Saturday, April 30, 2011

           
It has been days since I have done anything creative. I have been floating along in my own life like a Styrofoam cup in a gutter, bouncing only where each day takes me.  I wait impatiently to get outside for spring air, green grass between my toes, and flowers blooming, but rain and storms abound. Yet, I can not complain because dampness in my life is nothing compared to losing a home or a loved one like others have faced in these last rages of Mother Nature!

My one writing light ray has been acceptance of a poem by the Yellow River Review, a literary journal of Minnesota State University. It won't be used until September, but it is something to look forward to at the end of the coming summer. This tiny perk has made my mind bubble just enough that I could do Centus today.

Jenny is celebrating a whole year of presenting the Saturday Centus. Her prompt of Although the traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper has put everyone in the mood of anniversaries of some sort. As usual we had to use only 100 words, a nice sharpening device for tight writing! For complete rules, visit Jenny at http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2011/04/saturday-centus-happy-anniversary-man.html
 
My effort is below.

                                   A Light Bulb Moment of Inspiration


The guys at work warned him NOT to forget the anniversary. Paper they said. Amy read books, but how could he know what she wanted to read? He only read the stock market?



Paper to write on? Nah, no one writes anymore. Amy texts like crazy and emails constantly.


Paper plates for a picnic? No, she’d have to pack the food basket while he grabbed the blanket. That was no gift.


She buys a paper for ads every Wednesday. That's it! Although the traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, he’d give newspapers to last a whole year!


He just knew his thoughtfulness would choke up the little woman!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Items of Gratitude

We are between storm fronts here, and the air that was 70 dropped to 40 some hours ago and still hovers with a chill. With all the destruction in the world from weather, I can’t complain. Storms are forming to the west that might bring harshness, but I am just hoping Mother Nature will get her hormones in check and decide against hammering us all again.



Daughter-in-law went to the ER last night and had exploratory surgery this morning. It was a mere appendix case and the other fearful things were not there. Son spent a chunk of the same night in the basement with baby boys as the Columbus, Ohio storm came his way but did not set down any more horrors there. I have much to be grateful for in this week before Easter.


Grand dog Storm’s ligaments and meniscus surgery are going well said the vet. She is again bearing about 40% of her weight. She will go home to our son on Easter. I will miss her, but I am so happy she is mending.


Then my friend, an Easter bunny herself, dropped off a nice basket on my porch! Pat is creative and a giver. She quietly hops around on all the holidays leaving her friends cheery things. Take a look at this wonderful basket with the lovely things in it. I hate to take things out, as the basket looks so nice when complete. Inside the egg was a bracelet of beads in browns and turquoise that I could not have picked out better for myself had I tried.


Note the darling rabbit plate that will be perky piece of spring d├ęcor for years to come.

Then the mail came and I had a certificate for an honorable mention in a poetry contest sponsored by the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer Guild Conference.


Another day ends and I have much to fill pages of a gratitude journal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor




Can books be a message from the beyond, from the Divine, or tell you something you didn’t know you needed to know? At different times in my life I have rejected books only to return to them eagerly later. My Gran read Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and as a teen, I could not understand why. When I inherited her volumes, I began to understand that AML had a lot to say to women of her era, especially to women who wanted to write.



When my children were small, I checked out Madeleine L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet from the library-twice, and never read it. What was the draw? Years later, I tried it again because I had learned to love memoir and thought sure this one by a writer should be good. Oh, it was! I began to read everything MLE wrote. Before I had read too much of her though, we were on a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine. DH and kids moaned when I saw a bookstore; I love to mill around in local stories. There on a shelf, with not another single book even near, sat MLE’s Walking on Water. I took it home and have read it so many times, each time I was in a different space of my life but always found a tidbit to hold about creativity and the Divine.


So when I was in Barnes and Nobles last and was buying books marked Buy Two, Get One Free I wondered what my third choice would be. I was tired and grabbed Barbara Taylor’s Leaving Church, a Memoir of Faith. I had never heard of the book or the author, but I decided quickly to give the short memoir a chance. As I started to read, I realize that this Episcopalian priest had had a change of heart and had lost herself. Then I remembered I had just read Dilemma by Father Cutie, a Catholic priest and Down the Spiral Staircase, a memoir by an ex-nun named Karen Armstrong . What was going on with this pattern? I had not recognized I was reading a pattern.


I am not an Episcopalian, but Barbara Taylor’s book is good for anyone of faith. She writes well and the reader is quickly engaged in her story. The first half of the book deals with her becoming a priest, how she found the most perfect little church in Georgia, and then how she burned out. The second half of the book deals with how she recreates her life and becomes what she calls fully human.


Some lines I marked:


“…so immersed in the life of the Church…forgot the life of faith was not always the same thing.’


“…that faith in God has both a center and an edge and each is necessary for the soul’s health.”


“…life springs from death. Not the last but all the little deaths along the way.”


“With sundown on the Sabbath, I stopped seeing the dust balls, the bills, and the laundry. They are still there but they lose their power over me.”


If you are a pastor, priest or married to one, I think you would find this book beneficial. Hum, even if you are not, it might help you understand the pressures that burn out the clergy.




Have you ever felt like a book fell into your path when you weren't looking for it?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poetry Give Away

National Poetry Month 2011 is half over, and I have done nothing extra yet. In the past, I have had students put their original poetry on shopping bags to be used in stores, sent classic poems on post cards to random names in the phone book, and mailed cards to friends about poetry month among other things. Last night I was pondering in my chair that faces my book shelves and wishing for a new poetry celebration idea or even a creative burst for a new poem. Then I saw my poetry shelf and knew I could do a poem give away on my blog!



I chose five very different poetry books to use for a give away and decided against drawing names this time. I want to do a different kind of give away. I will describe the books below and then the first person who leaves a comment on which specific poetry book they want, I will send it to them. Can’t beat a deal like that, so followers read on.


Gorrill’s Orchard….Jeanne E Clark is California poet involved with animal rescue. She walks her dogs in a local almond orchard, the origin of her book title. One of my favorite lines set in the Southwest: Houses like paper bags open atop the desert floor.


Landed….Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the present Kansas Poet Laureate. This book has a bonus of CD of poems and music too. Favorite line: Cranes pencil the sky.


The Red Window…Marianne Aweagon Broyles is a Native American poet with roots in both Maine and Tennessee. Favorite line: As you whip around a corner near the Tulsa fairgrounds, a man, shirt unbuttoned, salutes your truck’s appearance.


Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel and Adventure…this is an anthology of famous poets. Favorite line: My soul has grown deep like the rivers…Langston Hughes

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Another Friday

It is Friday again, another week gone. The warp of this week’s fabric was twisted a little in places, but overall, nothing earthshaking. The potentially dangerous storms skirted us last night bringing in another cold front. The air is cold and dank this morning, but still we are on the “other” side of winter so no complaints.



Stormy, the grand dog, recovers from her surgery and is beginning to bear a little weight on her leg. The scar heals nicely, but six more weeks of recovery for the ligaments and meniscus. She appreciated the cooler weather after all the thunder and lightning last night and slept in this morning which I appreciated!


Last night was the monthly meeting of Joplin Writers’ Guild, and it was not inviting weather to be out. Only ten members appeared, but the speaker from Oklahoma bravely made the trip in to present a short program. Our guest speaker Barbara McMinn has a few western romances on the market and is expecting a mystery out soon with High Hill Press. Most of the evening was spent discussing self-publishing and small press publishing. For more information about Barbara visit her new blog at http://bjmcminn.blogspot.com/.


One of our members reported that if you were a poet, there was NO market out there for poetry books. Is this true? Probably so, but how do you poets feel about this?


Members Diana West and Larry Wood reported on their numerous wins at the MWG conference last weekend. Diana attended the conference and reported it was an excellent conference full of new information. After some added reports on member publishing, the meeting ended and everyone headed out early trying to beat the storms home.


For those interested in a no reading fee contest, read about Glass Woman Prize below. I have entered once with no luck, but one time doesn’t say much. The closing date for this one is September so maybe I will have a piece of genius develop in my head and I will enter it this summer.


Have a great reading and writing weekend ahead, dear Followers!

GUIDELINES FOR THE TENTH GLASS WOMAN PRIZE:

http://www.sigriddaughter.com/GlassWomanPrize.htm
The Tenth Glass Woman Prize will be awarded for a work of short fiction or creative non-fiction (prose) written by a woman. Length: between 50 and 5,000 words. The top prize for the tenth Glass Woman Prize award is US $500 and possible (but not obligatory) online publication; there will also be one runner up prize of $100 and one runner up prize of $50, together with possible (but not obligatory) online publication.

Subject is open, but must be of significance to women. The criterion is passion, excellence, and authenticity in the woman's writing voice. Previously published work and simultaneous submissions are OK. Authors retain all copyright is retained by the author.

Lisa's Book Blurb/Healing Waters



After a dark and stormy night, the air has a snappy chill to it this morning. A flannel robe and mug of dark tea are on tap for this gray morning, and since it is Friday, I think I will take time to play with Lisa's Book Blurb. Today she gives us a nice nature picture for inspriation. So with only 150 words we are to write a blurb for an imaginary book. Go to Lisa blog for full details and links to other writer's blurbs for this picture. http://www.writinginthebuff.net/2011/04/pawsitive-pondering-m-is-for-meow.html?showComment=1302875569844#c8013003207564796341




                                                              Healing Waters
                                                             
The First People knew from the beginning about the healing powers of Roaring Waters hot springs. Now Rod McClure hoped they would offer a miracle cure for his broken life. Once known for his athletic prowess on the playing field, then as an empowered emperor in the business world, he was now a broken man.



Rod returns to his home state of Montana to refurbish a log cabin on family land because he has no place else to go, and he needs open spaces alone to repair his life. Repeated trips to the springs draw him with more than therapeutic waters though after he meets a grizzled old loner, a strange, beautiful woman, and an unrelenting hawk that swoops into his life.


What things will Rod learn about himself and life? Only time will tell as Roaring Waters and the strange trio work their magic in Rod’s life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hot Stuff

Anyone who know us, knows that DH doesn’t like to eat spicy things, and he sure doesn’t want anything with heat, say something with chili powder! His own mother did not use spice. She used salt and onion, some sugar. She was from Southern stock so not sure why she favored bland tastes.


Then again, I am not sure where my own spiciness came from. The Irish eat rather blandly,and I DO love any potato, as my hips can attest to. The touch of German has the kick of sauerkraut and garlic coleslaw which I love…cabbage! Cherokee, no, there is no chili powder much there, although maybe the Oklahoma people picked it up from Hispanic neighbors. Anyway, my own dad loved hot things and my sons eat spicy. One son eats Buffalo wings that make him sweat profusely; I don’t go that far.


DH has one hot weakness though. He loves those hot pickled sausages sold in speciality jars. My dad got them wholesale in huge, canister-sized jars when a doctor prescribed (yep, he did) a quart of beer once a day for kidney stones. My dad worked hard outside in heat and cold; he looked forward to that beer and a hot sausage right after work and just before he cleaned up for the evening. Now, he shared those sausages which we all ate. We girls would slice them in to circles and eat them on white crackers. Yum, for the burn and the salt.


When DH began hanging around the house, he loved those sausages and Dad gladly shared with him too. Dad gave me a hard time about it though. He said that every night he would go to bed with a near full crock, and in the morning it was a third empty from our “night caller” who didn’t like spice or heat! DH loved those hot sausages to this day, but we rarely buy them. Nothing else hot will do though.


This spring I have finally found a combination for a chili pot around here that works. First of all, I use ground turkey since we have to limit the use of red meat. I brown about four pounds with an onion, a little garlic. Then I add moderate salt, a tablespoon of chili pepper (although I would like three!) and another tablespoon or so of cumin. Stir in tomatoes or tomato soup or whatever and cook slowly. About fifteen minutes before serving add canned or pre-cooked beans. I use a combination of kidney, pinto and black beans. I also set out some kind of pepper or hot sauce for my own bowl!


Which brings to mind a question: how do you eat your chili? Do you crumble crackers in the bowl, use catsup, or add cheese? I always add a spoon of vinegar to my chili, and one of my college professors said he never saw anyone outside the state of Kansas to do such a thing. Is this just a Kansas trait? Do YOU use vinegar in your chili?





Tea Cup Tuesday/Chintz















First of all, look at the delightful tea light that a friend brought me. I have a few tea cup night lights, but this tea pot takes the prize! Isn't it darling?




Now for a tea cup, I have been watching a row of brand new tea cups at the flea market. The all are florals and my favorites were the chintz ones. While they were priced fairly, I did not want to pay that much. So I have watched and watched for over a year. In the dark of winter, yea! a price break! It was still more than I wanted to pay for the cups, but I wanted this chintz one bad enough to give in to a compromise!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jerico Springs, Missouri


First, a welcome to new followers Grandma Swift, Tony Benson, Laraine Eddington, and Debra Ann Elliot! I am glad you are along for the ride.


Friday was a gorgeous day. However, before the day was over, the air turned way, way too hot for the first of April. But in the morning with a nice day and a weekend promising rain and storms, we took off a few hours for a short ride. It was so worth the time and gas spent. Not a cloud in the sky and the earth looked freshly washed from snow melt. Overhead trees were bare with infinitesimal buds trying to break out, but the grass was as green and lush as expensive carpet. Rivulets of water whispered into creeks with winter run-off; cattle and goats dotted the fields heaving their own sighs of welcome to spring. Hawks soared like teenagers on skateboards, the air currents their own ramps for wheelies.




We headed north on Highway 71 and turned at Route C. This time last year we turned west to visit an Amish farm for a community breakfast. This day we turned east to find Jerico Springs, Missouri. The nice thing about where we live is that we can experience several types of terrain in only a few miles in many directions. As we headed up the highway and then on for a few miles east, we saw flat black dirt, rich and productive fields for farming row crops. Then we drove on to an area of rise and fall, Missouri knobs if you will. The verdant grass land spooled out like a green sheet fluttering in the wind. Timber thickets, punctuated with redbuds, hugged creeks and even a few May apples were beginning to show. The earth looked like it was exalting Creation. Here and there along our path, groups of jonquils and daffodils waved in the breeze, a tribute to some farm woman who had lived on the land many years previously since there wasn’t even a foundation left to see now.

I have never been able to find out much about my family background. For one thing, no one talked much! On one side, a maternal great-grandmother’s parents both died young, and she and her brother were absorbed into an uncle’s family, leaving her not much history of her own. On the other side, my paternal great-grandfather was picked up in Topeka in a buckboard and raised in southeastern Kansas by a family that I now think was his uncle. The last names are not the same, and it was confusing for years as I was a kid; was I a McCarty or a McKinney? I have learned recently that John McCarty came straight from Ireland. He raised James McKinney in Crawford County, Kansas, who I suspect might have been John’s sister’s baby.


While searching, I learned that my great great-grandfather Brandon Lafayette Brasher and his wife Sydney moved to Jerico Springs, Missouri where he worked in a bank. When the bank closed, he took his family (including my great-grandfather Claude Brasher) to Joplin where he worked on the railroad. Makes sense since Joplin was a busy, booming area at the time. However, it was all news to me since I thought all my “people” were from Kansas and Oklahoma. When I came to live in the Joplin area, I had no idea I already had such Missouri roots.



So I wanted to see Jerico Springs which is an hour, give or take, from here. We saw the town sign with a population of 259 as we approached a hilltop. The verdant area was gorgeous, and spread away from this knob was farm land that must have been dotted with wagons, barns, and draft horses in the 1800’s. Turning into the town, I saw only a berg of neglected homes and businesses. What must have been a thriving little frontier town at some point, was now very forlorn looking. Homes in disrepair, cars up on blocks, shattered and boarded windows, a flea market that had long been silent, and a bleak looking business center all contributed to the looks of a ghost town. There was a little city park and a lame looking post office that suggested hidden folks somewhere still called this place home.


It was sad and someday maybe I will go back and check again. I did not find the cemetery, and I would like to look there. We drove on through other small places in the road on our ride: Arcola, Plew, Red Oak, Avilla, and Irwin. It was sad to see all those towns and the stories they held fading away, returning to Mother Earth.




Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Centus, Sunbeams


Jenny gave us a simple prompt this week, but even a simple one can be a challenge to turn it into 100 dazzling words! "April showers bring May flowers" was her prompt, and I fear I did not dazzle with it. However, this day is dazzling and that makes it hard to concentrate on inside writing because the lilacs are out, a breeze carries tree seeds in the air, and even bees are buzzing before the promised April rain comes that is in the forecast!

For complete details and to read some really dazzling uses of the prompt visit Jenny's blog at http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2011/04/saturday-centus-april-showers.html.


  
                                                                  Sunbeams

Jillian watched raindrops ramble down the window and felt as gray as the cloud-cluttered sky. Winter had been grueling with heavy snows, Ren’s cut in work hours, and the colicky baby.



Aunt Tillie would have some wit to stamp out the depression she was sure. She was always spouting things like “stitch in time”, “eggs in one basket” and such. Oh yeah, she’d say, “April showers bring May flowers”. Well, Jillian thought, I wish something would bloom in my life.


Then she noticed a purple crocus in the yard, heard laughter coming from the crib, and felt mental sunbeams.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dog Tales



My boys got their love of chili pepper from my side of the family, but they also got our gene for loving dogs. That gene can be a burden because loving a dog can cost you as much emotional and almost as much financial drain as loving a child. I grew up with a Cocker Springer mix named Tags when I was a kid. My dad also had a pointer bird dog, but she was used for hunting and was not allowed the free rein that Tags had. However, on the coldest or loneliest days, we would sneak Dutch in for some living room time!



I wasn’t married very many weeks before I got a Schnauzer named Bristles who was my best bud in St. Louis where I knew no one. Yes, he was one pampered dog, and he was a jewel to travel with because he never uttered a peep. He got down on the floor mat when I left the car and only got up in the seat when I returned. One day at the lumber yard he was so excited to see us return he jumped up and locked the door—with the keys inside. People warned us he would never take to a baby, but he took to two of them even when he was eight years old. Bristles also knew when I was pregnant before I did. He pushed into my tummy ever time I sat down, laying his head near new life. His body wore out when he was 15 years old and the children were in grade school.


The boys suffered with loss and so we got another dog, a rescue dog this time, a little fur ball that grew as the boys did. When the boys started running to a ringing phone and shouting “I’ll get it”, Sneakers starting running to answer the phone too. She barked furiously all the way to the phone before standing under it barking. She caught lightening bugs in summer for the boys, and warned us once of an evil person who was urging one of the boys to go into the woods with him. She never ever bit or growled, but with this man, her fur stood straight up on her back and she growled deep menacing threats. I listened to her judgment, and I have always been glad I did. She lived 17 years and never ever responded to another human this way.


So when grand dog Storm blew a knee, we were more than glad to help out for her surgery here at home instead of Wichita. We got her on Sunday and her surgery was Tuesday. The vet is very satisfied with the surgery, as he says it is the best one he have ever done. It is hard to keep her down for convalescing though and eight weeks will be a long time ahead.


The night before her surgery, the other son called from Kentucky in the middle of the night racked with grief. He was returning from the Doggie ER where his own dog had just died. Feeling fine until the last day of this life, our noticed something not right after his own babies were put to bed. He rushed Arthur in where they saw that he was so filled with cancer that he could not make the night.


Arthur meets one of the new babies.




Arthur was a rescue dog, and he had a rather odd personality. He obviously had been abused, and it took him time to trust and feel secure again. When the babies started coming, he took to them fine and when the noise got too loud with crying, he just removed himself to the basement. Once the toddler got to moving and going, Arthur was so funny because when Mason went down to the basement, Arthur came and when the toddler came up, the dog went down. It was like a Charlie Chaplin movie to watch them!


I like people fine, and in fact, I like to be around people. But then again, nothing beats man’s best friend. There is a saying that says something like the more people you know, the better you like your dog. There is some truth to that. If you have a good dog, you have the best friend ever. They just love you unconditionally and are such comfort everyday. They can’t be replaced because they have their own unique personalities. Our son might get another dog, but he won’t have another Arthur.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good for Oprah!

                                                   This year's National Poetry Month poster!


I had heard that Oprah focused on poetry for this month's issue of O, so I was thrilled when my sister-in-law brought me her copy of the magazine. It is packed with poetry praise, interviews, articles and samples of poems. Don't miss the interview that Maria Shriver did with Mary Oliver; it is worth the price of the magazine. You can also find the interview on the Oprah.com               website.                                                                 

If you are a Missouri poet, have you considered belonging to the Missouri State Poetry Society? The dues are cheap and there are several local chapters. Members can publish in the anthology that the group publishes yearly. For more information, go to http://www.nfsps.com/mo/sign-up.htm.


 If you are a senior citizen poet, you might be interested in the following information about a poetry contest.

2011 SENIOR POET LAUREATE POETRY COMPETITION PUBLISHED and UNPUBLISHED Poems okay NO LIMIT to number of ENTRIES you may submit.


A literary contest open to all American poets age 50 and older who are U.S. Citizens regardless of where they live or are temporarily staying throughout the world, the 2011 SPL Contest is privately sponsored by WANDA SUE PARROTT, original co-founder of the competition and current administrator of the 2011 event. Judges will include former Senior Poets Laureate of the Meeting The Muse Panel of Judges. Entries accepted Jan. 1 through June 30, 2011.
Check www.amykitchenerfdn.org for more contest rules.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April, National Poetry Month


I love April for many reasons. It brings a lightness and cheer after heavy, dark winter days. It also brings National Poetry Month which I really enjoy because I have fond memories of celebrating poetry with my students. It was a time that learning was truly fun, and I was always finding ways to make poetry in new ways.

I never was good at doing the measured beats of a poem and I just didn’t “get” free verse. Now, however, I love free verse, and it is a popular way to use poetic devices. I love metaphor and similes best in the way of imagery. My dad spoke often in figurative (and sometimes inappropriate) language. With relatives that came straight from Ireland to Kansas, there surely must have been a seanachie (skan a kee) or storyteller on the family tree somewhere. I know that my great-grandfather used his fiddle to play for dances and that his son, my grandfather, also played with him. How I wish I could step back and hear their music just once for myself. I think that there is music in poetry too.


Growing up, Robert Frost was my favorite poet. I loved his lines, felt the rhythm even if I couldn’t always decode it. His poems were mini stories packed with emotions and tales. Who can not love his lines about blueberries?


And after all they are ebony skinned;
The blue’s but a mist from the breath of the wind.


In the last few years I have named Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver and Jane Kenyon as favorites. Mary Oliver writes about berries, too in her book American Primitive. “Off the road in the hacked tangles blackberries as big as thumbs hang shining in the shade.” Can’t you almost taste ‘em?


Jane Kenyon’s "Let Evening Come", you MUST read this one in its entirety. It is one of my all time favorites and as much a meditation as a poem. Go to this link to read Jane’s lines. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/let-evening-come/

During one rainy season, I wrote a rather sensuous poem which is not my forte, but it sold to New Love Stories magazine first time out. It is copied below.

Rainy Saturday

I wake to hear steady rain
Tumbling through swelling gutters.
This day is muddy dark like a drainpipe.
A damp breeze stirs satiny curtains of an open window
While I lie here coming to my morning senses.
Soon your tapping fingers touch me,
Playing imaginary piano keys on my thigh.
I smile; I hear your song.
I know that our bodies will strike out a symphony
Beginning adagio, moving to a rousing finale.
Since I don’t want to miss a morsel of the melody.
I roll over and let the music begin.

SO WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF POETRY? WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE POET?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Writer's Conference

On Thursday night DH and I attended a poetry reading at PSU in Pittsburg, Kansas. One of the readers was Laura Lee Washburn who is with the college English Department and head of the on campus writing lab. Her poems are sometimes earthy and wild, others times gentle. Laura herself is colorful from her blond strands to her vibrant clothing choices. The other reader was Jeanne E. Clark, on staff at the college in Chico, California. Her poems deal with many topics, but rescue dogs, especially border collies, is a favorite topic. One of her poems brought tears to the eyes. Both readers were a good choice for March 31 as Women's History Month ended and National Poetry Month began the next morning.


This weekend was the annual Call to Write Conference, also in Pittsburg, Kansas, sponsored by the Christian Writers Fellowship. There were about 70 people attending this yer from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. I attended yesterday also, but due to family issues of various nature, life intervened and I could not attend today. This was the first time I have attended at all. I have very little experience with Christian writing. I don't read much Christian fiction, but I have been most impressed with books by Deborah Vogts since she sets her stories in the Flint Hills, an area I love.


The keynote speaker was Terry Burns, an agent with Hartline Literary. He was engaging, entertaining, and informative since he was both agent and writer himself. He said despite what you hear, 85% of the editors want the book finished before being submitted, especially the way the markets are right now. He says most sales are not made to publishing houses but directly to editors to whom you, the writer, have a personal relationship with already. Only 15% of all manuscripts written will have credibility, that is published and making money. To those who say they don't care about the money, he said, "Money is how we keep score in this game, folks."


I attended a workshop by Sally Jadlow who is a poet. She lead us through some creative exercises. Most of her presentation was not new material to me, but I certainly enjoyed it. She did have one tip that amazed me. She said poetry editors speed read through submissions, often looking at end words. She said make your end words strong and do the work so they catch the editor's eye enough to read more! She also shared that she buys her Poetry Market at half.com, a year old but only a quarter. She said only pay $30 if you really want to for this year's issue.


Sally had us dash off some quick lines. One was quick description of our house. She was impressed with my offering:
Ranch style, long and lean,
Filled with teacups and more.
Sheltered many faces, many years,
But always had an open door.
                                                                                                   





 Editor Wyngarden from Dayspring


I also attended a workshop by Trieste Van Wyngarden, an editor with Dayspring greeting card company. Her presentation was packed with nuts and bolts info about writing greeting cards. Hallmark bought Dayspring eleven years ago. Dayspring was founded for getting the message of Jesus Christ out into the world and Hallmark still honors that goal she said. All their cards have a Christ centered perspective.


One thing this editor said that stuck out was that people think Christians have no sense of humor. She said that Dayspring is always in need of appropriate humor for cards, and it is the one category that needs more submissions.


During the day, we were given a site to go to for 675 paying markets. I can't seem to get to the paying market section, but a quick look around the Writers Write site proves to be interesting. It then links to another writer site that is also worthwhile. So if you want to check them out yourself, try the following links.

www.writerswrite.net/paylist
http://www.writerswrite.net/
http://www.writerswrite.com/


                                               Author Deborah Vogts, right, speaking with a guest writer