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Thursday Thoughts: Writing Sites Worth Investigating

7:39 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, all. If I sound discombobulated today, my mother and I had powerwashers, lath staplers, and hammerers working on her deck all day yesterday. In a small flat there is nowhere to hide. They will be back today to lay cement. Sigh.

I have a mix of sites to suggest and I will tell you what each does and why I have it bookmarked. Sometimes it’s for an article, sometimes a whole site. Their order is random.

Kristin Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone, says in her about page: “Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker. She takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing…Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fan base.”

This may seem an odd choice, but as a blog keeper, I subscribe to a few blogs about blogging. As an industry, I find it fascinating. Kristin covers many aspects of writers and their connections to social media. If this interests you, she has a site worth investigating. If you do nothing else check out her article on the advent of Google+. It is a funny read.

This next suggestion is a post about creativity based on Brian Eno’s [musician, producer, composer] creative process. We know most of these things, but I find it never hurts to read something that reminds us: “It quite frequently happens that you’re just treading water for quite a long time. Nothing really dramatic seems to be happening. … And then suddenly everything seems to lock together in a different way.” The writer of the article goes on to distil some steps we can/should have put into practice.

9 editing Tips that Make Your Writing Sparkle is also a single post with its focus on…editing. I know. You weren’t expecting that. Again, we know most of these steps, but how many do we remember to do? Uh huh…I thought so.

This next suggestion is, again, a single post, titled Becoming a Poet. Despite having been writing for twenty years, I found the post interesting and full of details I enjoyed reading because they reflect my own path in many instances. Author of the article Robin Smith-Johnson says “I don’t have my first attempts at writing poems, but I imagine they were full of abstractions. Now I admire poems for their focus, their specificity, their honesty.  Poets pay attention to the world around them and attempt to capture their vision in words. I also liked the small scale of poems. A poem can be written on scrap paper, tucked in a pocket to be worked on later. I have boxes filled with the rough drafts of poems in various stages of revision. Sometimes I take these sketchy beginnings and use them as the starting point for a new poem.

And, my brain just died. I’m feeling lucky to have managed to introduce four, but as I have been staring at the page for several minutes with the whir of the cement mixer in the background, I think I will call it a day and go drown myself in coffee.

Do tell me if any of this makes no sense, or should a question arise. Click buttons if you know someone who would be interested in any of these sites. Send me any topics you wish me to cover. I have great fun doing reader-generated topics.

I will see you tomorrow for the roundup; next Tuesday for a new form [get ready]; and next Thursday for a discussion on freewriting.

Happy reading and writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 07/07/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Pay it Forward

8:37 a.m.–Atlanta

Dear readers, if you were with me last week you know that I am giving you a continued break from my conversation on words to avoid, but have no fear; we shall return to the list next Thursday. We are almost all the way through and can turn our sights in new directions.

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This week I must fulfill my obligations as a nominee for the Versatile Blogger, as there are laws. This will be a long one so you may want to grab a cup of coffee, turn on some music, or read it in parts.You would not believe how difficult it is to come up with seven random facts about myself. Facts, yes; but what makes one random over another? I decided to wait until I sat at my keyboard and throw out exactly what surfaces in my brain:

1. I speak, read and write Greek. Useful when I lived there, not so much now.
2. Between the ages of 38 and 45, I became a teacher; discovered I can sing; found that while I am phobic about public speaking, I adore acting and became a lead actor in Jakarta’s play group; and started writing poetry. All these came about through moments of serendipity.
3.I love any kind of sausage.
4. I would love to have a borzoi, but will settle happily for a pug. No, they could not be more different.
5. My husband gave me a pistol for a wedding present; I gave him a cut glass decanter. Thirty-nine years later we are still happily married.
6. I hate shoes, or much of anything, on my feet. If I could, I would walk barefoot always.
7. I have a love-hate relationship with technology.

Whew! Next, and this was no easier, I am supposed to nominate fifteen blogs for the Versatile Blogger award. Do you know how difficult that is? The Rag Tree does, as do many other worthy past recipients. I mentioned before that my first choice would be Eric Quinn of The Rag Tree who embodies versatility, but he just received the award and is my nominator. Rats!

It’s not that there are not many good blogs which I read and enjoy; it’s the word versatile. But, my training saved me. I looked up versatile. Some of the lesser known meanings are to be engaged in something, resourceful, turning over in the mind…I can work with that! But I don’t think I will reach fifteen…

My first nominee is Put Words Together. Make Meaning. Donna Vorreyer and her blog answer to all the meanings of versatile, both greater and lesser. Many of you know her through The Poetry Tow Truck that I post every Friday for its prompt. Her prompts are one of three sites I look forward to with anticipation each week. The prompts are thoughtful, interesting and fun. Beyond that, Donna writes stunning poetry and never minds sharing it while still in draft form. I have learned much that helps my own writing, by reading her poetry. And I enjoy the personal parts of her life that she shares occasionally and always with humour and grace.

My next nominee keeps three blogs that I know of. You can find Elizabeth Crawford at 1Sojounal where she invites us to play along with her in finding and using new words; Unraveling, where she shares her photography and the process of her turning the photographs into a different art form; and Soul’s Music, where she posts her poetry. All are worth exploring and, indeed, I want to go back and play with the new words…

Jessie Carty is my next nominee. I am not sure I have ever met anyone with the energy and passion Jessie has. Every second of her life is filled with doing. Her blog offers several attractions: On Mondays, Jessie runs a small group MFA type program; Tuesdays are shoutouts and can lead to new people and places; Wednesdays are reserved for writing about writing; Thursdays are for poem shares; and Fridays Jessie usually gives a status report on her submissions, and I don’t think there is a genre Jessie does not submit work to.

Poets United is the brain child of  Robert Lloyd and is more than a blog. It is a community of writers. There are different functions for each day of the week, such as interviews with members, sharing favourite poets and poems, prompts, blog of the week, poem of the week, and a day for posting member poems. Everything revolves around and is generated for and by members. Earlier this year Robert’s passion to support other poets led to an anthology by the members of Poets United. And, his passion is infectious. If you don’t know the group, stop by and look.

Everyone still with me? I’m exhausted. My thought is to nominate one more and then take a break from this part of the process and come back to it in a couple of weeks. What’s that? You all agree. Well, who am I to gainsay my readers.

OCAL

This fifth one may not be for everyone and comes under the definition engaged in something. But for all you coffee lovers, this is your blog. Their mission at Coffee | Served Daily, is to document 1000 cups of coffee. They think they will hit 500 in June. On their site you can link to each of the cups of coffee photographed and posted to them by many coffee drinkers and you, too, can become one of them. How can you resist?

Now I am going to get a real cup of coffee. If you think someone will like this post, click the buttons below. I shall see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup of prompts, Tuesday for cascade poems and Thursday for more words to avoid [you know you miss them]. Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 12/05/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Being Thankful and Paying Forward

8:40 am — Atlanta

I promised you a break today, dear readers. No more haranguing on words to avoid…until next Thursday. And I was going to share with you some bookmarkable sites, but have had to shift my focus a little because of a number of things that happened this past week.

The Big Poetry Giveaway is over and I won four of the many I entered, so that winging their ways towards me are five poetry books. I am excited, as [except for one] these are poets I have not read, but are well-spoken of. New poems to read. Delicious.

You may have noticed, or not, that I have two new badges on my sidebar. The one for 50 favourite blogs in poetry, I stumbled across accidentally. I was interested in the title when I spotted it on someone’s blog, and curious to see whether I could find still more blogs to follow, because, of course, I don’t have enough already. I make my way down the list and am stunned…gobsmacked…speechless…you get the idea…to see my name and blog listed. Not that I don’t think I have a good blog, but there are many blogs out there and mine has not been around that long. I gave you the link in case you too are curious and do not have enough blogs to follow.

And, I was honoured, recently, by being nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Eric Quinn, of the blog The Rag Tree. I was stunned by the award and what he says: From Hong Kong with insight, this teacher avoids all the clichés: neither pedantic, boring, nor burned out, she carries on the craft she has practiced for decades. This blog is a clearinghouse of information on writing, poetry, prompts, giveaways, style, tips, and ideas. And all of it wonderfully, logically organized… a labor of love. Anyone who practices even a few of her exercises will benefit enormously. A++ I got quite teary. He reached me in my soft spot — he graded me! No, his words on my teaching, which I realised some weeks ago, I have carried from the classroom to my blog, were what touched me the most. I haven’t retired it seems.

Then I read the rules and had minor panic attacks. Oh yes, strings come with this award, hefty ones. Here are the rules:

1.    Thank the person who honored you and give a link to their blog: Okay, did this when I responded to Eric’s blog post. Coming from him this is an honour.

2.    Tell 7 random facts about yourself. What? Wait…I’ll get back to this.

3.    Pass the award to 15 new-found bloggers. Wow! Fifteen bloggers I want not only to give the award to, but to unleash them on you, dear readers. I’ll get back to this. Although, if I could I would reaward The Rag Tree. While, his blog is not new-found to me, it might be for many of you. And it is the most versatile blog I have seen. Not only that, but the writing is worth reading both from the point of content and style. Where else can you find someone holding forth intelligently and cogently on astronomy, linguistics and Gilgamesh? And, he writes poetry.

4.    Contact each blogger onto whom you pass the award and let them know. Okay, seems the polite thing to do in case they do not wish to be unleashed. The logistics might be interesting. Must ask Eric how he went about this.

5.    Let the giver of the award know you accept it or not. I believe I said: Oy! There are rules? For nominees? Just checking…but I do accept, formally.

I notice sharing this with you has taken an entire blog post. It looks to me like you might get another Thursday reprieve. I owe you seven random facts about myself. Crikey! And I must scour my collection of blogs for 15 to unleash, or, rather, nominate.

I will see you tomorrow for prompts roundup. I saw some fun ones for us to play with. On Tuesday I have a fun exercise while you are recovering from ballad writing. You are all writing ballads, yes? Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 05/05/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall

8:28 am, Friday – Atlanta

Here we go with this week’s roundup of prompts and exercises for your delectation.

We start with The Poetry Tow Truck. Donna asks us to try channel surfing again but with a different perspective: Choose a program and watch for at least five minutes. (Or go nuts. Watch the whole thing. ) Try to take your focus away from the people, and therefore away from their clothing, accessories, etc. that dominate a scene. Look into the background and write down what you see there, as many details as you can. Go to the site for an example of what she collected and what she did with her results.

At Writer’s Island the word of the week is foretell. We are asked to look into the future and…well, you will have to stop by the island for the rest of the prompt.

We may lose Carry on Tuesday, which would be a shame. No other site has a prompt like theirs. However, dwindling numbers of responses is giving the creator pause. Drop by and read what Keith has to say. His possibly last prompt is a line from Romeo and Juliet, apt for the site, if indeed it is the last time: “Parting is such sweet sorrow”. To read the line in context and hear it read visit the site.

Our single word sites give us food on Sunday Scribblings, top at One Single Impression [plus illustration], and at Three Word Wednesday: figure, juicy, and stress. Stop by for the definitions as they have a particularly good source.

For those of you who like photo prompts, you will find them each Sunday at Scribble & Scatter. Susan May James also accepts submissions of poems, or stories, that go with the photographs, for a book she plans to publish once she has collected one for each week of the year.

In the Big Tent they tell us: This week is your chance to create your own festival, holiday or annual celebration, or to write the anti- of any of them — real or imagined — as a poem. Visit them for their suggested possibilities and maybe some virtual popcorn.

At Jingle Poetry’s Poetry Potluck the words they give us are: our home, temple, and sanctum. Remember that the creators include an inspirational video to accompany their word choices. Next week’s choices sound like fun : Cartoons, Sci-fi, and Super Powers.

I love the illustration at Magpie Tales, this week. My mind started running in several directions as soon as it saw the picture, so check it out.

The letter of the week at ABC Wednesday is: Today is the F Day! I’m here to help Facilitate your Fantastic entry! Now go over and read the rest of the alliterated paragraph.

Do you have a guardian angel? Go to We Write Poems to read their prompt, which always gives possible paths we might travel down.

Visit Poets United just for the gorgeous photographs of lemons, then stay to read the prompt. There are a lot of possibilities with lemons…

The prompt at Free Write Friday has not been changed, but if you haven’t had a chance to visit, head over that way. It’s useful, if you feel like writing but aren’t quite there with a poem. If they haven’t changed by next week, we’ll give them a rest for a while.

That’s it for this week. I hope you have a restful , or playful, weekend, and certainly a writing one. See you Tuesday for Dialogue Poems, and Thursday for more on nouns.

 
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Posted by on 25/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: It Has Been That Kind of Week

8:09 am, Friday, 11 February, 2011 – Atlanta

I feel like I have been through a month this week. Am glad to have reached Friday in one piece.

We start with Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck. I know I keep saying her prompts are fun but…her prompts are fun. In part, Donna says: Today’s exercise leans on some of our most prized possessions to help us draft. Take a look at your bookshelf (or the stack next to your bed…or next to your couch…you get the idea). Write down six to ten titles. Go to the tow truck to learn more.

Next, we drop by Writer’s Island where they wish us to “beguile the time” [Macbeth]. Look up beguile. It has some interesting definitions to play with. The Island lists a few.

This week, Carry on Tuesday features a quote from pianist Arthur Rubinstein. To read the line and to hear some music, stop by.

At Sunday Scribblings, we have more than a one word prompt this week: I know we’ve had “Bedtime Stories” before, but this is an altogether more grown-up prompt. Intrigued? Go over and see the rest of the prompt.

One Single Impression offers a single word prompt accompanied by a photograph and an allusion to Matthew 11:28-30.

I always head for Big Tent with a lift of the heart. There is something about a circus…They start their prompt with: Got the blues? I do. And I can’t stop whining about it. Winter has me down, baby. Really down. Are you blue about anything? It doesn’t have to be winter (some of you live where it’s summer now). It can be anything. Now go to the circus for the rest of the prompt.

Our colourful Jingle Poetry offers us Aims, Goals and Ambitions with accompanying video for inspiration in their Poetry Potluck. Next week: Love, Bonds and Relationships!

Over at Poets & Writers they have an interesting prompt. That’s all I am going to say. You will have to go there to see it. It’s tricky but if you have the right poem could be fun.

There is a particularly evocative photograph on Magpie Tales. The colours, the winter scene, and the house looking deserted…

Three Word Wednesday has their three words and definitions. I am almost more intrigued with working a poem from the definitions they give us each week, than the words themselves.

And, definitely head over to We Write Poems because they have a personal challenge this week. At first I thought, Well, not for me…too difficult. But the prompt has been working on me and I may give it a go. They start with : Happy Valentines! Out of the fire and into the frying pan! We’ll let you write whatever valentines to your sweethearts as you wish. What we’re asking this week is that you write a valentine message to yourself! How can you not go look at the rest?

The Thursday Think Tank at Poets United ends their prompt with : Take a little time and think about what the shadows around you represent. Look at your surroundings and see what shadows inspire in your imagination. They also have three photographs and a quote from Elie Wiesel to spark our thinking.

And our anchor site One Stop Poetry. They offer plenty of inspiration in a variety of forms, but I still have a hard time navigating around. They have a seemingly nifty feature where you can hover your mouse over Features and Articles, but when I clicked on one it took me to an About page, not the page itself. If one of my readers has cracked the code I would love to hear from them.

And, if you have not visited the new networking site for writers, Writing Our Way Home, come take a look. We are up to 220 members and counting. It’s quite an enterprise. My page [if you can see it without joining] is here.

Have a good weekend. Take time to write, or at least look at things with an eye to writing about them.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 11/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Useful Things to Know

8:47 am, Thursday 3 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Goodday! I hope everyone is dry and safe.

Today I want to give you links to a half-dozen items that are useful to read, or are of interest. First, I forgot to link The Rag Tree’s poem on submissions which, given three Thursdays on the topic, I thought you would enjoy reading. I am sending you to the page but have a browse around his blog, as his interests are widespread: Gilgamesh, grammar, a new world…

I stumbled, as is my wont, across another list of publishing resources in Poets & Writers.

There has been an interesting development in our writing world. A Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry has been published recently. If you go over to The Poetry Foundation you can download and read it. There is much of interest. To read a commentary on the strengths and weaknesses and hopes that the code embodies, check writer/editor Dave Bonta’s post.

Another article of interest is at Olivia Tejeda’s site Away With Words…The article addresses gender inequality in print and the findings of a group, VIDA,  established for the purpose of looking into the subject.

And, finally, a shout out for a new writing network. I am calling it that rather than a website because in many ways it mimics Facebook, but is designed for writers. They have just started, so there will be a shaking out and some of us keep losing our way around, but it’s fun to have a community and a place to meet. Check Writing Our Way Home. Join! You don’t have to do anything but you will have a “room”.

That’s it for today. Back to mantras next Thursday. Tomorrow: Friday’s roundup of this week’s prompts around the blogosphere.

 
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Posted by on 03/02/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: Roundup

8:03 am, Friday, 28 January, 2011 – Atlanta

Hello! The end of the week already. I’m getting ready to wave goodbye to our first visitors and welcome the second set. Hosting is exhausting. Now to the roundup of exercises to inspire you, or for you to play with.

Over at Put Words Together. Make Meaning, Poetry Tow Truck prompt #4 is more of a mini-lesson and an important one. Donna says, in part: One of my biggest struggles is selecting titles for my poems. So today’s workshop in a box will focus on title-finding suggestions I have collected over the years from different teachers and workshops. Visit Donna to find out what she suggests.

A bonus on Donna’s site is her mention of a list of online print publications, by Diane Lockward. Between this list and the CRWROPPS resource I mentioned yesterday, noone should have trouble finding places to submit.

The folks on Writer’s Island ask us to consider the concept of clarity. Their prompt is accompanied by a striking photograph. Visit the island and feel for a moment you are out of the cold.

Visit Carry on Tuesday, which posts its prompt on Sunday but posts the poems on Tuesday, gives us the familiar phrase: “Are we there yet?” To watch a trailer from a Simpsons’ movie of the same name, go to their site for the link.

If you like single word prompts head to Sunday Scribblings and One Single Impression. Three Word Wednesday offers a twist by giving three words to be used together in a poem. This week they have added a twist to their twist by giving us three slang words, for which they provide a definition.

I always smile when I know I am going to The Big Tent. I enjoy the site, as well as their prompts. This week it’s all about point of view: This week dig up a portrait photograph – in your home, computer, or on the web – of someone you know or someone you don’t. The photo cannot be one that you took. Their prompts are small conversations with us, so visit to read the rest of the prompt.

And Jingle Poetry has us focusing on rules, regulations and laws, which allows for plenty of possibilities. They like to include a video to help the thought process get started. And, a flash forward to their next week’s topic which will be on peace, relaxation, and spirituality.

Poet’s & Writers has an intriguing prompt this week: Make a list of objects. One thing should be from your desk, one from your closet, one a body part, one a thing you covet that belongs to someone else, one enormous, one slippery, and at least one that makes an odd or evocative sound. Visit them for the whole prompt which should ensure some interesting results.

 

Magpie Tales has an odd photograph which can be dealt with literally, or abstractly.

I love We Write Poems‘ prompt for the week, which asks: “Have you seen the movie? A Bucket List is a list of all the things you have wanted to do, see, and experience, that you have not yet done in your life. So, step one, make a list. Then choose one or two, or maybe more, of these items from your list and create a poem about those adventures.” For the complete prompt wend your way over.

Poets United The Thursday Think Tank focuses on fire, which can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. Go to their site for more on the prompt.

And finally, go to One Stop Poetry and explore because they offer so much and have prompts on a couple of different days. They may focus on music, a photograph, an idea, but they have a lot to delve into.

That does it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend and I will see you Tuesday for more work with metaphors. This time we will play.

 

 
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Posted by on 28/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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