Roadwork has been going on in front of my house for over eight weeks—horrendous dust and dust storms, constant machine noise, speeders that don’t slow down for road conditions, dirt embedded inside and outside my car, and layers of dust covering my house and property. I can’t sit out on my beautiful deck without inhaling copious amounts of dust (not good for someone with asthma). And, their big trucks wake me every morning by 7:30. Maybe the upside is I might finally become a morning person?
I’ll be happy when it’s over and I’ll appreciate the new services. I’m not complaining… well, maybe a little…but I’m writing about this because I was horrified to realize this morning that I’ve become used to all this noise and commotion.
As I’m typing, my house is shaking. Vibrating. The sound of a jackhammer like an angry bird beating its wings against my windows. Rat-a-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat. Read more
Recently, I was notified that my poem “Butterfly House” was awarded Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. The poem is in my newly released book of poetry, “The Dragon & The Dragonfly” and was one of those poems that came quickly.
I’d decided to celebrate my late husband’s birthday by going to the Butterfly Museum at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. I’d never heard of the museum until the week before when a friend mentioned it. I decided it would be the perfect adventure for the day to honor his transition into his “new” life and to honor my struggle to find my own new life. I say struggle because I wasn’t there yet, but I knew this is what I wanted—to find my way forward.
It was a truly magical experience. At one point, I just stood with my arms outstretched and waited for a butterfly to land on me. Several came and went, but one—a big orange and black monarch—stayed for a while on my hair. Just call me butterfly whisperer. Read more
My stomach burns like I just chugged a dregs-of-the-coffee-pot cup of joe that is now eating a hole through my intestines to the center of the earth. Or maybe there’s a mouse on uppers doing a nervous, jittery tango in there. Or maybe both.
Why do I feel this way? Because I’m about to push the “publish” button on my first book of poetry, The Dragon & The Dragonfly.
I’ve been writing poetry off and on for 35 years, published my work in journals, and won numerous awards, so it’s not like I’m a newbie fresh out of school. But the thought of sharing my very personal poetry was making me doubt my decision to create this book, this permanent record of my words, this revealing of my soul.
I think this is a natural feeling shared by most writers and artists. And something that new artists can be especially concerned about—what if Uncle John or Grandma Ellen reads my words?
So how do you get over this fear of exposing too much of yourself? I don’t think you ever do. Any time we put something new out into the world, there’s a certain vulnerability in that but also a sense of freedom. Read more
Writers often hear the advice, “write what you know,” but my philosophy is, “write what you WANT to know.” A good way to begin discovering your story’s theme is to ask questions because we come to understand who we are and our place in the world by asking questions.
In the 12-minute video below, the creators of the animated movie “Inside Out” share how the theme of their story emerged for them over time as they went on a quest of discovery.
For National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my most favorite and least favorite parts of writing a new poem:
My favorite part of writing a new poem:
- The idea that invades my mind like twining ivy and won’t let go until the entire poem has been put to paper
- Making messy lines and blot outs and squiggles with my colored pen on paper as I play with ideas and words
- Typing all that mess into a fresh, new document on my computer—that feeling of chaos becoming somehow ordered
- Rereading the poem, feeling both its wholeness and its incompleteness in my mind and body
- Editing the poem, fussing with words and line breaks, challenging myself to see what can be more specific or fresher
- Reading the poem for my writing critique group to see my creation through new eyes, discovering where the poem can be improved
My least favorite part of writing a new poem? Read more
Before I wrote my first synopsis, I thought it would be a breeze—after all, I’d done the hard part, right? I had finished and edited an entire book! What could be harder than that? Plenty, I was to learn.
Recently, I helped chair a major literary contest where I read over 100 book synopses. I was impressed with a handful of the synopses, but, for the most part, they were vague or poorly written or trying to be “mysterious” when they needed to be clear and to the point. I realized that I was probably not alone in my dread of the synopsis. Writing a GOOD synopsis is one of the hardest tasks undertaken by a writer.
The main purpose of a synopsis is to provide a summary of an entire novel. It must provide an overview of the plot (including the ending), characters, and theme.
Put yourself in the shoes of a literary agent who is deciding from your synopsis whether or not to read the first pages of your book. Your synopsis has to be even more perfect than your stellar novel. No pressure, right?
No worries. Below are a few tips to help you make your synopsis sing: Read more
I’ve heard the phrase “show don’t tell” at least a million times in my writing career. And, mostly, that’s good advice—though there are times when “telling” is more economical and gets the job done.
But in most scenes, and especially when I want to draw my reader into deep point of view, I try to show as much as possible. I draw on the senses instead of my character’s intellect.
In other words, I want my readers to experience the event with my character instead of my character filtering the experience for them.
Below are a few “before” and “after” sentences from my current manuscript: Read more