Archive for the ‘Writers Resources’ Tag

Napowromo 2013   1 comment

Map of Midwest.

I am here. Writing awesome poetry. 

 

 

 

So, it’s April again. Last year around this time, I was sick, planning a wedding, and working hard to rearrange my life in preparation for a move to the Midwest. There was no way I was going to get any poetry written last year.

 

This year, I’ve got an office mostly to myself during the day, I’m healthy, lawfully wed, and have no plans to move again for at least 20 years, if not longer. It’s a happy place. I have no excuse to not write a poem. Every. Single. Day.

 

And, on April 4th, I’m happy to say that so far, so good. I’ve been focusing on writing fiction this year, so it’s a nice change of pace to start writing some poems for 30 days.

 

I am still working on the David Foster Wallace/ 3 Dollar Word poems project, so I’ve got lots of fun words stocked up as prompts. But I’ve got a lot of life experience from the past year or so to draw from as well. Of the four poems I’ve written so far, only two are big words, the other two are pure inspiration.  I can do this. Yes, yes I can.

 

And so can you! Go out there, get writing!

 

Every Day Poets 2012, Part Deux   1 comment

Posterior wall of the pericardial sac.

Pericardium goes put put patta patta ping!(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Every poet has one, that filler poem you send out just because the guidelines say at least three poems, but you only have two that you really feel are a good fit for the journal. The one you never expect to have published, that, secretly, you admit to yourself isn’t very good. The red headed stepchild of your repertoire, as it were.

 

For a long time my filler poem was one called Poetry Odetry. It was written in about fifteen minutes as an example of alliteration for my students. These guys were members of my after school poetry club, and ranged in age from eight to thirteen, so I wanted something very basic, not fraught with a lot of metaphor or heavy meaning. I just wanted a lot of words that started with the letter P, just like my last name, since the exercise I was going to have the kids do would be to write an alliterative poem around their own last names. It wasn’t something I wrote with the intent of having it published, except for removing a section of the poem where I had a list of P words, I did very little editing before sending it out as my plus three. And that was OK with me.

 

So imagine my surprise when Every Day Poets not only accepted P.O. and published it in November, but used it as an example in Every Day Inspiration. Reasons for the acceptance were cited as it being a fun poem that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which, of course, it doesn’t.

 

That makes me want to take a second look at the poems that haven’t found a home yet, that I think are far and away better than my alliterative exercise. Do they take their themes too far, and border on the melodramatic? Am I saying something in them that’s been done to death?

 

It’s amazing what you can learn from filler poems. Not least of which, that you’re not always the best judge of what in your poetry works, and what doesn’t.

 

Have you had a poem or story accepted that you never thought would ever find a home? Tell me about it in the comments.

 

To read Poetry Odetry, click here: http://www.everydaypoets.com/poetry-odetry-by-helen-r-peterson/

 

To read the Everyday Inspiration post, click here:  http://www.everydaypoets.com/every-day-inspiration-51/

 

 

 

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013   Leave a comment

English: A clock made in Revolutionary France,...

The time has come to get writing! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

And so another year is over, now is the time I sit back, look over what I’ve written this past year, where I’ve submitted, and, more importantly, the things I did not write or submit.

2012 was not very productive when it came to my writing. The poet who is famed by her friends for submitting material an average of 600 times annually  barely cleared 100 submissions. The novel which I began in 2011 has been sitting dormant most of the year, with maybe 500 words added.

In my defense, I did remarry and move 800 miles last year, two events that took up not only a lot of time, but a lot of physical and mental energy. I also did a lot more reading than I had done in 2011, researching for new writing projects as well as giving my brain a chance to soak in something a little less stressful than the reality of court dates and lease signing.

But it’s a new year, all of that is behind us now, we’re happy in our new home, with room to spread out, a sunny yellow office and a table fit for two laptops, plus printer and lamp. The time has come to jump back on the horse and get some writing writ.

I resolve to write at least a thousand words a day. That should give me at least one gimme day, when I write the three blogs I’m responsible for n a weekly basis. It may even give me a day and a half. If I start with those in the beginning of the week, not only will it free up my creative juices for other projects, it will give me a chance to warm up my typing fingers and my brain, still soggy from the weekend.

I will submit something at least once a day. Just one thing a day won’t be as crazy as five a day, which was what I was doing right before I got sick. Even if life throws us another curveball, I can send something once a day. Giving myself this goal will not only give my work visibility, it will also help spur me on to write new stuff, to edit edit edit, and to reach out to others in the writing community.

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

Everyday Poets 2011   Leave a comment

 

Child 1

Children, flexible in all kinds of ways!  (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

 

As anyone who has read my latest book, Melons and Memory will tell you, my role as a mother is at the very center of my being. More than my roles as a poet, librarian, sister, daughter, wife or friend, I am identified by others as being the mother of my daughter and two sons. The first thought on waking and the last fading off to sleep is how can I improve the lives of my children every day. It’s led to some easy decisions, and to others that were not so easy.

 

 

 

One of those tough decisions was made after my daughter was born. I had suffered from HELPP syndrome, and had had to have an emergency c section as my liver and kidneys began to shut down. She was fine, the healthiest and heaviest of the three, but in the process of giving her life, I almost lost mine. At that point I made the painful decision to have a tubal ligation. While I was still pretty young, I had had three children, I had my girl. The potential for more children was too great a risk to the well being of the children I already had.

 

 

 

Three years later, it’s a decision I’m comfortable with. I see my friends in their pregnancies, hold their infants, and that desire to have another one is no longer there. But in the beginning, it was very difficult to wrap my head around such a permanent decision. So, as I do with all the bumps in my road, I ironed it out with writing.

 

 

 

The poem, “Closing Down the Baby Factory”, was so good, Everyday Poets published it last year, and I’m so glad they did. While the beauty and joys of motherhood are so prevalent in poetry as to almost be cliché, the topic of choosing to let motherhood go rarely gets the airplay it deserves, in poetry or the mainstream media. It’s important that every woman can find herself somewhere in the arts. One of the goals I’ve set for myself in my writing career is to give them that through my own experiences, no matter how sensitive or graphic it might be.

 

The Joys of Marriage for Writers   Leave a comment

 

Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Gavin Broom and Helen R. Peterson.

Writers are a fickle bunch. By necessity, we grow a tough skin, but we can still be sensitive to criticism, especially from other writers. I’ve co-edited projects with other writers with whom I’d been best friends before the project began, and no longer on speaking terms with after. It happens. So just imagine living and working with another writer. Co-editing a transatlantic literary journal. Lots could go wrong in that scenario.

It doesn’t always work, sometimes when one of you gets a story accepted in that journal that NO ONE gets accepted into, the other one can’t help but ask, “why not me?” But it’s nice to have an extra pair of eyes in the house to tell you when you’re getting it right, and wrong. It’s good to live with someone who understands, when you’ve got the notebooks and pens out, when the laptop is turned on, they shut the door, take the kids out for ice cream, and give you your space for a few hours.

Gavin and I have, so far, made it work. We were friends when we started working on Waterhouse together, and we’re still friends. More than friends in fact. We look forward to seeing how our life together is reflected in one another’s writing from now on, and seeing how working so closely together will improve the Waterhouse further.

We invite you to share this journey with us, by keeping an eye on this blog, the Melons and Memory Facebook page, and the Waterhouse Review ( www.waterhousereview.co.uk  ). Let’s enjoy this ride together!

Poetrybay   Leave a comment

Georgia O'Keeffe

Image via Wikipedia

To read the poem, click here

To learn more about the painting, watch here

One of my very, very first publishing creds. I met George Wallace while I was still in school, going to hear him read in Groton at the UConn campus. At that time he introduced me to Poetrybay and invited me to submit work, which I did. We’ve since become good friends, and have read together on a couple of occasions.

The poem, “On Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Goat Horn and Red”, is based on am O’Keeffe painting I had printed on a tile in my living room at the time. It was written for an assignment in my Writing Poetry class with the fantastic Daniel Donaghy, who had asked us to write a poem based on art work. Unfortunately, he wanted something less abstract, and so I had to write my Charles Sheeler poem for the grade, but that’s another blog post.

The poem in itself is simple, abstract, capturing what I saw in O’Keeffe’s work without getting too deep. Getting in deep came much later in my work. It was cathartic to get into the mix of orange and red swirls, bought at the Recycle Shop in Montville CT to match my newly painted living room’s blue walls with orange trim, a color scheme chosen by my new boyfriend at the time who eventually became husband number 2.

I later sold the tile on Ebay when husband #2 lost his job and I was desperate to pay the mortgage, then lost the house, the living room anyway. But again, another story.

Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to write a deeper poem.

 

 

What I’ve learned about novel writing, thus far   Leave a comment

A woman typing on a laptop

Image via Wikipedia

So, by working on it here and there, I’ve come up to about 16,000 words which, to me, is amazing and scary and just weird. I’ve never written this much in my life about one thing. Zombies. Who knew?

I’m not done by any means, but I’ve learned a thing or two thus far, and thought today I’d pass them along.

1. Outlining. It’s not for sissies.

I’ve always been a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl, both in life and in writing. This works, sort of, for poems, flash fiction, and short stories. It doesn’t work at all in marriages, mortgages, and novel writing. Seat of my pants style, it was hard to get into any sort of routine going. If I wasn’t “Inspired”, or it had been a number of days, (weeks…months…) since I’d written, it was hard to get back into the flow of the story, I would spend all of my limited writing time trying to figure out where exactly I was going.

I don’t always stick to the outline, my writing still takes interesting turns on its own. Now, however, I can sit down, check on my outline where I left off and where I’d like to go, and actually spend my writing hour doing just that, writing.

2. Attempt to Set a Routine, but Accept that Life Happens

I have three children. Finding time to write where I’m not distracted is tough. In the summer, when I’m not working, it’s easier, I try to write during nap time. But we don’t always have nap time. Sometimes we’re at an event for the day, and no writing gets done. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need a break. Burning out is never good, for anyone.

Another great thing is using the gifts of time I sometimes get. Earlier this year, I had to attend a funeral sans children in another town. I brought my laptop and wrote in the hotel after attending the wake, and again in the morning before the funeral. This summer, I had the opportunity to use a friend’s cabin for a couple days, sans kids. Again, I took my laptop, and got a lot of work done. Speaking of laptops

3. Set aside an internet free computer/laptop just for writing.

It is hard, when the world is only a click away, to get any kind of work done, I don’t care what it is. I try to write on the main computer of the house, I get stuck digging for treasure, or chatting with friends, or refusing crap from Farmville. My laptop is ancient, it has very little battery life, and no built in modem. And that’s the way I like it. (OK, more battery life would be nice, but I digress.) If there’s something along the way I’d like to research, I make a note of it, or I grab my Droid real quick. Then I put the phone down and get back to work.

4. Love your characters. Even the unlovable ones.

This can be hard. In my novel, Divorcing the Corpse, there are some pretty ugly characters, and I’m not just talking about the zombies. You’ve got to find a way to like at least something about everyone you create. One thing I’ve done that has worked with the villain of the story, I asked a very “close personal friend” to help me name him. That way, when I write about the bad guy, I do it with a smile on my face, thinking of my “close personal friend”. The story gets written, someone gets added to the acknowledgments page, everyone’s happy.

5. Have Fun

No, writing a novel is not easy. No one is saying it is. It requires time, thought, and lots and lots of work. But if you don’t enjoy doing it, the work is going to suffer, and your story isn’t going to be as good. It’ll become as much of a drag for your readers as it has become for you. Put it aside, go write something else for awhile. Remember why you love to write in the first place.  Then come back to it. Maybe.

 

So ok, five things I’ve learned. I’m sure there’s many more, I’m sure I’ve got more to learn. But this is what I got so far, hopefully you can use a little bit of this in your own work. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments. Write on!