hen’s Scratchings.” Mama Hen is me, of course. I’m going to scratch out a post about whatever strikes me for the day.

There will undoubtedly be days I miss, but I’ll do my best.

Oh, and let me just give a heads-up: on days I have extra time [hahahahahaha…okay, picking myself off the floor to continue writing], I’ll probably write some posts ahead and schedule them. (I’m actually writing this on March 27.) The danger with doing that is that the info might become outdated; but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Guaranteed to Make You Laugh

After a week like this was, we all need a laugh. I dare you not to while reading this post.

The following  are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts: Actual Quotes, Word for Word, from Real Court Proceedings by Marcelle Boren. I can’t imagine being the court reporter and trying to keep it together while these exchanges were actually taking place. I’d have been rolling in the floor.

ATTORNEY:  This myasthenia  gravis,  does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what  ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You  forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY:  Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t  know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the  bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The  youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s twenty,  much like your  IQ.

ATTORNEY: Were you  present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you kidding me?

ATTORNEY: So the date  of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And  what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting  laid.

ATTORNEY: She had  three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were  boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your  Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new  attorney?

ATTORNEY: How  was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by  whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a  guess.

ATTORNEY:  Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the circus was in town I’m going with  male.

ATTORNEY:  Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie  there.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how  many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of  them. The live ones put up too much of a  fight.

ATTORNEY: ALL your  responses MUST be oral, okay? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you  recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started  around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS:  If not, he was by the time I  finished.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you  check for a
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood  pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for  breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the  patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my  desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been  alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been  alive and practicing law.

Have a fun weekend.