Thursday, January 31, 2008

Short Story Contest

Today's Mood: Calm with just a tinge of melancholy. Today's Music: Mad Season- Matchbox Twenty. Today's Writing: Mary Monologue II. Today's Quote:
"The longest journey is the journey inward." -Dag Hammarskjold

One of my colleagues passed this Short Story Contest on to me, and I'm passing it on to you. Shore Magazine is accepting short story entries between Dec. 1, 2007 and March 1, 2008. The stories must be between 3,000 and 7,000 words with no set subject matter or style. Stories must be submitted online with credit card or by mail with check attached. The entry/reading fee is $35. Each story should have a header on every page with name/story title/page number. You can enter as many stories as you want--as long as you pay the fee for each one.

The first-prize winning story will be published in the June 2008 issue of Shore and will be posted on the website First prize is $1,000, second prize is $500, and third prize is $250.

Not sure if I'm going to submit or not. I'll think on it. It is $35, so I have to believe in what I send in. Of course, as I always tell my children, I can't win if I don't play!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Today's Mood: Anticipation. Today's Music: Loreena McKinnet. Today's Writing: Mary Monologue II. Today's Quote:
"In fact, I feel--maybe I'm crazy--that the solution to all my problems is to write my way, if not out of them, then through them." -David Bradley in Letters to a Fiction Writer.
This morning I'm pondering writing and art and the artist's way of viewing the world. This line of thought is really the braiding of several other strands of wonder. I re-reading The King of Attolia (possibly one of the best books I have ever read! It is by Megan Whalen Turner, and it is a young adult book, but the complexity of plot and character make it worth any one's time) and wondered how she came up with the idea and how she managed to keep the plot clear and yet hidden until it is slowly brought to light through the course of the story.

Another thread of thought comes from making lesson plans for a creative writing class at school. The first lesson is about journals and how the best way to become a better writer is to write--as much as possible, whenever you get a chance, every day. I was looking through my journals to find something I can make into an overhead transparency and share with a bunch of 6th grade boys and girls. It's harder than I thought it would be, but also more interesting than I thought. My journals (the many that I have) start to show a glimpse of a work in progress--me. Write about what you know; or is it, write so that you will know? All in all it convinced me to keep writing in my journal every day, no matter what, even if I have nothing profound to say. Because the mundane just might be more profound anyway.

The final piece of the braid comes from spending most of the day Saturday trying to draw a picture of my daughter. I've drawn pictures of my characters, and thought maybe I should take the time to draw someone real and dear. Well, I picked a pose that was much more difficult than I realized. Her head is cocked sideways and down and is a b-- to draw. I see the shape of the head--but I don't. I see the line and the way it angles and curves--but I don't. Or at least, I don't in the sense of being able to reproduce it.

So, braid all these thoughts together and what do I get? Art is more than just a way of seeing; it is a way of re-producing what you see. And in the re-producing, you make something new. Does this make sense? I'm not sure. I'm pondering as I write, as I draw, as I view the world around me. Maybe it all has to do with another thread from the weekend--a conversation with my oldest sister, who is the proud (and harried) mother of a 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old twins. She was lamenting the lack of time to create. After I got off the phone, I talked with my husband about that drive to create something, whether it be a fabulous pie, or a fishing lure, or a picture, or a quilt, or a snowman... He thought that is has to do with the desire to leave behind some evidence of your existence. That may be. I tend to think it goes even deeper than that; I think the desire to create something is an innate part of who we are as human beings--or, if you will, how we were created to be. Art (in the very broad sense of the word) is a way of becoming who we are meant to be.

Then again, it could be that I haven't had enough coffee and the day is young and I am full of bullshit--like most writers are. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snowstorm Observations

Today's Mood: Content. Today's Music: right now it is just the wind howling outside my bedroom window. Today's Writing: bit of poetry, bit of description. Today's Quote:
Why worry now? (bit of a song by Dire Straits. Great stuff)

I had the day off today. School cancelled–and thankfully this time it was BEFORE I got out of bed. I went out to shovel and it was just like I remember from when I was a kid. (I was going to call it the old days–but that would mean I'm old.) The snow was burying the steps it was so deep. It was that beautiful fluffy kind of snow, each snowflake a separate crystal, not of that wet, mush. Of course, by the time I was done shoveling the drive, even light crystals seemed like lot of work to scoop up and throw. But I enjoyed it.

I need to remember that sometimes even things that seem like work can be enjoyable. My Mary Monologue piece has seemed like work, but if I just sit down and have at it, I will enjoy the process of writing. I always do. I just don't always seem to remember that when I am trying to get myself to sit down and write.

Having a large chunk of time helps. I'm looking forward to Khardomah. But in the meantime, I'll make the most of what I have. Something is better than nothing (except for maybe when it comes to snow.)

I watched the birds at the feeder today. It gave me some great images for a poem I was working on. (Talk about playing with the little time you have! I wrote it on Sunday when I was paying attention to the church sermon of course.)

Okay. I titled this snowstorm observations and I don't have a great deal of observations so here goes: there is never a perfect time for anything. Enjoy the moment. (evidently the birds do.) Um, get enough sleep. (that's always big for me--course it helps when I get a snow day!) And quit whining. (Again, after a day off with kids, that sentence comes natural.)

And last of all, when the wine runs out–so does the post.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Celebrations of small things

Today's Mood: Industrious. Today's Music: The Call. Today's Writing: Thank you letter. Today's Quote:
Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness - I wouldn't know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self- consciousness. -Aaron Copland

If I waited to celebrate until there was a publishing deal, I might never get to celebrate. Besides which, all of life is made up of a myriad of little accomplishments. First we celebrate rolling over, then scootching, then crawling, then the first step, then walking, then.... So I am celebrating hearing from a publisher. A publisher that I thought very well might have a.) never received my manuscript, b.) thrown said manuscript in the circular file, c.) left said manuscript rotting on some huge pile of manuscript/query slush, or d.) still be considering that wonderful manuscript of mine. Although I have to admit I felt that option d. was unlikely since I had followed up with a note of inquiry and had no response to that as well.

Well, lo and behold! On this past Saturday, I received a letter from that publisher saying they were still considering my manuscript! And furthermore, if I don't hear from them within the next two months, I can call them! And they even included a number! Which, granted, I haven't called the number, but it LOOKS authentic.

Good news to me! Picture me doing the celebration dance! Today I worked on a thank you note, along with which (some very wise writer suggested) I will send a copy of my Black Dragon illustration. The brain, remember, is very visual. And it LOVES color!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh for the love of writing!

Today's Mood: relieved. Today's Music: Maroon 5. Today's Writing: Mary Monologue II. Today's Quote:
Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it." -Madeleine L'Engle
Today I was working with a 6th grade class. The teacher wanted them to do some creative writing, so we came up with a lesson that followed up the 9 minute sea creature assignment from the day before. We pretended that each student was an intreped explorer, and in their explorations they had discovered a new species of sea creature. They could chose to write a detailed description of the creature, or write a detailed description of the first encounter with that creature. I used examples derived from my Black Dragon novel. Man, oh man! If I had even half their imagination!

The cool thing was sharing my love of writing and imagining with them. We all got pretty fired up. Of course, I'm not quite so sure that they will love Monday's revision lesson, but hey, good writing takes work, not just imagination. They might as well learn that lesson early.

Meanwhile, I have to say how wonderful it is to be writing new stuff again! My brain gets going and I come up with more and more ideas. Of course, I don't have time to deal with all of them, but it is just a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Need my routine

Today's Mood: Disgruntled. Today's Music: Tori Amos. Today's Writing: Nada (hence the disgruntled feeling). Today's Quote:
Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long. -Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990)
I have so got to get back into a routine! First off, I spend too much when I'm on vacation. Lots of fun, yes. But boy, oh boy, one more shirt or pair of shoes and my closet (not to mention my wallet) is going to burst! And second, I'm close to locking my children in their rooms--for the whole day! One more Mom, she called me stupid, or Mom, she touched me, and you might as well commit me. Lack of routine is evidently not good for children either.

And the longer I go without any kind of schedule, the more my brain turns into some kind of Swiss cheese with lots of holes in it. Today I got up and made a huge pan of Italian lasagna for my dad's 70th birthday surprise party. Everyone got cleaned up, the girls changed clothes five times, but finally we hustled out to the car and drove the 45 minutes to the church where everyone was supposed to meet. No one was there. The surprise was on me. When I called my sister, she told me the party was tomorrow, not today. Surprise!

Despite the free time, when I sat down to write the other day, I found that after months of revising, I couldn't quite manage to get writing again. I NEED the routine, the schedule! I get grumpy and forgetful and sad and....and disgruntled. That's such a great word, isn't it? Sounds just like I feel. Thankfully I go back to work on Monday. Back to work and back to my writing routine. It's a good thing.

Until then, I'll try to remember that I have a party to go to, and kids, and even that I am a writer.