Monday, May 31, 2010

Submissions: Gulf Coast Poems

photograph by Eliza Marlow
A call for poetry submissions:

Poets for Living Waters is a poetry action in response to the Gulf Oil Disaster of April 20, 2010, one of the most profound man-made ecological catastrophes in history.

The first law of ecology states that everything is connected to everything else. An appreciation of this systemic connectivity suggests a wide range of poetry will offer a meaningful response to the current crisis, including work that harkens back to Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing regional effects.

Submit 1-3 poems, a short bio, and credits for any previously published submissions to:

More information is available at Poets for Living Waters.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Christi's Distraction

At Writing Under Pressure, Christi wrote about responding to another writer friend's list of questions as a distraction from thinking about her Dermacentor variabilis phobia. You have to click to her site to check out what that is! Anyway, she was tagged with these questions and she answered them from the North Woods. As a distraction.

Since I just wrote about wondering if I was distracting myself (from the Needs a New Name (NaNN) Novel) with research and notetaking, her post caught my eye. Well, her posts always catch my eye - she's a great writer with plenty of insights. I saw the word "distraction" and I was distracted from why I'd logged on to the computer in the first place.

Below are my responses to the questions. Feel free to post to your blog with a link here, or put your answers in the comments section below!

1. Where were you five years ago?
I was working with a group of interpreters to establish a new agency in town after one agency walked all over the community and walked off with money owed for services rendered. After a few months and some stressful meetings and someone pulling a power play built on lies, I left the new agency I helped create. I was starting to do a little art, again, and starting to write creatively, again. I lived in the same house as now with the same partner, but with a boomerang step-child living with us, who is now engaged to a wonderful person and doing quite well on his own.
2. Where would you like to be five years from now?
In five years we will be paying off the house. I want to be writing more regularly and having the rest of my life fitting in around the time left over from that. I want to be giving workshops and attending conferences and going on writing retreats and a residency would be nice. I'm contemplating being done with an MFA by then -- but haven't decided for sure if it's worth the time and expense. I want the Needs a New Name Novel to be published, and a book contract for more. I want to have breathing space and an abundance of income and have plenty of time for sleep and walking and traveling and writing/creating and be comfortable in my skin.
3. What was on your to-do list today?

  • Shower.
  • Dragon boat practice.
  • Brunch with some teammates after practice.
  • Take arnica and homeopathic tincture.
  • Walk up and down the hill a couple times or so to see how my lungs are doing, with additional walking time.
  • Take arnica.
  • Shower.
  • Pick up a latte or chai on the way to work.
  • Type up three student intern observation reports.
  • Look at REI website to see if they have what I need for the Grand Canyon trip so I can plan what to pick up when I get my shipment tomorrow morning (to avoid those impromptu purchases).
  • If I have time, reorder the chapters and sections I've relocated in the NaNN Novel in Google Docs.
  • Drink less coffee.
  • Eat more vegetables.
4. What five snacks do you enjoy?

  • Popcorn.
  • Early season Honey Crisp or Jazz or Ambrosia apples.
  • Fresh blueberries - especially right off the bush (okay, so they should be rinsed first)!
  • Juanita's tortilla chips with a little bit of grated cheese melted on them under the broiler, with double roasted red pepper or mango salsa and mashed black beans.
  • Erin Baker's peanut butter granola with Nancy's plain honey yogurt. Or plain Cheerios with soy milk. Vastly different and yet, similar in an odd way.
    5. What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

    • Write more often and work at non-writing less.
    • Travel more: !road trip!; take a month-long vacation and at least a week every three months or so; buy a home in Taos that would also be a group writing retreat, and a condo to share on the Oregon coast.
    • Send some money anonymously to some people - some maybe not so anonymously.
    • Get an MFA.
    • Get all needed repairs on the house; get the yard fixed up properly; replace my 181k+ miles, 11-year-old car with a hybrid.

    That's my distraction list. What's yours?

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Novel Editing: questions and observations

    As a child I dreamed of writing a novel.

    No, that's not totally true. I dreamed of publishing a novel; I wrote my first novel about age ten. It was about a magic rock that a couple of kids found; seventy-two pages written by hand on lined notebook paper. The final pages were written as I sat in my grandmother's classroom as she taught the mixed grades class in the two-room school house; it was my spring break.

    After that I wrote mostly short stories and tons and tons of poetry, a couple of scripts, and wrote for school newspapers and yearbooks.

    My dream of publishing a novel reverted back to writing a novel as I continued to do more journalistic style writing : newsletters, business memos, public relations releases, an so forth.

    Then I decided to give NaNoWriMo a try, believing that the experience would help me - out of necessity - get out of my own way and just write. It worked and I did. I have attempted NaNoWriMo twice and have been a winner - passed the 50,000 word mark in 30 days - twice.

    Now I'm deep in the editing and revision process of the first NaNoNovel. And, while writing is not new, editing a whole novel is. I've written about this before: the one day/word/bird at a time thing. I've been making notes. Doing bits of research on place and procedure. I've made note cards (instead of an outline; I did a non-standard outline as I went along writing The Novel), and margin notes. Driven to a city where part of the story takes place and took pictures.

    The story has a book central to its theme that I had never read. Today I finished reading that book, with underlining and margin notes in that book and notes about my book. Surprisingly to me, the places where the stories overlap? I hit some of it right on the metaphorical nail and the compatibility is good. There are some changes to be made - but, wow, I'm surprised how little on that account.

    Tonight I was wondering:
    - when is research and making notes helpful?
    -- is there a time when it becomes procrastination of rewriting instead?
    --- how do I know which it is?
    - how long should a mystery ghost story novel be?
    -- how many characters are too many?
    --- there are three primary stories which will intersect later on; playing with different approaches to presenting them in the novel (in chunks of their own; interspersed; 1/2/3 pattern or will random and more organic work?)

    This week on my novel I've accomplished:
    - some reordering of main chapters/sections
    - identified which incidents are precidents for which other incidents; identified a couple of key events that must happen before other story pieces
    - made maps of the three primary areas where the story takes place; for one I even found a house plan that works perfectly for one couple's primary residence
    - identified some important changes that need to happen for it to read well and make sense in a couple of key areas.

    I'm afraid I might be on the edge of research and preparation becoming procrastination. Any suggestions on how I can tell -- any warning signs that I may be avoiding the rewrite. One perspective I have is that all work on the novel is putting "energy into the field" (as Pamela would say) of my intention to bring this novel to publication - be it revising, researching, moving sections around.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Razor's Edge for 3/28/10

    This week the theme of the parts of the world I inhabit, or that is inhabited by my friends who share their experiences with me, has been collision. Collision of things unintended. Of desire and need requiring a common ground but the options do not seem compatible on the surface, perhaps; or require a bit of adjustment in perspective or expectations or acceptance.

    It is not all bad, this colliding. But all change - I am constantly reminded - carries with it a bit of stress. Even positive change is creates stress, though I still hold onto the belief that there is no universal experience of "stress" and, since all change creates stress, and being alive means being in a state of constant change, then shouldn't we stop beating ourselves up mentally and trying to avoid all stress all the time? Doesn't this constant sense of failure create more negative stress?

    I'm ranting and rambling now. Defensive or projecting, perhaps. Less stress is better, I agree. And if the bulk of that stress comes from positive change, then maybe the negative health effects are less (just my guess, I don't have any research to back up that statement).

    Again, I'm rambling.

    This week's prompt set is about COLLISION

    It has three parts:
    [1] Listen to the Andreas Mavrides video first and just write what comes to you as you listen. The goal this week is to just write. Don't edit. Don't wonder what it's about. Let it flow out of the pen or through your fingers on the keyboard.
    [2] Read my freewrite as I was listening to The part Transcending part 8/8.
    [3] Watch & listen to the Anna Oxygen video. Write a response to either your freewrite from part one above, or to my write from the Transcending video.


    [2] freewrite 5/28/10 by Dot
    Walking to the edge of the outline, wondering where it came from and who put it there, she dared to look up. She hadn't intended to do anything but look at the figure on the ground. To see if she could see from the outline who this person was when they inhabited a body, when they could walk and breathe and smell the air just like she was doing now.

    A shadow.

    Left behind a shadow on the earth of a life that has ended.

    How or why or who, she had no idea. This remnant drawn by someone else's hand the only acknowledgment in this place of this other life which was now gone.

    That shadow crossed her eyes and she looked up and she saw. Not a beacon of light nor the glow of a soul. What she saw made her stop, pause, reconsider her own senses. The energy this other being left behind reflected back to her herself. The energy magnetic and luminescent with mirror-like qualities that let her see inside herself. Against the backdrop of the other's breath.

    She put her right palm against her cheek. Glided her fingertips over her lips, across her chin, down to her throat. Felt the pulse of her heart in the right dip of her neck.


    The other was not.

    Alive and seeing her essence floating in the detritus of another being's life.



    Thursday, May 27, 2010


    My friend's decision - which I mentioned in yesterday's post - does not redefine who she is. That was a typo. She is still a mama writer. The "in the best interest of my family" decision redefines how she will be earning income and affect when she writes.

    But she is who she is: a skilled writer with a lot of important and entertaining things to say.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    When Worlds Collide

    This has been a recurring theme in my life recently: my own experiences and those of friends.

    I'm not sure what it's all about and know I'll have to wait for that answer.

    A writer friend has made an important decision about her life. It redefines who she is and how much time she will have for writing. She has two children at home and this job provides them with some essentials and has good perks. So she is a mama writer who will be doing (that job) for a while.

    I'm in the midst of a similar situation about my continuing work. One thing I do is partly up to me whether I continue doing it. Another thing I do is something I could keep doing easily as my safety net base work - though I need other things to keep my mind fresh and body moving; and that one has some potential major changes coming, including going away.

    And I'm in a collision time of having to do student observations, the final two weeks of dragon boat practice before the big races, preparing for my big vacation rafting from one end of the Grand Canyon river to the other, preparing my Paddling Poet series and the Creative Wandering series, and making final preparations and reservations for the 132 mile relay. And my regular work.

    Writing. It's time to get back to it. I've been doing little bits but I need the big chunks. Just one more day of observations, write up the reports, and I'll have a little more time to write.

    Collisions of responsibility and desire. Of work and writing, the teeter totter.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Short Story Contest

    Just a week left on this one. I stumbled upon it in someone else's blog. A no fee, open topic, open genre (except no erotica) literary fiction contest.

    Lady Glamis (Michelle Davidson Argyle) is having a short story contest; below is an overview of the guidelines. Click for the full details , including the prizes.

    (1) Contest is open until June 1st.
    (2) Open to all genres and subjects except erotica.
    (3) Stories up to 7,500 words.
    (4) One entry per person.
    (5) Email entries to annie.louden [at] gmail [dot] com with SHORT STORY CONTEST and the name of your entry in the subject header. Paste your story into the body of the email, with your name, contact email, word count, and title.
    (6) Winners announced on Wednesday June 3oth.
    (7) Stories are judged for: quality of prose, creativity, and the ability to engage the reader within 7,500.


    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Star Crossed series book two is out

    I'm not sure if Bonnie Hearn Hill is going to be able to stop by on her blog tour this time around. But book two of the Star Crossed series is out! Taurus Eyes is now available for purchase. Below are a couple of her earlier stops this month and a synopsis of the new book below.

    Mother of Confusion

    International Thriller Writers

    Enjoy - it's been getting some great reviews! (and buy the book...)

    Look to the Stars.

    Logan McRae is spending her summer at the camp of her dreams, thanks to her discovery of that amazing book, Fearless Astrology. Away from home and her friends, she now finds herself faced with a new set of challenges, a new enemy, and maybe even a new guy.

    From the moment Jeremy Novack grabs her hand on the ghost-tour bus, Logan feels an immediate connection. She's sure Jeremy feels it too. But in order to secure a coveted writing spot in a national teen anthology, Logan must impress her instructor Henry Jaffa, the renowned journalist who is editing the book. She feels confident that she will shine with her brilliant astrological piece about Sun signs, but then Jaffa switches everyone's topics!

    Now Logan has to compete with Jeremy, who seems obsessed by their shared topic about the ghost of an obscure dead singer. Logan has only the stars to guide her as she tries to win the respect of her idol, write a stellar essay, and capture the heart of her newfound crush.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Razor's Edge for 5/21/10

    I've been reading about characters recently. How to write them. How important they are to writing - well, at least to fiction writing. Exercises. Styles.

    Then tonight, while looking for something totally unrelated, there was the 'related video' below (which was not at all related to what I was looking for).

    So I am, again, going with the creative flow of the - or my - universe at this moment in time.

    This week's Razor's Edge focuses on *character*

    The video is Joyce Carol Oates' "On Writing Characters." This is an excerpt from a longer talk and there is a link at the end of the video to where you can watch the entire speech.

    Watch the video about characters in writing, and then select one of the paintings below that - all by Serena Barton, from her "Saints, Artists, and Other Curious Folk" collection - to create a story around character. If you choose one of the paintings with several characters, you can either choose one person's perspective or write a story about all of them.

    paintings by Serena Barton:

    • Teatro dei Assassini
    • Waiting for the "All-Clear"
    • Flora and her Brothers

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Singer Songwriter Congratulations Due

    Congratulations to Singer Songwriter Julianna Waters.

    Julianna, of Heart and Hammer, was a winner at the Wildflower competition in Richardson, Texas. I had the pleasure of hearing her perform at Artichoke Music Cafe not too long before the trip down there. I've known her for many years - and have even interpreted for her and Barry - and her music just keeps getting better.

    I've posted links to some of her music before, some as writing prompts. Julianna is also a writer and has a poem that will be appearing in print soon, too. There are several songs to choose from on her website, but here is a link to one of my favorites, Time Flies.

    She definitely has a gift for words - and a voice and musical talent to match.

    Congratulations, Julianna!

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    WAS: time to play; NOW: time to walk

    I hit another wall. Sometimes I'm surprised I have anything left to hit with - recently, anyway. I'm mostly recovered from the long-lasting sickness; I don't normally get the long-play versions but I did get this one. Now that I'm mostly over it, there are some residual symptoms that are mostly minor, until I work-out.

    The issues?

    One is that the dragon boat races are only four weeks away. Truthfully - I will be fine for the races, although maybe a little sore at the end. I'm the tiller and that takes the ability to stand despite wind and current and the rhythm of the paddlers - it can get a little straining on my low back near the end of the hour on the water, but bearable (and the soreness resolves quickly and is a direct result of being below fitness level due to two months of sickness). Tilling also requires a different type of strength and different muscles than the paddlers use; and those muscles are still strong since I've been able to keep up with the strength training (thanks, Nikki!). The warm-ups can get me breathing harder than I should be as the last strands of this illness linger - but for the actual tilling, I'll be okay with a little Advil.

    Two is a biggie: the Cascade Lakes Relay is two and a half months away.

    Oops - no, let me back up. The Grand Canyon Rafting trip is just over a month away! Yikes. I'll be fine, I guess. At least it's rafting and not kayaking! Not that I would kayak the Grand Canyon/Colorado River - a little too ambitious for me and I'm not that big of a thrill seeker. So, I will ride the giant raft, help load and off-load my grocery-sized bag of belongings which will contain everything I need for a week (hear me laughing? still haven't quite figured that one out), with a couple extra things stored in an ammo can - I plan to have a book to read, a waterproof notebook and/or sketch pad or two and probably thin sharpies or special pens, a camera... Then, if I'm still not up to par with my lung capacity, I can skip a hike or two. Be technically disconnected and fully immersed in being present. Relax. Nap. Look at the scenery. But I may have to moderate my hiking a bit more than I'd like. I'm okay with that; I think I'll be fine being there.

    Then the Cascade Lakes Relay. I've started back to training. Though barely. My pace is about 1.5 minutes slower than it was and my hill walking ability is diminished. I'm trying to not be frustrated. I'm trying to find that balance between not pushing my lungs too much and pushing my fitness level just a bit; it feels like a tightrope of which way is too much or too little. Saturday I did my first deliberate hill walk in over two months. I survived and I cut it a little short when my lungs started to hurt; not just out of breath, but hurt a little. I recovered quickly - which is good.

    A couple months after that is Portland's first half marathon - on 10/10/10. I'll see how the relay goes at the very end of July to know if I will be able to get up to half marathon status. I think the answer is yes - but I'm obviously in a period of doubt. And I hope that means it's just a bit of the illness remaining, which I've heard from other people can cause this feeling of hopelessness about getting back to full normal activity.

    I didn't plan to write about this when I started writing. It was going to be about play and dreaming and time; something profound and energetic, with a bit of humor.

    But this is where my mind and fingers went. So this is what I have.

    Another time of one step. One breath. One hill. One mile.

    Recovery. Being present and knowing when and how much to push, to try, to back off, to let go. To move on. To not give up hope.

    To know that a few years in the future I will look back at this time - if I even remember it - and think how short is was in the overall picture of my life.


    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    ...but how do I know...

    Friend and novelist Christi Craig came to a tough decision recently. She wrote about it beautifully and I believe it's an important process to share. Here is the beginning, with a link at the bottom to read it in its entirety.

    Putting a Story to Rest for a While
    May 16, 2010

    Recently, I wrote a post on the roller coaster ride of novel writing — about the highs from the little successes and the lows of constant uncertainty.

    I battled my self doubts about the novel I’m trying to write (a story about a woman named Millie) by focusing on better character development, reassessing plot points, and scratching out a new outline for chapter one. Still, each writing session ended with a persistent twist in my gut, an uncomfortable feeling that suggested, No. This is not the story you should be writing. Not today.

    I ignored my gut, thinking “today” meant not this particular 24 hour period. Really, I was afraid I’d mark myself as a quitter if I put this manuscript down.


    Click HERE to read the rest of her post.

    Thank you, Christi, for sharing this journey. I look forward to updates on the novel that is tugging at you.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Razor's Edge for 5/14/10

    Tonight I interpreted a play, "All in the Timing" by David Ives. I interpreted this same play at a different location several years ago and it was a positive experience that stuck in my mind. It became one of my favorite plays. It is actually six one-acts put together into one night of theatrical enjoyment; some more than others - but they're all good.

    One of my favorites is "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread." People who know me know I am a Philip Glass fan. Particularly his operas, the two movies: Koyaanisqasti and the other one whose name I can't remember right now - generally his more "avant garde" music (like Knee, Einstein on the Beach). Tonight's rendition of this one-act set was not my favorite; I thought they destroyed Ives' intention of using Glass' style and made it into something different which lost all meaning of why it was even written that way. And that's just my opinion. Some audience members obviously enjoyed it - laughed, applauded. Could be my theatrical snobbery (which I don't really have; especially if you compare me to my friend and true theatrical and literary snob A.L., who even admits it from time to time) or my fondness for Glass and for the original as-written one-act. But it didn't work for me.

    But even the altered one-act and the rest of the uneven production touched the pace of life around here recently. Not only by my own observation, but of my friends and the current threat of upheaval in one sector of my professional life - the pace of everything on the go, of too much and too little simultaneously, of things happening out of context or suddenly. Random. Juxtapositions that don't fit, or conflict, contrast, confuse.

    S0 I decided to go with the flow, rather than against it, and have built this week's Razor's Edge around the theme of Philip Glass and time.

    Razor's Edge instructions: You are, of course, free to observe the prompt parts in any order; to use one or two or all - as my writer friend, Christi, has just done in her own work, my instructions to you are to Follow The Energy. I suggest watching the video, looking at the pictures, then read the word prompt (which is part of a line in the Philip Glass one-act) and write. Write for 8 to 10 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes or an hour. Share what you wrote with someone. If you feel so inclined, free free to post your writing here under the comments.




    I saw her lying on the beach and mistook her for ...

    clip art clock is from FunDraw
    photos & artwork from Serena Barton's blog
    excerpt from "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread" by David Ives


    Wednesday, May 12, 2010


    Today I had jury duty. Here in Multnomah county that means that you call in the night before the day of your service to see if you're still needed. Which I did and I was. (Note that this was a rescheduled jury duty day; the original date had a conflict so I picked this one.) We only have to go for one day every two or so years. Not even one trial; just one day. Unless we're selected for the Grand Jury, which is a month of service (and I would hope I could be excused since I don't have an employer that pays me while I'm off!); or, like one trial I was sent up to as a potential juror, where it was expected to go three days.

    But I went with script in hand for the play I'm interpreting Friday night, and the file for the Cascade Lakes Relay team, and The Novel in its handy zipper folder complete with file pockets and notecards and scratch paper.

    But I was called early in the day to go up for the trial. The voir dire was unusually long and there were 30 of us potential jurors (they picked twelve). But, alas, I was not selected. And I was not surprised and not disappointed (I've done jury duty several times; I never get selected on car accident cases - perhaps it's previous work as an office administrator for an alternative health care clinic that was run by a couple of chiropractors... hmm).

    Those of us not selected were sent back to the jury room and it was 10 minutes until the lunch break so they dismissed us for lunch.

    After lunch I went back, we had the afternoon announcements. And we sat. I read through my script more (we're interpreting Friday night, so it has priority). Then they announced that we were being dismissed early. Two hours. Yay.

    Walked to the car and up all five flights to my car at the parking garage. Yay! I could still breathe when I got to my car although I'm not at the level I was before getting sick; but three weeks ago I wouldn't have made it up one flight, let alone five.

    Drove home through traffic.

    Typed up the notes for the relay team meeting tonight and printed out the leg division to distribute.

    Thought I'd take a nap. But, no. Only 30 minutes until I had to be on the road to the meeting.

    Now it's hours later. The meeting is done. I'm at my part-time job.

    And tired.

    And nothing done on The Novel today.

    Priorities. And a change in plans. I thought I'd have a couple hours at jury duty - but not to happen today. And no nap.

    Tomorrow I nap. After I work and before dragon boat practice.

    The Novel will have to wait until Friday. I have a writing date in the morning and it will be focused on The Novel.

    My reminder that I can't always count on overlapping projects happening as I plan. No worries and no stress. And I am definitely planning The Novel time for Friday the 21st. Yay.

    And a reminder that I need to keep The Novel time sacred (except for jobs I scheduled last fall - such as the play on Friday night).

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Thoughts on Revision/Re-Vision

    I completed two pass-throughs of The Novel with my 3x5 notecards. I didn't plan on making two passes - but that was what was required.

    The first round I was looking for "scenes" and making notes in the margins about the characters and main events. I had a decent size stack of cards when I was done and a few notes. Nothing earth shattering nor a toppling tower. I looked at the cards and thought about what I could move around and went, "huh."

    Not much. (Though I imagine sometimes writers think things have to be in the order they are even when they could move -- or at least new novelists get a little stuck in reordering.) I will defend myself and say that it's a mystery ghost story, so I think some of the plot does have to be in the order it is. I'm not looking to find a new Memento style twist nor seeing dead people approach, so some things need to happen in a certain order for it to make sense.

    But I started thinking that there were parts that could be moved around. Back story. Character development or history, flashbacks. Maybe there were other hidden bits that I could move.

    So I re-entered The Novel with the completed notecards and new notecards and a pen. This time I made more notes in the margins and wrote out new scenes within scene cards. It's still not a toppling tower but it nearly doubled in size.

    And there are things that can move.

    Then a couple weeks ago I took a drive to the coast. A part of The Novel happens in Manzanita - an Oregon coastal town I haven't spent as much time in as other parts. I had the afternoon of a writing day free so I decided to drive the 90 miles to the coast. I stopped on the way and bought an inexpensive digital camera (I was across town from home - on the coastal range side of town). That spontaneous trip turned out to be the right thing to do.

    On the drive over to the coast I had some insights into a couple of characters. I drove the route I had one of the characters drive (which was not my usual highway to the coast), so I took a few pictures along the way and picked up some excellent names of parks and towns and sightseeing spots. And when I arrived in Manzanita I took some pictures and drove around and feel like I have a much better sense of the layout of that part of the story.

    And now? What?

    Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the thought of revising or re-visioning The Novel in its entirety. Especially when I'm also doing things like preparing to interpret a play (this coming Friday night) or have dragon boat practice three times a week (third weekly practice added this month) or am planning 10 days off work for a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon (the end of June; this planning includes working extra to get money to cover taking time off work since I don't have benefits) and ... there's more but those are the biggies. Oh, except for being the team captain for the second year for the MissFit WiseWalkers Cascade Lakes Relay team - just a little bit of organizing to do for that.

    But enough - I have The Novel to finish. To edit. I tried to think of it as one page at a time but that is a lot. It seems easier to think about one character at a time. One story angle at a time (there are three seemingly separate stories that converge). One scene at a time!

    I will get there. The play will be done this Friday - so that will free up a chunk of time for novel editing. And I have jury duty on Wednesday, so that may also give me some time unless I get selected to be on a jury (which is unlikely, in my experience). My plan for jury duty is to alternate between Friday's Script and The Novel, when I'm hanging out in the jury room.

    Highway 26 West Tunnel
    photo by Dot.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Do the Write Thing for Nashville

    Thanks to the Vancouver, WA, NaNoWriMo group for spreading the word about this event!

    There is an once in a lifetime chance for aspiring authors right now, and I don't want any of you to miss out on it. A group of philanthropic writerly types are auctioning off items to help with the Nashville flood relief. The auction is called Do the Write Thing for Nashville, and the items range from signed books to phone conversations with editors and agents, all the way up to full MS critiques--some with editorial letters! There are some high-power names floating around currently: Janet Reid, Suzie Townsend, and Russell Davis to name a few. These are the people you dream of reading your novel, and now you can make it happen. The website is

    They're on the fourth day of the auction right now, which means there are about 50 items up for sale. Have fun, and good luck!

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Razor's Edge for 5/7/10

    It has been a week since the end of NaPoWriMo. And I miss it. I've had brief discussions with the other two writers I was doing this "with." We all three miss it. But the month ended and so did the daily poetry.

    Today, in a text message exchange, one writer and I wondered at this sudden absence of poetry writing. And why the month of April, that someone dubbed NaPoWriMo, made a difference.

    My conclusion? It's because, as with NaNoWriMo, there is this giant pool of interpreters who have agreed to participate in this big "shared field of writing energy." For whatever reason, when we put our collective heads together in our separate writing spaces, the energy and time and creativity is there. We may be writing alone or in small groups - but the energy field we create encompasses the whole earth.

    What if?

    What if we could access that every day? Or most days. Not just in special months?

    What. If?

    Today's Razor's Edge:

    The video is about four minutes long. As you look at it and listen to the crystal singing bowl, think about how our energies connect. Or spiritual selves if that image fits you better. Because we do all share the same planet and, ultimately, the same breath through the air we breathe. Our sun is same no matter where it rises or goes down from where we live.

    Like a swimming pool: where does my water end and yours begin? It doesn't, we all have access. Creativity - like a swimming pool, warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind.

    VIDEO with music:

    I walked to the edge and saw...

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    the making of a rejection

    Sending out my writing to various contests and publications is an interesting process. It starts with knowing the publication where the piece is being submitted, their target audience, and so on.

    Then I have to figure out (a) if my writing style in general matches this publication, (b) if I qualify for this publication (qualifications and credentials are topic for another day - but for now this may include geographic location, gender, age, alumni status, and so on), (c) if I have a piece I feel fits their publication in general, or for a specific theme or contest, and (d) if I want my piece to do whatever their process is, which may include sitting on their desk for six months before I know, or what type of rights they have/I have, payment/lack of payment, entry/submission/reading fees, and so on.

    When I make the decision that all of that is acceptable and I want to submit a piece of writing, the next step is selecting the story or essay or poem. After making sure, of course, that it is not already sitting on some other editor's or judge's desk, which would be a violation of most submission guidelines (simultaneous submissions). Then I may need to reformat the piece so that it matches their guidelines (my name on the piece or not, the title on the top or not, contact information, single or double space).

    The next to last step in preparing it for submission is another look over it to make sure it fits and if there is anything that needs to be edited. Hopefully not, but there may be, based on where it is going or I may have a revelation and think "ah ha!" when I look at the story for the ninetieth time. Then I print it or email it or submit it via an online submission tool - whatever the publication requires.

    Oh - and pay the fee, either ahead of time and then include a confirmation number or include a check. Or not, if there's no fee.

    Then I wait.


    Sometimes I hear back from the place I sent the piece of writing and sometimes not. Sometimes the deadline for notification passes without a word: this is generally a definite rejection - except one time when the publication didn't receive enough submissions so they canceled the issue; which was still a "no" except that I don't count that on my list of rejections. Sometimes there is no notification deadline and it's the publication date that passes and the piece isn't in there that I know it was a rejection; check. A few places list the accepted pieces on their website on a specific date, so I can check there to see if I'm in or not, and then know which color to make the line on my spreadsheet.

    That's what I do. I have a spreadsheet with what pieces are out where. If it was a general submission or a contest or a theme (and what the theme was). A column for any fees paid. A column for how (and where) it was submitted. And a column for the end result.

    Then I color code. It helps me see at a glance how the trend is going. I made the accepted pieces a bright cheery yellow. Easy to see and the loudest on the document. Yay, it screams, I was published! I also use a cloudy gray for those that never let me know - so I know that it wasn't published, and I know next time I submit something to them that I won't hear anything. One gray place I've submitted to six times now; nothing published; not a note from them - and I don't expect it; it would be a cool place to be published and I know they get thousands of submissions, but it's not high on my list of places to submit, partly because of their "gray" status. I know they're busy - and so am I.

    Yesterday I received another rejection from a magazine I've submitted to twice now. They get the lavender highlight: a rejection with a note. I know it's not truly a personal note - but it's a note - and it may not be totally generic, I'm not sure. It simply says "this piece was not a match for our publication" and they hope to see more, yada yada; the last one said something like the piece was in the running, but they decided to not use it... So they may have several form letters or it may be information. But this place is lavender in my book and I will submit again.

    And I am wondering about that particular story. It's a complicated one in terms of how people react to it. One person called it a farce (which it is totally not; a couple other people were shocked that someone would label it that); several people really like it and "get" it; a few say it's pretty good.

    So this writing submission process is complicated. Rejections are fine and expected; a natural part of being a writer. And as I look at the yellows and lavenders and grays (and the other assorted colors for other reasons), I again wonder about this process. Am I not a match? Is the publication not a match? Is this particular story not a match? Would this story match anywhere? If yes (and I think it would, yes, Pollyanna, I do), where?

    Submitting writing is not a process with a yes or no answer. That acceptance or rejection is only one piece of the puzzle. There are many factors that go into the specific submission, so a reply - or lack of, when the answer can only be found in the target issue of the publication - releases or binds the writing, but the Why is still to be teased out.

    Yes, I have another rejection. Which shows movement of energy related to my writing. I have another piece that is at the printer's right now with the work of other writers (Alltopia's Flora issue). Publication is the goal - and all movement toward that is good. And I still have several stories out there, pending a response - including another one to the big gray magazine.
    wait, don't go so fast. (36/365)
    by innaminnafly (Inna)
    on Flikr

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    from Tricycle: today's daily dharma

    Daily Dharma

    Our Deepest Well-Being

    Our society provides no curriculum or schooling on how to notice love or to recognize the many people who have transmitted its life-giving power. Most of us haven’t been taught that to receive love deeply and transmit it wholeheartedly is a real human possibility, that it can be learned, and that to do so is the key to our deepest well-being, our spiritual life, and our capacity to bring more goodness into this world.

    —by John Makransky, ‘Love is All Around’ c.

    click on the article's title to read it in its entirety

    Sunday, May 2, 2010


    NaPoWriMo ended yesterday. The month of writing a poem a day is done and Saturday, I felt like something was missing. And then it hit me - no poem prompt. No poem.

    But ever the trooper, I started editing a few. You see, there's a journal I've been reading for many years that has a three month window for reading submissions. That window doesn't open until the fall. Except, as a fellow writer noticed, there is a special poetry contest with a deadline of May 31st. My friend basically said - though in her own words - "I will if you will." So we agreed to each pick three of our 2010 NaPoWriMo poems to edit and submit.

    I started out with a selection of eleven. That was easy to weed down to nine. Not enough, I knew, but it was a start.

    I went back to the journal's website to see what details I could pick up to help me narrow my choices even further. And there were a few clues I chose to use and went back to the nine and, after several read-throughs of the poems, I whittled it down to six.

    I then put those six into one document and uploaded it to my writing group for feedback, opinions, advice. I haven't heard back from anyone, yet; but I know I will. Then I printed them out for a non-writer (but avid reader) friend to get her opinion. And while she liked them she was unable to offer advice on which to pick for further editing and submission.

    In the process of discussing them with her, however, it became pretty clear. One of my favorites has been nixed; hard to do and. Okay, I'll be honest - it isn't totally nixed. I put a question mark on the top of the page. The structure of the poem doesn't fit with what I saw from previous winners. I wonder if I should be a rebel and submit it anyway; as I said, it's one of my favorites and it flows. But three of the others are fairly strong - a little editing needed, of course, but strong. And they are more the style I've seen in the publication.

    It can be hard to eliminate the poems. Trying to see through someone else's eyes I've never met. And perhaps tossing aside one of my personal favorites in favor of something more in line with the publication.