Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Read Around

Do your remember when you were in third grade and everyone took turns reading a few paragraphs from whatever book you were studying? I do.

I was reminded of it yesterday. The company I work for has mandatory annual refresher courses on all sorts of things; especially quality regulations. I spent yesterday afternoon in one of these courses and we ended up going around the room reading the materials aloud. It felt like I was back in elementary school all over again; minus the carefree life children have.

However it reminded me that someday I might be reading my book aloud to a crowd of eager-eyed children. Visualizing the future is an important skill for a writer. If you can see where you want to go, it can help beat back that inner critic who tries to hold us back. Adults often forget what it is like to imagine what good things could be. Take a little time to imagine the future you want today and it will help make it easier to take the steps to get there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Look Ahead

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. - Patrick Henry

The past can hold us back as writers. It can be chains that bind us to the ground and keep us from moving towards our dreams. But to succeed, we must dream of the future we want to have; not worry about the past which cannot be changed. Each day is a new day. Make the most of it to reach your dreams.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Creative people are often fragile. The ones that survive tend to grow a hard outer shell to protect all of the caramel-y goodness inside.

I have a friend who was in a singing competition this week. He's a pretty good singer in my opinion. Heck, he could probably place on American Idol if the stars aligned to give him all the right opportunities to be on the show. He placed last in the singing contest this week (8th out of 8). It wasn't because he's a bad singer. It was because he was the first person to sing, so the judges were reserving higher scores for later in the competition after seeing others.

Also, any sort of competition is very subjective based on the personal preferences of the judges. I have learned this very well with the writing contests I have entered. A story or poem that places first in one contest might not even place in another contest. It's all about the judges' taste in writing; or in this case music.

This same friend is an artist. Or at least used to be. He does not actively do art these day, but he is incredibly talented. The same thing happened to his art - he stopped doing it because of the subjective criticism of a contest, and it really is a shame. He was really talented and he no longer believes in his art.

As writers, we are faced with the same self-doubt about our art of choice. It can block us up. It can shut us down and make us feel like we will never amount to anything as writers. But to succeed, we must believe that we can do it. Writing is part practice, part luck. If you keep writing, not only will your writing improve over time, but you will have more opportunities to be in the right place at the right time to make it in this big scary world. There is always a place for you and your art. You just have to keep believing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keeping the Muses Happy

Inspiration is like a wild child. It bounces up in front of you when you least expect it and begs you to indulge it. While focus is important to complete your major projects, if you ignore these other inspirations, you might miss out on something worth-while.

Unfortunately, inspiration doesn't always strike at the most convenient times. Usually, the opposite.

One of my friends has a "cooking muse" which inspires her to create all sorts of interesting, experimental meals. Her talks about her cooking muse have woken mine from a deep sleep it seems... I love cooking for people. I love creating my very own recipes that people love to eat. But I haven't done much "real" cooking in a very long time. I had forgotten how much I missed it. recently, I've been rediscovering all of my old recipes and experimenting with new ones.

Maintaining a well-balanced indulgence of your other Muses (inspirations/passions, etc) can help give invigorate your writing. Who knows, they might even inspire new story ideas! Last night after my little cooking experiment, I had an idea for a character that I might just have to include in my next book!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Making paths in the brain...

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~Thoreau

A friend posted this quote online this morning and it reminded me of a writing seminar I attended last year. As writers, we are constantly struggling with our inner critics. I have found that some days I can silence the critic enough to write and other days the critic overpowers me. But I believe, as this quote states, that if I keep trying, eventually those positive footsteps will turn into paths; from activities into habits. Practice always adds up, even if it is so slow that you can't see in clearly from the moment you are in. Just look back someday and see how far you have come! And keep writing - every word eventually adds up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Muse in the Hand

...is worth a million jumping around out of reach!

As I am making progress on my novel, I thought it was time to setup a blog for my writing, so here it is. Look forward to random, quirky and the occassional gem of a post every now and again.

See you on the other side!

Writing Links

Duotrope Digest
- A database of poetry and short story markets.

OWL suggested markets
- A few literary magazine markets recommended by the Ozarks Writers League.

The Arkansas page on Poets.org
- Links to other Arkansas writing pages

Arkansas journal and organizations listed on the HSU website

Local Writing Organizations

Poets Roundtable of Arkansas
River Market Poets (branch - Little Rock)
Meets: 2nd Saturday of the month @ 10am @ the Main Library in the Rivermarket
Membership: $20/year, due by June 30

Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas
Little Rock, AR
Meets: 9am the 4th Saturday @ Baptist Medical Center Dining Room #3
Membership: $20 due by December 31

Ozarks Writers League (OWL)
Branson, MO
Meets: 8:30am @ Plaster Auditorium @ College of the Ozarks in Branson
(3rd Saturday of February, May, August, November)
Dues: $20 due by December 31

Arkansas Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Northwest Arkansas Writers
Fayetteville, AR
Meets: 6:30pm every Thursday @ the Good Shephard Lutheran Church in Fayetteville
Membership: free??

Oklahoma Writers Federation (OWFI)
Oklahoma City, OK
Annual conference 1st weekend in May
Membership: $20 ($15 if paid before November 30) due by December 31

White County Creative Writers
Searcy, AR
Meets: 3rd Monday @ 6:30pm @ Simmons Bank in Searcy
Membership: $12/year, due by ??

Penpoints of Light
Jacksonville, AR

National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) - Arkansas Pioneer Branch
Little Rock, AR
Meets: 1st Wednesday of each month 11:30 to 1pm @ Whole Foods on Rodney Parham

Missouri State Poetry Society
Meets: varies (find local chapter @ website)
Membership: $4 if member of a local chapter; $13 for members-at-large

Poetry Society of Tennessee
Sponsors Mid-South Poetry Festival in early October.
Membership: $25

Local Writing Conferences and Events

Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop
Fayetteville, Arkansas

MidSouth Conference (scifi)
Memphis, Tennessee

Arkansas Literary Festival
Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference
Conway, Arkansas

Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc (OWFI) Conference
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma area

Books in Bloom (festival)
Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Arkansas Writers Conference
Little Rock, Arkansas

September (Labor Day Weekend)-
White County Creative Writers Conference
Searcy, Arkansas

Missouri State Poetry Society Annual Conference
Springfield, Missouri

Ozark Creative Writers Conference
Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Poets Roundtable of Arkansas- National Poetry Day
location varies (somewhere in Arkansas)

Mid-South Poetry Festival
sponsored by the Poetry Society of Tenessee
Memphis, Tennessee

Maumelle Writers Conference
Maumelle, Arkansas

The Shaw Guide to writers conferences and workshops:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Writing Awards and Recognition

10/2009- Poets Roundtable of AR National Poetry Day
- 1st Place Poem: “Strength of Seedlings”

10/2009- Ozark Creative Writers (OCW) Conference
- Honorable Mention Poem: “Plant a Flower”

06/2009- Arkansas Writers Conference
- 3rd Place Poem: “Whippoorwill in a Walmart Parking Lot”

10/2008- Poets Roundtable of AR National Poetry Day
- 3rd Place Poem: “Whippoorwill in a Walmart Parking Lot”

10/2008- Ozark Creative Writers (OCW) Conference
- Honorable Mention Short Story: “Fictional Lies”

06/2008- Arkansas Writers Conference
- 1st Place- Long Narrative Poem: “Rainy Afternoon”

04/2008- Writers Digest Poetic Asides Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge
- Certificate of Completion: (wrote a poem a day in April based on their prompts)
- 3 poems highlighted on the Poetry Asides Blog:
o Day 8: The Little Deer
o Day 14: How My Cat Behaves
o Day 21: Did something crawl into you too

10/2007- Poets Roundtable of AR National Poetry Day
- 1st Place Poem: “Forgiven”
- Honorable Mention- Poem: “A Memorial of Inspiration”
- Honorable Mention- Poem: “For the Money or the Love”

10/2007- Ozark Creative Writers Conference (OCW)
- 1st Place Children's Story: "Journey to Catch the Sun"

06/2007- Arkansas Writers Conference
- 1st Place Short Story: “The Photographer”
- Honorable Mention Short Story: “The Coming of Age Ceremony”

05/2004- Two articles published in the Maumelle Monitor

04/1999- Arkansas Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) Convention
- Excellent (2nd Place) Column: “The Great Scholarship Hunt”
- Excellent (2nd Place) Newspaper Special Section: “College News”
- Excellent (2nd Place) Literary Magazine Long Poem: “The Attraction of Simple Charms”
- Honorable Mention (3rd Place) Newspaper Review: “MHS Drama Captivates Audience”
- Honorable Mention (3rd Place) Literary Magazine Short Poem: “Unseen Encouragement”
- Honorable Mention (3rd Place) Literary Magazine Short Poem: “Growing Up”
- Honorable Mention (3rd Place) Literary Magazine Thematic Development: “Myths Retold”
- 3rd Place On-Site Literary Magazine Short Story: untitled

01/1999- Westark College Media Day II
- Honorable Mention- Column Writing: “The Search for Information”
- Honorable Mention- Page Layout/Design

10/1998- Poets Roundtable of Northwest Arkansas- Quarterly Contest
- 2nd Place Poem: “The Coat”
- 2nd Place Poem: “The Attraction of Simple Charms”
- Honorable Mention- Poem: “The Sacrifice for Preservation”
- Honorable Mention- Haiku: “The Picture”

05/1998- Arkansas Press Women’s High School Communications Contest
-1st Place Review: “MHS educators on the rampage”

04/1998- Arkansas Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) Convention
- Excellent (2nd Place) Newspaper Review: “MHS educators on the rampage”
- Honorable Mention (3rd Place) News Story: “Drug Dog Comes to Mountainburg”
- 2nd Place- On-Site Literary Magazine Short Story: untitled