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Prompting Poetry: Starting Poems

April 4, 2014
Where do we begin?  We were born in the midst of a world going about its business, things half started and half done, things in the middle of happening.  Actually, nothing begins any more.  So you may find it fitting to open a poem in the middle of its own conversation.
Here are examples of first words for a poem that don’t reveal a beginning:
    Not only that…
    And…
    Then again…
    Afterward…
    After [the barn door blew off in a storm]…
    Then…
    Twenty minutes (days) into the…
    But…
    But the best  (worst)…
There are countless other ways, of course, and you will find that starting in the middle, so to speak, changes the tone of a poem.  Give it a try.
Peggy Miller

About Peggy: Peggy Miller is a poet. She has an MFA in creative writing from American University. She serves as one of the editors of the Comstock Review, a longstanding poetry journal. Peggy leads poetry workshops. Her books include What the Blood Knows and Stone Being. A new book, The Science of Silence, is forthcoming through FootHills Publishing. Peggy was a research assistant working in biochemistry for the USDA. Her poetry is often inspired by the sciences, the fascination evoked thereof,the transcendent spirit in everyday lives.

Take The First Step…

March 31, 2014

–by Florida Writers Association

FWA is pleased to announce that we have two Collections in the works—one for adults and (new this year) one for Youth.

Florida Writers Association Collection (Adult)

Mary Burton meets one of her characters at the annual FWA Conference in 2013.

Mary Burton meets one of her characters at the annual FWA Conference in 2013.

The Florida Writers Association (FWA) is currently taking submissions for The First Step: Florida Writers Association Collection, Volume 6. This annual assemblage of 60 short pieces written by FWA members and submitted electronically is published by FWA and marketed across the nation.

Each year presents a new theme and new Person of Renown, who this year is none other than New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton. The First Step is about any first step in any venture—learning to walk, entering college, starting a job, or discovering your loved one is an alcoholic. Submissions may be fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, poetry—and virtually any genre. Full guidelines are posted on the FWA website.

Florida Writers Association Youth Writers Collection

Important Firsts is the theme for the 2014 Florida Writers Association Youth Writers Collection Contest #1 of short works written by FWA youth members between ages 10 and 17. The contest is sponsored by the Board of Directors of the Florida Writers Association and Peppertree Press.

This year’s theme, Important Firsts, could be about your first day at school, your first day in a new home, your first best friend, your first day at summer camp, or any “first” you can think of. How you approach the theme is up to you—nonfiction, fiction, and poetry are all welcome. The entries are submitted electronically, and the winning entries are published by FWA and marketed across the nation.

For additional information, please visit the Florida Writers Association Youth Writers website.

SPRING BOARD: WRITER’S HELPING WRITERS REACH NEW HEIGHTS: The Mechanics of Writing

March 28, 2014

SPRING BOARD: WRITER’S HELPING WRITERS REACH NEW HEIGHTS

FWA SOUTH FLORIDA MINI CONFERENCE

WHEN: MARCH 29, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: SHERATON SUITES, 311 NORTH UNIVERSITY DRIVE,

PLANTATION, FLORIDA

As I mentioned in a previous post about the South Florida mini conference, the all- day conference will be divided into three tracks. Today, I will be discussing Track 3,

which is: THE MECHANICS OF WRITING.

Okay, I hate to play favorites but this track is going to be phenomenal. Get a load of Samantha Shad, an actual, real life Hollywood screenwriter, will begin the morning

with a discussion on creating drama and the Heroes Journey.

After Samantha’s talk, Marjetta Geerling, popular YA author and local writing professor, will be holding two classes. The one before lunch is on sharpening humor

in dialogue and the one after lunch will focus on solving the mystery of voice.

Then, to top off an already perfect track, Glenn Gardiner will discuss structuring your story.

Now, I know you do not want to miss this! I surely don’t.

See you on March 29th!

Joanne

AmyF-061012-23WM-XL

Joanne Lewis is a devoted FWA member and the author of murder mysteries and

historical novels. She is also a writing and publishing coach. Visit her website at

joannelewiswrites.com and email her at jtawnylewis@gmail.com

.

What’s In Your Attic?

March 28, 2014

By Anne Hawkinson

 

Anne Hawkinson - PhotoDo you have an attic? What’s in it?

 

The characters in my middle-grade mystery are lucky – they’re at a Gothic mansion in

northern Minnesota and the woman who owns the place is going to bring them up to the attic.

No, she’s not going to lock them up there and leave. Isabel’s not that kind of person.

 

The three characters in my story are doing research for homework assignments they have

to complete because they’ve been excused from school and Isabel has offered to take them up

and let them have a look around.

 

Now I have to figure out what’s up there and how important it is. Is it just part of “stuff

in an attic” or is it a significant bit that is going to play a part later on in the story? I have to

decide if the old floor lamp and steamer trunk are props or if they’re story clues. If they’re clues,

they have to appear or have some role to play before the story ends. I have to choose carefully.

 

That shoe box of old photos looks interesting. I think I can do something with that.

Christmas decorations? Probably not. My story takes place in October – too early for holiday

decorating.

Not everyone has an attic anymore. And the more “modern” ones I’ve seen are not as

interesting as the ones I was in when I was little. The one at my house was dimly-lit, cramped,

and most times you had to crawl on your hands and knees to find what you were looking for.

Access to ours was through a small, easy-to-miss wooden door in my brother’s bedroom. I don’t

remember a light in there, so we were always dragging around a flashlight to help us find our

way. It had an interesting smell. Dusty, with close air that didn’t get refreshed more than two or

three times a year. It was scary and exciting at the same time.

 

The attic in my story is one you can stand up in, with windows and electric lights. After

all, it’s in a mansion. No wimpy attics here. There’s a wooden armoire full of clothes, which

Laura is going to love. One wall holds a bookcase full of old books – Maggie will be checking

that out because she loves to read. Raza will wander around, filming it all until he stumbles upon

some old cameras.

 

The attic where I grew up exists only in my memory, but there’s plenty of old, dusty stuff

to choose from. And you can bet that some of the stuff from that attic in Duluth is going to show

up at Moz Hollow!

Exercise Wednesday: Coveting thy neighbor’s spouse

March 26, 2014

It’s late March and the temperatures are starting to rise from the brutal tundra-like Florida winter we’ve just experienced. (Yes, that would be sarcasm.)

So today, we’re going to heat things up a little bit. Today, we’re going Commandment breaking, picking an action that simultaneously breaks both the sixth and tenth commandments. That’s to say, today, your character is going to covet and perhaps consummate an inappropriate relationship with a neighbor’s (or co-worker’s or friend’s or relative’s) spouse.

(If you’re grossed out, I’m talking in-laws here.)

(Or maybe I’m not. You decide.)

It’s not the act here that’s the key, though there’s certainly a lot of chance for character exploration in the act. But it’s what’s around the act. Why did these two characters decide take an action that would be calamitous if it were discovered? Are they hideous people? Are they hurt? Is there an outside action that’s pushed them together in a way that makes the attraction unbearable?

Do they go through with the act? Or do they stop at the last minute?

If they go through with the act, do they think about the effects on their marriages? Their kids (if there are any)? Are they mournful about it? Are they blase? Are they spiteful?

And where are they? In a hotel? In the back of a car? Or are they defiling one or the other’s marital bed?

No matter what, this prompt has the potential to expose new things about your character.

In, you know, multiple ways.

 

SPRING BOARD: WRITERS HELPING WRITERS REACH NEW HEIGHTS: Independent Publishing

March 24, 2014

 

FWA SOUTH FLORIDA MINI CONFERENCE

WHEN: MARCH 29, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: SHERATON SUITES, 311 NORTH UNIVERSITY DRIVE,

PLANTATION, FLORIDA

As I mentioned in a previous post about the South Florida mini conference, the all-day conference will be divided into three tracks. Today, I will be discussing Track 2,

which is: INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING

It’s a new frontier and many of us have already boldly gone where few others in the past have dared to go: the route of independent and self-publishing.

During this track, there will be a discussion on independent publishing by William Sudah from Expert Subjects, LLC. Trust me, he knows his stuff about publishing and distribution.

Steven Jackson, a published author, owner of Telemachus Press and one of the power minds behind a new website called NovelHelp, will be speaking on the publishing process.

Leona Bodie will talk after lunch about building a better book from the front cover to the back cover and everything in between.

After a break, this room will be combined with the room from Track 1 for the Independent and Self Publishing panel.

If you missed it, look for the previous blog post on the details of Track 1. Information on Track 3 will be posted soon.

I can’t wait to see yon on March 29th!

Joanne

AmyF-061012-23WM-XL

Joanne Lewis is a devoted FWA member and the author of murder mysteries and

historical novels. She is also a writing and publishing coach. Visit her website at

joannelewiswrites.com and email her at jtawnylewis@gmail.com.

 

Prompting Poetry : Blackjack

March 21, 2014

NEWS!  Blackjack Quarterly has established a new form of poetry, and it rocks.  The poem has a title, followed by three lines of 7 syllables each.  That’s it—21 syllables: blackjack.  One way to approach this form is to look at your own recent writing and make a list of phrases you like.  When you get to ten, take each one of them and compose a blackjack.  You can even go with a theme for your set of blackjacks:  Silence, joy, time, trees, fury, heartache, & home, come to mind.  Be sure to check out Blackjack Quarterly online.  They run contests for publishing these little gems.  Twenty-one of them per issue, of course.

Peggy Miller

About Peggy: Peggy Miller is a poet.  She has an MFA in creative writing from American University.  She serves as one of the editors of the Comstock Review, a longstanding poetry journal.  Peggy leads poetry workshops.  Her books include  What the Blood Knows and Stone Being.  A new book, The Science of Silence, is forthcoming through FootHills Publishing.  Peggy was a research assistant working in biochemistry for the USDA.  Her poetry is often inspired by the sciences, the fascination evoked thereof,the transcendent spirit in everyday lives.

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