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Writers Writing Writing Advice

AWKward…

Sometimes, when you’re a writer, you are approached by people who are dabbling in the medium. People who–how should I put this–shouldn’t be.

I was recently approached by someone who said they bought my book. Great. I hope they like it. I’m always happy to hear my books are being read…if somewhat nervous and ‘squiggy’ feeling. It’s not about the royalties. They either come or they don’t, right. It’s about someone reading my words and getting something out of them. So, I thanked him and told him I hope the book is a good experience for him. He’s a friend. I appreciated his support.

The thing is, he actually told me he’s not going to read it until I look at something he wrote.

Okay. WTF!

Why am I suddenly this person who has to read your work? It was almost a threat. He has my book…but it’s being held for ransom until I read his writings. Seems like a fair exchange, right?

NOT.

I try to be nice to everybody who shows an interest in writing. I try to be supportive. I guide them to the best places on the web–and in meat space–where they can congregate with like-minded people and learn more about the craft…and frankly, celebrate the craft with their fellow worshipers. I volunteer on a Board of Directors for a writing conference in my area. I critique the work of fellow writers. I’m an active participant in my local writing community, the WCDR. I try to be approachable and helpful when writers contact me. Sometimes to my own detriment. But I do these things because I feel indebted to the community that has given so much to me. I always feel I have to give back to writing, since writing itself has given me innumerable gifts…simply in the act of allowing me to call myself a writer.

But what’s this bullshit?!

I knew–ladies and gentlemen–right away that I was in for an unpleasant experience. I can tell. Writers…we can tell. When people say, “Yeah…I’ve been thinking about writing a book…about all the wild stuff I’ve done. You know…a biography. I’ve done some pretty amazing things.” When people say things like that, instead of, “I want to write…I want to BE a WRITER”, you know you’re in for a little bit of a nightmare. What I don’t get is the way that these people feel justified in approaching us and throwing their handfuls of loose paper on us and asking, “Well? Is it good?”

I’ll tell you now…before you read any further…that this is a venting post. I’ve been saddled with a handful of loose paper with one-dimensional dreck scribbled upon it. I didn’t even say, “Yes…I’ll read your work.” It was just handed to me, with the assumption that I’ve been waiting for the masterpiece all of my life. Why do people feel okay with this? Foisting their ‘writing’ onto people like this?

So now I’m stuck with pages and pages of, ‘…and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened.’ There is no flow, no voice, no grammatically correct sentences. For the love of fuck, there isn’t even attention to SPELLING! Does this person not have a word processor?!

I have to tell this person that his writing needs work. It’s not ready for the public eye. It will NEVER be ready for the public eye. He will never be a writer. Writing is something that is miles ahead of, “I have a story to tell.” Writing…when done well…is a state of grace. Not everyone with a story to tell becomes a writer. I’m so frustrated right now. I didn’t ask for this. I hate discouraging people. Even if they are bullies who foisted their work upon me. How do I deal with this person?

What gives these people the justification to do this? I don’t like awkward situations. Just sayin’…

/rant

I feel ‘small’ for talking about this…but I’m hoping other writers understand. I know we all get the, “Yeah! You’re a writer? What have I read of yours?” or the, “You write? How much do you make?” or the, “You write! How many books do you have out?” or many of the other questions non-writers ask writers. Sometimes you’re afraid to mention the fact you’re a writer in certain company…it’s like you can almost guess what some reactions will be. I can deal with this kind of thing. I just blow it off. Some non-writers think you’re not REALLY a writer until you have books out…and not just books in some cases, but books that they may in fact have read. Or, you’re not really a writer until you can afford to buy the second home from the staggeringly sickening royalty cheques coming your way. I can zone out this kind of noise. It’s the people who are not writers who think they can just throw some words together because everybody is dying to know the gritty and enlightening details of their wonderful life who make me insane. It’s the way they think they DESERVE and have a right to my time. Bottom line, though, is that I could have said NO. I was just cornered at the time…and I felt there was no way out. I guess the rant wasn’t quite over.

Time to face the music…

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Durham Region Arts Poetry Writers

Fall & In Here – Poems for Poetry Month

FALL

I taught you the street,
fought you tongue in cheek
for the benefit of movement,
the latitude of kites.

We were a parade
in the cold, a place to go to
when 2am was all the world
could offer. A fight not real,
your twisted steel resolve
how it carried you forward,
made you more
than the street from which you lifted.

I raised you unequivocal,
meant for your feet to dance
onward into night unseen.

your trip was too contagious,
I contemplated melting
at your side,
into sugared winter streets–
The way you made it all romantic,
the dive, the swoon,
your lead balloon.

But I was more than tragic,
I was more than soaring loss
could ever be,
I taught you tongue and cheek,
but forgot to teach you sleek
and beauty,
the latitude you held inside,
of gentle winds and lifting kites,
the beauty of the night.

 

 

In Here

so hushed in here,
the echo of your laugh
will die in here,
even with your wide-eyed
cathedral stare
pumping blood
from my splintered limbs
to my mitted throb,
i cannot hear
your slinking tongue
in here.
enwrapped in your flesh,
a shroud of pink embers
stretched to smother
the cruel intent
of my animal ways,
even so entranced
by these layers inside me,
i cannot hear
your whispered song,
i think i’ll die in here.
Categories
Acceptance Agents Books Novels Poems Poets Prose Writing Rejection Uncategorized Writers Writing YA Young Adult Young Adult Fiction

Rejection/Acceptance – Are You Being Served?

…and if so, which do you prefer—the hard or soft option?

I have a novel–HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN–in the hands of my agent, who has it sent out on submission at the moment. The waiting is the hardest part. When you’re waiting to hear back from agents/publishers—whether it’s for a novel, a poem, an article, an essay or a grocery list—what kind of response do you prefer? Are you one of those people who would rather have an immediate rejection, or are you willing to wait for months on end for a possibly-maybe? Another one of my novels has been with a publisher for about 6 months now. There are days that go by where I forget it even exists… and other days where I want to send an email to remind them of my existence (something one does not do). I suppose we are all like Bambi’s mother. “Don’t go into the meadow!” and then that inexplicable need to go into the meadow…

I’d rather not get shot by the hunter, but I still feel the need to know if the hunter can see me or not. “I’m over here! I’m over here!” –waving frantically, waiting to be shot. “Hello!”

How do you like to be served? Rejection is a medicine best served quickly, is it not?

Categories
Art Celebration of the Arts Collaborative Art Inspiration Muse Poems Poetry Poets SPARK SPARK 10 Uncategorized Welcome Writers Writing

Spark 10! It’s on!

…and I am so thrilled to be a part of it!

What is SPARK? I’m so glad you asked. You can click on the Spark 10 participant badge above to visit the Spark site.

SPARK is  a participatory creativity event that takes place four times a year. The rules are simple: Writers send their artist partners a story or a poem; artists send an image of their painting, photograph or sculpture. Musicians and video artists send either a link or a file of their work. Once all the creations have changed hands, the participants have 10 days to use their designated partner’s piece as a jumping off point for new work of their own.

The SPARK site will post the inspiration pieces, along with the response pieces, once the 10 day project draws to a close. It’s a collaborative art project! And SPARK site readers get to see how art begets art in such a unique and interesting way.

Keep a link to the SPARK site so you can discover the inspiration and response pieces, once the project wraps up. There are participants from all over the world taking part. It’s bound to be an exciting exhibit, once unveiled!

(I received a painting from a fellow participant, and I sent her a poem. Now, we are both leaping away from these pieces to create two new ones! Can’t wait to see what she comes up with.)

Categories
Book List Books Novels Uncategorized Welcome Writers Writing

Forty Books I Would Rather Not Live Without.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  3. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  4. The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice
  5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  8. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers
  12. Old School by Tobias Wolff
  13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  14. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  15. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  16. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  17. Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
  18. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
  19. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  20. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  21. Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger
  22. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
  23. Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke
  24. The Funnies by J. Robert Lennon
  25. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
  26. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  27. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  28. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  29. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  30. The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz
  31. The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
  32. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
  33. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  34. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  35. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  36. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  37. The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  38. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  39. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  40. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Categories
Books Canadian Poets Celebration of the Arts Driftwood Theatre Durham Region Durham Region Arts Huntsville Kenya Muskoka Muskoka Novel Marathon Nairobi Networking Novel Marathon Novels Ontario Play Playwright Playwriting Playwriting Festivals Poems Poetry Poets Prose Prose Competition Summer Literary Seminars Summer on Fire Theatre Trafalgar 24 Trafalgar Castle Trafalgar24 Uncategorized Uxbridge WCDR Welcome Whitby Writers Writers' Circle of Durham Region Writing Writing Contest Young Adult

September – ALWAYS a busy month! (Updates)

I don’t remember a September that wasn’t action-packed. Historically, it just seems like one of those months where everything happens at once. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! This September is no exception. Things started to roll today, and it’s looking like yet another exciting September for me.

September 1st – My poem WHEN VENUS TAKES A RIDE was posted on the website of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate. It was chosen as the Poem of the Month by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Pierre DesRuisseaux. It will be featured for the month of September, and archived on the site for two years. I wrote this poem after my first day on the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. I went there this past December with the Summer Literary Seminars, as part of their Kenya writing program. We took a plane to Manda Island from Nairobi and then hopped a dhow over to the island of Lamu. Once there, the group was given a walking tour of Lamu Town. During this tour, one of the poets in the group, Venus Thrash, was given a ride on a donkey (there are no cars on Lamu, but there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of donkeys). The poem is about that experience.

September 11 – Just like the second Saturday of every month (except for August), the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) hosts it’s monthly Breakfast Meeting. If you’re a writer in OR NEAR the Durham Region, these are NOT to be missed. The September Breakfast Meeting speaker is Neil Crone. Personally, I think he’s one of the funniest people in Canada. It’s a DON’T-MISS month! Neil will be talking about writing humour.

September 24-25Uxbridge Celebration of the Arts. It’s a 25-year anniversary celebration of the vibrant artistic community of Uxbridge, Ontario. And when I say vibrant, I mean electrifying. I’m constantly amazed by the artistic community in this small town just west of Port Perry, Ontario. I’ve been drawn there on several occasions for BIG TIME artistic endeavors. This time, I’m partaking in the fun. I’ve been chosen to be the playwright for the 25-year anniversary celebration. On the 24th of September I will be given a prompt and I will have 25 hours not only to write a one-act play, but to send it off to my director, Jessica Outram, have her run through rehearsals with the actors AND have it performed live on stage at the Uxbridge Music Hall at the 25th hour. So I’m giving myself about 5-6 of those 25 hours to actually pen the script…as I think they’ll need the bulk of the hours to rehearse. This is the kind of thing I absolutely love! I was fortunate enough to do this type of playwriting on two other occasions, for Driftwood Theatre, as one of the playwrights for their 2009 and 2010 Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival. I can’t wait to find out what I will be writing about! AND…the best part…watching it come to life just a few hours after it’s written. I am constantly amazed by the talent of the directors and actors that I am fortunate enough to work with!

September 26th– I will be MUSKOKA BOUND! It’s the wrap party for the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. This event, held every July, has quickly become one of my favourite writing related activities! You sit in a building with approximately 30 other writers and you write a novel—in either 48 or 72 hours. How amazing is that! It was a great group this year (as it is every year). We had a lot of fun, and it’s hard to believe at the end of the weekend that there was actually time to put together a manuscript between the fun. I wrote a Young Adult novel this year – HALF DEAD AND FULLY BROKEN. I’ve been editing it since July. The wrap party is on the 26th…all the writers regroup and award trophies for various different things–BIC AWARD for Bum in Chair, Most Prolific Writer, Spirit Award, Rookie of the Year Award and the Remy Award for most money raised. Most money raised, you ask? The marathon is a double-edged sword. It is a huge benefit to those writers brave enough to participate, but it’s also a marathon of hope. Each writer raises funs for the Muskoka Literacy Council…it’s writers helping readers. The marathon raises funds and awareness for the council—it helps them to spread the joy of literacy. Another prize awarded at the wrap party is the BEST NOVEL AWARD—awarded, actually, in different categories—Best Adult Novel, Best Young Adult Novel and Best Children’s Novel. The manuscripts are sent to 6 industry judges immediately following the marathon…and they read and judge them over the summer. The winning novels get sent to participating publishers for consideration. The benefits of this event are just neverending! I have my eye on the hands on favourite for Best YA this year—I’m not going to name names (she will not be mentioned here!), but I had the opportunity to read one of the manuscripts and I found it STELLAR. We will see what the Wrap Party brings us. I consider this wrap party the official end of summer, even though Huntsville is already quite in bloom with turned foilage by the time it rolls around.

Month EndMuseitup Publishing is preparing to launch! My Young Adult novel SUMMER ON FIRE will be published by Muse in July, 2011…but the publisher is launching in October. We’ve been talking excitedly about this launch behind the scenes. September is bound to thrive with chatter between publisher and cover artists and editors and writers. It’s a great family to be a part of! I’m really excited about the launch…and can feel the tsunami of its approach! September is THE month to be a Museitup member!

Not to mention! September is another month of busy planning for the 2011 ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. This is an ongoing labour of love that factors into every month on the calendar. We want to organize the best conference every year. To do this, we must be dedicated to putting in a lot of volunteer hours. It’s worth it, though…so rewarding to see the happy faces of writers on the day of the conference!

And I’m certain there will be more excitement along the way. Like maybe a reading from author friend Karen Cole  somewhere in Uxbridge, maybe! Or maybe some poetry read by friend Barbara Hunt!  (-;

Categories
Canadian Poets Kenya Novels Poems Poetry Poets Prose Prose Competition Summer Literary Seminars Uncategorized Welcome Writers Writing Writing Contest

2011 SLS Unified Literary Contest Announced!

The 2011 Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest is now open!

What’s in it for you?

FIRST PLACE WINNERS from each category – FICTION or POETRY – will have their work featured online in Canada’s premiere literary magazine, THE WALRUS…as well as published in print in a TBA American Literary Journal.

They will also have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the SLS 2011 programs – in Montreal, Quebec (June 12 – 25); Vilnius, Lithuania (August); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December).

This is a HUGE prize! And a huge opportunity.

SECOND PLACE WINNERS will receive a full tuition waiver for the program of their choice.

THIRD PLACE WINNERS will receive a 50% tuition waiver for the program of their choice.

ALSO – A number of select contest participants, based on the overall strength of their work, will be offered tuition scholarships applicable to the SLS 2011 programs.

FOR FULL CONTEST DETAILS, VISIT THE SLS CONTEST PAGE

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SLS WRITING PROGRAMS

As a past participant in SLS Kenya, I can guarantee you’ll thoroughly enjoy the program.

Contest Entry Fee: $20

Contest Deadline: FEBRUARY 15, 2011

Categories
Canadian Poets Poems Poetry Poets Writers Writing

Links to Recent Poetry Publications…

I thought I would add a few direct links to some poems that have been recently published. It’s not always easy for me to find them once they’re out there.

Whispers of Sandburg from a Poet Now Silenced – Every Day Poets

Masai Adumu at Keekorok – Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine

Postcards from the Road – Hazard Cat

An Open Letter of Adoration to Gordon Downie & Rainy Days and Wanderlust – Raven Poetryzine

Miramichi Remembered – blue skies poetry

Our Clanging Feet, Clickety Insect Limbs, Leather Messiahs & Tuesday is a Cigarette – ditch, the poetry that matters

Gunfire at the Holocaust Museum – Phil Berrigan Institute for Non-Violence

When Venus Takes a Ride – Parliamentary Poet Laureate’s Website

Categories
Books Muskoka Novel Marathon Novels Ontario Summer on Fire Uncategorized WCDR Writers Writing Young Adult

Summer on Fire – Young Adult Novel – Publishing Contract!

While I was participating in the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon this past Saturday, I received a contract offer for my Young Adult novel, Summer on Fire!

Summer on Fire will be published in ebook form. The tentative release date is July, 2011.

I’m extremely excited about this publication. I worked long and hard on this one! It began as a NaNoWriMo project in 2003, my first NaNoWriMo attempt, actually. And I’ve been working on it on and off since then.

The quick blurb on Summer on Fire:

Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout?

Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence.

But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

I will be posting all the details soon.

Now…on to the editing process for the novel I wrote during the Muskoka Novel Marathon. ** 72-hours — 52,000 words — Young Adult Novel — Half Dead & Fully Broken **

Categories
Breakfast Meeting Canadian Poets Durham Region Durham Region Arts Ontario Play Playwriting Playwriting Festivals Poems Poetry Poets Uncategorized WCDR Writers Writers' Circle of Durham Region Writing

What’s New…

There are a few things going on at the moment. Time for a short list!

1) The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region is a fabulous writing group that I have held a membership in since 2003. They have helped my writing path in far too many ways to mention. I would definitely not have experienced most of my successes without this vibrant group behind me. A truly wonderful ballast for any writer—anywhere! They have changed their name. They will still be known as the WCDR (the acronym remains the same), but they will now be known as the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION. A name change the organization felt was needed to reflect the growth and popularity it has seen in recent years. A circle suggests a small tight-knit group of writers at a table…not what the WCDR is. We are a vibrant community approaching 300 members strong. The group is now known throughout the world…and it has members far far from its umbrella hub of Durham Region, Ontario. Hence, the decision to change its name. Still the great nurturing organization it has always been…just a slight name change to reflect its burgeoning-ness. (-:

(Check out the community at the above link. Any writer looking for a group to join that will help propel their writing need not look any further than the WCDR.)

2) Today I was notified by a representative of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate that one of my poems – When Venus Takes a Ride – will be featured as Poem of the Month on the Library of Parliament website. The poem will be added to their website on September 1st of this year. It’s such an honour to be recognized in this way…and for a poem that means a great deal to me. I wrote it on the day of my arrival to the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. It was such a magical time for me…and to be able to share the poem on such a prestigious site is a thrill!

(check out the website for the Parliamentary Poet Laureate here: PARLIAMENTARY POET LAUREATE)

3) I am crossing my fingers. I am hoping that I am chosen for a play writing gig that I submitted to. If chosen, I will be writing the play in September and it will also be performed in September. I will find out on or before the 21st of June if I made the cut. Fingers crossed! More to come…

4) I did a reading this past Saturday at the WCDR breakfast meeting. Nerves like crazy…I have to get more comfortable with this kind of thing! I read an excerpt from my completed YA manuscript Summer on Fire…which is currently being considered. It felt like the reading went well, but who knows. At any rate, I did not pass out!