"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, April 30, 2012

Opportunities

Ethan Vaughan is open to queries now for his May project. If he picks your manuscript he will give you an indepth reader's report and then do an interview with you on his blog. I can attest to the value of the report. His attention might not jettison you into superstardom, but it will definitely give you a nudge in the right direction.

April was poetry month and that's the only thing that was good about April. (That and eating the first asparagus from my garden.) Goodbye April. But we can and should keep poetry alive year round. Dare to eat a peach!

May is short story month. There are tons of markets out there for short stories, as you will see here. I've had a small measure of luck with placing some as you can see from my sidebar.  May is also planting season so you might see a little less of me. I'll be torn between editing my beloved BLACK RIVER, keeping a journal, planting lettuce, spinach, and French breakfast radishes, and blogging. Something might give unless I give up sleep. I already gave up television, like eons ago. What do you give up to create writing time?

Good luck if you query Ethan. Write a short story for May. See you around!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do I Dare To Eat A Peach?

April is poetry month and I almost let it slip away without a tribute to the oldest form of writing. As a writer, poetry was my first love. It was like little pieces of flash fiction without the fiction, the baring of flesh without the embarrassment. Some of those early poems make me cringe, but I always remember what my esteemed creative writing teacher from Edison State College once told me, “All writing is good.” I realize now what she meant. The effort is good. Even a first attempt is good. All writing needs editing but first you have to have a draft, a first line, a cheesy poem.

One of my personal favorites is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot. I believe it is his best.  If you listen to this read aloud, you’ll discover that a poem can cause visions.

Eliot’s masterpiece has many compartments, like the galleries in which “the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.” It’s about mortality and growing old and why is it so hard for us to accept that?  “There will be time, there will be time. Time for you and time for me.”

Read aloud, it is a gift to give someone who will listen.  From the first stanza:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells. 

April has been cold and unfriendly. I’ll be happy to see it leave. Maybe May will bring love songs, “And time for a hundred visions and revisions.”

Adieu

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drones Over America


Yesterday, on my way to work I saw two drones circling the highway. They were flying low in a menacing way. I had no choice but to drive underneath them. 

The creepiest thing about The Hunger Games was the constant surveillance that citizens were subjected to, the hover crafts that dropped out of the sky without notice at their doorsteps. Lois Lowry used a similar device in The Giver, though of course she did it first.  

It surprised me to see drones in the relatively rural area I drive through. According to the Washington Post, there was little to no opposition this winter when Congress quietly opened up U.S. airspace to aerial drones. A big push came from the military, which is preparing to bring home drones that were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't care what "experts" say. I see their only purpose as surveillance and I don't like it. Law enforcement is using them under the banner of "keeping us safe". But sinister aircraft operated by unknown entities in remote locations seem to have an ulterior purpose.

I think it's that element that makes them seem creepy. Give me the thrill of watching a kid fly a kite, or a hot air balloon floating overhead with a person at the helm, or a fighter jet steaming through the clouds under the command of a gutsy pilot. Give me the human element, someone invested in the risk and the thrill of human achievement. A drone does not convey that. It doesn't feel like the sort of achievement we will be proud of in the future. It seems ironic that at the same time our manned space program has stalled, unmanned drones are flying overhead.

Have you seen a drone? What do you think of them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Interview!

Ethan Vaughan, editor extraordinaire and agent intern has just posted an interview with me!! Very exciting...a real interview. He asked some pretty tough questions on controversial issues, and I feel like I've really put myself out there, like my skin is getting thinner by the nanosecond when it's supposed to be getting thicker. Please stop over there and say hi. 

After reading my manuscript, Ethan gave me a "reader's report". It was an in-depth review of the entire manuscript, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses with suggestions for turning those into strengths. He uncannily pointed out all the areas that could benefit from reassessment, scenes and elements that I myself wasn't entirely happy with. He obviously read my novel closely and picked up on things that other advance readers had missed. As he pointed out to me, "All manuscripts have to go through editing, usually of a pretty hefty nature, but they emerge better for it and I'm sure yours will too." If you need any editing help, you should consider Ethan Vaughan.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Magpie Tales - Emptied Of Our Pearls


Women gather at the riverbank
to wash their hands and look at themselves.
They gather wild lilies and herbs
and bare their breasts to the sun.
They gather at the river,
teacher, musician, hunter and grower.
Far from the withering gaze of the preacher,
they bare their breasts to the sun. 

The women gather at the riverbank
to wash their underthings and wonder
at the image they present in the mirror of the water.
Ancestors embedded in the river bottom,
like snails in the stone of an aquarium,
are loosened from their shells. 
They swell up like desert sponges in a storm.
The houses of their ancestors float by in the reel of the river,
like shells emptied of their pearls.
They gather them up and refill them.


Image compliments of Magpie Tales,
(Red Roofs, Marc Chagall, 1954)


Words of my own rendition. Thanks for reading them.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mary Magdalene

It was she who believed
that  a man walked among
them who could push back a stone.
It was she he showed himself to-
a peasant in a hood with a hoe.
It was she who knew him.

If the gospels had been written by women instead of men how much more would we know about this woman?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inmate Work Crews Beautify the Highway (Fri.Flash 55)

The bus idles on the side of the road
and I know what’s coming:
stooped bodies in fluorescent vests,
young and colored and doing time.
Cool Hand Cop lounges by the bus.
He doesn’t have to wear a vest.
Trash flies from an open window.
They don’t look up. There is no temptation.


The G-Man wants to know if you can tell a story in 55  words. It's supposed to be fiction. Maybe  it is.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How To Keep Your Memory In Good Writing Shape

This blog is about the art of writing poetry as much as fiction. I started writing poetry long before I tackled fiction. For me, it was a natural progression. Now it turns out that poetry is good for our brains, at least the memorization of it, and I'd like to share with you Ten Compelling Reasons To Memorize Poetry. I'm all for anything that will help me keep my memory and imagination in marathon shape, anything that will help me come up with that perfect word when I need it. For as Mr. Franklin advised, "The difference between a good word and the perfect word is like the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug."

The first poem I ever memorized began,

"Under the spreading chestnut tree,
the village smithy stands..."

Anyone not know that? Do you have a favorite from school? Sadly, when I got to high school, English class was all about diagramming sentences. I wish there would've been more emphasis on creative writing and memorizing poems.

On another note, I've received some awesome feedback from a most awesome editor/freelancer by the name of Ethan Vaughan.  He will soon be posting an interview with me on his blog and I'll be sure to kindly point you in that direction when it's up (though it's kind of a gut-wrenching reveal.) The guy is wise beyond his years and asked some deep, difficult questions. Interestingly enough, I found that in composing my answers (and it took several days) I learned something about my novel. I learned what was important to me, what I have to keep, and what I can let go. For me it was as valuable an exercise as mapping out the arc of the story to see if scenes follow each other logically to a satisfying conclusion.

Enough said for now. Time to memorize a poem.