May Newsletter

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com.

–Karen Alea Ford

Registration for Summer Session closes May 25th. It starts June 1st and lasts until August 31st. $1,000. Feel free to email me with questions.

More info HERE

FACULTY NEWS

Two of our mentors, Bill Brown and Jeff Hardin, along with former student Tiana Clark, will be part of Scarritt-Bennett’s Poet’s Corner.

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Bill Brown: “I have the feature poem for the May issue of Nashville Arts Magazine announcing my May 22 reading at Scaritt-Bennett’s Poet’s Corner. My new book, Elemental, is due out in September. I lead late summer and fall workshops at Orr Mountain Winery and Chattanooga Writers Guild. I’ll be the keynote speaker for the Christopher Newport University Writers Conference in Newport News VA. Feb, 2015.”

Linda Busby Parker: Linda’s busy schedule-

May 20, 2014    Guest speaker for the Medical Society of Mobile County.  Program title: “Creative Imaging:  Fact to Fiction.”

June 8, 2014   Speaker at Springhill Presbyterian Church in a series of twelve programs titled “An Ever Rolling Stream:  Expressions of Faith through the Ages.”  My topic is “Spiritual Writing:  Connecting Past, Present, and Future.”  Other speakers include the Poet Laureate of Alabama, a couple of art historians, musicians, and specialists on religious architecture.  This should be fun!  Nothing like stretching your wings—right?

May 28-June 23    I will be teaching a “special topics” course at the University of South Alabama titled “Plots and Storylines: Narrative Structure.”  This course will be taught on the accelerated semester—a whole semester taught in slightly less than a month!  Double sessions five days a week—it’s a sprint, not a marathon.  I’ll run fast for four weeks!

Have a review of Roy Hoffman’s novel, Come Landfall in the next issue of 2nd and Church—this issue should be out soon. Mentoring in The Loft this summer.  Looking forward to that!  Meanwhile, continuing to read and write.

Alumni and Students:
Margie Hunter: Two poems have been accepted for publication in Number One, the journal of Volunteer State Community College. “Smoky Jazz” and “Summer Tomatoes.”
Amanda Moon: Stealing the Ruby Slippers releases on May 13! Physical copies can be ordered through my website or through Amazon, digitally it’s available exclusively through Amazon for the first three months, then will be in all of the other outlets.

STEALING THE RUBY SLIPPERS
Jared Canning is out of money and out of time. His gambling debts are due, and his creditors are not the kind that grant extensions. An old friend offers him a job: break into a small town museum, steal a pair Ruby Slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz, and share the profits when they are sold to a buyer in New Orleans.
On August 25, 2005, Jared pulls off the heist perfectly.
The next day, Jared watches Hurricane Katrina slam into New Orleans. His buyer, and his money, are gone.
Jared has a creditor with a thirst for blood on his tail, the police knocking on his door, and the most famous shoes in the country hidden in his dirty laundry. He needs to outsmart a sexy, scheming girlfriend, a drunk buddy who saw too much, and just possibly himself in order to find his way out.
Stealing the Ruby Slippers imagines wild possibilities for a real life mystery, blending fact and fiction to keep you guessing until the last page.

 

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

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Registration for The Writer’s Loft Summer Term is now open. Deadline is May 25th.

Non-degree
Work from home
Poetry
Non-fiction
Fiction 
Write YOUR Story.

 

Work one-on-one with a writing mentor, June 1-August 31st. register at:

http://www.mtsu.edu/theloft/theloftapp.php

“When I enrolled at The Writer’s Loft, I was paired with a mentor who changed my thinking and writing to the point that I finally believed that I was a writer. If you secretly know this about yourself, come to the Loft and begin to believe it out loud.”

–Suzanne Robertson

 “I have found the Writer’s Loft program at MTSU to be the most valuable of all the programs I have attended for improving my writing skills. The teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to help a writer achieve excellence.”

–Michael Potts

“I found my voice. Before I signed up for The Writer’s Loft, I was unfocused, and after 3 sessions spread over a few years, I hit my stride.”

–Patty Outlaw

 “The Loft gave me community as well as craft. It provided a way to understand the submission process, the business of publishing, what editors seek and how to find writer resources. Knowing other writers and sharing their accomplishments continues to provide incentive to keep the fires burning.”

–Peggy Duke

 

Joining our faculty for the summer:

 

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​Marcus Jackson was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. After earning his BA at the University of Toledo, he continued his poetry studies in NYU’s graduate creative writing program and as a Cavem Canem fellow. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, and The Cincinnati Review, among many other publications. His chapbook, Rundown, was published by Aureole Press in 2009. His debut full-length collection of poems, entitled Neighborhood Register, was released in 2011.

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 Jennifer Wachtel Kates is a Tennessee native who earned her M.A. in creative writing from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and her Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University.  She teaches fiction writing at Middle Tennessee State University, where she has taught in the English department for the past sixteen years.  Her short stories have appeared in The Southwestern Review and GSU Review, where her story “Egg and Spoon” earned the short fiction award.  She is the recipient of the Allen Tate Creative Writing Award, and serves as faculty advisor for Collage and Future Authors of America as well as two other student organizations.  She is a volunteer and advocate for Autism Speaks Tennessee, for which she earned the MTSU Faculty Outstanding Public Service Award.  She lives in Murfreesboro with her three sons.

 A complete list of our award-winning, dedicated mentors can be found at http://www.mtsu.edu/theloft/theloftmentors.php

 Our newsletter, which includes recent accomplishments of mentors and students, can be found at http://mtsuwrite.wordpress.com.

 More about the program is at www.mtsu.edu/theloft.

 I am happy to answer any questions. theloftmtsu@gmail.com

Karen Alea Ford

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April Newsletter

April, 2014

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com.

–Karen Alea Ford

NEWS

Save the Date: Our Fall Conference will be held Saturday, September 20th at MTSU. More details to come.

The novel workshop with Darnell Arnoult on April 26th is full. We look forward to seeing many of you there. Yes, we’ll arrange for her to return!

Registration for Summer Session opens soon. It starts June 1st and lasts until August 31st. $1,000. Feel free to email me with questions.

 

FACULTY NEWS

Gloria Ballard:  A feature by nonfiction mentor Gloria Ballard, “Garden events bloom after a long, cold winter,” appeared in The Tennessean on March 29. http://www.tennessean.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/03/27/garden-events-bloom-long-cold-winter/6982125/

Bill Brown: I have new work forthcoming in River Styx, Broad River Review, Conclave: Journal of Character, Number One, and Nashville Arts Magazine May edition. I will be reading a new poem, “Dance” for the artist, Carlos Barela in an Ekphrases event at the Ortega Gallery in Phoenix, Az, May 2. My Poem “The Names of Creeks” was selected for Poetry in the Parks and will be preserved on Granite at Edmond’s Park outside of Boston, MA.

Linda Busby Parker: I’m reviewing Roy Hoffman’s new novel, COME LANDFALL (Tuscaloosa:  University of Alabama Press, 2014), for the writers’ magazine 2ND AND CHURCH; that same book review will also appear on-line at the Alabama Writer’s Forum website.  It’s the story of three women, war, and the men they loved and is set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Roy Burkhead spoke for the Pensters March meeting in Fairhope, Alabama.  Actually, we double-teamed—I asked questions about 2ND AND CHURCH and he answered them.  He answered them very well!!  The Pensters loved him.  He nowhas a following on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.  The Loft makes so many great connections possible.  I’ve attached photos.

I entered the RIVER STYX Flash Fiction Contest—top prize was $!,000 and a case of micro-brewed beer.  My piece, “Stage Whispers,” was a semi-finalist.  Very nice—but no beer.

Terry Price, Charlotte Dixon and I are working on a program proposal for the next AWP Conference (Associated Writing Programs) in Minneapolis, 2015.  The program title is–“Creating Characters from the Inside Out: Tools and Inspiration.”

Meanwhile, I have been writing, writing, writing!

 Kory Wells:

I’m participating in the Big Poetry Giveaway, a nationwide blogging event, on my blog at http://korywells.com/2014/03/the-big-poetry-giveaway/
Also on my blog is a round-up of articles about National Poetry Month here in middle Tennessee, including one by Loft alumni Sandy Coomer and my own in The Murfreesboro Pulsehttp://korywells.com/2014/04/middle-tennessee-poetry-news/
I’m just back from the Tennessee Mountain Writers workshop, where I had presented ideas for starting – or building a better – blog, and presented my poetry with the help of musician Kelsey Wells.
Alumni and Students:
Amanda Moon:

My book, Your Pilates Life, is available for free download: http://books.noisetrade.com/amandamichellemoon/your-pilates-life.
Last weekend I attended the Prairie Gate Literary Festival at University of Minnesota Morris and got to attend wonderful workshops by Joanna Scott and Matt Hart. In Matt’s workshop, focused on poetry, we practiced different “tricks” to get writing. This was my favorite: Go to a story that sells paint. Pick out one sample page with three or more colors on it. Pick out one singe color sample. Write a poem using all of the color names, in the order they appear on the samples. Your single color can go at the beginning or the end. In Joanna’s we talked about narrative voice and studied examples from “Exercises in Style” by Raymond Queneau. Really, really interesting read and I highly recommend it- he writes the same story 99 times, but using a different style each time.
My first novel, Stealing the Ruby Slippers will be available on May 12! Information available here: http://amandamichellemoon.com/writing/stealing-the-ruby-slippers.
Leisa Hammett: “You do know about “Listen to Your Mother, Nashville,” right? You’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna cry. And, you’re going to be really sorry if you miss our one-time performance about the beauty and the beast of motherhood, Sat. Apr. 26, 7 PM, TPAC-Tennessee Performing Arts Center‘s Polk Theater.”
Kimberly Cross Teter: The Loft is very excited to announce that Kimberly’s middle-grade historical novel Isabella’s Libretto will be published by Excaliber Press. The press date is in the Fall, and we all look forward to holding one in our hands! Congrats, Kimberly!

 

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

OPPORTUNITIES

*Spoken word artist Minton Sparks (www.mintonsparks.com) will be teaching her next workshop Saturday, May 3rd. Details are below:
Saturday, May 3rd
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Scarritt Bennett Center
1008 19th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212
***Space is limited to 20 participants. Registration closes Friday, April 25th at 5 p.m.
 PRICE: $125
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: www.mintonsparks.com/workshop

 * Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards

Sponsor:          Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

SYNOPSIS:  The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation provides an award to
encourage poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace
and the human spirit. All poems must be the original work of the poet,
unpublished, and in English.

Deadline(s):      07/01/2014
Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards
PMB 121
1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 1
Santa Barbara, CA 93108-2794
U.S.A.

Web Site: http://www.peacecontests.org/
Program URL: http://www.peacecontests.org/poetry/index.php

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April 18, 2014 · 6:12 pm

March Newsletter

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com.

–Karen Alea Ford

Upcoming Event

Novel Workshop with Darnell Arnoult
Drafting the Novel

What is the difference between the terms “story” and “novel”? Stories happen, novels are constructed. Novels are the architecture of what happened, revealing events and information to the reader in the most seductive and engaging way so as to keep the reader’s interest from the first page to the last. In this workshop we will explore novel structure along with global and linear approaches to creating the story and the architecture.

Cost
Free for Writer’s Loft graduates and current students.
General Public–$20 CASH or CHECK (to MTSU) at event.

Date
Saturday, April 26th, 10-12

Address
Peck Hall, 3rd Floor, MTSU

About Darnell
Darnell Arnoult is the writer-in- residence and co-director of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. She is also co-editor of the literary magazine, Draft Horse. She is prize-winning author of What Travels With Us: Poems (LSU Press) and the novel Sufficient Grace (Free Press). Her shorter works have appeared in a variety of journals, including Appalachian Heritage, Asheville Poetry Review, Nantahala Review, Now and Then, Sandhills Review, Southern Cultures, Southern Exposure, and Southwest Review.
Darnell holds an MFA from University of Memphis and an MA from NC State, and is a regular faculty member of the Table Rock Writers Workshop, Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Learning Events.
She was the recipient of the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature, SIBA Poetry Book of the Year, Mary Frances Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters, and in 2007 was named Tennessee Writer of the Year by the Tennessee Writers Alliance.

TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE.

NEWS

Mentor Gloria Ballard–Gloria had a non-fiction travel piece in a recent Tennessean: Chattanooga From the Outside In, with sidebars on the Bluff View Art District, Spring Break Safari and other features was published in The Tennessean on March 9. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140309/TRAVEL/303090030/Chattanooga-looks-good-from-outside-in

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Karen Alea (Ford)

http://www.karenalea.com

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

Opportunities

Front Porch, the online literary journal of Texas State University’s MFA, invites all writers to submit works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for our Summer 2014 issue.
http://frontporchjournal.com http://frontporchjournal.com

Front Porch is dedicated to publishing the most celebrated talents in contemporary writing published alongside exceptional new voices. Our editors seek out both innovative and traditional literature. In short, we’re looking for insightful and relevant writing that excels, regardless of form, theme, or style.

Our submissions are rolling with no deadline and submitted online through Front Porch’sonline submission manager. The guidelines and submission manager can be accessed here: http://www.frontporchjournal.com/submit.asp http://www.frontporchjournal.com/submit.asp
If you’re interested in the work we publish, our entire archives are available online, andissue 25 http://www.frontporchjournal.com/, our Winter 2013 issue, was recently published.

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February Newsletter

The Writers’ Loft

Middle Tennessee State University

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February, 2014

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com.

–Karen Alea Ford

NEWS

It is the time of the year when writers apply for conferences and fellowships. Some deadlines are March 1st. If you are interested in applying for a competitive conference like Sewanee Writer’s Conference (http://sewaneewriters.org/conference) or Bread Loaf (http://www.middlebury.edu/blwc), please let me know and I’d be happy to assist with the application.–Karen

 

We will have a fiction module on Saturday, April 29th with Darnell Arnoult. More information to come. This will be free for alumni, faculty and current students.

“Darnell Arnoult is the writer-in-residence and co-director of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. She is also co-editor of the literary magazine, “Draft Horse.”  She is prize-winning author of What Travels With Us: Poems (LSU Press) and the novel Sufficient Grace (Free Press). Her shorter works have appeared in a variety of journals, including Appalachian Heritage, Asheville Poetry Review, Nantahala Review, Now and Then, Sandhills Review, Southern Cultures, Southern Exposure, and Southwest Review.

Darnell holds an MFA from University of Memphis and an MA from NC State, and is a regular faculty member of the Table Rock Writers Workshop, Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Learning Events.

She was the recipient of the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature, SIBA Poetry Book of the Year, Mary Frances Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters, and in 2007 was named Tennessee Writer of the Year by the Tennessee Writers Alliance.”

 

FACULTY NEWS

Bill Brown: Bill is excited about his forthcoming book and its design. Keep you fingers crossed. Since the last newsletter he has new work in Cumberland River Review, Blue Lyra Review and Still: the Journal. His poem “Poem of Questions” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his poem “Our Death” was nominated for Best of the Net Anthology. Bill’s sonnet “Backwoods Vespers” is currently featured in the Poetry Corner of an online magazine, Sweatpants and Coffee.

http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/inspiration/poetry-corner-backwoods-vespers/

Andrea Seigel: Andrea’s film, Laggies, premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Five distributers were engaged in a bidding war. AK4 bought the rights and the film will debut this summer. Tentative date is May 9th.

 Gloria Ballard, Charlotte Dixon Rains, Linda Busby Parker and Terry Price are all very active in events outside of their work in The Loft. Please go to their websites to see what they have going on—classes, trips, retreats.

 

Best Writing Advice You Ever Received:

*This is dedicated to our current students.

1- “Never leave any holes in your writing”~the late Albert Cason, former Business Editor at the Tennessean. He meant leave no questions in the mind of the reader and to this day I do that or TRY–even with emails!

2-”The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron. The whole book is great but I love the chapters on not letting “drama” get in your way of writing. Your drama or other people’s drama. She suggests making a list of 100 things “you, personally, love”. The author continues to recommend pulling out the list when “stress strikes” and it will bring you to a sense of well being so that you are clear to write.

I also love what is written on the back of the book “Why should we write?” It is several paragraphs long but the closing line is great advice: “we should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.” –Patty Outlaw

The best advice I ever received was when a certain poet friend, who’d been reading some of my poems every so often for a couple of years, suggested I had enough material to put a manuscript together. The idea caught me by surprise but set me on the path to putting together my first collection and finding a home for it with a small press – as it happened, one which the same friend also suggested I try. I’ve had good experiences with acting on the unsolicited advice of other writing colleagues and mentors as well. I think the moral of the story is to trust and honor the people who know you and your work by actually trying what they suggest. They’re likely looking at your work in both a broader and more objective way than you can, plus applying their own intuition and experience, and all of that raises your chances of success.–Kory Wells

The best writing advice I have ever received was to read my work out loud to myself before doing anything else with it. I do this with everything I write or edit, whether it’s a press release for a client, a full-length feature article for a magazine or a chapter I’m editing for another author’s book. I summon up my television reporter voice (from my broadcasting days) and read to the dog. No joke. When I first heard that advice, I thought it was corny, and I simply re-read my work in my head, not out loud. But then I eventually tried it, and I was astonished how much I could improve my work after I heard it out loud. Now, this is the first piece of advice I give to any aspiring writer. –Jennifer Chesak

Everyone needs an editor. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. –Leisa Hammett

The best I ever received was this all-purpose one: Being a professional means doing the things you love to do on the days you really don’t feel like doing them. –Roy Burkhead

I don’t remember much direct, soulful advice from anyone that would fit on a bumper sticker. I did have some individuals who lived advice for me. A former editor at the Daily News Journal named Jerry kindly looked over the feeble attempts of myself as a young college student trying to write. I still have his emails. I think he sent my first article back about 5 times with corrections, but neither would he let me quit. To his credit it was about a sensitive political issue which he could have dismissed very easily. After I rewrote the piece that many times, he said something matter-of-factly like, “See? You did it. It makes sense now. Thanks.” In calmly helping me “try to make sense” he reminded of the reason why one writes–to communicate, to understand the facts as best you can, and engage with others. –Laura Beth Payne

If it doesn’t hurt, you aren’t doing it right. –David Harris

Concentrate on the story first. Then edit. –Diana Revell

 “Get down on the blanket…”~ Darnell Arnoult. Which I translate as plopping myself right smack in the middle of the scene and looking around…what do I see, smell, hear…. –Debbie McClannahan

Being a serious writer is a job, not a lifestyle. Treat it like a job. Show up everyday and do your work. –Lou Mindar

Had a poetry teacher once declare a 10 year moratorium on end rhyme for each student in the class (there were about 12 of us). I may have broken that rule a time or two thousand. I suppose my point is that sometimes the best advice is that which you consciously choose to act against or in spite of. –JR Robles

Richard Bausch said this in a workshop once, just threw it out there. He said, “You can fix ‘it’ with one line.” He meant when you are revising, you come across something that doesn’t fit and you think, “OMG, how am I going to explain this?!”  A lot of time you can do it with one line. Presto. Done.

Cary Holliday said, “Pay attention to whose heart is hurting the most.”

And then, there is everything Darnell Arnoult ever said. Especially about not worrying about going in a linear direction. Write what comes to you, what has energy at the moment you are working. –Patti Meredith

I think it was Sherman Alexie who said that beginning poets should read 20 poems for everyone they write. I still do and I’ve published many collections. Next: Even if you are a free-verse poet, write in form on occasion–it will sharpen your syntax and diction, as well as help determine fresh subjects. –Bill Brown

Alice Mattison told me that for every rule in writing, the exact opposite can also be true. This has proven itself time and time again regarding: write what you know, engage the senses, use correct grammar, be in a writing group, let readers identify with your antagonist, etc.

Also, the one I go back to often: Richard Bausch making me cry with saying, “Your doubt IS your talent.” Takes a few hours/years to get it, but it means doubt comes from reading enough good writing that you know how much your own writing falls short. The doubt is where the talent lies, because it means you have the awareness of the difficulty. Plus, it puts you in company with every great writer out there. –Karen Alea Ford

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

OPPORTUNITIES

Alabama Writers Conclave Call for Submissions 2014 Contest

http://www.alabamawritersconclave.org

Submissions are now open for the Alabama Writers Conclave 2014 competition. Awards of $100, $75, $50 and $25 will be awarded for the first through fourth place in the following categories (maximum word count is listed for each category):

–First Novel Chapters (1,500 wds.)
–Short Story (1,500 wds.)
–Flash Fiction (500 wds)
–Juvenile Fiction (1,500 wds)
–Creative Nonfiction (1,500 wds)
–Poetry (1,000 wds. may include more than one poem, but total word count may not exceed 1,000 wds.)

Author name should not appear on the submission nor should any contact information. The submission should include only a title, category, and word count. Submission title, name and contact information should, however, be included on a separate page. Submission deadline is April 30, 2014 (postmark date). Entry fee in each category is $5 for members of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave and $8 for nonmembers. (Checks should be made to the Alabama Writers’ Conclave and should accompany submissions.) Submissions should be sent to the contest chair: Dr. Linda Busby Parker, Department of English, University of South Alabama, 307 N. University Blvd., Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002. Include an SASE if you would like a list of the winners. Awards will be presented at the annual convention in Fairhope, Alabama July 11-13. Entries must be original and previously unpublished. Submissions from AWC voting Board Members are not eligible. Multiple entries are accepted, but only one prize per person is awarded in each category.

See the Alabama Writers Conclave website for details about the conference and for information on the contest judges.

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January Newsletter

The Writer’s Loft at MTSU is a non-degree, low-residency creative writing program that matches professionals with writers. It is for beginning writers as well as MFA graduates. More information is at http://www.mtsu.edu/theloft.

 

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com. –Karen Alea Ford

FACULTY NEWS

Bill Brown is excited about his forthcoming book and its design. Keep you fingers crossed. Since the last news letter he has new work in Cumberland River Review, Blue Lyra Review and Still: the Journal. In 1913 his poem “Poem of Questions” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his poem “Our Death” was nominated for Best of the Net Anthology.

Jeff Hardin–See events below to attend one of Jeff’s readings.

Karen Alea Ford will be doing a fellowship/residency in Virginia from February 24th-March 11th. She will not be answering emails or writing newsletters while away. She will, most likely, still be addicted to Facebook.

Andrea Seigel’s movie, Laggies, is premiering at Sundace Film Festival this week, and as of now has garnered much attention and praise.  Andrea has recently been hired by Dreamworks.

 

 EVENTS

 

EVERYONE INVITED. Sent in By The Writer’s Loft founder, Roy Burkhead:

 

Hemingway drinking

 

Issue 4 (the Journalism Issue) of 2nd & Church will launch at January’s installment of Literary Libations (on Twitter #LitLib) in Nashville onJanuary 23, 2014.  Literary Libations meets the 4th Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Union Station Hotel’s Prime 108 bar, under the portrait of Jack Nicholson. No invitation needed. Please feel free to join this gathering of writers, journalists, poets, agents, publicists, book sellers, publishers, creatives, librarians, book readers, and lovers of the written word! The issue features our friend, the late John Egerton, who wrote or edited nearly two dozen non-fiction books and one contemporary fable, as well as contributed scores of articles to newspapers and magazines.

MORE LOCAL EVENTS: MARK YOUR CALENDARS 

LEADERSHIP BREAKFAST WITH MALCOLM GLADWELL

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Friday, February 21, at 7:30am

Parnassus Books and Belmont University’s Executive Learning Network present a Leadership Breakfast with New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell on Friday, February 21, at 7:30am. Tickets are $45 and include continental breakfast, entry to the program, and a copy of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here. For more information about the event, please click here.

 

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http://www.vanderbilt.edu/creativewriting/gertrude-harold-vanderbilt-visiting-writers-series/

 

Calendar of Upcoming Events at Austen Peay

 

 

 

ImageFebruary 6, 2014
 8:oo pm 
Morgan University Center Ballroom

 

A Reading by Toi Derricote and Jeff Hardin

Toi Derricotte has published five collections of poetry, most recently, The Undertaker’s Daughter (2011). An earlier collection of poems, Tender, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, published by W.W. Norton in 1997, won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Derricotte’s essay, “Beginning Dialogues,” is included in The Best American Essays 2006, edited by Lauren Slater; her essay, “Beds,” is included in The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticat. She is a Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and serves on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors. To learn more about Derricote’s writing and numerous awards, please visit her website.

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Jeff Hardin was born in Savannah, TN, (Hardin county), an eighth generation descendant of the county’s founder.  He is a graduate of Austin Peay State University (B.S. in English) and the University of Alabama (M.F.A. in Poetry).  He is the author of two chapbooks, Deep in the Shallows (GreenTower Press, 2002) and The Slow Hill Out (Pudding House, 2003) as well as two collections of poetry:  Fall Sanctuary, recipient of the Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press, and Notes for a Praise Book, recently selected by Toi Derricotte and published by Jacar Press.  His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times and have been featured on Poetry DailyVerse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac.  He is professor of English at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN.  To learn more about Hardin, please visit his website.

 

 

A Reading by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid’s Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000.  To read more about Atwood, visit her website.

ImageApril 11, 2014
 8:00 pm
 Mabry Concert Hall 

 

 

 

From Salon 615 at http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/salonat615/

 Wednesday February 05 2014

Salon @ 615 – Anna Quindlen, Still Life with Bread Crumbs

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Ingram Hall, Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt

6:15 PM (120 min)

Anna Quindlen’s work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. In Still Life with Bread Crumbs, a famous photographer has drifted from the spotlight and is now more inclined to think of herself as the Artist Formerly Known as Rebecca Winter.

 

This is a ticketed event. A limited number of advance tickets will be available online for a $2.50 service fee per ticket. A limited number of free tickets will be available on-site on the day of the event. We recommend that you arrive early for the on-site ticket line.

 

Wednesday February 12 2014

Salon@615 – Laura Lippman, After I’m Gone

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Nashville Public Library

6:15 PM (105 min)

Laura Lippman is the author of six New York Times bestselling novels. In After I’m Gone, Laura delivers a masterful tale of emotional force that explores how one man’s disappearance echoes through the lives of the wife, mistress, and daughters he left behind.

 

This is a ticketed event. A limited number of advance tickets will be available online for a $2.50 service fee per ticket. A limited number of free tickets will be available on-site on the day of the event. We recommend that you arrive early for the on-site ticket line. Once auditorium seats have been filled, guests will be accommodated in alternate viewing locations.

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

 

 OPPORTUNITIES

*Nelson Algren Short Story Contest
https://algren. submittable. com/submit
Ends on 2/1/2014

This contest is open to residents of the United States. All entries 
must be:

- Fiction
- Less than 8,000 words
- Double spaced
- Written in English

One grand prize winner will receive $3,500. Four finalists will each 
receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $500. Total value of 
all prizes: $10,000.

The contestant’s name must not appear on any page of the story.

Submittable entry link: https://algren.submittable.com/submit

By entering all participants agree to be bound by the terms and 
conditions set forth here:
http://www.chicagot ribune.com/features/books/chi-2013-nelson-algren-award-official-rules-20120906,0,1101198.story

 

*The 2014 Julia Peterkin Award at Converse College
Established in 1997 by the Department of English and Creative Writing 
at Converse College, the Julia Peterkin Award is a national contest 
honoring both emerging and established poets and writers. The award is 
named for Converse graduate Julia Mood Peterkin who won the Pulitzer 
Prize for her novelScarlet Sister Mary.
 Submission Guidelines for the Julia Peterkin Award
 Eligibility
 The 2014 Julia Peterkin Award is open to all poets writing original 
works in English. Previously published works are eligible for inclusion 
in the submission.
 Manuscript Format Guidelines
 Entries must be typed on quality paper, 8 1/2 by 11.  Photocopies or 
copies from letter-quality printers are acceptable. Each entry must 
include no more than 10 poems or a maximum of 15 pages. In addition 
include a cover page with the writer’s name, address, daytime phone 
number, and titles of submission. Also include a one-page biography. 
Author’s name should not appear on the poems.
Entry Requirements
 •An entry fee of $15 made payable to:  Converse College English 
Department. Deadline :  Feb. 15, 2014.
 •Send one copy of the manuscript prepared according to format 
guidelines.
 •Winner will be contacted directly and results will be announced 
online at the Julia Peterkin Award Page in late spring. The winner will 
receive $1000 and travel expenses for a reading at Converse College. 
Winner must be willing to read in the Fall 2014 Visiting Writers Series.
 Send entries to:  The Julia Peterkin Award, Converse College, 
Department of English, Spartanburg, SC 29302.
For more information, contact Prof. Rick Mulkey at 
<rick.mulkey@converse.edu>.

 

*South 85 Journal, the online literary journal of the Converse College 
Low Residency MFA, is currently accepting submissions of poetry, 
fiction, and nonfiction.

Deadline for submission is April 30, 2014.
For submission guidelines go to: 
<http://south85journ al.com/index.php/submission-guidelines>.

 

*Blinders Literary Journal is a new online magazine which only reads 
blind submissions and is now taking submissions for the first issue. 
Since the concept of the magazine doesn’t allow the editors to solicit 
submissions, they are relying on unsolicited material to make the 
journal great. They take submissions of poetry, fiction, creative 
nonfiction and art.

The link to their website is http://www.blindersjournal.org

 

*CFP — Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed 

Edited by D. Gilson 
Afterword by Ayanna Thompson 

From that very first line, Shakespeare tells us “we desire increase.” First published in 1609, the 154 sonnet sequence has not only proven to be a seemingly immortal book of poetry, but also a series that changed the art form itself endlessly. Even if unbeknownst, we have never stopped revisiting the Sonnets, revising and remixing them at every turn. 

Out of Sequence, a media event from Upstart: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies, seeks responses to Shakespeare’s sonnets from poets, writers, and visual artists. Resulting in a 154-part publication with editorial introduction accessible both online (here) and in print (under advance contract with Parlor Press), we expect the project to be available by the end of summer 2014. We are particularly interested in responses that remix the sonnets in a contemporary context while also speaking back to the historical moment of Shakespeare’s original. 

We ask that you choose a sonnet and respond to it through a poem, brief essay of no more than 500 words, or visual piece amendable to .jpg formatting. Poems do not have to be in sonnet form. Submit your response along with a brief third-person bio to outofsequencesonnets@gmail.com 
outofsequencesonnet s@gmail. com mailto:outofsequencesonnets@gmail.com. As contributions are accepted, this site will be updated with a list of sonnets that have been claimed. Will you help us create in every bad a perfect best, as fast as to our beams assemble? 

Submissions are due March 1, 2014. 

Sonnets Still in Need of Remixing (as of 1/13): 4, 17, 24, 25, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 59, 62, 63, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 92, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102, 105, 107, 108, 109, 112, 113, 114, 115, 117, 118, 120, 121, 123, 124, 125, 127, 128, 131, 132, 133, 139, 140, 141, 144, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 154

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December Newsletter

Happy Holidays to The Entire Writer’s Loft Family!

large_Writing_Wishes_Cartoon

The Writer’s Loft at MTSU is a non-degree, low-residency creative writing program that matches professionals with writers. It is for beginning writers as well as MFA graduates. More information is at http://www.mtsu.edu/theloft.

SPRING REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS JANUARY 10th

Below you will find information related to the program and writing in general. Please send your updates to me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com. –Karen Alea Ford

EVENTS

1) To promote our commitment to the craft of writing, The Writer’s Loft is offering a workshop on Saturday, Jan. 25th from 10-3 with lunch provided. It will be at Peck Hall at MTSU.
Instructions will be sent out to participants. If you have not attended a workshop in the past, the group (made up of other participants and 1 or 2 leaders) reads everyone’s work ahead of time, marking notes on each one. Then, during the workshop, each student will have his/her work commented on by the group and leaders. The learning curve in workshops is very high!
This is FREE to students and alumni.
I will hold spaces for students, however, please inform me ASAP if you CANNOT attend.
Alumni will register by turning in their work to be workshopped by January 3rd. Only those who do so will be able to come to the event.
For poetry, there will be 15 total spots. Fiction/non=12 spots. If all current students attend, there will be 13 poetry spots and 5 fiction/non-fiction available. If spots do not fill, we’ll open to MTSU students and the public. If it fills fast, we might consider letting it be larger.
For poetry, we will have Marcus Jackson. For fiction and non-fiction, we will have a team of Jennifer Kates and myself, Karen Alea Ford. Bios are below.
Poetry–submit 1-2 poems.
Fic/Non-fic–10-12 double-spaced (12 pt. font) pages of the beginning of a work or story. NO explanations of work (where the novel is going, etc.) will be excepted. This is an exercise in understanding what is on the page is all that matters. Work must not be previously published, but it must be something you are willing to receive critique on.
 I hope to see many of you there!
 I can’t hold spots (except for current students), so get your work in as early as you can. “Polished but not perfect” is a good guideline.

Marcus Jackson was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. After earning his BA at the University of Toledo, he continued his poetry studies in NYU’s graduate creative writing program and as a Cavem Canem fellow. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, and The Cincinnati Review, among many other publications. His chapbook, Rundown, was published by Aureole Press in 2009. His debut full-length collection of poems, entitled Neighborhood Register, was released in 2011. Marcus lives with his wife in Nashville and teaches at Middle Tennessee State University.

Jennifer Wachtel Kates is a Tennessee native who earned her M.A. in creative writing from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and her Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University.  She teaches fiction writing at Middle Tennessee State University, where she has taught in the English department for the past sixteen years.  Her short stories have appeared in The Southwestern Review and GSU Review, where her story “Egg and Spoon” earned the short fiction award.  She is the recipient of the Allen Tate Creative Writing Award, and serves as faculty advisor for Collage and Future Authors of America as well as two other student organizations.  She is a volunteer and advocate for Autism Speaks Tennessee, for which she earned the MTSU Faculty Outstanding Public Service Award.  She lives in Murfreesboro with her three sons.

Karen Alea Ford has her MFA from Bennington College and is an alumna of Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her short stories have been published in various magazines including Eureka, Stickman Review, Riverwalk Journal and the anthology, Catch Fire in the Treetops. Her short story “The Next Guy” won The Nashville Scene fiction contest judged by Ann Patchett, which led to a guest column in the publication. She has written non-fiction for Images Magazine, Jacksonville Magazine, Catholic Journal and, somehow, Auto Restorer. She teaches English as an adjunct at Middle Tennessee State University where she is also the director of The Writer’s Loft–a non-degree, creative writing program. She will  be a Fellow at Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Spring 2014.

For more info, email me at theloftmtsu@gmail.com. I will be letting the public know by the end of this week, so get your writing in.

2) EVERYONE INVITED. Sent in By The Writer’s Loft founder, Roy Burkhead:

Hemingway drinking

Issue 4 (the Journalism Issue) of 2nd & Church will launch at January’s installment of Literary Libations (on Twitter #LitLib) in Nashville onJanuary 23, 2014.  Literary Libations meets the 4th Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Union Station Hotel’s Prime 108 bar, under the portrait of Jack Nicholson. No invitation needed. Please feel free to join this gathering of writers, journalists, poets, agents, publicists, book sellers, publishers, creatives, librarians, book readers, and lovers of the written word! The issue features our friend, the late John Egerton, who wrote or edited nearly two dozen non-fiction books and one contemporary fable, as well as contributed scores of articles to newspapers and magazines.

FACULTY NEWS

Bill Brown–”My new publisher has a Photographer in Taos looking for a cover photo for my 2014 book and she is sending the text soon to the design person. I’ll keep you posted. New work accepted in Cumberland River Review. My “Poem of Questions”  has been nominated for a Pushcart.”

Jennifer Chesak–”I was recently commissioned to produce the content for a smartphone app that essentially teaches poetry 101. It’s an interesting project because I have to teach the material with video and sound, rather than in just a talking-head format. I’m enjoying the process of delving into teaching with multimedia. My broadcast television background and video editing skills are certainly coming into play here. I’m creating the app for an online-course developer, not a college or university.”

Jeff Hardin–“I’ve had poems accepted recently by The Southern Review, Potomac Review, and Lake Effect.  My collection of sonnets, Restoring the Narrative, just received the Donald Justice Poetry Prize and will appear in 2015.  Also, a collection of my “five-liners,” loosely based on the form of tanka, will be published by Red Hydra Press in 2014 in a letterpress, limited edition (less than 100 copies). “

Linda Busby Parker–”Since last reporting in I have been granted two weeks at the Wolff Cottage, the Center for Writing Arts in Fairhope, Alabama.  I will be using this quiet time to put the final edits on a mainstream novel titled Oliver’s Song.  The cottage is a sweet little place behind the new Fairhope Public Library.  If you haven’t been there, Fairhope is one of the most beautiful little cities in the entire country, and very much a writers’ community.

On December 5th, I gave a presentation on conflict and tension in fiction for the Mobile Writers Guild.  That meeting was at the Mobile’s West Regional Public Library.  The Guild is an active community of writers located on the Gulf Coast.

I have been re-reading Fierce, a memoir by Barbara Robinette Moss, and a biography about Eva Tanguay, a 1930s vaudeville performer.  In addition, I’ve been re-reading various short stories, including “Tiny Feasts” by Chris Adrian and “The Ceiling” by Kevin Brockmeier.  These are two of the most elegantly constructed short stores ever written!  Both take metaphors and extend them, and extend them, and extend them some more.  Also, have been spending a little time with Vladimir Nabokov—I take Nabokov in small doses, very small.”

Andrea Siegel–Sundance Film Festival announced that it will be debuting Andrea’s film “Laggies” at the festival in January.

ALUMNI NEWS

Tiana Clark–”The Raven Chronicles (http://www.ravenchronicles.org/), a literary journal out of Seattle,  nominated my poem “The Ayes Have It,” in their Vol. 19 Race – Under Our Skin issue for a Pushcart Prize! yippee! (http://www.ravenchronicles.org/raven/News.html). Very honored and brought a huge smile to my face:)

Amanda Moon–”In August I moved with my family to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have been working on my novel, Home, since the beginning of 2012. I have had three agents give me really good feedback and have just finished what I hope will be the final draft incorporating that feedback. It’s in editing now and I’ll be doing another round of submissions to agents at the beginning of the year.

I will be self-publishing Your Pilates Life, a guide to incorporating Pilates principles into everyday life, at the beginning of the year. I actually drafted this before my time in the Loft, but over the last few years have slowly been making updates. I no longer teach Pilates, so I was hesitant to put it out at all, but recently re-read it and feel like it has value and I want to get it out.

I am drafting a story that weaves together the real-life theft of The Ruby Slippers (from the Wizard of Oz) and Hurricane Katrina, which happened on back-to-back nights in 2005. I plan to have that finished and self-published in time to launch at the Judy Garland Festival in June where they will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of movie.

Also, I just found out yesterday that I have been accepted into the Creative Writing MFA at Hamline University starting Spring 2014. I am ecstatic.

The last thing I wanted to share is the upcoming launch of NoiseTrade Books. My husband has worked on the music side of NoiseTrade for several years (if you like free music, definitely check it out) and they are now expanding into books. I’ve attached their promo deck, but the basic rundown is that the author puts up free content (it could be a short story, back catalog, whatever ) and they capture the email and zip code of the person who downloads it, building their email list, platform, etc., and giving them the ability to do targeted marketing.”

A Writing Teacher Gets Schooled in NaNoWriMo

By Karen Alea Ford

nanowrimo_calendar_wallpaper_by_moonfreak-d301g6e

            Some people put out their holiday decorations in November. Men participate in No Shave November to raise awareness for cancer. Runners burst onto the roads for 5ks. I decided to do something much more challenging, yet decidedly less physically active. I wrote a novel. Well, I wrote part of one.

        NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started very small in 1999—just 21 people trying to tackle the task. Now, they span the world, had more than 300,000 people sign up this year at NoNoWriMo.org, and have a fully stocked online store that sells notebooks, mugs, tee shirts and posters. Local chapters are run by volunteers that set up “write-ins” at coffee shops and eateries. Out of the people who took the pledge to get up to 50,000 words on paper in a month, a tad over 40,000 aspiring novelists became “winners.” Winning comes with a digital banner that goes over your name on the website, some discounts from writing software and self-publishing companies, and the self-satisfaction of writing more than your friends did. It has become an event that not only promotes writing, but also has developed a cult following.

            Selling tee-shirts and having published paranormal romance authors give pep talks, it became apparent to me that these writers were some of the same people you see at ComicCon and Renaissance festivals. Their online profiles show them wearing Viking hats and growing twirly mustaches. Their screen names refer to obscure sci-fi series that I’ve never read or seen. I have always seen people like this as the fringe of the writing community, but being from a literary writing background, this month-long adventure made me wonder if maybe I’m the fringe.

I’d heard about NaNoWriMo for years. It was spoken about with aloofness, as if anyone could or would write over a thousand words a day. How absurd (stupid Stephen King). And with Donna Tartt’s ten-year-in-the-making tome just arriving on shelves, the new trend (in the last two weeks) is to preach that quality only comes with long stretches of time—a decade being the new preference.

Since I direct a non-degree creative writing program for people with real life jobs, I am in a position to motivate writers. I, with my fancy MFA, have recently been schooled in the truth that many non-degreed writers surpass the elite when it comes to work that has truth and bone in it. So I decided to try NaNoWriMo. What’s a month? If I tried to think what I accomplished in October, nothing came up. But I do know October went by just as fast as the others in my 46 years of life, so I might as well tackle a novel for November.

For years I’ve dabbled in different routines, rituals and bribes to get things on the page. I preach inspiration isn’t necessary for writing, but I’ve been known to reward myself with chocolate as if I was a toddler. Taking note that all THE authors struggled with similar feelings (“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”—Joseph Heller) did not ease my plight but offered me yet another excuse. “Look, I’m just like Heller!”

So I ducked into the trade paperback back ally of quantified, hastily done writing of NaNoWriMo, and I realized…I get quite ecstatic seeing numbers add up. I sold a lot of candy bars in seventh grade just to watch the test tube shaped graph get colored in until we reached the school goal. I can’t add on my own, nor subtract, or, lord god, do percentages, but I can watch numbers count down and increase in front of me. That was the instant drug to this experiment. Each day, when you finish your day’s work, you type in the number of words you wrote. Or, like I did, you paste your copy into a field on the NaNoWriMo site that counts it for you. No work is saved on the site. You do it in your own word processing program. When you make your goal of 1,667 words for that day, a bar turns blue. Why does this delight me? Maybe because there is no one else, although I have the most supportive family and friends, who cares about the number of my words. Nor do they turn a different color when I reach it. To bring the pressure, there is also a place that shows how many words you have left to reach the month’s goal of 50,000 words and how many days are left to git-r-dun. I felt somewhat like a heroine in a movie that must diffuse a bomb as numbers blink red.

My month was worth more than any other month in my literary life thus far. Perhaps the first reason is that I didn’t take it too seriously. Unlike the instructions on the website, I didn’t use the previous month to plot and take notes on characters. In fact, the idea to participate struck me on the night of October 31st. Turning over in my head what to write about, I came to the conclusion that this would not be a novel, but a series of notes for a future novel. I’m aware Water for Elephants and The Night Circus were just two of the esteemed books that came out of NaNoWriMo, but I wasn’t going to give myself that kind of pressure. Instead of seeing October as a month of planning, I’d use the actual novel writing month for that. This “novel” would be treated as mere notes for a future project. And if I could pick a topic, it’d be something that I’d thought about for years. It’s not a shock that writers obsess over strange things. Mine is Pitcairn Island. However, anything could do—a fascinating disease, an alternate world, a sticky divorce or a church of snake handlers.

Next was to decide how to write it, what form it would take. Writing in first person narrative (writing as if I am the girl who grew up on Pitcairn Island) prevented me from getting stuck like I have when writing from different third person points of view. No wondering who should talk next, have I spent enough time with that character, or worrying that I hadn’t taken enough time to develop someone. What I learned is that first person allows you not to worry about the traffic-jammed criss-crossing streets of a difficult plot. You get to drive straight, smoothly on a country road. The events that my character encountered were the rolling hills, and I didn’t have to worry about subplot and an intersecting climax like one has to in some of the other forms. My only task was to think, “what next?” And because I told it chronologically, and had a fascinating setting with a history (the island is made up of the descendants of the mutiny of the HMS Bounty), it felt more like painting than plodding. First person narrative with no pressure of writing an actual novel meant I sat, typed, and finished each day in less than an hour. Less than an episode of The Voice. Plus, I could make a character look like Adam Levine if I felt like it.

For me, it is part of a greater journey to shake off my formal writing training. Not to disrespect it, but to remember why I got into writing in the first place and to remind myself that the majority of readers want entertainment. Frankly, I want entertainment. Writing something of importance has held me back for far too long. That month was probably the best thing to teach me about certain aspects of writing, but more importantly, de-program me from the mindset I had adopted over the years. The task is fast, limited and quantified—all the things I believed were literary sins. And yes, now December, I’m a tad down. There’s no countdown clock or bar that glows blue when I’ve reached my daily goal. But now I am waist deep in this alternate life I can’t wait getting back to. I’m more than 50,000 words deep into a young woman who I want to know what happens to.

Will you ever see it on the shelves? I could care less. I’m a winner.

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Recent Conference and Author Readings

For this of us in Middle Tennessee, there has been a boom in literary events. Between the Nashville Library, Humanities Tennessee and Parnassus bookstore, there is something nearly every week. Below is a clickable list of upcoming events. Please send in your review of a reading if you attend.

Parnassus Book store–http://www.parnassusbooks.net/event/2013/11/17/month/all/all/1

Salon 615–http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/salonat615/

WEBSITES and BLOGS

Gloria Ballard

http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com

http://gloriaballard.wordpress.com

www.gloriaballard.com

Ashley Loar

www.brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com

Jeff Hardin

www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

Leisa Hammett

www.LeisaHammett.com

Jennifer Chesak

www.wanderinginthewordspress.com

www.wanderinginthewords.com

https://twitter.com/jenchesak

Michael Potts

http://www.michael-potts.com
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Potts/e/B006EC8XKW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/potts-end-of-summer?keyword=potts+end+of+summer&store=allproducts

Charlotte Dixon Rains

http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

http://www.teachersacup.com

Emily Davidson Nemoy

emilydavidsonnemoy.com

Kory Wells

http://www.facebook.com/korywells

http://twitter.com/korywells

http://www.korywells.com/

Candace White

www.aintgotenoughgravy.com

OPPORTUNITIES

*Sent to us via Chapter16.org–

“My column is smaller - 250 words – and will include a reminder of the Emerging Southern Writers’ contest deadline, which is Jan. 3. I mention this because you may know a writer or two with unpublished fiction or poems stashed somewhere who may wish to enter the contest, or would like to attend the Southern Writers Symposium here at Methodist University, which also sponsors the contest. Eligibility includes authors or poets writing about the South, or who are Southerners. Your state’s poet laureate, Margaret B. Vaughn, attended several years ago, and took part in some way, although I did not get to hear her speak.
In case you know someone who might be interested, here are the details: http://www.methodist.edu/sws/index.htm
*2013 Southern Literary Contest

The club is honored to announce that we will again sponsor a literary contest.  This year we are accepting entries from North & South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. There will be three (3) categories:  Short Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry.  While we are calling it a Southern contest it is not limited to southern themes.  Submission dates are October 1 through December 31.  Winners will be announced in March (2014) and invited to read their work at our 2014 Spring Literary Event.  Please see our event page for contest rules and entry guidelines.

*Call to Christian Poets: In Touch Magazine

In Touch magazine  is the monthly publication of In Touch Ministries (www.intouch. org), which is the teaching ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley. A hybrid of devotional and lifestyle content—blending storytelling, cultural observation, and theological reflection—our magazine exists to help readers lead more thoughtful, faithful, beautiful lives.

We’re looking for poems that explore the complexities of the Christian faith in accessible but graceful ways. We tend to select works that rely upon strong imagery and maintain a devotional outlook without sermonizing.

Some details about submissions:
Submit as many poems as you like, at anytime, to poetry@intouch.org
Simultaneous submissions are okay, so long as you notify us if anything submitted has been accepted elsewhere.
We pay $5 per line.
Submissions will appear in print and online in our new digital edition (coming in 2014).
You will receive hard copies of the issues in which your poems appear.

*Little Patuxent Review is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and artwork for the Summer 2014 Open issue, co-edited by Laura Shovan and Steven Leyva. The Open issue is LPR’s first unthemed issue, so write with abandon, occupy your imagination, and send LPR your best writing. The poet Bei Dao wrote, “Freedom is nothing but the distance / between the hunter and the hunted.” LPR’s Open issue provides the freedom; tell us what passions, obsessions, and themes you are hunting, or are hunting you.

You may submit one fiction piece of up to 5000 words, one non-fiction piece of up to 3500 words, or a maximum of three poems.
Full submission guidelines are at: http://littlepatuxentreview.org/submissions/
Reading period: December 2013 to March 1, 2014.
Laura Shovan
Editor
Little Patuxent Review
6012 Jamina Downs
Columbia, MD 21045

*The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop invites writers of all stripes (Poets! Fictioneers! Memoirists! Journalists! Essayists! Dramatists! Genre-benders! ) to submit to CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing. Writers are invited to submit their personal aesthetic philosophies and manifestos for the anthology, writing exercises and prompts that have helped to kick-start their imagination, and short essays on the art of writing, reading, and being creative. Please send us a brief (7 pages max) submission in one of the following categories:
I. Credos:

Writing manifestos, rules to live by, artist creeds, hand-written notes to self, aphorisms earned, and personal philosophies on what makes good writing work and why. If you have ever typed or scrawled out a manifesto, we would like to see it. Feel free to send us manifestos for creative writing that you have drawn up for yourself or for your writing group. We accept typed written credos, hand-written lists, and even collages that demonstrate your aesthetic philosophy.
II. Writing Exercises:

We would like you to send us writing exercises, prompts, or any practices that have helped energize and motivate your creative writing practice. Is there a daily ritual you do to kickstart your imagination? Are there writing exercises and prompts that you keep on going back to or to use in class with your students? We are interested in your favorite writing exercises. Please send us original writing exercises or prompts, or please write to us about how your favorite published writing exercises work.
III. Essays on Writing Advice:

We are looking for essays that describe the writing process, essays on creative arts communities, salon culture, and advice on creative writing. What has helped you sustain and catalyze your writing career? What has inspired you, from reading the works of your favorite authors, experimenting with new forms, finding communities of writers, experience with social media and writing, etc.? We welcome any essays on creative writing between 5-7 pages.
Please also include: A brief biography of 200 words or less.
SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: October 15, 2013 – January 15, 2014
SUBMIT AT: cww.submittable. com

Follow us on Twitter @CamWritersWkshp
Facebook: https://www. facebook. com/cambridgewritersworkshop

*Call for Submissions

The Survivor’sReview is a not-for-profit online journal encouraging the creativeexpression of cancer survivors. Our goal is to publish stories, essays, and poems that are powerful, poignant, and unflinchingly honest.

Each issue features approximately 12 to 15pieces contributed by survivors and caregivers like you – along with aninspiring column by a guest contributor with expertise in the field of writingand healing.
If you haven’t visited our site, please do so at: http://www.survivorsreview.org/
Also, if you have written a piece that has the potential to touch another’ s soul, please consider submitting your work to us. Our guidelines and submission procedure can be accessed at: http://www.survivorsreview.org/submit. php Those submitting by December 20, 2013 will be considered for our 2014 winter issue.
We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Please contact us directly at: editor@survivorsreview.org

editor@survivorsrev iew.org.
We hope to hear from you!

Sincerely,
Editorial Team, http://www.survivor sreview.org/

Question:Who is a cancer survivor?
Answer:Anyone living with a history of cancer from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.

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