Friday, July 11, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Revisiting the Unicorn and a poem from Scottish poet Don Paterson

Thank you to  Linda at Write Time for hosting Poetry Friday today!
 
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About a year ago, I posted one of my favorite excerpts from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. The poem, which is about a unicorn, begins like this:

O this is the beast who does not exist.
They didn't know that, and in any case
--with its stance, its arched neck and easy grace,
the light of its limpid gaze --they could not resist
but loved it though, indeed, it was not.
From Sonnets to Orpheus II, 4 by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926 ), translated by Robert Hunter, 1993.
You can read more of this post here.
For a “beast who does not exist,” the unicorn has certainly captivated the hearts and imaginations of legions over the years. Growing up, I was fascinated by the idea of unicorns, and I still have a soft spot for these beautiful, elusive creatures. In my research this week, I came upon a lovely adaptation of Rilke’s poem by Scottish poet Don Paterson. A jazz-musician-turned-poet, Patterson’s take on Rilke’s poem sings for me. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Unicorn
by Don Paterson (1963- )
 
This is the animal that never was.
Not knowing that, they loved it anyway;
its bearing, its stride, its high, clear whinny,
right down to the still light of its gaze.
Please click here and read the rest of this poem. 
To learn more about Don Paterson, click here.

It is always a pleasure to come across poetry that resonates on a personal and artistic level. What poems “sing” for you?

Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

CLEANING OUT THE COBWEBS

Summer is in full swing at my house. School is a distant memory, swim team is wrapped up, VBS is over, and my family just returned home from a week-long camping trip to beautiful Brevard, NC (more to come about this lovely town in a future post).

The last month has been enriching, exciting, and FUN. But now that we are home and the laundry is mostly done, we are definitely in need of some R&R. I’m looking forward to focusing on my summer writing goals, catching up on reading, camping more with my family, and cleaning out closets (yes—I am super excited about this, too. If I was brave enough to post a picture of my linen closet right now, you’d *completely* understand why!☺).
What does all of this have to do with writing? Well, for me, an important part of the whole writing process is “cleaning out the cobwebs.” Summer gives me an opportunity to slow down, regroup, and purposefully accomplish things that need to be done, but that aren’t high on my priority list in busier times (like those closets).
When I de-clutter and organize my physical surroundings, I am calmer and more focused, and able to accomplish more in the long run. Although I don’t look forward to this task, I attack it tenaciously each year. Exercise is also a great way to “clean out the cobwebs,” and for me is essential for stress control. If I exercise outdoors, I reap twice the benefits. Baking is also one of my favorite “cleansing” practices, although it can negate all of the exercise benefits if I’m not careful!

What do you do to “clean out the cobwebs,” in summer or during the rest of the year? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
Happy Summer, and Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Roxanne Hanna of Sunscribe Publishers

This past Friday, my critique group had the pleasure of hosting Roxanne Hanna, publisher and CEO of Sunscribe Publishers, a new South Carolina publisher with children’s, adult nonfiction and poetry, and adult fiction imprints. During her presentation, Ms. Hanna discussed the submission process “From Polish to Publish,” and shared advice, wisdom, and encouragement for writers who are serious about publication.
First and foremost, Ms. Hanna encouraged us to honor our commitment to ourselves as writers, and to take the steps necessary to turn our dreams into reality. To do this, she advised writers to: know your manuscript, know the submission process, know your market, know your publication options, and know your expectations, or your “Happily Ever After” as a writer. Ms. Hanna expanded on each point, offering advice on editing and polishing a manuscript until it sings, finding the right literary home for your work, and elaborating on current publication guidelines, among (many) other topics pertinent to today’s publishing market.  

Ms. Hanna also talked about the experience of starting her own publishing company, giving attendees a unique behind-the-scenes peek into the conception and launch of Sunscribe. A veteran editor and ghost writer with many years of experience in the publishing industry, Ms. Hanna has approached this task with dedication and precision. She and her talented team are also strong literacy advocates, and are working to make Sunscribe “Forward Focused” in all aspects of operation, from interactions with authors and artists to community outreach. I am excited to see what this fledgling publishing house will accomplish, as a local SC business and as a new entity in the vast publishing world!
Because I *know* you all want to know, here are some specifics about Sunscribe:
  • Sunscribe is a traditional publisher with three imprints: Dancing Squirrel Press (children’s picture book through young adult), Java Creek (nonfiction and poetry), and Sandalwood Press (fiction).
  • The submissions department had a trial run for requested submissions in 2013, and their debut publication list was selected from this batch of submissions.
  • They plan to officially open for submissions this fall, and will be open to agented and unagented submissions. (YAY!)
I just had to include a pic of the Sunscribe kisses!

For more information, and to sign up for Sunscribe’s newsletter inSCRIBE, you can visit their website at: http://sunscribe.net/.

And be sure to check out these opportunities to connect with Sunscribe:
 
Finally, you can follow Ms. Hanna’s blog here. Her topics touch on all aspects of the publishing industry, and her blog is always a fun and informative read!
Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested. This is definitely a company to watch!
Stay cool, have a wonderful week, and Happy Writing!

Sunscribe™ and imprints are divisions of Silver Sun Publishers, LLC.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: “The Barefoot Boy” by John Greenleaf Whittier

In my search for poems about summer, I came upon this beautiful piece by John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet from Massachusetts. Although it has a charming, old-timey feel (I especially love the word “pantaloons” in the first stanza), Whittier’s poem is a timeless reminder of happy childhood summers and a call to hold those memories close.

The Barefoot Boy
by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!

To read the rest of this poem, click here.

I can completely identify with the sentiments in this poem; growing up, I spent many summer days traipsing through my grandparents’ fields in rural South Carolina or running barefoot in the yard with my sisters. With the overabundance of planned summer activities and access to electronics, computers, etc., I worry that my boys don’t get enough “barefoot time.” So this year we have lots of family camping trips planned, and we’ll hopefully take some walks through those same grassy fields (which now belong to my parents). And our back yard will definitely see plenty of “barefoot time this year, if I have my way!
I hope you enjoyed this poem as much as I did. Happy Friday, and Happy Writing! ☺

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth—life has just been crazy lately (in a good way!). My sweet little boys have “graduated” from fifth grade, swim team is in full swing, and we’ve already been on our first family camping trip of the summer. School is out and the fun has *definitely* begun!

Ben and Will on graduation day!

In spite of all the busyness, writing IS happening in the odds and ends of time that I can sneak here and there. My summers are always productive, but in a less tangible way than during the school year, when I have hours to myself instead of minutes. But that is OK—my boys are growing up fast, and I plan to enjoy each summer that they are still “mine.” I have a few specific writing goals for the next three months; to complete the first draft of a new picture book and jump back into a middle grade novel I started last year. If I can get some solid work done on these projects, enjoy my summer, and gather some great story ideas along the way, I will be happy!

What are your writing goals for this summer? Happy Summer, and Happy Writing!

Friday, May 23, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Lanturne Poetry

Thanks to Violet Nesdoly, today's Poetry Friday hostess!
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A few weeks ago I discovered a poetry format I hadn’t heard of before, the lanturne poem. This format has five lines and describes a single-syllable noun in a specific syllabic pattern. When complete, the poem takes the shape of a Japanese lantern.
The formula for writing a lanturne poem looks like this: 
 
Line 1:  1 syllable
Line 2:  2 syllables
Line 3:  3 syllables
Line 4:  4 syllables
Line 5:  I syllable
I am a big fan of short poetic formats and had fun writing my own lanturne poems:
 
Rain
plip-plops
drip, dripping
torrents pelting
down.
 
Spring
blows in,
then settles
gently into
blooms.
 
I was excited to discover this (new to me) format. Like haiku, lanturne poetry zooms in on its subject and presents it in a neat little package. There is something very satisfying about this! Why not try writing your own lanturne poem today? 
 
Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Going With the Flow


Time flies when you’re having fun” has always proven a true statement for me. But lately I’ve been contemplating another phrase I have heard over and over again: “The older you get, the faster time goes by.” I’ve been told this many times throughout the years, but never really believed it until my boys were born—and then time started zipping right along! Now, in three short weeks, they will be graduating from fifth grade. (Although why we call this “graduating” is beyond me; I would prefer to refer to it as a “promotion” and save “graduation” for the far, far distant future…but this is a whole different discussion!)

The same thing has proven true in my writing life—years ago when I first started writing, a two or three month response time seemed like an eternity. Now that wait time doesn’t seem nearly as long. When working on a project, I am decidedly more patient with myself and am learning to focus less on how long something is taking and more on doing it right. It has taken me awhile to figure this out, but it is very freeing, especially during busy times like right now!

Every year, the month of May sneaks up on me. Each May in my world, soccer overlaps with the beginning of swim season, school and church volunteer opportunities multiply, and there is always one special event after another (filling up weekends, weeknights, and many weekdays). Mix in with this my husband’s birthday, Mother’s Day, my boys' yearly piano recital, our spring children's musical at church, scouting stuff, end-of-the-school-year activities, and so on, and I end up with a fun—but FULL—month!  

Trying to maintain a semblance of productivity in my writing life is a challenge at this time of year, and reminds me of the pre-holiday rush in November and December. I have to make a conscious (daily) effort to go with the flow, and remind myself that the life experiences I am gathering are the “kernels of inspiration” for future poems, stories, etc. It is only when I relax into this busy time that I am able to fully appreciate and enjoy it, and have the mental dexterity to get any writing done at all.
Although this is exhilarating and inspiring...
 
THIS is much more relaxing to me!
 
So here’s to “going with the flow.” May YOUR busy times—whether now or later—bring lots of ideas your way!

Happy Writing!