Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry--Find The Passion

The house pictured here belonged to Claude Monet. Located in Giverny, France, it is now one of many of France's tourist destinations. When we visited the house and gardens last summer, I wanted to stay forever. I felt so at peace there, so filled with happiness and awe at the splendid home and gardens where the famous painter created many of his renowned works of art.

Strolling through the gardens, I grew more and more amazed at what this man had created and then painted. The famous lily pond with it's small wooden bridges are exactly as seen in the paintings. Our tour guide had related much of the story of Monet's life as we traveled by bus from Paris to see where Monet lived with his wife, his mistress and children. The guide explained his love of gardens and the effort he made in creating a special place at Giverny. The view from every window of the pink house is like candy for the eyes.

Are you getting the idea that I feel very strongly about this spot? I definitely do, so much so that I hope to return one day without the time specifications of a tour group. Even though we had plenty of time to walk through the home and gardens and visit the ever-present gift shop, I would like to do it when I could spend even more time and with fewer people around. It may never happen, but I'd be thrilled if I can make one more visit there.

Yes, I was passionate about this place, which is the reason that I was able to write a poem titled "A Garden Walk" when we returned home. Yesterday, I talked about pathetic poetry citing a poem I wrote to a stated theme but about which I had no passion. No passion--no success!

I truly believe that poetry must come from the heart. The writer needs to 'feel' something about the subject, really feel it, not try to manufacture that feeling. If you want to write a poem that sings, one that speaks to the reader as well as yourself, find the passion first. The rest will come easily. When I finished "A Garden Walk" I felt satisfied, and lo and behold, even my critique group was very positive about it.

A part of the Garden

A small part of the lily pond

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pathetic Poetry

Well, I've done it! I wrote a pathetically awful poem. Actually, I wrote it a year ago and entered it in the theme category for our authors group state contest. Sometimes, writing to a particular theme results in a poem or piece of prose that feels forced.

Which is exactly the way this poem got started. It didn't come from the heart. There was no passion in it. How do I know? I subbed it to my critique group a week or so ago, and reading the crits has been an eye-opening experience. To be honest, I knew that it was pathetic before I even subbed it, and the eagle-eyed critiquers agreed.

Many of those who looked at this poem felt there was potential in it but that I hadn't come close to reaching it. Another thought it poignant and powerful, but it needed a lot of work. There were a few more positive things said, but the negatives far outweighed them.

My thought in subbing the poem to the group was to continue working on it and making it a better poem. I knew it needed some first-aid, but it seems to have ended up in the Intensive Care Unit. I think I'll put this one aside until I can have a desire to work on it again. If I do it now, it's still not going to work. And maybe this one will never get to a point where I feel good about it.

That's alright. Every single poem or story we write doesn't end up with the writer feeling satisfied. We've all written some pathetic poetry or putrid prose. You can't hit a home run every time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pursuing Your Dream

The picture above was taken about 8 or 9  years ago when our granddaughter, Gracen, tried out a drum set at her neighbor's house. Since she's wearing her tiara, I'm guessing it was her birthday. She looks pretty happy playing with those drums, doesn't she? Right then and there, she started pursuing a dream. She would be a drummer! And that dream has come true after taking drum lessons from the same neighbor and becoming the first chair drummer at her middle school this year. Yesterday was Gracen's 12th birthday. Pretty unusual to see a dream come true at that young age, but it didn't happen without some hard work and a good dose of talent. I have a feeling her success will continue as long as she keeps working hard, and I'm betting she will. We're pretty proud of what she's accomplished so far.

Writers have dreams, too. Whether it's writing the Great American Novel or being published in your local newspaper, we all have thoughts about where we would like to see our writing published. Or perhaps the dream is on a smaller scale, and all you want is to have a fat notebook full of stories about and meant for you family. Whatever it is, it's the gold ring we all want to grab.

Dreams do come true, but like our granddaughter's success with the drums, they seldom happen without a lot of time going by, a good deal of hard work, and some patience. It's not gonna happen without you putting everything you've got into it. So, keep beating your drums. It may take a long time, but it's worth the wait. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Subscribe Or Not

I've been fiddling around with the design of Writer Granny's World and have taken away and added to it.

One thing I've added is a subscribe to box. It's so big you can't help but notice it near the top of the page, right under the header. If you would like the Monday to Friday posts to show up in your e-mail inbox, just add your e-mail address in that box.and click on Submit.

You'll begin to find the posts in your inbox the following day. They will look a little different. Actually, they're kind of generic looking. They will have the picture, if there is one, and the post itself. There will be none of the little extras you see when going directly to the blog site. Things like the Followers, About Me, list of Books I Like, Blogs I Follow etc.

It's your choice as to whether to subscribe or to go to the site whenever you want to read the new posts. Like all things, everyone has a preference. It's nice to have a choice. I'd wanted to put that subscribe to choice on the website for a long time but never had been able to figure out how to do it. Then last week, I finally had some success.

You'll notice two other smaller boxes for posts and comments. They have dropdown menus for you to choose the place you would like these things to show up--like your google or yahoo page. I tried doing it myself to see if it worked, but I wasn't all that pleased. I chose google and on my homepage a nice box showed up with three posts links. But they were not the last three, instead they were ones from last summer! I didn't feel like that accomplished much at all, so I deleted it. Again, your choice. You can always try it and change it later if you don't like it.

Starting a blog is one thing, keeping it current is quite another, and still one more part is learning how to add new things to it. Little by little, it's all coming together for the better.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Comment Confusion

There seems to be some confusion about posting comments on this blog. It appears to be a problem for other blogs, too, whether they are sponsored by like mine, or another blog site. There are only a few steps to take to post a comment, but miss one and the comment flies off into cyberspace, never to be seen again.

If you want to make a comment on a post, click on the spot under the blog where it says 0 comments (or some other number, like 2 comments) and you will come to a screen with a box for you to write in. Write whatever you have to say and then go to the small box below that says Comment as.

Next to Comment as you will see a drop down menu. Click on the arrow on the right side and select one of the several choices. If you have a google account, use that, or your name and a URL, or anonymous. The choice is yours, but it needs to be made. Click on your choice.

Then click on Post Comment just below the previous box. A new screen will come up with a security word, which you must type in as you see it in the box provided. Then click on the Submit below and it's done.

The first time you attempt to do all this, it seems like a whole lot of trouble for one person's comment. But as you do it more often, it becomes easier, and you'll do it automatically without having to think through each step. Whether it's on my blog or someone else's, those comments are meaningful to the blog owner and those who read the blog, as well. So, if you have something to say, take the minute or two required and say it. Remember to do each step. Kind of like following writers guidelines--if you miss one, you're out. Sad but true.

I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perception In Readers

Recently, I sent a submission to wac, my online writers group so that it could be critiqued. Five people read and critted it, and there were some conflicting views.

One person thought it was just perfect the way it was, wanted to go back later and find something wrong with it. Another liked it a lot but thought it had some overly long sentences. Another said it was well done but she had a few spots marked where it could be tightened. And still one more thought it was far too formal for what it was suppose to portray.

Confusing to the person who submitted the piece? Absolutely! I mulled over the responses a second time yesterday and ended up with wondering how to change it, which of these helpful people I should try to please. Fortunately, that thought was fleeting as a writer should try to end up feeling pleased with their work and proud to send it out, not change it to meet what someone else likes. We should definitely give strong consideration to revising where need is pointed out, and I usually do so. But in the end, changing something major is my final decision.

The one thought that kept running through my mind was that readers' perception of the very same piece of writing can be different because each one of them is a different personality. All the experiences of a lifetime factor into the way we perceive what we read. And that's OK. We don't want a cookie cutter society, nor do I want a critique group who always crits writing in he same way.

What the writer needs to do is to sort out those different perceptions and decide which ones work for her. If, however, all the critiques either  praise or criticize the very same thing, she'd better sit up and pay close attention. Using  a critique to make a piece of writing better requires the writer to be objective to their own writing and willing to make changes.

One last thought on perception in readers--remember that all editors don't read with the same perception. They, too, are a variety of different folk. One may perceive your work as top notch while another might toss it in a hurry. Another good reason for sending the work out again if it's rejected.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Battles in the Book World

The age of the e-book is upon us. Amazon reports that they are selling more e-books than print right now. With the digitalized world we live in, that shouldn't be surprising, but for love-to-hold-a-book-in-the-hands person like me, it's kind of sad.

Amazon's Kindle and the Nook Reader put out by Barnes and Noble have changed the book industry tremendously. Add the newest link in this technology chain--the Lendle--and you have the beginning of a real book world battle.

Lendle is a digital way to lend a friend a book. It allows people to lend one of their, paid-for, e-books to a friend for up to 14 days. Sounds like a swell idea, doesn't it? After only six weeks, Amazon nixed it on the premise that it does not sell books or services, and it's only common sense that Amazon is in business to sell a product and make a profit.

The second book world battle I've been reading about is a massive undertaking by Google to build the worlds largest library by scanning millions of books to their site. It's a pet project of a Google executive, but this week a judge deflated Google's balloon by ruling that it would create a monopoly and violate copyright laws. There are too many facets of this subject for me to go into it in any detail here, but if you're interested, read the NY Times article at

With so many new things happening in the book world, there are bound to be some battles. Who will win and who is going to lose may be a toss-up, but it would behoove all writers and readers to pay attention to what goes on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good News For Me and Maybe For You

I've written previously about a website for women who write memoir stories that I like. You'll find a wealth of information at Besides that, Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler, editors of the site, offer a series of contests.

This year, they are running a monthly contest. My valentine story won Honorable Mention in February, and yesterday I learned that I'd won first place in the March contest. The theme was anything green, so I sent in "Kissing The Blarney Stone."  Yes, they accept previously published stories.

The editors decided to divide the submissions into three categories--good things, difficult times, and life observed. My story won in the good things category. It was published on the site yesterday morning, and the other two first place winners had their stories published later in the day. You can go to the site to see the three stories that were winners.

There was no prize money or gift. The reward was publication of the story and the self-satisfaction that comes with having your writing recognized and applauded. It's also a nice clip to add to your collection of publications.

Womens Memoirs has another contest that they run on a regular basis. This one asks for a memoir piece about a family recipe and the recipe is to be included. Almost everyone has a favorite family recipe, but if you can come up with a good story relating to it, you can enter this contest. Take a chance. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Besides all that, it's good practice to enter a smaller contest in preparation for some of the bigger ones down the road.

Here's he link to the full 11 monthly contests being run at this webisite for 2011.  The March deadline is for stories relating to April, including Easter.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poetry and Recipes Contest

Every time I think I've seen every kind of writing contest possible, another one comes along. This morning, I received notice of one I'd never have even considered. Poetry and Recipes!

The Walt Whitman House in New York state is sponsoring the contest. The winners will be included in an anthology to be sold as a fundraiser for the poets historic home.

The poem must be about food and a recipe must accompany the poem. No more than 32 lines for the poem and there is a $10 entry fee. But wait--that $10 allows you to enter three poems and recipes, and if you are so prolific that you have more, each additional entry is only $5. There are monetary prizes for the top three winners, but the others selected for the book win only a copy of the anthology. Weigh the pros and cons to see if you think it's worth the entry fee.

If you're interested, go to to read the full set of guidelines. Make sure you follow them carefully. Deadline is June 30, 2011.

Spend some time today thinking about a recipe you might use, something that would produce a poem to go with it. Ode To An Apple Pie perhaps or  How Do I Love Thee Cranberry Sauce  This whole concept strikes me as rather humorous but even so, it piques my interest, too. I've entered a contest at the  womens memoir website that asks for a memoir piece about a recipe and requires the recipe accompany the prose, so why not a poem?

Note that the guidelines state that chefs can enter and also that the poem can be a collaboration. Which means that maybe a chef can cook like a pro but write only Roses are red... kind of poems, so he needs help. Seems a bit unfair to me, but the people running the contest didn't ask my opinion!

Let me know if any of you enters the contest. And if so, my best wishes for a happy outcome.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do You Read Sports Stories?

A lot of writers I know have no interest in sports. A lot of women I know have no interest in sports. It's too bad as there are some wonderful stories in the sports world.

Several years ago, a member of our state authors club asked me if I was going to attend the state convention in October. "Sorry," I said, "it's a K-State game day, and going to games with my husband takes priority." I won't tell you what she said as she made a sour face, but let it be known she moved me way down to the bottom of the list of people she admired. She left with one word, spoken with derision--Football!

I do enjoy watching our university football and basketball games. Oh let's be honest---I adore watching them and am passionate about both sports. Because we go to the games, I read all the stories about the players and coaches in the sports section of the Kansas City paper and our local newspaper, as well as some online. For one thing, it helps you learn about and understand the players. They come from all over the country and even some foreign countries, from all different types of backgrounds, and with myriad goals in mind.

The coaches bring their own stories beginning with times they might have been college players themselves, then early coaching days and present day coaching stories. Like the players, they come from around the country, have different methods in dealing with the players, and may receive mixed ratings from the players and fans.

It all comes down to this. The players and coaches are people, and everyone has a story to tell. I read only this morning about Bill Self's early coaching career experiences. For those of you who don't follow sports, he's the coach of our rival school in Lawrence, KS, known to all as KU. Rival he may be, but he's a fine coach and a good person. I admire him, even more so since reading today how he has changed over the years.

Time and again, there are stories written in the sports section about players from inner city backgrounds who have used basketball or football as a way out of a difficult environment. It's no different than reading a coming of age novel where we cheer for the hero who climbs from poverty to a good life.

If you don't read some of these stories, you're missing some good writing and inspiring stories.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blarney Castle and A Dream Place To Write

Kissing The Blarney Stone

Here's a picture of Blarney Castle in Ireland. We made a visit here in 2007 with our dear friends from South Africa. A visit to Ireland would somehow not be complete without a visit to this spot known round the world for the legend within it. Kissing the Blarney Stone blesses the kisser with the gift of gab forevermore. 

I found some surprises waiting for me when we arrived at the castle. Silly me--I figured the Blarney Stone would be sitting right outside the castle itself. Uh-uh! One must climb and climb and climb to reach it. You can read about our visit at  Today, being St. Patrick's Day, seemed the perfect time for this travel story and pictures. 

Visiting Ireland was something I'd always wanted to do since four of my great-grandparents were born there. My half-Irish heritage pulled me toward that green, rolling, devastatingly beautiful land. It's one thing I was able to cross off my Bucket List of things I want to do before I die. Ireland was all I'd hoped for and more. Somehow, I felt totally at home there. 

Would I like to go again? Yes, I'd like to find a nice cottage by the sea and spend time there writing to my heart's content. I can see why so many successful poets and authors have hailed from Ireland. Will I ever be able to fulfill this dream of writing by the sea? Doubtful, but we all need dreams of some kind in our lives, so I'll think about it now and then. 

Do you have a dream place to spend writing time? Maybe it's only your own computer area without interruption. or a hotel down the street without interruption. Almost anywhere you enjoy and can work without phones ringing or kids calling or doorbells chiming would be a dream place to write. Meanwhile, enjoy this Irish holiday and keep your dream for future days. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Check Out This Market

One of my stories was published late in 2010 in an anthology new to me. The series of books is called Thin Threads. They're patterned after the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but they have one specific guideline that sets them apart from other anthologies.

A 'thin thread' is a life changing moment, event or experience. It need not be a monumental thing. Even small things can make a difference in our lives. And many times, something happens that we are not fully aware of at the time that changes the direction of our lives.

It's a good idea to read some of the stories in the anthology to get an understanding of what the editor is looking for. Also a good idea to read the guidelines carefully. In one section they specify that the story must be true, nonfiction, capture the essence of a thin thread event,  evoke an emotion from the reader  

They are accepting stories for a total of ten new book titles. The one on Women and Friendship closes March 20, 2011 so you'll have to hurry for that one. Other deadlines are farther into this year,  and some do not have deadline dates as yet.  The book categories are listed on the submission page.

When I read my free contributor's copy of the edition my story is in, I was very impressed by the quality of the stories in the book.  I also had occasion to ask a question of Stacey Battat, editor and publisher of Thin Threads and Kiwi Publishing. She was prompt and helpful with her answer.  

Go to and click on the submit section at the top of the homepage to read the guidelines.  To submit a story, click on the Submit section on the left side of the submission page and you'll land on a page with a submission form. This is a paying market.  And yes, I've writen about this market earlier, but maybe you missed it then, so check it out now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fear Not The Editor

Some writers hesitate to write an editor with a question. They think things like They're far too busy to bother with me. or They might think I'm not too bright and will reject my submissions later on. or They'll ignore my inquiry anyway, so why bother?

I've found that most editors are more than willing to answer questions writers have or even to discuss their editorial needs. After all, without writers, there would be nothing for editors to do.

In the past few weeks, I've had occasion to write and ask questions of three different editors. I found errors on the websites of two concerning submission dates and the submission form. With another, it was a letter to inquire if she'd received my submission as I had not heard from her, which is unusual for this person.

In each case, I was answered promptly, with courtesy, and even a bit of humor. All three times, the editor I wrote to thanked me for pointing out the problem and they either corrected it or answered to my satisfaction.

Editors are real people just like you and me. Yes, they wield a bit of power, they can play God if they really want to, but most of them are only looking for the best work to put in the publication they work for. For that reason, it behooves all of us to send them the cream of our crop of stories.. I've seen that stated in several writers guidelines--Send only your best work.-but some writers don't always take it to heart. In a perfect world, we send our best work in every time and an editor accepts it with joy every time, too.

If you have a question for an editor, write to him/her, but keep it short, businesslike, and polite. I'm willing to bet you'll receive an answer. Do look for the answer on your own first. If you cannot find it, then send that e-mail to the editor.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Snowy Day In March

We woke up to several inches of wet, heavy snow today. March the 14th! Silly me. I thought we could say winter had blown away and spring was on its way. I should have known better. We almost always get one snow day in March. After all, spring doesn't arrive officially until the 21st of March.

I have to admit that this kind of snow looks spectacular on the trees and wherever else it piles up. The weight of this kind of snow bends tree branches into the ballerina-like poses.With temps to reach mid-40's today, it's already beginning the big melt. That's fine for pretty lasts just so long.

What better thing to do on a snowy day than write about it. You might add this to your March Memories for your twelve month memory book. Note how I assume you're doing this project this year, month by month. If nothing else, I'm thinking positive.

Maybe in your part of the world, March snows don't exist, but if they do, what do you remember about them? Did one ever happen on Easter Sunday? How about during spring break when you wanted to be outside playing ball or flying a kite in the gusty March wind? Did you build a snowman or have a snowball fight? Did you ever construct a snowfort and pretend it was an igloo? Delve back to those childhood days and look for the memories stored away. Check the March Snow file. I bet it's full!

Friday, March 11, 2011

How's Your Geography?

I always liked Geography in my grade school years. It was fun learning where the states fit in our country, where the European countries were situated and also those in Asia. In fifth grade, we learned all the states and their capitals and had to fill in the names on a mimeographed map the teacher passed out many a morning. By doing it over and over, we learned them well.

I don't remember learning about the countries in Africa and the Middle East. To be sure, many of the countries of my childhood days now have different names. I think maybe we all need to learn more about the Middle Eastern countries and who sits next to whom. With the political unrest and wars raging, it would be to our benefit to understand this area geographically.

This morning a friend sent me a map game to play. It's not a contest and there is no penalty for wrong answers. You drag the name of a country and place it in the correct spot on the map. A big red X pops up if you're wrong and a lovely musical bleep sounds if you're correct. I admit that I had to try many times on some of the countries. I think it's a game, or exercise, that needs to be done many times so that it the locations of the countries get embedded in your brain. Just like the USA maps of my fifth grade year.

Give it a try. And definitely try it more than once. Make it a once a day exercise until you can do it flawlessly. Double-dog dare ya!

Go to and you'll see how much you do or don't know.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Book I Recommend

I was in a bookstore a few weeks ago and picked up a book that looked interesting. Yes, I'm drawn by covers but also reading the mini-synopsis on the back cover cinched it for me. I bought The Postmistress written by Sarah Blake. It stayed on a stack of books I haven't read for a few weeks.

Monday evening, I opened it and began to read. I got hooked fast and continued reading until bedtime, then reluctantly put it down. The next afternoon, I started reading again, and I seldom read during the day. That's when I get my work, errands and writing done. Long story short, I'm loving this book. Other things intervened yesterday and I didn't get to finish it, but I fully intend to do so this evening.

The book is set in 1940-41 in a small Massachusetts community and in Europe, where WWII has already begun. We follow several characters, jumping back and forth across the Atlantic faster than any plane has ever done. Ms Blake has done a wonderful job in making it an easy transition. She also makes the reader care about the people she's created. Iris James is a spinster postmistress in the small Massachusetts town of Franklin which is situated on the coast. Americans worried in 1940 that Mr. Hitler and his gang might show up on their shores and they kept a wary eye peeled. Emma Fitch is a young woman who married the town doctor. We watch as the young doctor heads to London to help with the wounded in the constant bombings going on. In London, we meet Frankie Bard, a young radio journalist who works with Edward R. Murrow, reporting all that is happening in London. Frankie alerts the world to what is happening in Europe.

There are so many parallels to our world today in this story set over 70 years ago. It's interesting because of that as well as being a good story. I noted that the author has an earlier book published, and I will definitely look for it. It's a pleasure reading something that is so well-written. If you're looking for a book for your Book Club or just for yourself, give this one a try.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Write Your March Memories

We're already nine days into March. Have you written your March Memories for the Monthly Memory Book we've talked about here? Having trouble getting started?

Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea or go out for a walk on one of these more-moderate days we're having and delve back into your childhood. Think about the things your family did in March. Things that happened at school every March. Things you and your best friend did every March. Start writing those memories. One memory often triggers another and another and there you are---a whole lot to write about the month of March.

Your children and grandchildren will have a record of what that month was like as you grew up. Keeping these memories in a notebook in order of the months will end the year with a treasure trove for your family. Besides that, it's kind of fun to revisit those long-ago days, even if it is only through memories. It might move yo to write a letter to an old friend who shared those days with you.

Memory Triggers for March:
1.  What kind of bulletin board displays did your teachers use? March winds--St. Patrick's Day--Early Srping
2.  How did your family celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
3.  What special foods did your mother prepare in March?
4.  What was the weather like where you lived?
5.  What Easter memories do you have?
6.  Did your scout troop or 4-H club or some other group have something special in March?
7. Were you starting to count the days until summer vacation from school arrived?
8.  Was wind a factor in March where you lived?
9.  Did you have March snowstorms?
10.  Did you rejoice when seeing the first spring flowers?
11.  Were kites a part of March for you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some Simple Things

I've been preparing to go to my Book Club this morning. Most of you know how groups like this work--we all read the same book and meet to discuss it. In our club, the person who is hostess for the meeting selects the book we read and she leads the discussion.

Some people read the book and are then ready for the discussion. Others, like me, do a little more to prepare. I go to and put the book title in the search box. When it comes up with all the selling info that Amazon gives, I click on the title and a whole page of goodies comes up. There are editorial reviews and also reviews from readers. If I've read the book weeks prior to this, it helps a lot to bring it all back into focus. And I find the reviews to be most helpful. They will also usually include some information about the author.

Another way to find the reviews is to put the book title and review as keywords in any search engine. You'll have your pick of many.  Or, you can put the author's name in a search engine and find out more about his/her life and publications.

Go to, put the book title in a search engine and you'll come up with a reading guide with discussion questions which can be very helpful--especially for the person leading the discussion. They also have critical reviews.

Reading Group Guides is also a good place to look for a book to read. Just like browsing the library bookshelves but you do it all from your desk chair.

There are some simple things that are helpful. The key is knowing what they are. Hope these few suggestions will be of help to you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Passion For Reading

The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you
knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind
It is moral illumination.
(Elizabeth Hardwick, 1989)

Elizabeth Hardwick was an editor, writer, critic and co-founder of the New York Review of Books. Who better to have made the comment above? I am in full agreement of her assessment of reading, and mostly the passion for reading that is within the quote.

To be a real reader, you must be passionate about it. None of this reading a book once a year and an occasional glance at a newspaper or magazine. If you’re passionate about reading, never a day goes by that you don’t read something. To me, reading is nourishment for the soul.

And like any recipe, reading requires more than one ingredient. No one would read without writers, editors, and publishers. They bring us the words that fill us with knowledge and/or entertain us. Some of us will never be more than a reader, but others who work in the writing world reap double benefits. Not only can they pursue a passion for reading, but they can offer reading material to the world.

I read two newspapers a day, sometimes three since my husband recently subscribed to the Wall St. Journal. I am always in the process of reading a book. When one is finished, there is another waiting for me. I also enjoy reading magazines. Do I read every single word? In a book, more often than not, I do. The newspapers and magazines I read the parts that appeal most to me, which is usually a good share.

I believe Ms. Hardwick and I would have gotten along quite well as we are of the same mind when it comes to the passion for reading. I’ve heard people comment that they don’t have time to read books, magazines and newspapers. They do have time to spend endless hours in front of a TV or a computer or an electronic game. It’s not they don’t have time, rather that they don’t take time to read. Maybe you need that passion for reading before you make it a priority.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Contests Are Calling

Have you ever considered entering a writing contest? If not, why not? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Maybe I should qualify that a bit. If you enter a no-entry fee contest, you have nothing to lose. If the contest requires an entry fee, you still have something to gain. It's up to you to determine if you're willing to risk losing the entry fee in the event that you don't win.

So, how are you going to decide whether to send that $5, $10, or even (gulp!) $25? You need to look at the prize money being offered and another factor. Is the contest a small one or a big one? In other words, are you going up against a hundred other people or ten thousand? The bigger the contest, the greater are the odds that you won't come out on top. Some contests consider all entries as regular submissions to their publication, so even if you don't win the contest, you might have your work accepted.

My suggestion for entering contests is to begin small and work your way up. Most state writers organizations run contests, and some districts within a state will also have an annual contest. Or even a local contest that your community newspaper runs would be a good starting point. A mountain climber doesn't climb the Matterhorn on his initial climb. So, why should writers be any different?

Just like sending your work to a magazine or anthology, entering contests requires following guidelines carefully. If you ignore the guidelines, there's a good chance your entry will be tossed before it's even read. It's definitely to your advantage to follow the guidelines to the letter.

So where do you find these contests? Writers newsletters that include markets will announce new ones as they come along. You can also use keywords like writing contests or contests for writers in a search engine.

I have contests on my mind since my state writers organization opens theirs April 1st. Winners are not announced until early October, and the entry cannot be published prior to then, so that means writing something new or something not published already.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Konza Internet Radio--A New Venture For Me

Today, some of the stories I've written are going to be published in a new venue--at least, it's new for me. An internet radio station was launched in our community this week. It's being run through the University For Man program here, which is a group that offers classes of all kinds to those of all ages. UFM is affiliated with Kansas State University.

The internet radio station is a new venture for UFM and appearing on it is a new venture for me, as well. The Director of the new station contacted me several weeks ago. She asked if I'd be interested in recording some of my stories to be aired on the new station. The idea intrigued me, since I have always enjoyed reading my work when giving a program or at writers groups. So why not give this a whirl? I had absolutely nothing to lose and something to gain--further recognition of my work, which is something all writers enjoy.

The Director contacted me earlier this week saying that she was going to run my stories every two hours for a 24 hour period beginning at 1 p.m. CST on March 3rd--today. I recorded 6 stories which will only take a half hour or so to listen to. I think they will then be aired periodically for several weeks, then be archived where they can also be brought up to listen to.

I haven't heard the recordings yet myself so am looking forward to doing so. You can listen at Click on Programs (I think). All this is very new to me, so I'm feeling my way here.I'm still learning how to navigate around the site, so I can't offer a lot of help on that.

I'd love to have any comments regarding what you like or don't like about internet radio and my recordings in particular.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Branch Out With Your Writing

Many writers deal only with fiction. Some live in a poetry world, while others write technical articles and nothing else. As writers, we need to write what we do best and what feels comfortable. It makes life a great deal easier to live in a comfort zone.

But even so, I think there is something to be said for branching out and trying something different. It took me awhile to find out that creative nonfiction was where I did my strongest writing. I began writing children's stories. It seemed a proper fit since I'd been a grade school teacher long, long ago. And I enjoyed writing fiction for kids. Tried adult fiction and I liked that, too, but I had little success in selling it. Same with poetry. It was the creative nonfiction and then nonfiction articles for writers that began to sell. The first thing I ever sold was a nonfiction article for kids.

Did I give up writing the other categories? Absolutely not! I still write the occasional fiction piece or a poem and even a children's story. It's fun and once in awhile, one of them is published.

I remember when John Grisham wrote a book that didn't fit in with all the mystery novels he'd written and I thought to myself Good for you, Doesn't matter what the critics say. I have a feeling he enjoyed stepping out of his niche. His big benefit was that he can get his work published because of his large number of successful books in his past. Most of us don't have that luxury.

I recently wrote an article about the need of staying on an exercise and good nutrtion program forever, not just a few weeks. It was published in The Best Times March 2011 issue. This newspaper is one geared to seniors in the Kansas City area. It's one I've been in before and hope to again. You can read the article at  It's a nonfiction--article not personal essay. With this one, I stayed in my comfort zone.

Try branching out a little and write something new and different. Your first few tries may be something you'll hide away, but keep at it a nd you just might find a new category to write for.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More On Unsent Letters

When I wrote about the Unsent Letters market yesterday, my purpose was to make other writers aware of a market they may not have known. I noted the announcement on the website's writer guidelines and submission pages saying that submissions were closed but would open again January 2011. Being that it was the end of February and the notice was still there, I grew concerned that maybe this market had gone the way of many others and was no longer in business. I would never purposely recommend a defunct market.

Last night, I sent a message through the Contact Me page on the website and voiced my concern. I was very pleased when I received an answer from the editor, Michelle Devon, in a very short time. She said that my timing was great since they'd planned to reopen the submissions today, March 1st.

So, do go ahead and work on one of those unsent letters and submit it at  I did some thinking yesterday about all the people I never sent a letter to but might like to do so now. It rather amazed me at how my list grew. Have you started yours?