Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Reminder About the Story Contest: Deadline September 16

WE CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR STORIES!!!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.  We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.  We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description.  Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.  Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.  The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

4 Comments

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

Do You Free Write?

Are you a journal keeper? A note taker? A free writer? I jot down a few writing ideas here and there, but I don’t keep a journal. The thought of journal keeping makes my pulse race from the stress.

But I think free writing is a neglected step in writing.

Today I stumbled on a timed “free write” from 1996. It amazed me how the seeds for my Freshly Pressed post “How and Why I Don’t Know Science”  were all there 17 years ago.

Here’s part of the free write, unrevised:

I begin with thinking of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “That Marvelous Toy,” and until I write about this I’ll remember nothing else.  That mechanical, marvelous toy.  My grandfather’s love of gadget toys.  When I was a child, we used to give him toys for Christmas.

Then I think of having to take earth science in 10th grade because I refused to dissect animals.  Earth science was so boring, taught by a beige boring person, and I was stuck at a table with kids who sat in the back of other classes.  Therefore, I learned nothing.  I yearned for chemistry and physics.

I loved 7th grade science where we saw anti-drug propaganda films and brought in chocolate colored ants.  We kept track of what we ate, to add up calories.  I ate 2nd most in the class by far.  Metabolism? In college I loved Aims and Achievements of Science which was taught like a biography class!

None of these memories 3:09/3:12 (phone/bathroom) though is the tangible revelation of science, is it?  Punished in 3rd grade, desk in hall to record roman numerals as high as I could, when the punishment was over, I kept going to see how far I could go.  But this was easy, a challenge, no revelation.

The dead squirrel in the front year–the squirrel whose mouth crawled with maggots?  Cutting the fish open?  They bleed?  Studying clouds in 5/6th grades?  Buying those science books at the grocery store and studying aspects of science, doing experiments, the Mich. State channel on Sat. afternoon–potato experiments, etc.  Seeing magic performed with science.  Seeing the birth of a baby on a movie at the world’s fair at Expo 67 (I was 12 and terrified, so very much bleeding, bleeding).

I blank.  Science?  What?  Making crystals on a string.  My shell collection.  Rock collection.  Dead leaves.  Pine cones.  Tadpoles in the stream behind Stonehenge.  Putting caterpillar in a jar and letting him cocoon all winter.  Forgetting to take him out when he turns into a butterfly–he dies in the jar.

My guinea pig babies dying–every single litter of them, until I couldn’t stand to go near the guinea pigs.  Leaving the birds too long without food or fresh water.

photo from Wikipedia

Reading over this collection of run-on memories, I can see a lot of different story seeds. A few I have already written about. The first litter of guinea pigs is a scene in my book. I’ve touched on the butterfly, but that is just another step until I write the actual piece about it.

I’m taking two projects away from finding this old free writing.

One is that I can write about my grandfather’s love of mechanical toys. On my genealogy blog I have been serializing an interview of my grandfather which was conducted in 1994—when he was elderly, but still healthy. I could post a story about Grandpa’s toys on that website. Or I could write it for this one.

The other project is that I ought to be doing a lot more of these timed free writes. They allow little memories to pop up, one after another, as I am pressured by the time deadline and freed from the pressure of having to write well ;).

Do you do free writing? If so, is it timed? What do you find helpful about it?

39 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Interview, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing

Holding It in My Hand

Most of my friends use some sort of e-book reader. Not all of them, but most. So does my 78-year-old mother. Of course, she also has an iPhone, and I am not yet that advanced.

When I am forced to explain why I don’t have a Kindle, my explanations sound defensive, even lame. I like holding a real book (but hate lugging tote bags full of them). I dislike looking at a screen (but stare at the computer for hours). I have a book collection (which is why I don’t have any shelf space left).

Every so often I start to think it’s time to relent and buy an e-book reader.

In a related subject, I submit my poetry to literary magazines. Increasingly, the magazines are “ezines,” or online versions.

But I love being published in actual magazines. The other day I received my two contributor’s copies from The Antigonish Review. They accepted my poem “Vintage Doll Buggy,” and they even paid me for it. I waved the check under my husband’s nose to prove poetry pays, whereupon he laughed so hard he started choking.

When I pulled the copies out of the envelope and held them in my hands, I knew why I am reluctantly to turn this business over to the virtual world. The heft and weight of the books in my hand proved their existence. They couldn’t be ignored or clicked away. They are a near living artifact of the poems and stories inside. My poem is one of many, and it represents hours of toil and years of living. If the poem isn’t in an actual book or magazine, does it really exist or does it fade out of the mind?  Is it “over” too quickly?

I’m going to hold off on getting an e-book reader. I’ll get an iPhone first.

38 Comments

Filed under Essay, Nonfiction, Poetry, Writing

In Case You Missed It: I’m Holding a Story Contest!

I hope you will give the contest a try!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.  We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.  We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description.  Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.  Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.  The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

Does Anybody Know Why WordPress is Giving Me Grief?

I’m mildly freaking out about WordPress.

I’ve always regarded WordPress.com as very reliable, but now I’m not so sure. This week WordPress has mostly stopped sending me email notifications. I say “mostly” because every once in a while a notification slips into my inbox.

So I have no idea when the blogs I follow publish new posts without happening upon them by accident in my “reader.”

As some of you know, I have three blogs, and this has occurred with all of them.

Therefore, I ask you: has this happened to others or is it personal?

Do you know how I can fix the trouble? I want to continue to read your blogs!

On a related note . . .

I used to be able to email Support when I had a problem, but I can’t find any place to contact them. If I go through their Support contact form, I can only leave a message for the community. Then I don’t know how to go back and find where I left my question to see if anyone has responded.

In one word:

Help!!!

25 Comments

Filed under Blogging, WordPress

10 Things I Learned about Ordering My Poems

The day I wrote about my troubles reading my poetry aloud I mentioned that I was putting together a poetry manuscript and blogger Mareymercy recommended I read Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems, edited by Susan Grimm. What a fabulous recommendation. The book is a collection of essays by various poets about “ordering” a poetry manuscript.

Here are 10 things I learned about ordering my book:

1. Most poets agree that the living room floor is one of the most important elements of working on a manuscript. This is where the poet spreads out all her poems and looks at them haphazardly, searching for aha moments, such as noticing that one poem contains the word “shrink” and another mentions “diminish” and recognizing a theme.

2. Sometimes placing two poems about the same subject far apart in the book can be more effective than placing them next to each other. The second time around creates pleasure in the reader when he recalls the earlier moment (Beckian Fritz Goldberg)

3. A book of lyrical poems, put together in a certain way, can create a subtle narrative.

4. Sometimes even famous poets submit their manuscripts to contests year after year until they win or place.

5. As the poet puts his collection together, he might discover poems he has not yet written (Maggie Anderson).

6. Consider starting small or internal or personal and moving toward the “public” as the book moves toward its ending.

7. Some poets have been very lucky. Others have made mistakes with their manuscripts and still been successful.

8. The decision to divide the book into sections is . . . confusing.

9. Titles are so much more important than they seem. Sections may be titled or just numbered. But live with a title for a while and see if it’s working. If the manuscript gets rejected, try a new title.  If it still is rejected, re-order the poems.

10. The whole process is intuitive and mystical. There is science behind it. Do I contradict myself? (Walt Whitman–no, he doesn’t have an essay in the book).

15 Comments

Filed under Essay, Nonfiction, Poetry, Writing

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!

It’s time to unveil the writing contest I promised.

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.  We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.  We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description.  Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.  Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.  The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

19 Comments

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

Guest post by the author of “Lake Erie”

GUEST BLOGGER POST

REAL FROZEN CUSTARD

by Wilma Kahn

Real frozen custard―any custard―is a food made with eggs and a milk product. Hence, eggnog is an uncooked custard, flan is a cooked custard, pumpkin pie is a pumpkin custard, rice pudding is a rice custard, cheesecake is a cream-cheese custard, and ice cream made with cream and raw eggs is a frozen custard.

A new ice-cream stand in Portage claims to serve “real frozen custard.” This boast is puzzling, since salmonella has made raw eggs unsafe to eat. On the other hand, people still drink eggnog, whose eggs have somehow been rendered harmless. Perhaps they have been powdered, pasteurized, or zapped with radiation. Is this how eggs in this new “real frozen custard” are made safe? Or is it egg free and, therefore, not custard at all?

Despite misgivings, I decided to taste this frozen custard. The minuscule serving was overpriced, and the consistency was that of compressed pudding. Nevertheless, this place gets plenty of business, making me doubt that its customers have ever eaten the real thing. If they had, they would never accept this oafish substitute.

My mother loved frozen custard. In 1957 she began saving S&H Green Stamps to purchase her own ice-cream freezer. Week after week, my sister and I dutifully licked and pasted the stamps into their books until Mother finally took them to the S&H Service Store to trade for the ice-cream freezer.

From the outside, this machine resembled a tall grey bucket, while inside stood a steel canister, and within that, a series of paddles called dashers. On top of the machine was a heavy steel cap attached to a crank. How, I asked myself, could ice cream come out of that?

Mother assembled the ingredients―light cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. She beat them together in a big bowl and poured the mixture into the metal canister. She placed the canister in the bucket, inserted the dashers, clamped down the metal cap, and poured cracked ice and coarse salt all around the canister.

Word spread on the wind that Mrs. Kahn was making frozen custard. Neighborhood kids abandoned their games of hide-and-seek, their swimming, and their castles in the sand. They stood sandy-footed in swimsuits, watching us crank the freezer.

The cranking was necessary, Mother told us, to turn the dashers to keep ice lumps from forming in the custard. So we cranked and cranked as the cracked ice melted and was replenished then melted again. As my arms and those of my siblings wore out, other children pitched in. When the crank was nearly impossible to turn, Mother told us to keep cranking. Finally, the crank refused to budge. She removed the metal cap, and we gazed at the frozen custard inside.

My mother carried the canister to the kitchen, where she pulled out the dashers and placed them in a bowl. When she had scraped off most of the frozen treat, she passed the dashers to a lucky child to lick clean. Mother dished up servings into grey and yellow Melmac bowls then handed them around to all the children. By this time, our imaginations and hunger had grown into a giant icy bubble of excitement. I spooned into my mouth something pale yellow, cold, sweet, soft, slightly granular, melty―delicious.

Real frozen custard, as I know it, does not hunker down in a Styrofoam bowl, heavy as cowflop. It comes from my mother’s own ice-cream freezer. Real frozen custard, like life, is an ambrosia that takes planning, saving, cranking―time―and it is eaten quickly, before it melts, for it is as ephemeral as a snowflake on the tongue.

Mother’s Frozen Custard Recipe 

  • 1 gallon Half & Half  (4 quarts)
  • 6 eggs *   **
  • 3 ¾ c. sugar
  • 3 T. vanilla
  • 1 ½ t. salt

Beat eggs until light. Add sugar ¼ c. at a time. Add salt, H & H, and vanilla. Crank freeze.

* Most frozen custard recipes call for egg yolks, not whole eggs. Whole eggs may have given my mom’s frozen custard its distinctive taste and texture.

**Remember, raw eggs may carry salmonella, a potentially deadly illness.

Wilma Kahn is a writer and writing teacher living in Southwest Michigan. She wrote “Lake Erie,” which was posted on Writer Site and subsequently Freshly Pressed.

13 Comments

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction

Thank You So Much for Your Brilliant Comments on My Story!

Here is the notice on the website of Midlife Collage about my story:

“Still Photo” Lands First-Place

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Talkative passenger on a two-hour flight leaves a lasting impression in “Still Photo” by Luanne Castle. This first-place story, which leaves readers thinking, is now on the Winner’s
Circle page.

###
Thank you so much for helping my story win!!
The $50 is flying its way to me as I write. I will be thinking up a contest for the blog here, as promised.  Stay tuned . . . .

23 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs, Writing

Voting on the Stories Ends Tomorrow at Noon

Commenting, Facebook liking, and voting (closing arguments) closes tomorrow, Sunday (August 11) at noon.

What’s that for? I have a creative nonfiction or memoir story up at Midlife Collage this week as I explained in my blog posts Monday and Tuesday.

If you have time, please go to the Midlife Collage contest and look for my story “Still Photo” by Luanne Castle. It competes with four other very short stories.

Even if I don’t win, the comments are rewarding to read because it’s wonderful to see if I have reached my readers. And if I win, I will set up a contest on this blog for blog readers :).

And whatever participation you can manage, I thank you from the ends of my toes and tips of my fingers.  Thank you!!!

Go here to find my story:

Midlife Collage  OR Facebook page.  Remember: it’s “Still Photo” by Luanne Castle.

 

Why is the story called "Still Photo" if the photo is of a camcorder?  Read my story and find out!

Why is the story called “Still Photo” if the photo is of a camcorder? Read my story and find out!

3 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs, Writing