Posted by: Dennie | December 9, 2013

Getting Serious With Queries

Two weekends ago, I met with Carol,  a member of the writer’s group that I’ll soon be joining. I’m a bit in awe of her as she’s had three books published,  writes for magazines and does public speaking. With the exception of me, the other  members of the group are all working on novels and that’s  too lofty of a goal for me now. I’d like to write for magazines. For a couple of reasons. They don’t need as many words and I could use the money sooner rather than later. I’m kidding, sort of, about the words numbers  thing. Anyway,  Carol was happy when I attended the first meeting because she’s the only member who does magazine writing.

She gave me a few things to think about. She asked me what my goals were. (Freelance magazine writing.) She inquired about my blog and what I focused on. (Random stuff.)  I told her that I stress about blogging sometimes as I try to squeeze writing into all the activities that come with everyday life. I want to post regularly, but sometimes just can’t get to it.

Then she asked me a question which took me back a bit.

“Why are you spending time blogging?”

I thought about it for a moment before I answered that I was writing for practice as well as to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Then Carol offered a suggestion. Since I have limited time to write, and I want to freelance for magazines, why not spend less time blogging and more time querying. Why not try to send out one query a week?

That made a lot of sense to me. I’ve been dragging my feet on this and need to get my butt moving.

Is that, you might ask, why we’ve not seen anything here on your blog in the last ten days?

And my answer is no. I’ve not done one query.

But I have good reason! I was working furiously to meet the 12/6 deadline for a writing contest. Every spare minute was spent re-writing, re-reading, revising.  Did I reach the point of what I felt was perfection?

Nope.

Nothing will ever be perfect, but I did the best I could and sent it off.

Let the querying now begin!

I guess my blog has come full circle, because my original intention was to write about writing, which is what this will be (mostly) about from here on in. I’ll let you know how my queries are going, my weekly count, (I’m going to start with one per week so as not to stress too much), my acceptances and my rejections. I’m being positive by putting “acceptances” first!

I’m going to cut back my posts to once a week and I’m thinking Thursdays will probably work best for me since it’s almost the end of the week and I’m generally home on that evening. I may not be able to stick to that commitment until after the holidays are over, but I’ll try.

And don’t count this Thursday-unless a miracle happens there’s no way I’ll get a query out before then. But stranger things have happened. Maybe I’ll get snowed in and have an entire day to write.

So that’s my story, and I’ll stick to it.

Feel free to wish me luck!

 

Posted by: Dennie | November 29, 2013

Potatoes Are Like People

(I started this yesterday, then my son, who I hadn’t seen in almost a year, arrived to spend Thanksgiving Day, and that was that.)

This morning I was doing my bit to help my husband cook the Thanksgiving Day dinner.

I peeled the potatoes.

Peeling Potatoes

Ever since I lost my best peeler, which I think I accidentally threw out, I hate peeling anything-potatoes, apples, whatever.

But I wanted to do my part for the holiday meal. So I was helping.

And cursing.

The potatoes flipped and flew out of my hand. Bounced into the sink.

A few were easy. Round. No bumps or indentations.

And I thought, it’d be so much easier if all the potatoes were like this one.

And then, another thought popped into my head.

God grew these potatoes.

Each one is different. Individual. Unique.

Like us. His children.

Some have bumps. Some have indentations. Big, small, round, misshapen.

None are perfect.

Like us.

And that thought made peeling those potatoes just a little easier.

 

 

Posted by: Dennie | November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

OURs... to fight for Freedom from Want is a co...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

It’s my hope that everyone has a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

 

God Bless Us All.

 

Posted by: Dennie | November 26, 2013

Grams? Grandmas? Graham Crackers? Coke?

English: A Graham cracker.

I came into AA when both  my kids were relatively young, twelve and nine. They’ve been to my anniversaries, met my sponsors and heard me talk about meetings and the program. They’ve always been very supportive.

So I felt an odd sense of curious disquiet when I received the following text from my oldest tonight:

Got 2 grams for $40.”

And the next:

Whoops. Wrong person. Sorry.”

What?!  Who the hell  had she intended to send that to? And did it mean what I think it meant?

This is a child whom, to my knowledge, has never done anything illegal in her life. She’s a good kid, and I think she’d be scared shitless of two things; one-getting arrested or in some kind of trouble, and two, having to deal with me. And I think  the fear of  the second might be worse than the first.

So the text really threw me. And because I wasn’t sure how to respond, I texted her back, misspelling everything as I went:

Cok

E?

Coke?

I thought maybe I’d wig her out a bit with that response. She might freak. Thinking I was onto her, if in fact there was something to be on to.

I waited. I was really perplexed. This seemed so unlike her. But, really, I don’t spend a lot of time with her anymore. She lives a few hours away, is engaged to a nice guy, they have friends whom I’ve never met….

…they’re going away to Vermont for Thanksgiving. Maybe they’re going to party hard. She’s been stressed at work….

Ding…another text.

She replied,

“Huh?”

Is she stalling? Does she think she’s busted?

Me: “Grams…of whay?”  “What I meam.” “I can’t spell.”

I was surprisingly calm, even though I didn’t like some of the thoughts I was having. But I waited. To see what she’d do next.

Ding….her reply,

Graham crackers!

And I shot back,

Expensive crackers.

Then she responded,

Haha. I’m sending you a link.

And I knew. I knew my kid wasn’t buying grams of coke and sticking them up her nose. I knew she was just trying to get me.

But the joke was on her, because I kept my head. I waited for evidence. For textual stuttering. Back pedaling.

And there was nothing.

But this:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/what-happens-if-you-text-your-parents-pretending-to-be-a-dru

So I ha-ha’d and texted that her the little gag was a bit disturbing.  And I hoped she got a good laugh.

She responded that  I was a good sport.

To which I said,

“I hope u r too because you just gave me my blog topic for tonight!

And she replied,

Uh-oh. I won’t read it.

It’s okay sweetie. I don’t mind if you read it or not. I’m pretty sure at least a few people will.

Thanks.

I love you.

Good night.

 

(PS…Apparently this has been around for a while.  My husband read about it on line or in a paper somewher and was surprised I “fell” for it. Guess I’m just not up to date on that stuff.)

Posted by: Dennie | November 25, 2013

I’ve Been Bad

I recently posted that I needed to start  writing at least three hundred words at day. “How’s that workin’ for ya?” you might ask, tongue in cheek, as  I haven’t been here in days. At this rate, I’ll be lucky if I can get three hundred words a week.

There’s a saying in AA, “You get what you need,” and I’m sure it’s not just an AA slogan.  I used to sing the old The Rolling Stones song to my kids and piss them off when they wanted something…”You can’t always get what you want….. but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you can get what you nee-ee-d.” Oh, yeah.

Well, I need more time to write. And in the last 24 hours, I’ve said that to myself probably 24 times. And what do I get in my in-box this morning? A quote from Nora Roberts. “You don’t find time to write, you make time!” I needed to see that. To remember I only have, like everyone else, twenty-four hours in my day,  six to seven or eight of those which I must sleep. So I  need to figure out how to make the time. Thank you, Nora Roberts for the kick in my proverbial butt.

But now, it’s 9:25 pm and I’ve been playing with this blog for the last hour. As usual, it took on a life of its own and I had three different topics going at once. I knew that if I tried to write about everything, then edit, I’d be here until tomorrow morning with five thousand words. So I copied the stuff and pasted it into a new blog for tomorrow-or some point where I have more time to elucidate my thoughts.

And they’re good ones too, so I’ll get on them before another four days flies by.

 

 

 

Posted by: Dennie | November 21, 2013

The Thank-less “Thank-You” Note

thank you note for every language

A  few months ago  I received a “thank you” note so ridiculous that  I  knew I needed to save it for a future blog topic. Then  I promptly forgot about it until a few days ago when  I was sifting through my unending piles of paperwork. I’m a paper hoarder.  I print and save all kinds of  useful information which I know I’ll need at some point, but, like the thank you note, I forget about or can’t find when I need it.

But that’s a post for another time.

This “thank you” note. You may notice that I use quotes each time I reference it. That’s because it technically was a thank you, but the insincere, informal and  blatant, impersonal  lazy-ass-ness of the thing just  blew me right into outer space.

Here’s the backstory:

We were invited to a party which was held in celebration of a milestone achievement. Right now, I won’t go into too many details.  But someday, I’m just gonna say “the hell with it” and write whatever I want about whomever I want and if people find out I’m writing about them, I won’t care. Maybe a person’s  behavior will provide an interesting topic. If said behavior is good, polite, considerate or somehow has a positive effect,  they might enjoy being featured in my blog. But if the behavior happens to be boorish and ill-mannered, and I advertise  that I think of it as such, well then, maybe they’ll just hate me forever.  And I won’t care.

But I’m not there yet.

So back to the party. We gave a nice gift to the honoree.  We took  the  time to attend the festivities.  It wasn’t something on our top ten list of things  to do in our precious and fleeting free time, but we are polite and well mannered and usually try to do the right thing.

And after doing the right thing, a few weeks  passed and we receive  the “thank you.”  It was in an envelope addressed to us by our last name.  Only.  Not Mr & Mrs Last Name, or even first names and last name. Just last name. Like this:

Smith

10 Cherry St

Anyplace, USA

And inside this hastily scribbled envelope with only our last name was a prefabricated card. With the name of the party honoree and a pre-printed “Thank you for your generous gift.”

Under the heartfelt message was the hastily scribbled name. And last initial. Like a third grader would sign. “Petey M.”  Petey?  M?  The honoree was not a third grader. As a matter of fact, the honoree was an intelligent young person who has no idea how to properly thank someone for attending  a party given in their honor.

I must be getting old.

I understand this is the age of technology. That younger people need instantaneous communication and information. That everything must be done quickly. With texts, and iPads  and iPhones and whatever else.

But please. A little effort wouldn’t kill them.

The age of technology is rapidly eradicating the art of  written and verbal communication.

Eye contact takes place with iPhones.

Emotion is expressed with  emoticons.

Sentences have been reduced to tweets.

And thank-you notes? I don’t know. I guess I should be happy I received any acknowledgement at all.

Posted by: Dennie | November 18, 2013

Challenge, Inspiration, Motivation

“You don’t need hands to hold somebody’s heart.”

I  rarely listen to NPR, but I had it on in the car last night when they played a song with that line as a part of the chorus. It was powerful, with beautiful lyrics sung by a woman with a sweet, youthful voice.

When I’m affected by a song in the way I was last night, I try to find it for my music library. So I Googled the chorus, and although I didn’t find the song, I found something else.

Strength. Courage. Determination. Character.

Nick Vujicic.

He is a man who, within four short minutes, captured my heart with his good looks, his slightly twisted sense of humor and his zest and love for life. And his gratitude. Yes. That’s a biggie.

He is love. He is strength. He is understanding.

He is testimony to challenge.

He is bravery on steroids.

He is, simply remarkable with a remarkably simple message….here it is.

Posted by: Dennie | November 17, 2013

Word Weavers

(I’m not sure what happened. I thought I’d published this over the weekend, but didn’t have a chance to get to my blog or WP yesterday. It appears that the post never went through. It was from Saturday.)

 

This morning I attended a writer’s critique group that (which?—-something mentioned in one of the critiques and something of that/which I am always unsure) ….

I just lost my train of thought. Crap.

I’ll start over. I went to this writer’s group this morning.  I’d heard about it from an AA friend who saw the info posted in one of the local churches where AA meetings are held. Word Weavers, I love the imagery in the name, is  ” a group dedicated to providing a forum for Christian writers to critique each other’s work in a face-to-face format in order to learn about and improve our craft. Writers of all levels are welcome.”

When I first heard about the group, I was curious and excited but also a bit hesitant. I’d been semi-searching for a writer’s group that would fit into my schedule, and this once-a-month on Saturday mornings was perfect. But the “Christian” thing worried me a little. Anyone who’s read my stuff knows I have no problem with the idea of God or faith, but somehow the direct and blatant “Christian” thing sent me. I guess I was afraid something might be forced onto me that I didn’t want. Or that there might be a lot of God and savior type discussions. Or that I couldn’t say “shit.” Literally. My vocabulary can be described, politely, as “colorful,” and I worried I might slip.

But I need all the help I can get. And I have faith that my Higher Power will help me find that help. And I try to keep an open mind. And so, armed with those three things, I went to my first Word Weavers Christian Writing Critique Group this morning from nine to twelve.

And those three hours flew. I liked it very much.

But I felt I had an obligation to tell them, right off the bat, about my own beliefs, as well as my fears and concerns. They were all very understanding, and seemed to accept my opinion. They’re Christians, that’s what they do. I guess.  Maybe I can learn more than just sharpening my writing skills, who knows?

I do know that what I’ve already written here, I’ve re-read a few times, not unusual for me, but the difference is I was  reading it as though they were reading it, trying to figure out what they might say.  Like,  it’s not so great that I was starting a bunch of sentences with “and”, for instance, or, “or”, or “but”. But that’s how I speak. And, supposedly, one should write the way one speaks. Shouldn’t one?

No matter. If I do continue to attend, and join the group (there’s a nominal  membership fee), I think, from what I observed today, that I’ll get lots of help, learn new skills and hopefully, grow  as a writer. I felt motivated and positive when I left at noon.

I can’t ask for much more than that.

Posted by: Dennie | November 13, 2013

Writing Advice and Feedback Please

“I thought this writing was supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing. But it seems like it’s making you more stressed out than usual.”

Someone recently made that statement to me and I have to say, it sort-of pissed me off, maybe because there’s some truth to it.But I think it also bugged me because the person is not a writer, and doesn’t understand. Possibly.

Sometimes I feel like St. Augustine in a cell…

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why I’m posing this question the writing community. What’s it like for you guys?

I really do love to write. It gives me great gratification. But it’s usually a lot of work, trying to get the words out of my head and heart-to allow my emotion to bleed onto the proverbial page. Sometimes a blog post will take hours. Other times it flies right out, seems almost perfect. Is it like that for everyone?

It’s frustrating when the daily grind gets in the way of this thing I enjoy so much, when it feels like there’s never enough time. I have dreams of the day when I can spend hours  just writing stuff down, looking stuff up, reading other blogs, learning more about WP. Learning more, period.

And  there’s the ever-present question-why am I doing this? Where’s it going? Am I wasting my time? Right now it sure don’t seem to be going anywhere quick. (I did that on purpose-just in case anyone cringed.) And I’m putting a helluva lot of time into it.

So this is my post for tonight. It’s not three hundred words. I’m excusing myself again because of the hours I put into editing the contest short story.

I look forward to comments from those of you with more experience than I. Do you stress over your writing?

Thanks.

Posted by: Dennie | November 12, 2013

300 Words

I need to up my game.

Reading  Bird By Bird,  last night, Anne Lamott says I should write at least three hundred words every day. A far cry for me.

But then I do write a post, the word count almost always surpasses seven hundred words.

If I added and divided them all, would it count if the number worked out to three hundred a day?

Oh. That’s not what she meant?

Crap.

Well, I’ll say now that there will not be three hundred words here tonight. It’s late, I’m tired and I’ve been working for hours on a short story contest that needs to be submitted by the end of this week.

So I guess that counts, (ha-ha) even though nobody has seen it. Actually, it’s a gigantic revision of a previous post from a little while back.

So I’ll try to start writing more regularly, as close to every day as possible.

As soon as I get the contest entry finished.

 

 

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