Tag Archives: Writing

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Judging for Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest is completed. The winner of the contest and of the $250 award is Merril D. Smith for her poem “How I Learned”!

How I Learned


recurring patterns, star shapes
and spirals, leaves and shells are echoes,

the vibrations and reverberations of before-time
the ineffable radiance, the glimmering streams

whose crystalline traces created
seas and a world
where we swim before we can fly—

fractals that connect past and future.

Birds sing the harmonies of stars,
trees and seas bear primeval secrets, 
tremulous whispers flow underground and
across continents, waves of knowledge
break on fallow shores,
snippets coast on spindrift, 
we feel the droplets, taste the salt, hear only susurration--

perhaps we understood once,

the whispers, the songs, the patterns,
like puzzle pieces, fragments 
I have glimpsed, 

in a dream,
a tightrope journey over a dark, uncharted crevasse
my arms outstretched for balance,

and then 
free-
      falling 

upside-down and in-between
the visible and the unknown--

but my ancestors spread wings
that covered centuries
to catch me, guide me,

You can, they said
as they showed me that I have my own wings—
unfold them, fly. This, too, is part of the pattern.


The finalists, in no particular order, are:
*Jess L. Parker
*Serena Agusto-Cox
*Stephanie L. Harper 
The finalists will be receiving a Rooted and Winged tote bag. Congratulations to all three because the scores were very close.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE CONTEST JUDGES!

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Only a Few Days Left to Submit to The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest closes on July 27!

Read the guidelines below to find out more about the chance to win $250!

Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Dates: Preorder book by July 15. Submit through July 27.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

What’s Going On?

I’m so annoyed that WordPress took away my ability to draft a post in “classic” instead of “block.” I hate block. Any writer would hate block. And you know what? Even my website guy who is a techie instead of a writer hates block editing. If WordPress would pay attention, they would see that blogging via WP is down since they started that ridiculousness.

Things have been tough this past year without WP screwing around with me. Four kitties since July that I’ve had to watch get sick and then help over the rainbow bridge. Family troubles causing me to end up with two more senior cats that I need to integrate into the household (not to mention the family troubles themselves).

I wrote a chapbook of poems, and I submitted it to a contest that I found through a reputable writing website. My chapbook didn’t take one of the top three spots, but it was one of nine finalists. I thought that was great until I got an email from them saying that as one of their “top finalists” my book deserves to be published. I can do that if I cough up $600 for the publisher. What???? So I read more about the press. They say they operate on a cooperative publishing model and are not a vanity press. To clarify: a vanity press is when you want to publish your book and you pay a publisher to do so. There is no possible rejection involved. This “cooperative” press assures first that they want to put their name on your book. Then you pay $600! When is this ever a good idea? Let’s say you have had a book rejected by many publishers and you don’t want to self-publish and you can afford to spend the money. Maybe then? Back to me submitting to their contest. I guess I’m a little ticked off that a legit writing website would let them advertise that contest without explaining about the “hit you up for $600 bit.”

Remember that the writing contest I’m holding right now is LEGIT. 🙂

Remember my tiny books for Doll God and Kin Types? I got them for Rooted and Winged!

You have through Friday to preorder a copy of the actual book if you have not already. I’m still pledging to donate $5 per preordered copy to Liberty Wildlife. Also, if you would like to enter my writing contest (for prose or poetry) which closes on July 27, you must preorder a copy by July 15 to be eligible. Guidelines at the end of this post.

GUIDELINES AFTER ELIGIBILITY (PREORDER ROOTED AND WINGED) MET:

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, don’t put your name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Guidelines for The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest closes on July 27! Read the guidelines below to find out more about the chance to win $250!

Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Dates: Preorder book by July 15. Submit through July 27.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Presales Now for Rooted and Winged

My full-length collection Rooted and Winged needs your help. (Please forgive the drama!)


PRE-ORDER HERE

Release date: September 9

Book description:

The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.

The poems of Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged are embedded in land and weather. “Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light,” she writes early in the collection, hinting at the sensibilities of the companionable speaker who will usher us through the book. 

Diane Seuss (2022, Pulitzer for poetry)

Cover art: Leonard Cowgill

If you pre-order . . .

How the book gets distributed is contingent on pre-order sales! SO for the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years.  Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.

If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.

As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts and would particularly love to set things up for fall when the book is in our hands!

If you already ordered a copy Thank You!!!!!

all my ghosts and angels become each

other and then me with a hinted outline of wings.

from “The Shape of Me”

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When I Got Kicked Out of Girl Scouts

Last week Liz Gauffreau posted a story from her childhood with an image of herself in Girl Scout uniform. Wow, did that ever send me back in time! If you’re familiar with the Girl Scouts, you know that the first level is Brownies. My mother bought me a cute little brown uniform, lightly worn. I remember swinging in the swings at school, pumping my legs as hard as I could, looking down at my mocha brown skirt. My friend and I were singing, “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” 

Skip forward to fourth grade at a new school. I remember walking down the hall from the art room to the Girl Scouts meeting room. I was carrying money to give to our leader, Mrs. Norton. When I handed it over, she counted it and then accused me of stealing some pennies. I will admit that when I was a teenager I engaged in some shoplifting and paid the price. But as a nine-year-old? I wouldn’t even have thought of it. I was scared of authority, too.

What I learned from the experience is that even if you’re not guilty, once you are publicly accused you have been publicly shamed. Nothing was worse to me as a kid than shame. The look Mrs. Norton laid on me was pure hatred and disgust. She kicked me out of the troop, and I never went back. But I lived with that feeling of shame (and the stomach aches it helped cause) for years afterward.

Did anything positive come from the experience? I think it made me more sensitive to other children and then to other people in general. I never liked to see anyone bullied and would try to support people I saw bullied. This has continued throughout my life and has even included “mom groups” on social media where I defended the picked-upon. So I guess it was worth it, but it wasn’t the only problem I had at that new school. Luckily, I was only there for 1 1/2 years before we moved elsewhere.

About my new book, Rooted and Winged: it went into pre-orders last Monday. Why would you want to pre-order it instead of waiting until the release in September? In part, to be nice to me hah. The thing is, the number of pre-orders the book gets determines the royalty percentage that I will receive, as well as where the book will get marketed. So I can’t stress enough how much I would appreciate you pre-ordering instead of waiting (if you are able to, of course). AND, if you pre-order, you will be helping the wildlife in the Phoenix area as I am making a $5 donation for each pre-order! Info that I posted last week is copied below. If you want a donation slip, please let me know you pre-ordered and what your email address is.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Release date: September 9

Book description:

The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.

Cover art: Leonard Cowgill

If you pre-order . . .

I would love it if you could pre-order the book, if you can swing it. For the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years.  Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.

If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.

As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts.

 

all my ghosts and angels become each

other and then me with a hinted outline of wings.

from “The Shape of Me”

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing

Cover Reveal of Rooted and Winged

Finishing Line Press has revealed the new cover of my full-length collection Rooted and Winged.

PRE-ORDER HERE

Release date: September 9

Book description:

The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.

Cover art: Leonard Cowgill

If you pre-order . . .

I would love it if you could pre-order the book, if you can swing it. For the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years.  Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.

If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.

As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts and would particularly love to set things up for fall when the book is in our hands!

all my ghosts and angels become each

other and then me with a hinted outline of wings.

from “The Shape of Me”

35 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing

Find a Pandemic Pen Pal

The other day a friend of mine posted some photos from a nursing home in Texas. Some of the residents were looking for penpals. Their facility is locked up because of the pandemic, so the people are presumably getting lonely. Each person holds a white board with their first name, listing a few items they like. In a few moments of spontaneity, I wrote to one of the residents. I chose Matt because he simply wrote that he is interested in war stories. He reminded me of my dad a bit, and my dad loved war stories when he was living in the nursing home. Also, I am researching my great-uncle Chuck’s military history because my uncle asked me to do so. He told me that there is a story there, one that I had never heard before. I don’t have all the info yet, but when I do I plan to reveal it on my family history blog. I’ll probably link to it here.

Anyway, I wrote to Matt about my dad being in the Korean War and Uncle Chuck in Germany during WWII. I really hope he writes back, but he might get a lot of mail. I felt happy just writing to him, even if I don’t hear back.

I wondered if other nursing homes are doing the same. I mean, it didn’t take long to write the letter and it cost me a stamp. I found this article by AARP: Pen Pals Share the Joy of Letter Writing. The AARP article led me to this website: Snail Mail Social Club. For this “club,” you end up writing to individuals in “facilities,” as well as to the staff at the facilities. I think this is a chance to thank people who are taking care of our elders. I filled out a very brief form for Snail Mail Social Club. I put down my interests as animals, art/crafts, history, and reading. You have to choose from the choices on the list. I will be sent a list of people to write to by email.

Letter writing is strictly old school, not like what bloggers do. To blog we need the power of the internet and the power that goes into our computer electrical cord (or battery). It felt good to send out a letter. Now I better write one to my aunt!

Kind of ironic that I am posting about letter writing when the USPS is in trouble, but then maybe it is meant to be that I write about this now.

I told my mother about writing to Matt and asked if the nursing home at her campus offers something like this. She asked me to please call and give them the idea. I left a message on the voice mail of the appropriate person, but I have not yet heard back.

If we all, adults and children alike, wrote to just one pen pal, that would give light and color to the lives of so many people who are cooped up from Covid, unable to even see their own relatives in person. Imagine how it feels to be locked in, wondering if you will die before you can go for a car or bus ride or see your relatives again.

This photo is from my father’s U.S. Army photo album from his time in the military. Interesting that he seems to be posing in front of the quartermaster school. He was not a quartermaster, but he was a supply sergeant, so it’s likely that (unless I have this confused) he worked for a quartermaster. He isn’t wearing a uniform in all of his photos. In some of them he is even wearing a bathing suit. I chose this one because I like his jazzy sweater.

I’m going to close comments because it’s been a super busy week, and I need to catch up with comments and the blogs of others. Make it the best week you can (considering haha).

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

More Scrapping Scraps

I finished another story scrap for my SCRAPS scrapbook–finally.

As a reminder this is the first post. Click the photo to read it.

 

When I was a preteen, my grandmother sewed me shorts sets from cotton blend prints. She made the tops and shorts out of the same material, but the tailoring was fairly sophisticated, so the end product had more in common with a summer dress than a romper. I don’t know where she got the idea from or if it was in style in the sixties. At least one fabric was made into matching mother-daughter shorts sets for Mom and me.

 

But my favorite set was in a fabric that I found very cheering. Balloons in varying shades of spring greens, both solids and prints, float on a white field. The shorts were mid-thigh, and the top had a fairly high neckline. Because Grandma made it for me, the outfit fit perfectly. It was comfortable, and I felt good wearing it.

 

Not that I didn’t love to wear my denim shorts and short-sleeved sweatshirt. But Grandma’s short sets were lighter weight than my other play clothes and much more convenient than dresses.

In this photo I am posing alone–to see the one with my mother look at the finished pages at the bottom of the post.

In our old photos, I found myself wearing the balloon set on two different dates. The summer photo came first. It was on the occasion of our trip to Canada to attend Expo 67. In fact, in a scrapbook, Mom labeled the picture, “Mother and daughter enjoying a rest.” A body of water is behind us. Below that photo, my mother had pasted another photo and labeled it, “Sawmill at Upper Canada Village.”  There is another image of just me in the same spot but without my mother (the one above). From examining the few photographs I could find online, I do think these photos of me are also from Upper Canada Village.

 

In the photos, I am wearing the shorts set, with its matching triangle headscarf tied at the nape of my neck. I also wear a blue ¾ length sleeve cardigan that Grandma knitted for me. On my feet are navy blue Keds-type shoes.

 

I’ve written before about our Expo 67 visit, but we also went to other tourist sites in Canada during our trip. Upper Canada Village was one of the places we visited. Niagara Falls was another.

 

My grandmother must have made this outfit for me in the spring of 1967 when I was finishing up elementary school (6th grade). I started junior high in September.

The other photo revives vivid memories. It was taken 31 October 1967, Halloween, probably around 6 PM. I remember my mother posing me in front of the living room fireplace. I have very few memories of actual picture taking, so this is very special to my heart.

I am wearing a heavenly sheer green silk flapper dress that had been owned by my grandfather’s cousin Therese Remine. It was heavily beaded, and over time, the silk had weakened, and the beads were too heavy for the thin fibers. By the time I got home that night, the dress had already begun to rip. You might wonder why my mother would allow me to ruin an expensive vintage dress by wearing it one night for Halloween. I wonder that myself, but my mother’s value system is limited. To sum it up: she didn’t have any interest in the dress, so she didn’t care what I did with it.

 

Because the dress was sheer, I had to choose clothes to wear underneath, and the only thing that seemed to my 12-year-old mind to “go” was the balloon shorts set because both outfits were green.  I made myself a flapper headband to match and carried a handbag that must have belonged to Therese, although I am not positive about that. You see, I used to collect old discarded fancy wear and had quite a collection from a few women.

 

It had been my mother’s idea to make a headband. I don’t know how much I knew about the 1920s, and I probably needed her suggestion to visualize the whole outfit. I have mulled over the question: where did I first learn about flappers with their bobbed hair and short skirts? Their narrow flat outlines so like my own. I don’t remember what movies or books might have shaped whatever image I had by age twelve.

 

An essential part of my costume that night was the large diamond-shaped earrings. I’m not sure where those dangly earrings came from. I hope I didn’t lift them from the dime store at the plaza.

 

While I stood in the middle of our living room, smiling into the camera, my mother pulled her face out from behind the camera and pinned me with her gaze. “This will be your last year trick-or-treating. You’re getting too old.” So that was that. I felt compelled to enjoy myself this one last time.

 

The living room accessories in the photo were accumulated from various places, generally from other people. The big brass candlesticks were heavy. The painting was not a copy, but an inexpensive original painting. The Don Quixote figures had been displayed at a home décor shop. My father had purchased an old house on Westnedge on a land contract and rented it to an interior decorator who opened the shop. When she went out of business, she gave my father some small furnishings in lieu of back rent. That was how we ended up with the large wood fork and spoon that hung on our kitchen wall for years (yes, like in Marie’s kitchen on  Everybody Loves Raymond).

 

I look so young in these photos, and yet poised on the brink of burgeoning womanhood. I remember how I felt wearing that flapper dress. The twenties was my era, and I felt as if I belonged.

 

As my photograph was snapped, the bell rang. My friends had arrived so we could begin the house-to-house process. That’s when I realized I had to wear my wool coat over my costume. Or rather, my mother informed me I had to.

 

We trudged from front door to front door, but the knowledge that this was my “last time” weighed on my mind. My fingers grew chilled from the cold that had arrived early to Michigan. That’s where this memory ends.

 

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Scrapping Scraps

In September I posted photos of the fabric scraps I still have from my childhood. The inspiration for ruminating on what to do with them came from a couple of sources. One was Dawn Raffel’s book The Secret Life of Objects.  The other was Swedish death cleaning–getting rid of stuff so my kids are not one day burdened with it.

I promised I would do something with the scraps, and I have not forgotten. I am far from the point of actually getting rid of the fabric, but did start a project that was suggested by sarahsouthwest.

I’m making a scrapbook of scraps! For each page I plan to include a fabric remnant, a story or description of the memory it stirs up, and, if possible, a photograph of the garment made of the fabric. So far I’ve only made the cover and one page, but thought you might want to follow along with the process. I’m not very good at crafts, but hey, it’s mine, baby, all mine.

 

 

First, I chose an ugly on-sale scrapbook and then padded it and covered it. I selected a print corduroy from the late 1960s for the front cover and a gingham from the early 1960s for the back.

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You can see what my first page looks like in the slideshow above. I decided to keep the page very plain and even left the raw edge of fabric visible. In the photograph you can see me wearing the sleeveless tent dress that my grandmother made for me. It has a high yoke decorated with large embroidered white daisy appliques. I loved that dress. It was so comfy and very pretty. The type of fabric was called “whipped cream,” and was lightweight, airy, with a little texture to it. My mom’s cotton or cotton/poly fitted dress, also sewn by Grandma, was very Barbie-style.

This is the story I wrote about what the dress and the photo remind me of:

 

In this photo, my parents and I are in Canada, seated at a restaurant in the 1967 International and Universal Exposition.

 

The summer I turned 12 is the one I will always remember as a peaceful and memorable week with my parents. We left my 4-year-old brother with my grandparents in Kalamazoo and drove to Montreal for Expo ’67, the World’s Fair.

 

We stayed in Montreal at the winter (city) home of my grandfather’s 2nd cousin, Harold Remine, the Chief Engineer of Quebec Hydroelectric. It was a beautiful and elegant brown brick row house. The dining room was complete with all the requisite china, crystal, and silver. But the house was not large, and I had to share a bedroom with my parents.

 

Harold and Lillian also had a lovely lake home, which we visited. Harold introduced me to curling, a sport I had never heard about before, by taking us to a curling club.

 

The Expo itself excited and exhausted me. It had some elements in common with a state fair or Disneyland, a place I had not yet visited. There were snow cone and cotton candy booths, hot dog and burger stands. A caricaturist drew my likeness holding a book. I was disappointed afterward that I hadn’t given him a better hobby. Reading seemed so nerdy. But the truth was that I read more than I did anything else.

 

Each participating country sponsored a magnificent pavilion that was supposed to reflect the national personality. The U.S. pavilion was a huge geodesic dome—this is a sphere that is built of short struts that follow geodesic lines (the shortest line between two points on a sphere) and form an open framework of triangles or polygons. There were very, very long escalators that seemed to hang in “thin air,” and the park’s elevated minirail ran through the structure. The effect of being inside the pavilion was of being suspended in space. I believe I saw a doll collection and space race memorabilia, but since I was afraid of heights, I mainly remember my fear.

 

My favorite pavilion was the Burmese one. Under its appealing multi-roofed pagoda design, a gigantic golden Buddha dominated the interior lobby. I suspect that the restaurant in the photo is the Burmese one. To this day, it is my favorite type of food. If you haven’t been lucky enough to eat it, it is a cross between Thai and Indian food.

 

Habitat 67, a futuristic housing development, was situated near the edge of the fairgrounds. It reminded me of photos of Anasazi dwellings for some reason. I was both repelled by the makeshift quality and fascinated by a new way to conceptualize living quarters.

 

I guess my parents had decided not to bring my brother because he was too young to appreciate the cultural opportunity or even to go on the fair rides. But when we got home to Kalamazoo and stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s to pick him up, he was flushed with a high fever. He sat on someone’s lap, and somebody else snapped a pic a second before he leaned over and threw up on the floor. That’s when I started to feel guilty that we had left him behind.

 

Habitat 67 from Wikipedia

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, travel, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing prompt