Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poetry Contest result, and ROW 80 update

Hey folks! Happy frigid Wednesday to you all!

Well, as it turns out, Dakota County IS a hotbed of Poetic activity.  145 poems were entered in the children's competition, around 75 were entered in the teen competition, and 45 entries came in for the 18+.

There were three prizes, and I didn't win one of them :-)

I did have the utmost pleasure in hearing one judge tell me plainly she argued hard for Winter, Act 1, to place, and that the first stanza really grabbed her (on the off chance you are one of the few people who know me and Didn't receive a copy from me, here are the first two.) :

"Winter turned up first in the
seed barn
playing bones with the Norway rats,
teasing us with a gusty wind
from Hel
from time to time, but we didn't
really think it was him.

We could walk in, but miss him,
as he was under burlap,
behind Canada wild rye.
we were more worried
about the rats."

Heid Erdrich, guest judge and 2009 MN Book Award winner read selections from 3 of her books, you can order them from Birchbark Books, I believe - it's the bookstore she and her sister own. She's a writer in a variety of genre, and I have to say I love what I heard tonight from her. As a bonus, she was kind enough to say she liked my reading style and enjoyed the two I read. Yes, I brought the turkey poem too :-)

So, to wrap up this post with the Wed. ROW 80 update, I did a crit-read on one short today AND read out loud at the contest Open Mic. ( I don't plan to write on the weekend.) Yesterday I wrote my 30 minutes, and did the same Monday as well.  I ALSO got feedback from our own, talented, Claudia Lefeve - hells bells that woman is generous! She read my WIP (with full disclosure that I had no idea how to write a horror story) and...still liked it. She noted some basic grammar stuff, and a few outright mistakes, but gave me a serious boost about what I'm doing with the story. Finally, in my own poetry research this week, I've come to understand that my poetry is better than I think it is, but could always use some work.

All in all, I feel that between progress, insights, and results, it's been a happy and successful writing week.

And tomorrow, all I have to do up.  

And keep writing :-)

I hope everyone has a fantastic week, writing or not.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

quick post - it's only Tuesday, after all :-)

Ok, well, here goes another rainy day at the orchid house.

I've not posted a recent portrait of the sole orchid IN the house in some time. Mainly because the poor confused thing has raised two roots in abject surrender....well, it used to be two roots.  One fell off. The other is apparently getting enough moisture from the soggy spring air and is pointing west. Being about 10 inches long, it's a fairly dramatic pose. In order to actually coerce the damned thing into producing a bloom spike, it needs night time temps around 30 degrees cooler than the daytime temp, for about 2 weeks. Every two days, I remember this, and vow to relegate the beast to the garage. Clearly, this could take a while.

Tomorrow night is the Dakota County-South St. Paul Poetry/Rap contest Open Mic Night, at the Galaxie Library in  Apple Valley. If I don't show up, I won't find out who won the adult category poetry contest until a week later.  I'll also miss Heid E. Erdrich, 2009 winner of the Minnesota Book Award for poetry, reading selections from her newest book. That would be a shame. I'd also miss hearing other contestants at the open mic, and that could be a shame also.  And, I'll miss the chance to flub my way through 'Winter, Act 1', AND the turkey poem ('It's Not by Chance). And what kind of poet would I be if I missed all that?

The chicken kind.Who will have to drive through this thoroughly soggy weather for the privilege of Not being a chicken.

So, that's where I'll be tomorrow. I hope where you will be tomorrow is warm, cozy, and chicken-free.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Break Time!

I'm taking a vacation back to real time - no scheduled writing, ROW 80, or critting until after Sunday.  For the believers reading now, a happy Easter to you. You don't have time to read me this weekend anyway ;-)
For those of other religious or not-religious inclinations, a joyous weekend to you as well. Go outside and play so you don't have time to read either!!

No matter what your inclination is, I hope you have a sweet way of celebrating the relatively-certain end of winter. (Er, southern hemisphere folks, um, hope your warm weather holds out a little longer!!)

Right. Now to return to trying hard to not raid the stash of Easter goodies.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stories Live. They Really, Really Do (plus ROW 80)

(ROW 80 update tacked onto the start of the below entry, since the below business has a lot to do with what, why, and how we write.

Monday - more poetry work - did crit work on three poems for my UK poetry partner Julia Stothard. She's submitting work for a massive poetry competition - GO JULIA!

Tuesday - 40 min. of editing on the WIP, really losing the extra weight and adding detail to scenes that felt bare. Also Heritage Writer's group where I learned about LOCATION from Rosemary Matos. I feel fortunate - she's a good teacher and really helps me get the gears spinning.

Wednesday - headachey morning, but wrote a review for Claudia Lefeve's BRILLIANT "The Fury".  If anyone wants to read a smashing good novella and support a women's advocacy group for sexual assault victims, please purchase "The Fury" within the next 23 days or so - all proceeds will then go to this group - The Pandora Project - I LOVED this story and got to feel Quite smug since she is quite sneaky about the fantasy portion of the tale. And I figured it out :-) Ooops - get it at, or Barnes and Noble:  And, of course, if you read it, and love it, tell someone - it's a great cause :-) Now, back to the story below, about, well, :-)


Somewhere, tonight, perhaps even now, a 14 year old girl has deduced that it is far better to be an Emma Woodhouse than a Harriet Smith - except for all the baggage which also comes with being a know-it-all.

Somewhere, this afternoon, Samuel Coleridge's albatross is flapping about, presaging doom.

This morning, a curious agnostic paged through the Acts of the Apostles and found Paul getting snakebit on the Isle of Malta (er, after starving, getting seasick, and shipwrecked earlier that same day).

Stories live.

Bella Swan and Harry Potter are carrying on in the imagination of teenaged readers, having different adventures in different places - all at the same time.  Nancy Drew is still creeping up the hidden staircase at the Sign of the Twisted Candle, and the kindly maid is showing them how she makes 'Butterfly Pie' for old Asa. Trixie Belden still teaches her cousins and friends her 'memorize the room' game, and beating her brother at saying 'Rabbits, Rabbits" on the first day of the month.

When you put a story out there - in pictures, in words, in binary, in lovingly dipped crowquill script - yesterday, or a thousand yesterdays ago, those names and places and faces will carry on, whether you claim them or not. You still have to stand behind anything you write - being gentle with the younger-and-perhaps-less-wise author, nonetheless. Because if your story was read by anyone, than it is still 'there'.

For my story, so far, there is exactly one person who knows that a girl named Justine has fine, almost transparently white blonde hair, and that she will never willingly speak.  Another knows that a bad person named Eli should really get the splinters out of his tongue before they, er, fester.  And, a third reader knows that there is a girl, on an old mine road, thinking she knows everything, who has learned all she will ever, ever know, too late.  And that some cups should be passed, and some water never drank.

Your stories will live long after you do - tell them carefully, and tell them well. Watch, closely, the stories you read and write - fiction or not - those names and faces and places will live in your head, and are almost impossible to evict. They will remember you, whether you want them to or not. They will keep you company, for a very, very, long time.

Sweet dreams, my story tellers, my readers.

Read and write and dream well.

Visit the ROW 80 challenge team here, and give them a look :-)  You'll be very happy you did :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ROW 80 check in and a few other tidbits

Good, sunny, chilly afternoon to you, my friends!  First day that I've felt mostly myself in a bit - we've had a few nights too many this week that I've spent on the floor in my kids room. If there were a way to explain this without me feeling, er, totally idiotic, I totally would :-) Suffice it to say, it's felt a bit like having half a brain for a little too long.

However, at wits end with our family's nightly shenanigans, I asked my husband to do the bedtime duties with the kids so I could write Thursday evening.  I determined I would write for 30 minutes. Yes, it was 10:30 pm (yes, my parenting award dreams have been out the window for a few years now!) and I was beat, but I was also disgusted with my life flapping loosely, askew, and off-kilter. Balance is the goal, good writing time is the reward, and I'm going to finish this story if it's the Last Thing I Do.  (er, that was the idea, more or less.)

I wrote, edited, noted, ruthlessly hacked, decided on a few name changes, tightened some pace, and wallowed in that gloriously Writerly Feeling for an Hour!

Totally slacked on Friday. I had trouble that day even getting dinner on the table (if memory serves.  Which it doesn't, always.  I simply don't remember it. But I know i sure didn't write!)

Having time to myself at the hair salon Saturday ( my 80% grey is now tastefully hidden once again) I grabbed my notebook, plugged in Ugly Casanova 'Barnacles', 'Cat Faces', and 'Smoke Like Ribbons', and wrote three pages, longhand.  I worked on backstory, descriptions, motivations, characterizations.  For 30 minutes, on my writing day off! Whee!

Saturday was also my last voice lesson with my talented and excellent teacher Joy. I'd taken lessons because I like my voice, well enough, but it tends to tighten, crack, and go ridiculously pitchy when I try to do things like....audition for choirs for holiday services, for instance. Seriously, if you can't make it through Amazing Grace, they can't particularly, um, use you (rightly so, I might add!). So, Joy taught me how to work on my breathing, support, control, and tension at home.  She also gave me sensible pointers to manage nerves at Open Mic night on April 27th.  Apparently, the contest is a Poetry/RAP contest, so I can't wait to see how my Nordern Minn-ah-SOH-tan accent stacks up against South St. Paul rappers! Pretty sure there's some good potential comedy waiting to happen That night.

And, that brings us to today.  The first day I've worn pretty shoes since December first 2010.  My wedding shoes, in fact. They went well with my cream-colored pants and are the most comfortable pair of pretty shoes I've ever worn.  And, having Not been used for 8 years now, they're still in pretty good shape.

And, so far, the rest of the day and most of next week seems to be in pretty good shape as well.

I hope you all can set your day and week the same, if not spectacularly better! Thanks for coming by, and if you want to check on other ROW 80 challange-ers, click here :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

slow start to the week :-), Row 80 and 0therwise

The  weeks start is not writing-intensive.  I've been a little too much in the reading/critting, and less in the writing and fixing world.  So, that's something to correct.  Like, a lot.

My girl is a bit down with a headcold, which is only dire since she won't let me put anything on her nose to protect it.  So, every four minutes I had to rescue her with a 'pweenex'.  Kept the day busier than I thought it would be. C'est la vie - that's parenthood for ya.

It's late to set up the link, but I'll set it up tomorrow, and you can hop around to your heart's content :-)

Have a terrific week!

(this is me, straining for chirpy. or something. Not wallowing in disappointment, 'cause that would take a whole lot of effort and honestly I don't have the energy. I think I'm just going to shift my missing minutes as needed and keep on. I have enough grey hairs without worrying about a slow writing week when I know I can catch it up :-)

Link :-)


Sunday, April 10, 2011

check in #2 - the orchid house is on....fumes.


I did quite a happy, solid day session of writing Thursday - tidying up stupid things, wielding the mighty edit pen, adding somethings to scenes of unbalanced or unfinished yuckiness. The goal was a 30 minute session daily, 5 days a week.  Thursday was actually 50 minutes - half of which was done with un-attractively gritted teeth.

Friday was a busy day - we were guests at my sons kindergarten as part of his special week (now all his buddies know Exactly how old I am). Then I whipped up a card for my scholarly nephew who graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic - thank heaven for lots of da-vinci inspired reference books in my home, so whipping up an appropriately cool card was quite fun, and quicker than usual - yay scanners! (I should mention that other than condolence cards, I refuse to spend 2-$5 on occasion cards, when I have two jr. artists in residence with me at home.  This ensures that even I don't always know what goofy stuff an understanding relative may get, and sometimes I do really cool work.  Also, I am slowly working my way down through my accumulated paper pile and saving $. How much? Well, August is 5 birthdays  - that can be $25 if I'm buying nicer cards, plus tax).

Wow. MAJOR Digression.  No wonder I'm drained.

Saturday and today are days off writing - er, except a meandering bloggy check in thing. Tonight.

I slept a lot on saturday, and today even though I tried to rest or recharge the batteries, I failed pretty strongly. I am grumpy, short tempered, and just...drained.  Anxiety dreams all last night do not help. Wait, one positive change - my former 'spitting glass out of my mouth' dream has morphed into something less creepy - spitting out snow and sidewalk salt after a 4-wheeler drive went wrong.  I like this dream much better than the glass spitting dream....(ok - ew. TMI - but this is a positive change for me. Nice when typical anxiety dreams, er, upgrade.)

I think, if time allows, I'm going to watercolor or work on poetry. I want to do some Beatrix Potter-style naturalistic animal paint sketches. Since I also want to finally master focaccia dough, do some dusting and vacuuming, and make red sauce + soup, whatever I end up doing had better be on a timer and quick.

side note. Mohandas Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Mario Batali, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Anne Bradstreet all had the same 24 hours per day that I do. Life is still what I make it. If I choose to make it tired and grumpy, I'll probably not get anything other than...tired and grumpy. If I intend to make it more about the moments, I'll probably enjoy it more and second-guess it less.

Now There's a thought for the week.

Too tired for more.

A sensible week to you all.  Too tired to do the full linky-thing, but I'll check in with my fellow writers tomorrow.  They usually get me fired up.  For instance, they totally came through Thursday :-)

G'night :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ROW 80 Round 2, check in #1 - Mayhem unleashed....

Good evening, friends :-)

The beginning of Round of Words in 80 days, second round, comes at an interesting time. Makes me happy I gave a lot of thought to my goals this round.

ROW 80 has a good way of showing you the things you don't know you need to know...
 - how to reflexively cringe at 'juvenile'-level dialog (esp. your own)
 - how to swallow envy and turn that energy to word counts
 - how to choose when to get obsessive and detail-driven
 - how to turn off the computer because nothing you are doing makes the hideous beast W.I.P. any prettier
 - and how the writing goes a little easier the next day anyway.

At worst, I know I can do 30 minutes/day of Something related to the short novella/long story, or poetry.  So, what does this mean for my progress these three days?

#1 - Monday - 45 minutes of poetry research, and minor revisions to one poem
#2 - Tuesday.  Grr.  Glared at story for 10 minutes, deleted some crap. Worked out thoughts on paper for the weak areas that need bolstering, let alone ACTUAL TYPING. Spent 20 minutes on this and threw in the towel in disgust. Spent five minutes wishing it was late at night and I could have a glass of wine with my husband.  Ended up achieving this impromptu goal MUCH later that night, but hey, mission accomplished.
#3  -Wednesday. Back on poetry revisions, due somewhat in part to the open mic night coming up this month that I'll likely participate in.  I submitted Winter, Act 1, for the Dakota County National Poetry Month contest, judged by Heid E. Erdrich.  Winners will be announced, she will do a few readings, and it clearly says "Open Mic".  Since I spend an inordinate amount of my life either acting, or merely looking, JUST like an ass, I'll try to come prepared for bucking this painful personal trend - for at least this one night.

And that, my digital crew, is that.  Goals met to the letter, and certainly to the spirit.  Speaking of spirits, I'm tipping the wine yet again - how cool is this? I'm going to meet Heid E. Erdich!  By the way, she is a MN poet of mixed German/French/Ojibwe ancestry, published four poetry books, won a 2009 MN Book Award, lectures across the country, and from what I've read, seems an all-around massively cool person who writes Awesome poetry. She combines myth and magic with the day-to-day.

She does it excruciatingly well.  Look her up here:

And with that, friends, goodnight.  See below links to find other authors doing other various, sundry, and wonderful things. They are good places to stop in :-)

(later post-script and disclaimer.  I can't find the blessed Linky code to show the blog-hop roll.  If I can find the elusive little so-and-so, I will post it STAT. sorry, friends!)

(update.  I am a total weenie.  This round isn't a blog hop, so there IS no linky to post. On the other hand, there are some terrific blogs with some of these same writers listed below to the right, if you are itching for someone new to read, check a few links - you might find a new favorite! Many of them have links to their books and stories.  Or, click on the ROW 80 badge and follow instructions to see who's in the challenge :-) Have fun!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011