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Archive for the ‘By the Way’ Category

Hiring My Muse: The 7-Hour Week

Thinking or Writing?

Thinking or Writing?

I confess.  Most weeks I’m not a productive writer.  I sit all day in front of a computer doing stuff I’d rather not be doing and by the time I get home, I’m drained–no juice left to even prime the creative pump.  Excuses.  I don’t like to exercise either.  But an online fitness site has recently helped me see what progress consistent, incremental effort can achieve: the key word being “consistent.”  I have already abandoned my New Year’s resolution to revolutionize my writing life.  I knew I would.  But I had hoped the idea would linger like a prompt … and it has.  I accomplished so much in January.

One Hour a Day, a blog by Jo Eberhardt (WordPress: The Happy Logophile) has given me new inspiration–and a new aspiration.  Now that my husband is renewing his interest in painting, it seems just the thing: The Creative Hour at Our House.  I want to try this–will let you know how it goes.

Art in Action

Art in Action

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Nannie, pastor’s wife, operated her own business: virtuous woman.  I sat beside her, second pew.  She taught me hymn-singing harmony: my alto, her soprano.

Her house didn’t welcome children–busy street, scant yard, multicolored oval rug: indoor playground.  She reclined, exhausted, while I occupied my mind, exhausting dictionaries, encyclopedias, Vanderbilt‘s tome on etiquette.  Nannie rewarded me with Old Maid, Go Fish.  She taught me Chinese checkers.

Retirement released her like an aging rose.  I inhaled.  She taught me stiff rosebuds can become soft blooms.  She taught me to appreciate the subtle fragrance seemingly sealed behind her enigmatic smile–and mine.

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Mammaw shared coffee with Kathy, diluting the ten-year-old’s with “sweet milk” and sugar: “Boston coffee.”

Kathy kicked her chair’s metal legs, squirming when splits in its plastic seat snagged her nylon nightgown or pinched her bare legs.  Mammaw’s eyes smiled through black-rimmed glasses, shaped like butterfly wings.  They chatted like old friends between sips.

“Get your britches on, young-un!  We’re fixin’ to fetch you a purty from the dime store!”

Kathy grinned and scampered off.

Her dime store “pretty” lost to time, her memories of Mammaw last.  Smiling, she pours her grandchildren juice.  They chat like old friends between sips.

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New Year 2013 (PNG) | PSDGraphicsI’ve always resolved never to make New Year’s resolutions.  The reason?  They’re like rules, made to be broken.  Take my resolution not to make resolutions for one.  So why did I deviate from my norm this year?  Resolutions tend to be irresolute due to a lack of execution.  I decided to back up my resolutions with a daily and weekly plan to attain weekly, monthly, and annual goals.  I even made myself a weekly checklist.  For the sake of public accountability and in the interest of promoting writerly hubris, here is a summary of my 2013 Resolutions:

  • DAILY, I will open my Milky Way Home (sequel to Man in the Moon) file and write SOMETHING (even if it’s just the word “something”) and save it. But seriously, I’d better do more than that to meet my MONTHLY goal of 1-2 chapters and my ANNUAL goal of finishing the first draft by year’s end.
  • DAILY, I will accomplish one of my WEEKLY or MONTHLY tasks so I stay on target to accomplish these goals.
  • WEEKLY, I will “chat” with the characters of my dual-contemporary-historical fiction project and take notes to help with plot development; I will record a chapter of Man in the Moon for eventual mp3 audiobook download; and I will blog, post, and tweet here, there, and elsewhere.  Oh, and I’ll have to make progress toward a MONTHLY or ANNUAL goal each week, as well.
  • MONTHLY, I will complete a query or draft an article, which I’ll submit to a magazine; I will complete one brief audio “lesson” in a non-fiction series; tend to professional social networking; and accomplish at least one definite marketing task to promote my book and myself as a writer.
  • ANNUAL goals include 1-2 contest entries, at least 1 more story in my Mothers & Daughters collection, and some speaking engagements. I also want to resurrect my publisher’s web site and sell a Kindle version of Man in the Moon.

Gee, I’m tiring myself out just thinking of it all.  Of course, it’s all contingent on GOD willing and by His grace, but I can’t blame GOD for any laziness on my part.

I’m on track so far!  Chugga-chugga-choo-choo-I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can!  Now, if I just don’t run out of steam … . free Trains Clipart - Trains clipart - Trains graphics - Page 6

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Flash Light

Image     A flash of brilliance, creative energy bursting forth against blind monotony … three posts this date on whytedovepress.wordpress.com feature the contrast of dark and light.  Explore their visions.

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Hey, Give It a Try!

A few weeks ago I responded to a writing gig posted on Craig’s list.  Last week, I got a reply.  It seems I’d been picked as one of an elite few the company invited to submit a sample blog entry about the topic of Human Resources Recruiting.  What I know about that subject might fill a teaspoon with an 1/8 tsp left over.  I almost blew it off, thinking: “It’ll take you too long to figure out what to say and then too long to write it, it’s probably a scam anyway just to get free blogging, surely you don’t expect to be paid for this, and you probably don’t want the gig anyway because who are you kidding you know nothing about HRR.”

But something in me wanted to have a go at it, to pick up the proferred gauntlet, take up the challenge.  I surfed the web and found some info on recruting employees that sparked an idea on the subject.  I fanned the spark with a few memories of my own job-hunting experiences: getting laid off, getting hired, wishing applications had room for essays explaining the erratic ins and outs of my work experiences.  I actually had fun writing something totally out of my usual zone.  When I e-mailed it to the company, I wasn’t concerned about whether or not I got the gig, just glad I’d given it my best shot.

This week, I got another e-mail.  They found my sample blog entry “interesting” and wished to publish it.  On the other hand, they had decided not to hire a writer to produce weekly blog entries.  So I didn’t get the gig, but they liked my submission.  And they’re going to pay for it!  Cool. 

Because I let myself write outside the lines of my historical article / technical how-to / fiction addiction box, I had fun affirming my professionalism and versatility as a writer, renewed my hope that not every writing gig is a scam, and I made some money.

That reminds me … have you entered the Whyte Dove Press writing contest yet?  No entry fee.  Cash prizes.  What have you got to lose?

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Maybe I could give you $325 instead, or even $375. 
You would never have to pay me back.

Seriously.

But you have to act now.  Deadline for this offer is 6pm July 4th.

My web site, Whyte Dove Press, is having a writing contest.  NO ENTRY FEE.  You can enter as many times as you want.  See www.whytedovepress.com for details.

First prize for an essay 750-1500 words is $100 and second prize is $35.  First prize for a story 750-1500 words is $100 and second prize is $35.  First prize poem is $40 and second is $15.  If you’re between 13-19 years old, you can compete in the Youth category and win $50 for an essay of 500-1000 words.  Children ages 12 and under can win $25 for an essay 250-500 words.

If you’re a beginning or lesser known writer, this could be your chance to get a published clip to attach to the next query you e-mail to a magazine editor or book agent.  If you’re the parent, aunt/uncle/ grandparent, brother/sister, friend of a young person who has writing aspirations, this is that young person’s big chance to see what it’s like to be published; we will publish every entry, winning or not, in the Youth and Children categories as a reward for the effort involved.    

Winning entries will be published on the Whyte Dove Press web site.  Non-winning entries of quality could be published on the site as well.  Publication on WDP is non-exclusive; so you can showcase your efforts elsewhere as long as WDP can post your entry, too, any time between August 2008 – February 2009.

Why not give it a try?  We’ve got to give the money away to somebody.  It may as well be you!

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