Friday, April 29, 2016

Call For Submissions From Chicken Soup

I received a Call For Submissions letter from Chicken Soup today for an upcoming
book. No doubt, they'd like the word out to as many writers as possible so I thought
I'd share their letter on today's post. Be sure to read it carefully to see the kind of
story they are looking for. Deadline is not until June 30th so you have plenty of time
to write, revise and edit your story. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything]
to gain.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident
101 Stories about Loving Yourself and Your Body
With Coauthor, Supermodel EMME

Women come in all shapes and sizes. We're all beautiful and the key is to be fit and healthy within the body type that we were issued at birth. Our new book is all about body image, self-esteem, and feeling comfortable within our own skins. We want to stress the mind + body + spirit connection, the rational consumption of foods that we like (no stringent dieting) and the pursuit of exercise that makes us feel happy and connected to the wonderful machines that are our bodies.
We want to be fit and healthy, but that doesn't mean we have to look like a traditional model, although these days that's changing too! Look at the new Barbie dolls, which come in tall, petite, thin and curvy! Or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, featuring women of all shapes and sizes.
Society is changing and we want to be part of it. Curvy and confident — let's share our stories. We want your stories about loving your look and feeling beautiful. How did you develop confidence? Have you helped girls and other women get confident? How do you stay fit? What do you eat? How have you gotten to know your body? Tell us about how you became curvy and confident or stay curvy and confident. What advice do you have for other women? How did you learn to deal with the pressures society and the media put on women to be thin? What lifestyle changes did you make? What attitude adjustments did you make? And when you did decide to accept and love yourself just the way you are, how did that make you feel?
If you are a man, tell us what you think of the curvy and confident women in your life. Do you have your own story about your own body image or self-esteem? Does the curvy movement help you too?
We're excited to have the world's first curvy supermodel, EMME, joining us as coauthor of this book. She is an advocate for women to find happiness within the skin they're in — for women to nourish themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually by learning to eat nutrient-dense foods, get their bodies moving, choose friends and lovers wisely, carve out silence within their busy day to just be, and for once and for all to enjoy the diversity of their body types.
Please remember, we no longer publish "as told to" stories. Write your story or poem in the first person. Do not ghostwrite a story for someone else unless you list that person as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the "Comments" section of the submission form.
All stories should be true — we do not publish fiction — and should be no longer than 1,200 words. If your story was already published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. We will not publish it again. If you submitted a story for one of our previous books and we did not publish it, please feel free to submit it to this book if you think will fit. That way we will be sure it is considered for this new edition.
If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it or self-publish it.
SUBMISSIONS GO TO OUR WEBSITE. Select the Submit Your Story link at the bottom of the page and follow the directions.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

No Fools Category For You

In my opinion, this quote has pros and cons to it. Anne Rice is right in that, when we write something for publication, we risk having critics come down on our heads like a flock of angry pigeons. Perhaps even laugh at us. We also take the chance that there will be lots of readers who like what we've written.

We have all learned by now that it is impossible to please all people all of the time. Why even give that a second thought? Well, guess what? We often do. We want to write books or stories, essays, poems and more that give something to the reader, that bring pleasure to the reader, that makes the reader seek more of our writing.

To write something and have an editor/publisher accept it for publication is the first sign that maybe you have not made a fool of yourself. If our writing makes it past the gaggle of editors, it should mean it's great. Right? Probably but not a definite. Add to the mix that self-publishing is becoming more widespread and you know that some of those publications may not measure up to good writing.
Many are just plain wonderful, but I fear that too many beginners grab the first story they've ever written and attempt to self-publish, aiming to be the next John Grisham or Danielle Steele.

I would hope those writers would do two things:  1. Give themselves time to write several books or stories before publishing one. We, who have written for any number of years, know that we learn as we go and that, nearly always, our work gets better as we continue writing. 2. Seek out other writers to critique the writing. Look for ones that will be brutally honest because you should truly want to know if what you've written is publication worthy. (Close friends and family are not good people to choose for this job. They love you, so they will not say anything to hurt your feelings.)

If you're in too much of a hurry, you do risk making a fool of yourself. Regular readers here know that one of my keywords for writers is patience. I cannot stress enough how important that is in your writing journey. For a little self-test, go through your files and read several of the very first things you wrote. Then read your latest. What do you think? Did you cringe a bit when reading those early missives? Most of us would. It's a rare writer who is the perfect writer straight out of the chute. Most of us improve greatly as we write more and more. And that's the reason we are told to write on a regular basis--something every day if possible.

If you're a writer who thinks you don't need a critique group or a writing buddy who will read your work and offer honest feedback, think again. Doing either of these is one of the greatest benefits a beginning writer, or even an intermediate, can have. Others look at our work with objective eyes. They see beyond what we see when we read our own work.

No one wants to risk looking like a fool, so do what it takes to make sure you're not going to have that happen to you. You know that not every person will love what you write but that's different than having them laugh at you. Don't let the risk of being the fool stop you from writing. Just take careful steps along the way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thinking About Ernest Hemingway and Being A Writer

Ernest Hemingway's Home in Cuba

This morning's Kansas City Star had a fascinating article on the op-ed page by David Brooks. He wrote about Ernest Hemingway after having visited the Hemingway home in Cuba. The famed author lived in several places around the globe and he fought numerous demons along his writing path. I found the article of great interest, both as a writer and as one who has admired Hemingway's writing for many years. He also interests me because I went to the same high school as he did, although later years. 

If you'd like to read the article, find it here.  If you would like to see numerous pictures of the inside and outside of the house in Cuba, find it here.  Take note of the many, many books in the various rooms. Writers are urged to be readers and it seems there is no doubt that Ernest Hemingway heeded that advice. 

Sometimes we think of writers as meeting life with nothing to be concerned about except the words they put on paper or screen, how many words they write, where to find inspiration, finding a publisher and more. If you read the David Brooks article, you'll see clearly that writers have many other things in life to contend with. Perhaps those wide experiences give us things to write about.

It's the same with you and me. Writing is a major part of our lives but there is more. So much more. We have families--whether we are in the stage of raising children or being grandparents. We have homes to take care of, community functions to attend and perhaps volunteer for, health concerns to deal with on occasion. Maintaining our home, if we own it, or calling a landlord to maintain things if we rent. We have social lives, too. We have personal demons of one kind or another that interfere with our writing world. Hemingway's drinking had to be a detriment to his writing world. 

My point is that we are not just writers. We are people and writing is a part of who we are. It's up to us to decide how great a part our writing will take in our overall life. I know that there are times in my life when I write more than at others. A lot depends on what else is going on at the time. 

David Brooks brings out the point that Hemingway was not always a nice man. Even so, it had no bearing on the brilliant books he left to us. But hey, let's try to be good human beings along with our good writing. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Food For Thought From Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss said something very important in a mere smattering of words. We go through many moments in life that we take for granted while they occur. It's often later--sometimes much later--that we look back and realize the significance, or as said above, the value.

There are special moments in all our lives that I think take on greater value as time goes on and we reach into our memory bank to relive the moment.

Here's a partial list:
  • Graduation Day
  • Wedding Day
  • First day of college
  • First day of military service
  • A great first date
  • The birth of a child
  • The birth of a grandchild
  • A special anniversary celebration
  • A health issue that helps us learn
  • A high school or college reunion
  • A Sunday sermon that stayed with you
  • A new job
  • A vacation that stands out from others
When we pluck these things from our memory, we usually do so at a much later date than when the event happened. We're able to look with a new perspective than when we had the experience originally. Perhaps some of the people involved are no longer a part of your life and that memory brings them back for a short time. 

As writers, we use those memories in the memoirs, stories, personal essays, poetry and even fiction that we write. Many fiction writers use their own experiences at times within those made-up stories. 

When we look back at those special memories, we should ask ourselves what we learned, who was there that we treasure more today than at that time, how whatever happened affected our future lives. 

So stand back and take a look at some of those memories. Do you think differently about them now? I am guessing that maybe not all will be showing you the value, but perhaps some negatives, too; Hopefully, the value side will be the heaviest. 

As you ponder those old memories, put a check mark next to the ones you want to write about. Keep your list handy to use for inspiration when your muse seems to have gone off to a faraway land.  If you write a story from one of those memories, you might nod your head, give a wink of the eye and whisper Thanks, Dr. Seuss.

Monday, April 25, 2016

We All Quote Shakespeare Now and Then

Last Saturday was the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Celebrations of the noted playwright spread across the globe. I even heard about 3 women here in my community who went to lunch to honor his memory on Saturday.

This anniversary seems to have garnered more attention than marking his birth that occurred 52 years prior to his death. Did you know that he was born on April 23rd, 1564 and also died on April 23rd, 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK? Rare is the man who dies on his birthday. None by choice, most likely.

There have been all kinds of theories about his career as a playwright--that someone else actually wrote the plays for him. Never proven or he would not be as popular today.

I found a fun website that highlighted 10 phrases from Shakespeare's works that we still use today. Many of us have said them without ever realizing we are quoting Shakespeare. If you want to read the entire page with the source of the sayings, go here. Wouldn't we all love to think that the words we have written will still be read, heard and said more than 400 years from now? Just imagine!

For those who want only the list, here it is: (note that all are actual quotes from the plays)

  • Good riddance
  • Break the ice
  • Wild goose chase
  • Love is blind
  • Naked truth
  • Brave new world
  • Green eyed monster
  • Bated breath
  • (Fight) fire with fire
  • Laughing stock
We've all used at least some of the quotes in the list, whether in conversaton or when we write. I'm quite sure that my critique group would mark some of them with cliche. No doubt they might be considered such having been used for more than 400 years. Even so, these are some very good sayings.

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Friday, April 22, 2016

Flint Hills Phtoto Prompt Exercise

Today's photo prompt exercise is going to challenge your imagination. This is a scene of the tallgrass prairie that surrounds our community. I've often thought that we could be a runner up to Montana's nickname of Big Sky Country.

Study this picture for awhile and use your imagination. Who or what is beyond the hill? What has happened here? What might happen later? What time period is it? What season? Ask yourself many questions before you begin to write.

Try more than one writing. Go in different directions. Remember that these exercises can result in a full story, essay or article that can be submitted to an editor. They are good practice but also used for inspiration.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Poem In Your Pocket Day

 Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day which is only one part of celebrating National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month Poster for 2016

The idea behind the Poem in Your Pocket Day is to get people to share poetry with others.  Hopefully, many teachers will promote this day with a class project to allow children to select a favorite poem and read it to others in the class through the day. It might be a simple project or one layered with many possibilities. 

I love the idea of having that slip of paper with the poem in you pocket. It's kind of like you're saying I've got a secret. The best part is that you want to share that secret with someone else. When I was in a Brownie troop in second grade, we sang a song about having a secret in a pocket. In that song, the secret turned out to be ...a great big Brownie smile but why not make yours a favorite poem today? 

I also am pleased that the American Academy of Poets established the celebration of poetry in 1996 by choosing April of each year to spread the word about poetry. This, then, is its twentieth year--more cause for celebration. 

We recognize poets of old and contemporary poets, as well. Maya Angelou wrote a special poem which she read at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration. Read her poem On The Pulse of the Morning. Who are your favorite poets--both from history and those who write poetry today? 

In my community, there will be a Poetry Reading session in the Rose Garden at our City Park this next Saturday afternoon. All are invited to read a poem or to just come and listen to those who do. It's an annual event here and, I must admit, I have never attended. Maybe I'll give it a try this year, might even slip a poem I've written into my pocket before I go. 

If you do nothing else to celebrate National Poetry Month, spend some time reading a book of poems. If you're like me, you'll find something new when you read multiple times. Poems have far fewer words than prose pieces but they can say every bit as much, and sometimes more. 

Whatever you do, don't say I hate poetry! Maybe you did when you had to memorize poems for English class. Maybe you did when you were far more into playing football or soccer. Maybe you did when you weren't exposed to different kinds of poems. Maybe now is the time to find out if you can read and enjoy poetry and maybe even write some yourself. We change in many ways as we journey through life. It's possible poetry may suddenly have a great appeal for you.