Archive for the ‘publishing’ Tag

New Year’s Resolutions, So How Am I Doing?   Leave a comment

Pen & Ink

It’s time to get writing! (Photo credit: mbgrigby)

Depends what your expectations are. If you expected me to be golden every single day, then I’m not doing great. If you think any improvement is better than none at all, then I’m fantastic, thank you very much.

In the past week, I’ve written two pretty decent short stories, and I’ve edited about five others as well as two poems. This has given me, all told, about 3000 words. I also do a lot of copy writing for my Etsy store, so that’s given me about 100 words an item, so somewhere between 200 and 500 a day. My freelance work can get me another 500 words or so. This means that some days it’s really easy to meet my goals; I can do it without having to start a new story or poem. Other days, I have to add a project to the list. I find that if I have a specific idea or something I want to edit that day, it makes it easier to stick to my writing schedule. Lists are our friends, people. Learn to love the list.

I’ve submitted material to four places, two of which are new to me, one that’s a contest. I’ve always looked down my nose at literary contests, thinking they were just easy ways for magazines to gain revenue while getting up the hopes of desperate writers who could use 1000 extra bucks in their pocket, thank you very much.

But I know people who have won contests. I’ve received submissions to Waterhouse that included wins in the writers’ bio. It makes me think, shoot, if this person can win something, surely so can I. So, here and there, I’ll enter something.

I’ve also made the decision this year to only submit to markets that pay. Which pains me, it really does, because there are a lot of really great places to publish out there that don’t pay. That can’t pay. At this point in the game though,  my dues have been paid. It’s time to move to the big leagues, or so I’ve been told.

So, there we are. I’m getting it done, but I’m not beating myself up about it. Bravo 2013, let’s keep this up.

Readers make Writers   Leave a comment

Paul Bunyan and his cradle.

Paul Bunyan and his cradle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

The first piece of advice I give any aspiring writer is to read. A lot. Every day. Read a variety of things, fiction, nonfiction, books, magazines, blogs, whatever you can get a hand on, for at least an hour a day.

 

Why? Because even if the writing isn’t very good, you can learn something from it and become inspired in your own writing. If the sentence structure is poor, if there are misspelt words, if the plot is lacking, you’ll probably sit there and say, “I can do better than that!” Hold on to that thought, and once the hour is done, go for it! Write on the same topic, make it better, make it yours.

 

When the writing is good, take notes. Ask questions of the piece. What makes you enjoy the writing? Try to mimic these techniques. Don’t plagiarize the content. Ever.  Play around with the style and themes, try to build on them and make them your own.

 

And, finally, it’s good to research and read on topics you’d love to write about. This is just as important in fiction and poetry as it is in nonfiction. For example, I never know when I’ll stumble across a new unique word that I can use as a poetry title. I’m currently reading Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s new novel, The Long Earth. In it, one of the characters uses the word tracklements, which are the accompanying foodstuffs used on or around the main course. It’s a fantastic word, and I wrote it down immediately on my vocabulary list.

 

I’m also reading up on the folklore of Michigan and the surrounding areas, especially the tall tales relating to Paul Bunyan. I have an idea of a story deconstructing Paul Bunyan’s myth in light of modern issues such as deforestation and global warming. I’m always looking for folktales I’ve never heard of before, or to learn something new about the ones I thought I knew, both for my own enjoyment and to use as springboards for new short stories.

 

What about you? What are you reading, and how does what you read affect what you write? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Fall Open Mic Night at the MSU Writing Center   Leave a comment

Microphones

The Mics are OPEN!!!!!

 

Last night I attended my first open mic reading with my husband since we moved to Michigan in September. It took place at the MSU Writing Center in Bessey Hall, on the Michigan State University campus.

 

We had been invited to attend by members of our writers’ workshop at the East Lansing Library. The group is also sponsored by the MSU Writing Center, and meets every other Thursday. We were happy to see that, as with the writers’ workshop, we weren’t the oldest people in the room at the Open Mic. The performers included several poets, some musicians, and a story teller or two. There was free pizza and drinks for everyone, and each person that got up to read received a t shirt. There was also a raffle drawing throughout the night. I won a 25 dollar gift card to Schuler Books in Okemos, which was a pleasant surprise.

 

The students were very open and welcoming to two old timers like us. There was a poet who went by the name Logic, about our age, who seemed to be a regular in local writing circles, who had a rapid fire delivery and had everyone laughing and shaking their heads at the way he would spin truth into poetry.

 

Overall, it was a good night out, and the perfect way to start November, fresh and inspired and ready to take on that novel I’ve been attempting to write for a year and a half. It’s been sitting dormant for about six months, so it’s time to get writing again!

 

How are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Any great open mics or writers’ workshops in your area? I’d love to hear about them!

 

The One Website Every Writer Should Know   2 comments

"Writing", 22 November 2008

“Writing”, 22 November 2008 (Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle)

When people find out I’m a writer, they’re full of questions. They tell me about this one poem or story they’ve written or thought about writing, but they don’t know what they’d do with it after it’s written. Should they publish it? Isn’t that risky, especially if they publish it online? How would they find a place to send it anyway, and how would they submit it?

For all these questions and more, I send them to duotrope.com. Duotrope has a database of 4,360 publications that are currently accepting work. These include both print and online literary journals, publisher of fiction, non fiction, and poetry, paying and non paying markets. Each listing has a treasure trove of information on the guidelines of each publisher, response statistics, and a link to the website for further information.

Duotrope also provides a submissions manager to allow members to keep track of where and when they’ve submitted work. There is a community presence, offering market news, writing prompts, calendars, and in depth interviews with the editors of publications listed. Even our own Waterhouse Review is listed. You can read the interview with fiction editor Gavin Broom and me here: https://duotrope.com/interview.aspx?id=5149

Duotrope has also introduced me to a number of great markets, like Niteblade. In fact, you may be reading this post because of the Niteblade blog train. You probably came from http://idreamagain.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/niteblade-blog-train-stop-15/, and next stop is, http://www.markrigney.net/Rigney/Blog/Blog.html
So if you’re in a rut and don’t know what to write or just need a new market to send your work, please check out https://duotrope.com/index.aspx

Poetry in the Barn,Huntington New York May 18th, 2012   1 comment

 

While I’ve been writing all my life, I didn’t start considering it my life’s work until about 6 or 7 years ago. I began as almost everyone does by submitting my work to the big guns; The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Poetry, and getting back in reply form rejection after form rejection.

It was at this point that I met George Wallace. He was reading at Avery Point in New London and I went along with some classmates. I was impressed with his work and we exchanged information. I sent a few poems to his online journal, Poetrybay, and he became the first editor to accept my work. Later on that year, he invited me down to read in Huntington New York at the Historical Society Barn, one of my first featured readings.

Poet Helen R. Peterson reading at the Huntington Historical Society Barn in Long Island

Performing my poem, “The Chicanery of Drunk Boys”

I’ve always been grateful for George’s guidance through my early career, and was pleased to be invited back down to the Barn, five years later, to promote my own book, Melons and Memory. It was a great crowd, the open mic ranged from a ukulele player, to a Haitian immigrant, to poems about ancient torture techniques utilizing milk, honey, and a hollow tree. George himself was out inLos Angeles, so Russ Green, who had hosted my feature at the Cornucopia Noshery in Amityville two months before, was guest hosting.

Poet Russ Green hosting a poetry reading in Huntington New York

The incomparable Russ Green, warming us all up.

The 3 and a half hour drive stretched to 4 that night, thanks to traffic right outside of the city. Fortunately for us, when George left for the west coast, he’d accidentally left his house key with Russ, instead of the barn key, so everyone was still outside waiting when we drove up. It is a testament to the quality of this series that everyone chose to stay and wait the 15 minutes it took to retrieve the spare key.

Man playing a ukelele, woman holding music book.

One of the highlights of my evening, acting as human music stand to poet and musician Ed Luhrs.

As I will be moving to Michigan at the end of the summer, this was probably my last appearance in Long Island for awhile. I will be sad, as Long Island audiences have typically been the most receptive and engaging for me, but it was fitting that I end in the same place I’d begun.

The Cartier Street Review   Leave a comment

Exampled of stippled gingiva,

Image via Wikipedia

You can view the issue here

In 2009 The Cartier Street Review published some of my more experimental poems.  Oral Fixation was written on a challenge, to write a poem about going to the dentist. Most of us within the challenge took on the dark side of dentistry, and I was no exception. But instead of the winding narrative typical of most of my work at the time, Oral Fixation is clipped, short, random.

Night.Mare. has more of a story within it, but is still a jarring, disjointed poem. Based upon an incident in my youth, when my horse got tired and decided to lay down and roll with me riding her, and a confusing, blurred dream years after. Using the symbolic importance most women place on horses in their youth, I managed to touch on the disturbing feeling of puberty without spelling it out literally, the sense of being overwhelmed, confused, and crushed.

Is there an animal that has taken importance at some time in your life? Think there’s something you could never write a poem about, like the dentist? Try writing one or both today.

Gloom Cupboard, 2009   2 comments

 

A bed with canopy.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Read the issue here

I don’t often write non fiction. When I do, it tends to be a little hyper-non-fiction, exaggerating things to get a laugh or make a point. The article Gloom Cupboard printed of mine entitled “Beds I Have Known” does both.

I’d been toying with writing a poem about painting my bed when I was in my late teens, in my first apartment, and how my mother freaked when she saw it. But I could never get it right. Every time I would write it out in a poem, it seemed clunky, overblown, too gushy. So I just looked at my free write notes, started expanding on other beds, other stories, and it came together in a way I really liked. I tried taking myself out of it, making each bed a short story with fictitious characters, but it didn’t ring true. So, I just bit the bullet, kept me in there, and started sending it out as a non fiction essay. Gloom Cupboard snatched it up.

This long weekend, look around your home and view your furniture with a critical eye. What means something to you beyond a place to sit or sleep or eat? Is there a piece that has a family history? A personal history? A treasure you brought back from the flea market or dump and breathed new life into? Write an essay about it, describe it, describe your history with it.