Friday, August 29, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Dog Days

Thanks so much to Jone at Check It Out for hosting Poetry Friday today!
 
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I am so happy to be able to join in the Poetry Friday festivities today! The back-to-school whirlwind is subsiding, my boys are officially middle schoolers (!!!), and I am enjoying much more productive writing time these days. I miss my boys, but I am so glad to have regular writing time back!

My Poetry Friday poem today was inspired by my sweet puppy Gracie and the sweltering, sticky Carolina HEAT we’ve endured over the last few weeks. It is beyond me how this crazy puppy can race around our back yard so enthusiastically when the thermometer is up in the nineties! 
 
 
But, like the month of August, even energetic dogs must eventually take a break...right? ☺

Dog Days
In August, Summer stretches out and sits up, yawning wide.
She perks her ears and wags her tail and beckons us outside.
She romps and plays, nails all her tricks, begs us to chase and run.
And when we droop, she frolics on, despite the scorching sun.
Just when we think she’ll never quit, she drops her favorite ball,
Then takes a bow, lies slowly down, and rolls right into fall.
 
While our summer has been a blast, I am definitely looking forward to fall. So when I saw THIS on my walk this morning, it added a little spring to my step:

 
Enjoy the last blast of summer, have a great Labor Day weekend, and Happy Writing!

Friday, August 8, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Book Lovers Day!

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday today!

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This Saturday, August 9th is Book Lovers Day!
Because books are at the top of my list of favorite things, I thought I’d share a new favorite of mine, “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillian.

This poem particularly resonates with me, partly because I still read to my 11-year-old boys almost every night. I’ve read aloud to them since infancy, but when they were 4, I started reading chapter books, beginning with Judy Blume’s TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING. Since then, we’ve read classics old and new, explored many different genres, and enjoyed books written by author friends of mine. We’re currently reading Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER, and we are all enjoying it tremendously. I hope you like Gillian's poem as much as I do! 

The Reading Mother
By Strickland Gillain (1869-1954)
 
I had a Mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath
 
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
 
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
 
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
 
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a Mother who read to me.
I found this beautiful image online but was unable to discover the artist's name. It is such a wonderful picture--I especially love the mother's finger pointing into the air as she reads!
 
Happy Book Lovers Day, Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Preventing "Writer's Twitch"

I’ve spent the last few days catching up on some of my favorite writing blogs—summer’s whirlwind of travel and fun has kept me away from my computer quite a bit over the last several weeks, and it has been such a joy to sit down and ease back into a more writerly frame of mind. I also registered for the Carolinas Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Fall Conference* over the weekend, reviewed my notes from a writing workshop I attended in July, and worked on a few writing projects that were begging for attention. All fun stuff!

I’ve noticed over the last year or so that when I don’t take time to write each day, I start feeling twitchy—that is really the only way to explain it. In my reading this weekend, I came upon the following quote from author Christina Katz, which resonates with me loud and clear:
For more writing information and inspiration from Christina Katz, click here.
 
I also found this gem from poet Walt Whitman:

 from examiner.com
I’m printing and posting this one where I can read it often. It is a dose of prevention against "writer's twitch," and a great reminder to take time to write whenever possible—even if it’s a just a few minutes—no matter how much activity is buzzing around me during these sticky-sweet days of summer!

Stay cool, and Happy Writing!
*To look for SCWBI events near you, click here and do a simple search. Many events are open to non-members for a slightly higher fee.

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! ☺