This and That

This is one of those “little of this and that” type posts, kind of like show and tell at school or concocting soup in the kitchen from a variety of ingredients. I just wanted to share a few things…

I’m excited! A memoir piece I wrote was accepted in an anthology, Back to School 2013 Memoir Anthology. It’s now out on Amazon. My piece is called, “Confessions of a High School Social Phobic”. If you like writing memoir or would like to try your hand, there’s another call for submissions with a November deadline. You can find out more in the post over at the Karenzo Media blog.

Despite the craziness of my chaotic life, I’ve managed to read a couple of books too. One of the books, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, is a novel set in the Renaissance period. The two main characters are the courtesan and a dwarf. The two flee tragic circumstances in Rome and move to Venice, overcoming much so the courtesan’s business flourishes again. The story is told through the eyes of the dwarf, which offers an interesting perspective.

This book kept my interest all the way through the end. This author is so good at being descriptive, that it’s easy to visualize the settings and the characters. I won’t spoil the ending, in case you decide to read it, but I will say it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to. I enjoyed it! (the book, not the ending) It’s the second book I’ve read by this author, The Birth of Venus being the first.

The other book was a memoir I’ve had on my wish list for awhile, Loose Girl : A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It’s a memoir about a woman’s journey from promiscuity to learning how to have a real intimate relationship and how to love herself. She runs through guy after guy and pays the consequences for her actions through loss of friendships, chances at real love, degradation of self, and disease. There’s no fairy tale ending, but like the rest of us, I think it’s about self discovery and always trying to do better.

I think the author is brave for writing truthfully about such a taboo subject, but I was troubled so much I almost stopped reading the book a time or two. It wasn’t the promiscuity causing me such a problem, but the references to drug use interspersed throughout the book. There were parts as well, where her actions seemed shallow and selfish. I know that sounds so judgmental and I know none of us are perfect, but it’s my opinion as a reader. It was interesting enough and I wanted to understand more, so I did finish the book and I was glad I did. She’s bluntly honest.

Memoirs are one of my favorite things to read and write lately. Here’s a neat list I ran across of suggested memoirs to read. It’s by a woman who teaches memoir classes. The post is Writing Memoir? Read Memoir. Here’s a good article over at the Huffington Post by Linda Joy Myers, PhD. with tips on writing memoir too. One final tidbit I’ll leave you with is a quote I ran across. It’s a good one if you’re ever sitting there having guilt that you should be cleaning rather than writing… “At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”—Rose Macaulay. I love it! 🙂

Simplicity for Writing’s Sake

(Last week I was sick with a very sore throat…only felt like curling up with a good book and doing bare essentials. My voice is back, still trying to kick my writing back into gear. Figured I’d do a post for starters.)

Nice cup of tea and writing

Nice cup of tea and writing

What’s the most important thing a writer needs to do?…WRITE! This can get difficult when so many things get in the way. Any writer can probably list a zillion things which keep them from writing, we’re bombarded with distractions and interruptions on a daily basis. This is LIFE! Many writers will claim, because of all this it’s hard to find time to write.

Now, no one start throwing wads of balled up paper at me…I have TIME…I have time in excess! My problems are procrastinating and getting my head in the right spot.  I’ve become even a more full time caregiver to my spouse. He sleeps many hours a day, due to his health problems, so there’s plenty of uninterrupted writing time. I’m even one of those writers with a job allowing me time to write, though I don’t work many days a month.

The trouble is I feel so overwhelmed at times, it feels as if I’d need a backhoe to start digging my way out. After doing, what I guess you could call some soul searching, I think I’ve happened upon a solution of sorts. I’ve decided I need to start simplifying. It’ll be slow go, but it will feel like I’m getting somewhere and help me to clear my head, so I can write more productively.

I’m not giving up blogging, I’m too attached, but I am trying to reduce some of the other clutter in my life. It’s a reevaluation of sorts. These are some of the steps I’m going to take in an attempt to simplify life :

  • Unsubscribe from email newsletters no longer applicable or useful in my life(example-no longer homeschool, but still get homeschool newsletters)
  • Unfollow some blogs I’m just not so interested in or find helpful
  • Limit time spent on facebook—considering taking a facebook break for a few days as well as unfriending a few groups and people that post so much it’s overwhelming to sort through
  • Limit time spent on pinterest—this is a stress reducer for me—usually good with my time, just need to continue
  • Try not to have internet up if writing on computer unless : 1. need for reference–sometimes use Dictionary.com to look up words I’m not sure about; or 2. to listen to my favorite YouTube playlist while I write–Soothing Music

I’m going to head to the kitchen for a hot cup of herbal tea, hit the play button on my favorite music CD, and sit at the kitchen table writing with pen and paper.  Have you thought of ways you can free up your mind and your life, so you can write or write more effectively? Happy writing… 🙂

Current Reads

Morante with Alberto Moravia at Capri in the 1...

Morante with Alberto Moravia at Capri in the 1940s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be forewarned, this is an unusually long post, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on a couple of books. Hey, writers have to read! I’m reading two books currently, Woman of Rome : A Life of Elsa Morante by Lily Tuck and Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Both are really close to being finished and I’ll have to pick something new to read soon.

Fall on Your Knees is a novel and by far the most interesting of the two, albeit a bit odd. It’s a book about several generations of a family in Canada, mainly the lives of the sisters in the family. It’s a sad novel marked by tragedy upon tragedy, beginning with a thirteen year old bride. I know it’s fiction, but it is revealing about human nature…the sacrifices some are willing to make and the coldness of others.

I can’t say I really liked the book, but the author did do an amazing job writing a intensely detailed novel with a complicated plot. It’s a bit dark for my tastes and deals with some rather uncomfortable subjects including abuse.  It has some really not nice characters in it and it’s hard to get to attached to some characters, because as soon as you do, they up and die. I’m more of a lighthearted, let’s not condemn people to death kind of person.

Oh well, I’ll finish it and I can say it’s definitely something different than I’ve read in a while. It was one of those that sounded intriguing by what was written on the back cover, so I had to give it a try. It has held my interest and made me want to keep picking it up, so I can see what will happen next to the characters. It’s a page turner.

Woman of Rome is a biography about the Italian writer Elsa Morante, born 1912 and died 1985. She wrote novels and poetry, which are discussed in the book in detail. It’s taking a while for me to make my way through this book. She was an interesting writer and seems she was not afraid to voice her thoughts, often at the expense of the feelings of others, but had a rather dysfunctional family during childhood and a tragic love life.

She seems to have had a very free life for a woman. She traveled often, had a complicated marriage, and had numerous love affairs. She loved Mozart and cats. She dressed how she wanted. She was a reader and underlined favorite passages in books. She wrote her thoughts in a diary at times. She had passionate discussions with those in her life and was generous. Despite all of this, it still seems as if she was disillusioned and unhappy with life.

I think it’s taking me so long to read this book, because there is so much information. It is well researched by the author, but I get lost in many of the details about the other people that were parts of Elsa Morante’s life. There is mention of many writers, film makers, and artists in the book; which I am unfamiliar with and makes for a disconnect. I will continue to muddle my way through and finish the book regardless. This has been a very slooow page turner.

If you have a book you’ve enjoyed I’m open to suggestions and if you need a few suggestions I have a board I started on pinterest of books on my “To Read” list you may want to check out.

Snowy Inspiration

Right now I’m sitting at the computer and enjoying the view of snow falling through the kitchen windows. It’s absolutely beautiful. The flakes are smaller, but not long ago, the biggest fluffiest snowflakes I’ve ever seen were falling. It’s been such a great day…including getting to eat a bowl of snow cream! 🙂

Carpenter

Snowy Woods

Light Shining Through

Light Shining Through

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing…other than I have found my way out of the writing impasse I was at, which I refuse to call writer’s block. I had plenty to write about. I was just not in the mood and was being resistant to writing.

The truth comes out when I write and sometimes I just plain and simply don’t want to face it. It’s not always pretty and at times downright painful. Instead, I’ll do absolutely anything to put off writing. I’ve been baking, cooking, crocheting…anything except writing. (On the plus side…I can make a really good loaf of homemade bread from scratch now. 🙂 )

Snow Covered Benches

Snow Covered Benches

The past several days have been wonderful writing days. It feels incredible to be able to really write again. It began with writing in my journal. Who knows, maybe I worked through something in it. Journals are great for processing stuff. No matter how I got there, I did. I’m back to working on personal essays and writing poetry.

I’ve been so inspired, I just wanted to share and thought I’d share some inspiration with you too. Here are some pictures of the snow I took from around the yard…just enjoy or get creative and write something. I have nothing fancy set up for you to leave your links on(maybe one day I’ll figure out Mr. Linky), but you are welcome to leave a link in your comment below if you’d like. Happy writing… : )

Good News and Writers’ Notebooks

Selena and her Bird Housing Development Photo

Selena and her Bird Housing Development Photo

Yesterday was a good day and we’ve been needing some good days around our house.  My daughter had entered three of her photographs this past weekend in the Autumn Arts 2012 Art Show held at Vance-Granville Community College.  We went last night to see how the judging went and found she received an honorable mention for her photo “Bird Housing Development”.  She was thrilled.

Bird Housing Development

Bird Housing Development

After returning home, I checked my email and found I had good news as well.  I  had an email with the subject line “congratulations”.  Yes!  I was so excited.  Something I wrote got accepted rather than rejected.  I’ve been accumulating quite a pile of those(rejections that is).

My piece, “Diagnoses : An Unwanted Collection”, was submitted to The Barefoot Review and will be published in the winter issue, which will be public December 21st.  Thankfully December is right around the corner, so it won’t be a long wait.  I’ll try to remember to post a link to it then.

Just a little side note about writers’ notebooks since it seems I keep tripping on information about them.  Most writers, it seems, keep a writer’s notebook or several of them to jot down ideas as they strike or work on chosen pieces of writing.  Everyone has their preference from fancy to basic spiral bound notebooks.

I usually have at least two notebooks in constant use and prefer “pretty” spiral bound notebooks.  My notebooks tend to be a random accumulation, though lately I have taken to trying to keep one strictly poetry related and the other for everything else writing related.  Occasionally I sit down going through my notebooks to see if there is anything I need to refer back to like a list of writing ideas or a poem I haven’t yet typed into the computer.

My normal method to track those stray pages that need dealt with, but are strewn through various spots in assorted notebooks, is to put a post-it flag on the page so it sticks out.  The post-it flag is removed after I transcribe the information on the page into the computer.  The downside to this method is it can be time consuming and every so often a post-it flag accidentally falls out.  Here is a blog post I read yesterday about writers’ notebooks, which had an interesting idea I’m thinking of trying.  It was simply to number the pages in your notebook.  I don’t think it’d take long to write a number on each page corner and maybe it’d be easier to find stuff.

My "Pretty" Writer's Notebooks and Journal(center)

My “Pretty” Writer’s Notebooks and Journal(center)

Back on Track

English: The train track at Ecser Magyar: A va...

English: The train track at Ecser Magyar: A vasúti sínek Ecseren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately life has decided to throw in a few detours, so my blogging and other writing pursuits have been sidetracked a little.  The last two weeks of detours have included fixing the agitator in the washing machine, fixing the one time overload fuse on the dryer, replacing the car battery, and repairing the well.  Add into the mix the fact my daughter and her boyfriend moved to Tennessee and I can just say I’m glad I’m still sane.

Fortunately the running water was restored after much hard work.  Manually taking a well pump out 2 1/2 times is not easy work.  I do not see plumber on my list of future career choices.  I am also very glad to have my dryer up and running again.  I like doing things the old fashioned way and enjoy using the solar powered dryer, A.K.A. clothesline, but it doesn’t work well on rainy days.

Life seems to be getting slowly back on track, so one of my goals this week will be to try to get my writing back on track.  I’ve been writing a little, but not as much as I like.  Another goal is to catch up on blogs and email.  Right before I started to write this, I did manage to catch up on reading the blogs I follow.  Now I just need to work on posts for both my blogs.  My email has only had a preliminary skimming for important emails, so it will still take a bit to accomplish that goal.

I will work to get my straggly little train back on track this week.  At least my endeavors have given me valuable repair skills for future use.  I’ve even picked up a little more persistence and lots of material to write about, which are both good for any writer.  Lastly, a side track, thought of another goal :  eat less chocolate.  Unfortunately, I ended up downing a whole container of chocolate icing spoon by spoon during all the chaos.  I did exercise.  Think that counteracts it enough? 🙂

Happy writing… 🙂

Poem from Midweek Melting Prompt

Here’s a poem I made using words from the Midweek Melting prompt at the Rosemary Mint blog :

Old Barn

Old Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Tomorrows

Far away in the remote hills
Solitary decaying old barn
The door echoed its creak
The only sound to be heard

Full extent of sorrow known
Soon she would find release
Climbed up into the hay loft
Wishing for an eternal sleep

Tied to rough hewn timber
Means to end tomorrows
Never to need remember
Put away all the sorrows

Moved braid of hair aside
Rough knot against her nape
Slowly off slipped her feet
She had made her escape

Of Course, More Books About Writing…

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth's journals.

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth’s journals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my great loves above writing is reading.  Sometimes I’ll read one book for hours and other times I have several going at once.  Not reading them at once, but I’ll read a bit of one and then read a bit of another.  Well, I discovered some more gems at my local public library I thought I’d share.  I’m always on the look out for a good book.

I’ve dabbled in journaling through the years.  More of an on again, off again type journaler, but attempted to journal.  Usually my results are a few entries and then it may get picked up again several months or a year later.  Well, I decided to pick up my journal again and start anew, so timing was perfect to spot the book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea.

I’m almost halfway through, but have enjoyed this book.  Makes me feel so much less guilty in my journal attempts and gives me some thoughts to free my mind to journal.  She says even the sporadic journal entry will shed a lot on your life through the years rather than not journaling at all.  The author is even so brave as to share many of her actual journal entries with her readers.  She even gives ideas on topics you may want to journal about if you find yourself lacking ideas.

It’s funny how small the world is and the coicidences which occur at times.  Not too long ago I saw the movie Sylvia, which had Gwyneth Paltrow playing the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath.  I  had never heard of Sylvia Plath and have been reading up about her as well as some of her works.  Well, in the book, it says Sylvia was an avid journaler and there are some of her journal entries included as well.

I’m looking forward to finishing this book and have began to start journaling at night before I go to bed.  I’m trying to do it nightly, but giving myself permission to skip a night or nights if need be.  Hopefully will fend off discouragement and plan to do what you do if you fail at dieting one day, which is just get back up and try it again the next day.  Some reasons to journal are it’s cathartic, provides some historical evidence of your life for personal reflection, and provides another opportunity to write. 

The other book I discovered was Shimmering Images : A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton.  It’s a small book and is written in a good conversational tone I quite enjoy.  I finished reading it in one evening.  Thought it might give me some helpful advice as I continue to plunge into writing a couple of memoirs and personal essays.  I’m not closing the doors on fiction, but have decided I am  more of a personal and non-fiction writer.

I really like the first part of her book, which shares our right to writing truths and at the same time doing so compassionately.  This includes being soul searchingly honest with ourselves as well as not playing the blame game.  While being careful not to persecute others unjustly, we must also not overly berate ourselves.  This is probably very hard for most, as it’s often said writers are their own worst critics.  I know I’m quicker to criticize myself than anyone else.

The second half of the book she shares what she means by shimmering images, which is basically a kind of memory in your mind you can see bits and pieces of, as well as gives ideas how to fill in those memories some.    Some of the ideas are doing things like memory mapping, asking family members questions, looking at old photos, and researching what was going on in the world during the time period of your memories.  Lastly in the second part she discusses how to get to the heart of what your story is actually about, so it has meaning.

The third part of her book shares information about useful tools for the writer.  She covers such things as choosing which perspective to write from and creating scenes in your memoir, which are important in memoir writing just as in writing fiction.  There is also helpful information on imagery and ways to avoid using cliches.  This was a good book and I appreciated the examples of memoir writing included by the author.

Do you journal?  What kind of journal writer  are you?  Besides Anne Frank, can you think of any other famous journalers or writers who keep/kept journals? . . .

Tips and Markets for Personal Essays

The last couple of weeks have been very productive and I am starting to feel more comfortable writing queries and making submissions to magazines.  Not so comfortable that I don’t want my resource books near for guidance, but more comfortable none the less.  I’ve been submitting personal essays and poetry.  Made a couple of mistakes, but I’m learning still.

One mistake was easily remedied with a quick phone call.  Not a major mistake, but accidentally left the SASE out of a submission.  Luckily just wasted one stamp.  Found out just needed to reprint my submission, pop it in an envelope with the SASE, and mail everything out again.  The other mistake was one of those lost in electronic translation ones.  A place I was submitting to needed the file in .rtf instead of .doc.  I submitted it after reviewing it looked right on my end, but found out upon opening it after it was sent that the spacing in a couple of places was off.

Thought I would share a few resources with you I’ve found useful as I’m learning about personal essays and narratives.  I’ve found I really enjoy this kind of writing and for me it flows so much more easily than fiction.  I found an article, Profitable Personal Essays by Dawn Goldsmith at Writers Weekly ezine, which includes a list of the authors five favorite places to submit personal essays.  Another useful article was Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays at Writer’s Digest.  The site Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow has a great list of Paying Markets for Personal Essays.

Quick Tips for Submissions :

  • Visit the actual magazine website to make sure it is still in existence and accepting submissions
  • It is preferable to become familiar with the magazine before attempting to submit to it; some will provide a sample issue for a fee and many have links to published works on their websites
  • Check if submissions are accepted year round or there is a specific submission period
  • Read and follow submission instructions closely, may accept via postal mail and/or electronic submissions
  • Remember to include SASE if requested
  • Check if accepts simultaneous submissions; if your work gets accepted by one magazine, then politely notify the other magazine

As I’ve been researching in books and online to find homes for some of my writing, I’ve been keeping a list of places to possibly make submissions.  May be a personal opinion, but I would also say to make sure the possible future home for some of your writing is a place you feel is compatible with your values prior to submitting your work.  Here’s my list of places to makes submissions to :

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’ve learned along the way?…


Sad Goodbye National Poetry Month

POETRY SOCIETY POSTCARD

POETRY SOCIETY POSTCARD (Photo credit: summonedbyfells)

Having been so excited when I first learned of National Poetry Month, I am a little disheartened the month is coming to a close.  There were so many things I wanted to do and it just hasn’t happened as time passes by before I know it.  Poetry still has my heart and I thought I would share a couple of writing specific poems I’ve done.  Also, can happily share there are now ten poems of mine happily floating in the world having been submitted to three different publications and awaiting accepting or rejecting.  (Maybe overkill on the happy, but am very happy at the moment, even though it’s in the wee hours of the night.)

Modern Writer

Fingers tapping on the keys
Spell check and auto save
A modern writer’s life of ease
More useful tools I do crave

Let me check email a bit
Read my blogs a little more
Surf the net while I do sit
Technology I do adore

Promise soon I will write
But social media, me, oh my
Calling me into the night
Wasted time does make me sigh

Must put the computer down
Make this pen go to town

 

A Reader’s Request

Writer, writer pen in hand
Take me to another land
Develop characters and plot
Give an ending to hit the spot
Thrill my mind as I do read
Maybe your novel will succeed

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