All posts by k rawson

YA author, freelance writer, technoligista, mom

What Pegman Saw: Inomoca

It was Inomoca who was first to see them—far from shore, in a canoe as vast as the biggest hut in the village. It carried with it the billow of a cloud the very color of cassava flesh.

It was Inomoca who ran tall to the beach to greet them—those strange men with their bird-colored legs, who covered their bodies in women’s aprons. It was Inomoca who traded his sister’s earrings for a silver hat as hard as the mountain.

It was Inomoca who outsmarted Guama, and won the right to make all future trades. It was Inomoca who made his new hut the grandest in all the Taíno villages. It was Inomoca who took more wives than even Anacoana.

And it was Inomoca who was first to lose a hand when the men came back, and he had failed to fill the hawks bell up with gold.

149 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. Click here to read more stories inspired by this week’s location (Dominican Republic), or to submit your own.

As is sometimes the case in writing, I could not get this story to go exactly where I wanted it to go, and so I had to settle with a cautionary tale of greed.

When Columbus landed on the Caribbean islands in 1492, he said this of the Taíno people:

“They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will … they took great delight in pleasing us … They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people … They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.”

On his second voyage, Columbus began to retire tribute from the Taino. Each adult was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months. If the tribute was not paid, the Spanish cut off the hands of the offending Taíno, and left them to bleed to death. Then, by early 1500, small pox arrived to finish the job. Within sixty years, only a few hundred Taíno remained.

Remnants live on, both in fragments of DNA found in islanders, and echoes of their language, which can be heard whenever we eat barbecue (barbacoa), paddle a canoe (kanoa), smoke tobacco (tabaco), or hunker down for a hurricane (juracán).

As always, thanks for reading!

Waking up in June

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Waking up in June

Hey Koolaid, get your summer on
Morning dew, I don’t back down.
School’s out, summer!
Playground, dayground, butterfly garden
I can swing so high the chain goes slack
Squealing on the breath-catch dizzy-down.

Ready or not, here I come!
Barefoot and coppertoned, hear my rally:
I’ve got a pool pass, wanna see it?
Olly olly oxen free
Jarfull of night and firefly
I don’t see no streetlights;
I can stay out late ya know

Twenty-five cents buys a fresh box of crayons
Didja wanna know a secret?
Look inside:

I’ve got a million colors.

98 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy J. Hardy Carroll. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

A tidbit for you….I am actually in this picture and so are two of my daughters. The place where this is taken is one I’ve gone to for forty years and this particular ride has always been among my favorites. It’s rare thing (and growing rarer) to have such tangible connections to one’s childhood. And nothing says childhood to me like a poem I wrote several years ago, so rather than write something new, thought I’d share a drawer-poem.

As always, thanks for reading.


Women of Courage: Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky, anti-bullying activist

Monica Lewinsky: Compassion Crusader

Imagine you’re twenty-two years old and you’ve just made a mistake. You were impulsive, you misjudged someone, you hurt someone, you were selfish. Look, you don’t need to imagine—who hasn’t screwed up?

Now imagine your mistake ignites a national scandal and your name will forever be a dirty joke in low-brow circles. Imagine everything about you is considered public property, and people everywhere feel free to comment on every aspect of your person.


I’ve seen some very dark days in my life. It was empathy and compassion from friends, family, coworkers, even strangers that saved me. Empathy from one person can make a difference. Compassionate comments help abate the negativity.

Even if you’re too young to remember the sex scandal that rocked Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1998, you may have heard her name in rap songs.

Monica Lewinsky was just twenty-two years old when she landed an unpaid White House internship. Not long after, she embarked on a regretful affair with one of the most powerful men in the world. Three years later, every explicit detail of the affair was broadcast around the globe. And, as if twenty-four hour television coverage was not enough, the press had a brand new medium: the internet. In 1998, Monica Lewinsky became the self-described patient zero in the cyber-bullying epidemic.

How She’s Courageous

A less courageous woman might have changed her name and lived a life of quiet anonymity. In Iceland. But courage has nothing to do with living a perfect life. Lives are messy, people stumble, people make mistakes. The majority of us have the luxury of doing it with a modicum of privacy.

In 2010, after more than a decade teetering in and out of the public eye, Monica was deeply affected by the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi. It was then she began to realize how her painful experience could be used to help others. In a landmark essay published in Vanity Fair in 2014, Monica took charge of her narrative and launched a campaign to support victims of internet shaming.

How Her Courage Affects Others

Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: You can survive it…you can insist on a different ending to your story. Have compassion for yourself. We all deserve compassion, and to live both online and off in a more compassionate world.

Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber-threats online. Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. And it’s growing. There was an 87% increase in calls related to cyber-bullying from 2012 to 2013 alone.

As an anti-bullying activist, Monica travels to universities and schools spreading a message of compassion. Her TED talk has been viewed over 12 million times. In October of last year, she launched a PSA which concisely illustrates how people behave differently online versus face-to-face. Last fall she launched a #BeStrong Emoji keyboard app so users can support those experiencing online harassment.

How She’s Affected Me

Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop. We need to return to a long-held value of compassion and empathy.

As a writer obsessed with the impact of technology on society (and the author of a book on cyber-bullying), I find Ms. Lewinsky’s insights into the perils of media spot-on. While these pitfalls are the playground where my books happen, the forward-thinking Monica is working to shape privacy guidelines, as well as standards for responsible media consumption, for the coming years.

I had the pleasure of seeing her speak in person last October. The next day, as I read the online commentary on the news article, I realized the ongoing abuse she must still endure. The comments were filled with vitriol and personal attacks. As a person who often struggles to summon the courage to hit publish on a blog post, I am humbled by breadth of her courage and the depth of her compassion as she steadfastly champions her cause.

Learn More

Also, don’t miss her PSA below:

What Pegman Saw: The Advance

Out of the Blue, a vacation rental home in Fiji ©

“What time are we meeting for dinner?”

“Rochelle said the chef suggested seven.”

“Perfect. Did you hear if Lish’s plane arrived?”

“Looks like Lish and Eric just landed. Do you suppose James wants to ride out in the helicopter this time to pick them up?

“I’ll text him.”

“Penny and Lynn wound up on the same flight. Lynn was saying they got so rowdy on the way over, the flight attendant threatened to throw them off. Penny said as long as they got parachutes, she was fine with that.”

“It’s going to be a great week. While we’re waiting for everyone to arrive, how about a toast?”

“Josh, Karen—out of the pool!”

Kelvin walked out to the cabana where Lavanya, Ali and Prior sat reclining. Josh and Karen walked over, wrapped in the oversized towels from the luxury rental. All raised a glass.

“To eight-figure book advances.”

150 words

Okay, that was pure silliness. But I figured that after the winter we’ve had so far, and the past two prompts, I figured we could all use a vacation. And apparently, one of the Pegman contributors deserves an eight-figure book advance. The rental in the photo is actually Bora Bora

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog silence

…for an update.

Embed from Getty Images

Following my brief hiatus to complete Nanowrimo, and my annual Food-and-Family-Fun-Fest that is December, I wanted to let regular readers my mom know I am back.

Look for my Women of Courage series to return Sunday. Apologies for letting this slip, but thankfully the world has not come crashing to a halt without my articles. Although it has been skittering dangerously close to the edge… Ahem, I’m sure it’s unrelated.

Look for my regular Pegman posts to continue on Saturdays, as well as the occasional photograph. Also hoping to participate in Friday Fictioneers more frequently in the coming year.

In publishing news, I’m in the thick of a second draft of my fourth novel, Best Friends for Never.

As always, thanks for visiting. Without you, I’d be talking to myself. Actually, I am talking to myself. NOTE TO SELF: Consider getting out of the house more.


What Pegman Saw: Syria

Syria © Google Maps


“Are these seats taken?”

He glanced at the seat between us. “No.”

There was something unrecognizable in his softly accented English. I studied his clothing and face for a clue.

“My parents are coming. My husband’s parents too.” I rested my coat and bags on the adjacent seats. “Do you have family coming?”


Again, the unrecognizable accent. And so, I chattered on about the show, about my daughter, about his son. We talked about the honor. And though he sometimes smiled, it seemed that every word trailed off in sadness.

“You must be very proud. Will your family be coming to the finals?”

He shook his head.

“Do they live abroad?” And in his nod, I sensed a choked-back sob.

I tried to fathom where could be so far, what could be so sad. All around us, excited parents filled the auditorium. I turned to him. “Where do they live?”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. I went five words over the limit this week, which is 155 words more than I wanted to write. This felt like one of those homework assignments where you want to yell at the teacher. Oh well. Done my duty to Pegman this week.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.