Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wanna Get Connected?

blog.larrybodine.com
I received some exciting news last week. I found out I got the position as Online Courses Coordinator with Pennwriters, Inc. I’ve been busy orienting myself with the position and setting everything up so the position is low-maintenance. This way I can still do my own personal writing. My email and other social networking sites’ contact lists are growing. And slowly via the blogosphere I’ve been getting connected to my fellow bloggers.

As I get more settled into my writing life, I have more time to devote to meeting new people. And through writing conferences and workshops I’ve learned the importance and reaped the benefits of social networking.

So, I decided I would like to reach out to other bloggers and writers I’m not yet connected to by using today’s post as a networking social function. My social networks are listed below. Leave me a message with your networks. We can all help each other meet new people and make some great professional contacts.     

Twitter: @LCWordsmith

What social media do you use? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NCF Tuesday: The Bad and The Good; Writing Contests; Hamster Ball


News

Book Burning

Ian Crouch discusses the heated debate over Canadian writer Lawrence Hill’s novel, The Book of Negroes. Dutchman Roy Groenberg plans to express his outrage towards the use of the word “negroes” in the title by burning the book.

Should racist and prejudicial words be eliminated from our language, or is the fear of the word give it more power?



Defending “Darkness Too Visible”

Meghan Cox Gurdon responds to the black lash of her essay, “Darkness Too Visible,” that discussed the dark topic and themes in today’s YA literature.

Are we opening a door to more darkness by allowing our children to read  dark and painful novels?

   
arabicfiction.org
Spreading Your Literary Horizons

Many say that if you want to travel, just pick up a book. With all the media coverage of the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, you would think we would know more about this culture. Unfortunately, most bookstore shelves are light on quality Egyptian writing. Thank Pauls Tontonghi for listing six Egyptian writers you should know, like Mansoura Ez Eldin seen pictured here.


Homosexuality and Literature

In celebration of the legalization of gay marriage in New York, I bring you Guardian Books podcast with three gay writers, Stella Duffy, Paul Burston and Neil Bartlett, discussing their sexuality, their writing and their readers.

Do you believe gay novels can make a difference in our society?


Take a look inside a book. It's the Reading Rainbow. 

Contests

FICTION
Glimmer Train Literary Journal
-       Open Fiction; Word Count: 2,000-20,000
-       First Place Prize: $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue
-       Deadline: June 30, 2011
-       Details here 

Narrative Magazine
-       Spring 2011 Story Contest: Fiction and Nonfiction of 15,000 words or less
-       First Place Prize: $3,250, considered for publication
-       Deadline: July 31, 2011
-       Details here 

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       Short Short Writing Competition
o   Fiction: 1,500 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: November 15, 2011
o   Details here 
-       5-Minute Memoir, “Tales From the Writing Life”
o   Personal Essay (600 words or less)
o   Prize: Publication in Writer’s Digest magazine
o   Deadline: Rolling submissions
o   Details here 
POETRY
Narrative Magazine
-       Third Annual Poetry Contest
-       Unpublished, all poetic forms and genres, except translations.
-       First Place Prize: $1,500 and publication
-       Deadline: July 16, 2011
-       Details here 

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       7th Annual Poetry Awards Competition
o   Poetry: 32 lines or less
o   First Place Prize: $1,500 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: December 1, 2011
o   Details here 

Fun
XKCD Webcomic made me giggle, again. Enjoy!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Levavi Oculos*


*Lifted up my eyes.


Last week, my days at Tinker Mountain Writing Workshop began on a large Southern porch. Bird songs, reminiscent of the “moment of nature” from CBS Sunday Morning, the only sound in the background while I swayed in a Kennedy rocker reading excerpts of Diane Ackerman, Twain and Robert Bly's writing. 
Main Building


Somehow, the six and a half hours I traveled on a Sunday to Roanoke, Virginia transported me back seven years to my undergraduate study at Penn State. An uncomfortable spring mattress, thin walls, an I.D. and keys on a lanyard around my neck, walking everywhere, cafeteria food and making new friends. 


The longing for a personal bathroom started back up the minute I needed to put on shower shoes, carry shampoo, conditioner and other accoutrements to fight over the one shower that didn’t suck, again.


Although living on Hollins University campus for a week may not be ideal for the been-there-done-that woman, it immersed me in the small, intimate community of writers and the Memoir and Personal Essay workshop instructed by poet and professor emeritus Jim McKean.

Memoir and Personal Essay Group
The six women I shared my writing, laughter and tears with will forever stay a part of my life. Every day I spent learning about these accomplished women through their stories of an idyllic childhood in Olympia, Washington, student teaching in North Philadelphia, the War on Doctors, a spunky grandmother, the speed bumps of motherhood and a long, painful journey to reconnect with a mother. 

Jim’s soft-spoken lectures on resonant detail, time and structure, discussions on reading material not easily found at home and my 30-minute one-on-one meeting fostered an environment of learning and growing within my craft I so desperately miss working from home.

I attended presentations by the other professors, Fred Leebron, Dan Mueller and Nick Lantz, throughout the week as well. The one-hour lectures provided a glimpse at the other workshops offered at Tinker and the opportunity to learn about narrative complexity, psychological trauma and structural form in fiction and the theory behind poetic titles.

Although memoir wasn’t my first choice, I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. Writing memoir allows me to remember. My story and my memories are important, especially if I travel the same path into the darkness of Alzheimer’s that my grandmother struggles with every day.

Why would anyone want to read my story?

Because I was brave enough to put it on paper.

I write for my family and myself. I write to understand the world. I write to share moments of happiness, pain and sadness with others in this fast-paced, disconnected society. Sometimes, it’s just nice to know you aren’t alone. And I never felt alone at Tinker with my Rowdy Girls around to laugh and gossip with and share moments of our lives not yet on the page. 

After the publishing panel on Friday, I merged onto I-81 towards the Mason-Dixon line with a radiant smile of accomplishment across my face and an eagerness for my own shower. The overwhelming amount of new information crammed in my head, new books on my reading list and wonderful memories kept me company on the way home. 

The path ahead of me is more visible, now. My skill and the way I think about writing moved a step up, giving me fuel to keep the fire of inspiration burning. I thank everyone behind the scenes, on the front line imparting wisdom and beside me sharing their stories for creating an amazing experience.  


What writing workshop experiences helped inspire your writing?

Memoir Group Blogs:
Margaret @Women of a Certain Age  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NCF Tuesday: Memoir, Bullying and Inexpensive Travel; Writing Contests; Author-On-Author Insults


News

Grieving Loss Through Memoir

The past week I spent in Roanoke, VA learning, reading and critiquing memoir and other non-fiction forms made me stop and take a longer look at Meghan O’Rourke’s blog post at Huffington Post. She interviewed her father about the grieving process after his wife and her mother passed away to mark the publication of Meghan’s book, The Long Goodbye: A Memoir.

What memoirs have you read that helped you understand the world better?

   
blackcelebkids.com
Bullying Novel from 50 Cent

Julie Bosman of The New York Times tells readers about rap artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s novel about bullying, Playground, due out in January of next year. He used his life growing up to inspire and provide material for the novel and hopes it will not only help his teenage son, but many young adults.  
  
Do you think 50 Cent’s explicit lyrics will affect the public response to his novel?

Literary Traveling

NPR helps you save money this summer by providing a reading list of novels sure to whisk you away to an exotic place without moving from your favorite reading spot.

Where have you traveled, so far, this summer (literally & literary)?



Contests

FICTION
Glimmer Train Literary Journal
-       Open Fiction; Word Count: 2,000-20,000
-       First Place Prize: $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue
-       Deadline: June 30, 2011
-       Details here

Narrative Magazine
-       Spring 2011 Story Contest: Fiction and Nonfiction of 15,000 words or less
-       First Place Prize: $3,250, considered for publication
-       Deadline: July 31, 2011
-       Details here 

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       5-Minute Memoir, “Tales From the Writing Life”
o   Personal Essay (600 words or less)
o   Prize: Publication in Writer’s Digest magazine
o   Deadline: Rolling submissions
o   Details here 
POETRY
Narrative Magazine
-       Third Annual Poetry Contest
-       Unpublished, all poetic forms and genres, except translations.
-       First Place Prize: $1,500 and publication
-       Deadline: July 16, 2011
-       Details here 



Fun
Check out the top 30 author-on-author insults.  Enjoy!

Here’s are two of my favorites:

“15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?””

Ooooh, buuuuurrrrrnnnn!



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Missing in Action!

Hey all!

I just wanted to give everyone a head's up that my regular blogging schedule will resume next week when I return from Tinker Mountain Writing Workshop at Hollins University. This is my third day here, and I couldn't be happier.
The entire campus.

The campus is nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains in Roanoke, VA. The smell of sweet magnolia trees floats in the air and I'm surrounded by wonderful Southern company. The Tinker dorms house the majority of us, bringing me back to my days at Penn State. Love it!

I begin my mornings on the big Southern porch of the Main Bldg. in a rocking chair, reading. If I wasn't brought up better, I would totally throw one of the rocking chairs in my trunk on the way out of here on Saturday. Oh well.

The temperature is a perfect, breezy 80 degrees. I spend my days reading, critiquing and talking craft. The writing community is small and intimate, giving me the opportunity to know everyone. My memoir workshop is made up of the most interesting women and a gentle and insightful instructor, Jim McKean. Hopefully, towards the end of the week I will get some writing done once my down time starts to free up.

Pictures will be posted later this week on my Facebook Writer Page @Laura M. Campbell. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Light at the End of a Puerto Rican Channel



A poem I wrote in response to Timons Esaias's poetry prompt from his seminar, "Your Life is Poetry," at Pennwriters Conference in May 2011. 

Present the emotion, reaction.
                                    Don’t necessarily have to tell the object or thing.
                                                                                                            Get out of your way.

Light at the End of a Puerto Rican Channel

Eyes widen
following
blinking
red light
as paddle
slices 
cold water.

Night swallows
Light
Sharp teeth
Jump
Wooden fingers
Ensare  

Suck in
exotic air
while hands
reach for
glowing magic. 

Take a moment and share your poem in response to the prompt above. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pennwriters Conference Series: #4 Researching Police


passthepolicetest.com


I’m running a bit behind this week. The hot weather and I don’t mix well. One word: cranky. And I’m planning my weeklong Tinker Mountain writing workshop in Roanoke, VA next week.

Today, I am bringing you the last installment in the Pennwriters Conference Series, discussing a few things I picked up from Kathleen George’s class on Researching the Police.

Kathleen shared her experiences and stories gained from researching her novels, and gave the group several tips to follow with our own endeavors.

1.     Let your potential research contacts know you are taking your writing seriously and you have a few questions regarding your plot.
2.     Keep in mind: People usually want to help you out. Just ask.
3.     When contacting the police, send an email explaining your intent. Then, follow up with a quick call; possibly leave a message, to give the individual you are trying to reach a heads up about the email.
4.     You will need to get clearances to participate in a ride-along and tour the department. They want to make sure you’re not a loon. 
5.     Two hours is an appropriate time to spend interviewing.
6.     Bring a gift for the interviewee.
7.     If researching a morgue, be sure to breath through your mouth. Kathleen said she could smell dead flesh for a week because she inhaled through her nose. Gross!
8.     Granted, speaking over the phone can help you move forward with your novel, but field research can be very rewarding and provide an abundance of insight and rich stories.
9.     Keep your eyes and ears open when interviewing. You never know what you might come across that could make its way into your stories.


What tips do you have for researching? What topics have you researched for your writing? 

Check out Alex's Conference Post! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Like Wings Abandoned from Some Future Score

Today, I want to share Born Magazine with you. The blurb from their website below does better than I ever could to explain their initiative. 


Born is an all-volunteer project that brings together writers, artists, and others from diverse fields to create storytelling artworks. Our name reflects the creative process nurtured by collaboration and the bringing together of traditional and new forms of art and literature, diverse media, and emerging technologies. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Born is dedicated to the emergence and continuing evolution of art forms that bring together different creative genres.


So, take a moment out of your busy Saturday to feast your eyes and ears on the smash-up of Paul Gibbons's poem and Dyon-Rivest's film titled Like Wings Abandoned from Some Future Score. 


Born Magazine
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