A Free Creative Writing Class

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Happy Friday, creatives! You know you’re never too old to learn new skills. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie wanting to increase your creative reach or a seasoned pro looking to hone skills you already have, why not take advantage of free online classes offered in your genre?

As a “life long learner” I try to take advantage of every opportunity that can enhance my multi-genre writing career. :)

Free University of Iowa classes start Monday Sept 29th and ends November 10th. Go here to register http://writingcareer.com/post/95209514146/free-online-how-writers-write-fiction-workshop

Have a happy weekend and “treat yourself special.”

Rejection/Reflections

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Happy Friday, creatives! I’m curious, how do you handle rejection, criticism and even rude comments about your work? As a recent recipient of two out of three, in recent weeks, I’d say I’m not down for the count and I will continue to soldier on.

Writers and authors know the deal, but in that moment of rejection, we are bruised human beings because those words of rejection sting our creative efforts. We are professionals and know rejections are not personal. Criticisms, on the other hand, can be questionable. Snide comments of your work is best served by ignoring the haters.

In a March interview with author and blogging guru, Joe Bunting over at The Write Practice Blog, I asked, “How do you handle criticism?” His answer was, “I grieve then get back to writing.”

I think that timeless response should serve as a reminder to all of us that it’s the work that matters, so just keep writing to publication. The more we write the better we become in this competitive arena.

As a multi-genre writer, I’ve found some gems in those rejections and have used them along the way to acceptance. Here’s what two editors in different genres had to say about some of my recent works

On a personal story essay:

”As you know, rejections are never easy—for you the writer, or for us, the editors. But as you also know, they are part of what being a writer is about.”

On a Poetry Chapbook Competition:
Although your work did not make the final cut, I want you to know that it was strongly
considered, and that you were a semi-finalist in this year’s contest.

Can you see why writers just keep writing?

How do you handle rejection/criticism/rude comments? Please share!

Empowering Ourselves to Overcome Abuse by Kathleen Pooler

Happy Friday, to all creatives and book lovers! Today we’re hosting Kathleen Pooler, whose recently published memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead, is on a whirlwind blog tour. Kathy shares insights from her book on how women can empower themselves and overcome domestic abuse and violence. Please join me in welcoming the memoirist to the Writer’s Blog.

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I spent the first eighteen years of my life in a loving, supportive family. My parents, Bob and Kathryn were childhood sweethearts who modeled a caring and respectful relationship. I went out into the world fully expecting I would find the same in a spouse. It was all I knew—stability, security, love.

The problem was I didn’t discern the red flags and assumed the man I chose to marry would fulfill my fantasy of happily ever after. Like my parents, “till death do you part.” Eight years later, with two young children in tow, I repeated the mistake and married a man to meet my gnawing need to be a complete family again.

I had everything I needed to make a good life for myself. Instead, I spent the next twenty-five years engulfed in the abyss of two abusive marriages, first to a man who drank too much then to a man whose untreated bipolar disorder forced me to flee in broad daylight with my two school aged children for fear of physical abuse.

I had allowed myself to be emotionally abused, bullied and brainwashed all for the sake of being a family, like my own. How had I allowed that to happen?

I explore the factors that influenced me to make these self-defeating choices in my upcoming memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.

Walking away required me to look at myself and accept the mistakes and missteps of my past. It forced me to come face-to-face with my vulnerabilities and flaws.

Writing my memoir helped me to heal. I found the answers to a question that had nagged at me for years:

“How does a young woman from a loving Catholic family, make so many wise choices about her career but so many poor choices about love that she ends up escaping in broad daylight with her two children from her second husband for fear of physical abuse?”

I never thought of myself as the abused wife. I studied domestic violence in my nursing program. I took care of patients who were abused. I was a strong and capable woman. Surely, I wasn’t one of those women who keep making excuses for a spouse’s outrageous behavior. Besides, I didn’t have broken bones or bruises.

Years later, I realized, abuse in any form is abuse:

*One does not have to sustain physical injury to be abused. Emotional abuse in the form of intimidation, bullying, safety threats, lying is harmful and the impact on the children of mothers who are in abusive relationships is far-reaching and damaging.

* Abuse impacts all socioeconomic groups. I was a masters-prepared nurse from
a loving family and yet I got into two emotionally abusive marriages.

*Denial and magical thinking can keep one from recognizing abusive behavior and taking action.

*Emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse. According to the National
Coalition of Domestic Violence Awareness, “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; 1.3 million women are victims of
physical assault by an intimate partner each year; Most cases of domestic violence are never reported.”

These are staggering statistics of epidemic proportion.

I was able to rescue myself from two abusive marriages. The first thing I had to do was to break through the denial that my life was not what I had dreamed it would be. Then I had to take responsibility for the role I had played in allowing abuse to happen. I had to make the conscious decision to change the way I was approaching relationships and choices. I had to claim the power within and then once I claimed it, I had to honor it.

My greatest hope is that by offering my insights into the poor decisions I made will help others learn from my story. I found my inner strength through my faith in God and the love and support of my family and friends. My nursing career enabled me to support myself and my children.

Abuse is abuse in any form and nobody deserves to be trapped in an abusive relationship.

I want to inspire hope and action for my readers who need to tap into their own inner strength and find freedom from abuse of any kind.

Once we are connected to our own inner strength, we empower ourselves to live life on our own terms. For me that meant, allowing myself to be vulnerable and admitting my role in creating the circumstances that led to two emotionally-abusive marriages. When I became clear on the part I was playing, I was able to not only accept the responsibility to change, but to forgive myself and put my energies into creating the life I wanted and deserved. To me, that is empowerment at its best.

KathyPoolerBrighter

Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York. She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com

Twitter @kathypooler

https://twitter.com/KathyPooler

LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathleen-pooler/16/a95/20a
Google+:Kathleen Pooler: https://plus.google.com/109860737182349547026/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4812560-kathleen-pooler
Facebook:
Personal page,
Kathy Pooler : https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.pooler
Author page:
Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey: https://www.facebook.com/memoirwritersjourney
Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/krpooler/)

A Poet on Publishing by Joy Dekok

Happy Friday to all readers,writers, authors and critics! I know you’re out there and gosh, where would creatives be if we didn’t have you to make us better, instead of bitter, when it comes to honing our craft?

Today, guest author and poet Joy Dekok, will share insights on the ins and outs of writing poetry, including how poets feel about sending their gems out into a critical/opinionated world. Plus, Joy shares a poem with us!

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We write poetry and hide it – because it’s too personal or too political or too religious and we just don’t talk about those things. Which is peculiar since I was raised in the sixties and seventies and everyone, including the adults in my life, were talking about everything that was once taboo. And today, almost anything is acceptable.
Maybe with the exception of our poetry. The words that form in our souls.
Sometimes we hide the poetry so deep we forget it’s there – in our souls longing for release. Others of us might say we like to read poetry, or we might whisper to someone that we even write a little bit of it, but call ourselves poets? No way. And share it? Never. Publish it? Are you kidding me? We feel an anger driven fear when anyone mentions it certain they just do not get it.

But I do.
Sharing our poetry in pubic is like holding out our heart in one hand and our soul in the other. To the world. Where we might be rejected, ridiculed, or reviled.
I get that.
But still.

In the cacophony of this world, so full of war, hate, and chaos, what if your words have the power to help or heal even one heart? What if your words not only matter, what if they were given to you to make a difference?
Idealistic? Yes. Because sometimes people need us to reach beyond the practical to the passionate. That’s what poets do. It’s part of our calling.
Like many poets, I struggle with sharing my poetry. So much so, that I did what we do – I wrote a poem about it. As I wrote it I was sure I wouldn’t share it. Then I did. Because even though is long and different, it matters. So do yours.

I wish I could but I just can’t.
Or maybe it’s more like I just shant!

Publish my poetry – are you kidding me?
Putting it out there for others to read?

Give the world a glimpse into my heart?
Let them criticize my soul’s art?

Besides, nobody’s publishing poetry these days
It’s an endless, relentless rejection maze.

Why should I put myself out there?
Do you really think anyone else will care?

What would my words look like on the printed page,
My faith, my dreams and even my rage?

Although I live and walk in the Light,
My poems reveal my heart’s darkest nights.

Would anyone read something written by me?
I think that I’ll just let it be.

Unpublished is the way to go,
I’ll avoid this public talent show.

Tucked in a file drawer where no one can see
Is the best place my poem can be.

Help someone else I heard you say,
So why don’t you blaze the way?

You burned up your words a long time ago,
And left a pile of ashes and a bit of after-glow.

Oh – you’ve written more since then?
Have you shared them? Where and When?

This sounds so easy for you.
So what do you think I should do?

It’s not up to you to decide?
Then I think I prefer to stay and hide.

Do you believe my poems really matter?
Unkindness might cause my heart to shatter.

I’m not sure that I can take the chance,
My words might sing but can they dance?

I know I won’t know until I try,
But the effort might cause the words to die.

Again I hear you say the choice is mine,
And that either way I’ll be just fine.

You want me to listen to my inner voice –
I’m a poet Joy – I have no other choice.

That voice speaks to me day and night,
Delivering words I’m compelled to write.

But publish them might be too much,
I might not even have the real touch.

I’m not sure I can afford the cost -
I’m not ready to let my words get tossed,

You know the ways of publication,
I won’t be able to stand the humiliation,

I know rejection waits for me
I cannot do that – don’t you see?

These words are the breath of my soul,
Publishing has never been the goal.

And yet I have to agree with you -
I want to write and be read too.

How will I balance these opposing thoughts?
And what will be the final cost?

I feel a transition moving in,
And don’t know exactly how to begin.

Are you ever so scared your soul seems to shake?
This is a risk I’m not sure I can take. . .

The risk I mean is the one where
I hide my poems and refuse to share.

Where I keep the words in a hidden place
and refuse to give them a public space.

There’s one more thing I have to know
Before I release my words for show. . .

Will you share this poem with anyone?
Writing like you’re me must have been fun.

Sharing your poetry is setting beauty free to invade the hearts and minds of those who read it. What will you do with yours?

Bio:
Joy started writing as a little girl. She carries a large purse so she can take her journal and an assortment of pens with her in case a moment to jot comes along.
Joy and her husband live on thirty-five acres of woods and field in Minnesota between Rochester and Pine Island. She’s been married to Jon for thirty-plus years. They enjoy their many nieces and nephews. Their dogs, Sophie and Tucker, keep them company when they explore the land riding their John Deere Gator or while watching the many birds that visit their feeders. Joy enjoys time with her family, holding hands with her husband, lunch with friends, hot coffee, reading, bird watching, personal Bible study, and amateur photography.
She has nine books in print and including her first general audience (suspense) novel (the first in The Northern Lights Series) featuring main character, Olivia Morgan.
Faith is a vital part of Joy’s life. When she was sixteen, Joy asked God to find her and He did. Although most of her books fit the Christian market, Between the Lies is where Joy proves she is a Christian who writes rather than a Christian writer.

www.joydekok.com
http://facebook.com/joy.dekok
https://twitter.com/JoyEDeKok

What a treat:) Did you guys enjoy this post and extra something for poetry lovers? Please share your thoughts.

September Writing Contests

Happy Friday, all! Let’s face it, writers cannot get enough of sharpening their skills by competing in writing competition. This is another arena for the creative to pit their abilities against fierce competitors for the big prize. Sometimes we do hit a home run and take home the trophy!

Writing competitions in any genre are beneficial to the creative because we can gauge our writing ability against the best of the best and still lose gracefully in the agony of defeat. We know that writing for us is a win/win, no matter if we place in the competition or not.

For those of you who want to compete for the prize or see how far your writing skills take you, here are three great writing contests you might enjoy entering in September:

novel14WOMEN'S MEMOIR

Mslexia is holding a women’s memoir contest for women with a story to tell and who want to compete in the competition for their share of the monies. Go here for details- https://mslexia.co.uk/shop/ncomp_enter.php

Still working on your memoir and don’t really want to share your first draft for competition? How about sharing your dynamite opening paragraph instead? Go here to find out about your first memoir paragraph competition:
http://womensmemoirs.com/memoir-writing/pamela-jane-bell-announces-womens-memoirs-opening-paragraph-contest/

Creative Non Fiction Magazine is holding an essay contest in September called “Waiting.” Go here for guidelines on submitting to their essay contest-https://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions/waiting

Entered a writing contest lately? Which do you prefer,those with or without fees? Share your experiences with us here on the writers blog and chime in on an upcoming writer’s debate where we discuss paying vs. non paying contest markets.

A Congratulatory Post On Poetry And Books

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your week was productive and that you have a safe and memorable weekend of rest, reconnection and gratitude. I, like you, was saddened to hear of Robin Williams death. I was remembering all of his great performances and his upbeat, perfectly timed improvise & jokes that made us laugh until we hurt. What baby boomer doesn’t remember Mork & Mindy? His passing is unfortunate and very sad. There are never enough words.

This is a congratulatory post of sorts that I’ve been meaning to share with readers about what’s been brewing on my creative stove, give a well-deserved shout-out to an author’s milestone accomplishment and share information about clara54’s upcoming guest author appearances.

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I admit it. I didn’t spend time working on my memoir during my hiatus. I couldn’t bring myself to create in that cathartic space and so I went back to writing poems; a genre I’d found a bit of success in, in the beginning of my freelance writing career.

I wrote a few new poems and gathered some of my languishing poetry to enter them in The Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize Competition.http://caseyshaypress.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-mary-ballard-poetry-chapbook-prize.html where they placed in the competition’s quarter finalists. The finalists vote comes at the end of August. Fingers crossed:)

I received edits to a poem selected for inclusion in the Michelle Obama Anthology (the authors changed the title) which is set for publication in the historical academia’s “The Black Scholar” sometime in September.

My poem “When Morning Comes” was selected to appear on the website Best New Poems for 7 days where readers and poetry lovers get to vote on the poem they like best and that poet wins the contest. My poem is scheduled to appear on the site August 29th. I need your votes, people! so go here to vote for When Morning Comes www.BestNewPoems.com.

I’m collaborated with,and will be the featured author on a new upcoming Christian Romance Guide, penned by my colleague and friend, Evelyn Cogdell. At our last correspondence, Evelyn was held up and anticipating returning to the project in September. More on that as it unfolds.

Kathy Pooler, who blogs at Memoir Writer’s Journey http://www.krpooler.com/blog is presently on a blog tour for her just released memoir and will be stopping in at clara54 the first week of September to talk about her new book (which has received great reviews) and her journey away from emotional abuse.

The same week, Kathy will guest post at my Authentic Woman site to encourage, inspire and empower other women to live a life of wholeness, away from abuse.

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I was stuck writing my memoir and turned to penning poems on my time away. I also connected with Joy Devok, a prolific cross genre author who blogs at “My Life a Legacy” and who just happens to have recently published her e-book of poetry, called Poetry: Touch the World with Your Art and Soul.

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Look for Joy’s appearance very soon as she joins the writers blog to talk about her enormous body of work and the joy of writing poetry. I’m excited to have these authors visit and share with us their writing process and talk about their books.Congratulations authors!

Whew, this post was supposed to be short and sweet. What happened!? If you have great news to share with my readers, please feel free to inquire about joining the fray:)

The Writing Life aka My Crazy World by Patti J. Smith

Happy Friday to my fellow readers, writer, authors and creatives! I was outside taking in the stillness of the morning with a cup of java. My only companions were chirping robins and a mulberry tree that was weighted down by its lush green leaves. My brother, who was a poet, once wrote how the simple things in life were the only things he truly enjoyed and I have to agree. The simple pleasures of Mother Nature are ever humbling:)

I’m excited to share a glimpse into the writing life of Patti J. Smith. In May, Patti invited me to take a seat “In The Authors Chair”segment on her blog where she hosts other writers and authors who want to share with readers about their work. Please join me in welcoming this accomplished writer and author to clara54.

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A writer sits at wooden desk pushed up against a large picture window that opens to fields of flowers. The room, located in a secluded area of the house, is quiet except for the chirping of birds and whispering breeze.

Ahh, the life of a writer … maybe in a perfect world!

For this writer, it’s a recliner with a laptop, in the living room with two dogs, a very loud parrot and bell-ringing cockatiel. I’m a caregiver for my 86 year-old father and 82 year-old uncle and they wander in to remind me of days gone by, provide commentary on recent world events or ask for a ride. When my husband comes home from work he joins the party. Such a glamorous life.

What do I do?

I’ve become a creature of the night. During the day I care-give and delve into the world of domesticity. In my mind I ponder how I want to proceed on a recent project, sit down and do a little editing, work on social media promotions and take a mid-day nap. Once everyone is tucked tightly in their beds, the dogs asleep and the birds covered, my laptop screen comes alive and my fingers fly across the keyboard. My husband rises at 4:30 a.m. and finds me tap, tap, tapping away.

What do I write?

I am a cross-genre writer. I began with Christian devotionals and thanks to my ever-persistent and confident publisher, I’ve expanded to light romance and suspense/thrillers. Switching between genres (sometimes in the same night), keeps me from over-focusing which, for me, is the cause of an author’s worse nightmare – writers block.

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere; however, my devotional topics usually filter into my mind during prayer or Mass. Romance inspiration comes from daydreaming or traveling back in time … reliving romantic moments of my own. Suspense/thrillers are roused by nightmares and plunging my mind into my deepest darkest fears.

The Topic of Time

I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me and I have been known to finish one in a week. Yes! A week. Sometimes the Holy Spirit wants the word out immediately, and who am I to argue? The light romances and suspense/thrillers are a different story. In stark contrast to devotionals, my short-story fiction usually take three to four weeks. My pace slows as my mind wanders to, “How can I describe something that will result in the reader turning into a hopeless romantic or someone feeling the need to check the closets and under the bed?”
Faith in Genres

Some of my author friends have called me “Dr. Jekyll and Patti J. Smith”, or the “Sybil” of the writing world. Regardless of genre, I strive to bring faith into each one because faith belongs everywhere, and it’s the guiding force of my life. No one knows what word, sentence or paragraph within a genre will reach out and pull a reader towards Him so I plant seeds everywhere.

The Results
Devotionals:

~~A Mended Heart – Rosary Meditations on Forgiveness
~~Journey to Sunset – Rosary Meditations for Caregivers
~~Redeemed – Rosary Meditations for Post-Abortive Women
~~Embrace the Morning – Rosary Meditations to Calm the Storm
~~And God Still Loves Me – A Journey from the Dark Abyss of Sin to God’s Mercy – my personal testimony.
~~Moments with God – The complete collection of the above

~~Behind the Smile – Overcoming Depression through Scripture and Prayer

Light Romance:

The San Francisco Wedding Planner series. The trials and tribulations of a wedding planner – A cooperative effort with four other authors.

Suspense/Thriller:

Grave Obsessions Series
~~Chiseled Heart
~~Savage Sojourner
~~Shackled Souls (Work in Progress)

All available at http://www.amazon.com/author/pattijsmith.

BIO

Patti J. Smith was born in Wimpole Park, England. She lived in England and Morocco as well as several state-side Air Force Bases and considers her father’s last assignment, Moses Lake, Washington, her hometown. She audited for the Dept. of Labor and Veteran’s Administration Offices of Inspector General, served in the U.S. Army Reserve (Transit Control Unit and Criminal Investigation Division) and recently retired as a background investigator.
Patti lives in Vista, CA with her husband and has two (almost three) granddaughters. She serves as a Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Co-leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats and sings in her parish choir.
She is a prolific blogger and reader, and proudly admits to being a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan and Fantasy Football fanatic. Her travel adventures include Spain, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Fiji, South Korea and almost all states – including Hawaii and Alaska.
Follow her blog: http://www.gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/PattiJSmithAuthorPage

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