Writer's Digest Poet's Market 2017This year, I ordered the Writer’s Digest Poet’s Market: 2o17 for half price through a Writer’s Digest Promo. Ever since it arrived, I have been avidly reading it with pencil, notepad, and sticky notes in hand. What a treasure trove! (And I have not even got to the market section.)

Here’s a few nuggets I’ve picked up so far:

Organization

I knew if I wanted to write poetry for publication and not just for fun, I needed to get organized. After reading Patricia Kenelly’s “The Organized Poet,” here is how I decided to set up my laptop poetry file:

  • Juvenile: with folders for each listening/reading level, and within each level, folders for each theme I have written about
  • Mainstream: with folders for each theme I have written about
  • Christian: for my faith-based poetry with folders for each theme I have written about

I will also create an Excel database of poetry markets that might like my work, and a spreadsheet to track my submissions, adapting the recommended submission tracker from the book.

New Revision Techniques

While I have long written, revised, and even taught poetry writing, my revision tactics focused primarily on sound effects, line breaks, and word choice.

“Ready Your Work for Publication,” by Lauren Camp includes intriguing strategies with names like:

  • “Eat the Banana”
  • “Listen to Miles Davis” (And she’s not referring to background music.)

Don’t worry, these translate into easy to apply tactics like reconsidering pacing, changing “the” to “a,” and shortening and tightening verbs.

Sage Cohen lists still more strategies in her essay, “How to Increase Your Odds of Publication.”

New Forms

Robert Lee Brewer, editor of the guide, includes a section on a variety of poetic forms. Some I knew. Some I’m adding to my trusty folder of “Poetry Try-Its” (Which I think I’m going to transfer to a binder.) Forms I’d like to play with:

  • The Fibonacci
  • The Sevenling
  • The Shadorma…

I won’t bore you with my whole long list.

Writer’s Digest Poet’s Market: 2017

Trust me, this book would have been worth its price, even if it had not been on sale. So excuse me, while I go off to play with some words!

P.S

What are some of your favorite revision tactics or poetic forms? Please use the comment space below to share. I look forward to adding your ideas to my lists!

 

Posted by: Debby | June 15, 2017

Life is Brutal…

Little did I know when I went on hiatus in March that I would not be back to Literate Lives until mid-June. A lot has happened since that last post:

My son is not only out of ICU, he’s been released from skilled nursing, residential physical therapy, and is home. We praise God for how he has recovered! He has regained the use of both arms; he can walk again, although with a cane, he can talk again, and most wonderful of all his personality and intellect remain unchanged by the accident.

One week into my son’s two-plus weeks in ICU, I got a call from my stepmom telling me my dad, who was in hospice care with Alzheimer’s, was not predicted to hold out more than a day or so. My husband and I rushed to Washington, where we spent the next two days at Dad’s bedside. I am so grateful I was able to be there, able to tell him how much I love him, and talk about all my wonderful memories as his daughter. Although he remained unconscious, I held his hand, prayed his ears were still working and somewhere deep inside him he knew how greatly he is loved, and was able to kiss him good-bye his last night.

I got sick on the way home from Washington, and as usual asthma prolonged the illness for two weeks–two weeks I could not go to see my injured son.

I had a couple of routine weeks. My son left the hospital for skilled nursing. Then Easter Sunday, I felt so exhausted, I came home from my daughters Easter Breakfast, went back to bed, and slept the whole afternoon. The glands in my neck were completely swollen, I was physically wiped out, and I kept popping off-and-on fevers. For the next two weeks, my doctor tried to figure out what was wrong, finally narrowing the potential diagnosis down to lymphoma or mononucleosis, although she was convinced it couldn’t be mono because of my age (Adults do not get mononucleosis). Finally after more tests and almost another week of worrying and feeling half dead, we got the news: It was mono. Hurray–Oh, no! Because I was so contagious, I had to miss my dad’s memorial service.It took more time to recover from the mono (and all this time I was missing work). Just as I was nearly healthy enough to return to my teaching job, I caught a cold. A cold, plus asthma, meant two more weeks out, and then…the cold turned into pneumonia! I didn’t return to work until June.

This has been a very difficult and emotional season, but as Piper says in the quote, God has been good. I am so grateful for my son’s recovery and so grateful not to have lymphoma. In all this time I’ve had to rest and recuperate, I have been so touched by the many kindnesses of the people in my life. In addition, I have come to realize how much I love my job and the people I work with, and how much I love writing and blogging.

At present, because I am still recuperating, I am only going to commit to one blog post/week. However, as I grow stronger and require less rest, I intend to get back to my two-day per week schedule.

So, welcome back to Literate Lives (and welcome if this is your first visit)!

Please use the comment space below to share some quotes that help you through tough times. Also, if you’d like, let me know what kind of content you are interested in seeing this summer.

Posted by: Debby | March 16, 2017

Temporary Hiatus

Purple Writing

My oldest son has been injured (with a longsword no less!). He is in ICU and likely to be there for at least this week. Needless to say, I’m trying to spend as much time with him as I can. Therefore, I am temporarily suspending my posts until he has recovered.

I’m praying like mad, and I know God loves him even more than I do! I’m counting on that.

Posted by: Debby | March 13, 2017

Reading Response: A Focus on Vocabulary

Want to help your children or students build their vocabulary? Try this exercise.

Prepare to Read

First, either instruct your children or students to read for a set amount of time. When I was a classroom teacher my standard “student choice” reading homework assignment was to read for 10 minutes, 3-5 nights a week.

You might do the same with your children or students, or you might read aloud for a set time period or length of pages. Be sure, if you are a parent, your child is sitting beside you so he or she can see the text as your read. If you are a teacher, be sure you are reading from a text that all the students can have a copy of, so they can follow along.

Print the following statements onto a note card, project them on your Smartboard, or write them on your whiteboard:

  • A word I did not know or was not certain of the meaning of was…
  • I found it in this sentence…
  • I think it means…
  • I looked it up in the dictionary and it means…

As you or they read, tell your students to be on the lookout for a word for the exercise.

Read

Instruct your child or student to begin reading, or you begin reading. It is best if you do this in a quiet room without a lot of distractions. Tell him or her to write down the word and page number when they spot it and then continue reading for the allotted time.

Respond

When done, instruct your students or child go back to the page they noted and copy down the sentence in which he or she found the word. Instruct them to fill in the remaining statements or, if your group is small enough, discuss the remaining statements together.

Closure

Challenge your students or child to look for ways to use their new word for the next few days.

Your Turn

How do you like to help your children or students to expand their vocabulary?

Posted by: Debby | March 9, 2017

Teacher’s File Drawer: Name Research Project

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Shakespeare, from “Romeo and Juliet” (II,ii,1-2)

In honor of International Celebrate Your Name Week, I want to share my favorite research project–a Name Research Paper.

The Name Research Paper

Every person has a name—some two, three, or even four names.  And all names have some kind of story behind it.  What I asked the students to do was research their own name. It could be their first name, middle name or both.

Questions to consider were:

  • How did their parents choose their names?  Why?
  • What traditions were in their families for choosing names?
  • Why did their parents decide to spell their names the way they do?
  • What does their name mean?
  • What is their names’ histories—in their family? In the world?
  • Are there other versions of their names?  Where do they come from? What do they mean?

Page 2 of the assignment sheet provided a section for parents’ signatures, so that my students parents would know what we were working on and what was required.

Name Research Sources

The students were required to interview a family member as one of their resources for the project. Other resources can include baby name books and baby name websites, and if they were named after a fictional character or famous person, research into the story of that individual. At least 5 different types of sources should be used.

I used these criteria when scoring for the number of sources used:

  • 1 Source—0% of points possible
  • 2 Sources—35% of points possible
  • 3 Sources—70% of points possible
  • 4 Sources—85% of points possible
  • 5 Sources or more—100% of points possible and higher

Notecards

Students were expected to use note cards and part of their final scores were determined by how many notes they took. For full credit they needed at least 25 note cards.

One day of the project started with a lesson on how to create note cards.Here is an example of a source card:

Here is an example of a note card:

I used these criteria when scoring for notecards:

  • None-5 Cards—0% of points possible
  • 6-10 Cards—50% of points possible
  • 10-11 Cards—60% of points possible
  • 12-13 Cards—65% of points possible
  • 14-17 Cards—70% of points possible
  • 19-21 Cards—80% of points possible
  • 22-24 Cards—90% of points possible
  • 25 Cards and up—100% of points possible and higher

Remainder of Name Research Paper Project

When it came  time to write the paper, I required my students to use the complete writing process: pre-write, rough draft, revise and edit to MLA format for citations, participate in peer evaluation, do a final revision and edit, and produce a final copy complete with bibliography.

Scoring the Name Research Paper

This is the scoring page for the name research papers:

At the time I was teaching this lesson, my state, Oregon, was using their own writing scoring guide whose traits you see listed in the middle section. You can easily adapt this section to include your own writing scoring guide.

At the bottom, you see writing reflection questions the students were required to fill out and turn in with their research papers. I found using reflection questions at the end of long projects like this helped the students cement into memory what they learned while working on the project.

Why Did I Love This Project?

Because the paper is all about something that relates to them personally, I found it was easier to generate student buy-in.

It was a good assignment for practicing research skills and, because of the personal aspect, for establishing the student’s unique writing voices.

I usually did this near the beginning of the school year, and it provided both me and the students’ a good opportunity to get acquainted, and nearly all the papers were enjoyable to read.

Your Turn

What kinds of assignments do you like to use to help you get acquainted with your students? What topics have you found to be useful for generating student enthusiasm?

Posted by: Debby | March 6, 2017

Best Books of February

best-books-logo

Initial Choice for Best Book of February

All through February, the book I had in mind for “Best Book of February” was The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips, a double mystery set in contemporary Oxford and 17th century London. However, on February 28, I finished reading Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel.

breakout-novelBest Book of February

Writing the Breakout Novel is a book I have heard recommended at more writing conferences than I can even remember to count. Finally, I have read it, and I understand the raves. This book is about the characteristics that move a novel beyond the mid-list into best seller territory. Maass describes each quality, gives examples, and provides practical advice for working it into your novel. The book is both inspiring and practical at the same time. I would recommend “Breakout Novel” to any novelist, and I know I’ll be reading more of Maass’ books.

Your Turn to Recommend a Book

So, I shared my favorite February read. Tell me, please, what was yours? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you or maybe your children really enjoy? What book made a major impact on you? Please use the comment space to share the title, author’s name, and just a snippet about your book to whet your fellow readers’ appetites.

 

Posted by: Debby | March 2, 2017

Literate Lives New Blog Schedule

new-blog-schedule

Beginning next week, Monday, March 6, I will begin posting on Mondays and Thursdays, rather than my Tuesday/Thursday Schedule.

My initial thought with the Tuesday/Thursday schedule, was to post a brief, something to think about post on Tuesdays and a more substantial post on Thursdays. However, I have not been able to keep myself to that pattern. (There’s a reason I’m a novelist!). Therefore, I am switching to the Monday/Thursday so that readers will have closer to equal time to read and enjoy each post.

See you on Monday with “Best Books of March.” Be ready to share your favorite read. It takes you and me to make that plural–“books.”

Posted by: Debby | February 28, 2017

What’s Your Mission (Statement)?

Mission StatementYears ago, one of the workshops I attended at a writing conference was on the topic of crafting a mission statement. The premise was, with a mission statement, a writer can be more focussed and effective. The instructor was a retired businessman, and he prefaced the hands-on part of the workshop by discussing how businesses and organizations use mission statements to help themselves function more effectively. And he sold me on the idea that any person, any lifestyle can benefit from a mission statement.

I have since served as part of a team crafting a mission statement for a nonprofit organization, and I loved teaching my students how to write a mission statement for where they were in their lives. It’s a different form of writing from the compare and contrast or analytical essay, and for most of them, probably a much more practical skill for life.

Why a Mission Statement Now?

As those of you who follow this blog know, I have been ill for a solid month–lie down and don’t do much of anything ill. As mentioned in my previous post (view Got a Lot on Your Mind? Braindrain! here) I’ve learned some things from this experience and want to apply them to my life. Thus, I have written a new mission statement.

My Mission Statement

My mission is to:

  1. teach and nurture literacy
  2. celebrate creativity, imagination, awe, and wonder
  3. serves as a faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ.

How I Am Implementing or Will Implement this Mission in My Life

Here are some of the ways I plan to “fulfill my mission.” To teach and nurture literacy I will:

  • continue my work as a writing teacher
  • continue reaching out and encouraging others in building a literate lifestyle through this blog
  • nurture a love of reading and writing in my grandchildren
  • joyfully serve as my husband’s personal librarian (I love that he lets me/counts on me to do this for him!)

To celebrate creativity, imagination, awe, and wonder, I will:

  • again continue reaching out and encouraging others through this blog
  • read
  • write fiction and poetry
  • participate in my writers’ groups
  • serve in the writing organizations to which I belong.

To serve as a faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ I will:

  • continue my work as a writing teacher
  • continue reaching out and encouraging others through this blog
  • continue to write fiction and poetry
  • read the Bible as close to daily as I can get (I confess I am not a get up before the sun and do it before anything else kind of woman. I’m pretty groggy in the early part of my day. I can learn and absorb more if I get a chance to wake up a bit)
  • participate within my church family
  • love the people I have been blessed with in my life–my husband, children, grandchildren, parents (I am so blessed they are still alive), friends, colleagues
  • strive to love my neighbor (and remember all humanity is my neighbor) as I love myself

What Stays and What Goes?

Having established this understanding with myself, I am now better equipped to evaluate  opportunities that come my way and make wise choices that will serve my mission and prevent burn-out.

Your Turn

Use the comment box below to share what you would put on your mission statement.

 

Posted by: Debby | February 24, 2017

Got a Lot on Your Mind? Braindrain!

Got a Lot on Your Mind? Braindrain!

Do you have a lot on your mind? Doing a braindrain can be a great exercise to help you capture all the issues and ideas so that you can deal with them in a rational manner.

What’s a Braindrain?

A braindrain is like a brainstorm, only instead of trying to come up with as many ideas as you can that relate to a focused topic, your objective is to spill out all the busy-ness in your head onto paper. It’s a useful way to get an overview of the big picture.

Funnel Cloud

My Braindrain

I have been on medical leave for almost a month now. I’ve had lots of doctor appointments and email conversations. I’ve researched topics related to asthma and better self-care. I’ve had to do a lot of resting. And I’ve learned a lot of things I don’t want to forget. So, today I did a braindrain. You can type one on your computer or phone, write it in your journal, or just spill it out on a big piece of paper.

Here’s a sampling from mine:

  • If I use my emergency inhaler more than 2x per week, I need to call my allergist.
  • I like my job and miss my colleagues.
  • I enjoy seeing my friends’ and family’s facebook posts.
  • I enjoy writing to Mom.
  • Humidity is one of my big asthma triggers.
  • I’ve found some great new blogs to follow.
  • I love reading my Bible daily.
  • I need to add more fruits and veggies into my diet especially carotenoids and leafy greens.
  • I have learned how to use my planner more effectively.
  • It is good to sit still.
  • Dark chocolate is still good for me.
  • I need to be a more faithful vacuumer and duster for my health’s sake.
  • I can always remind myself my life is in God’s hands; God loves me; God is good; and God is in control. I have nothing to fear.

As you can see, I let the ideas come in random order, although thinking of one thing sometimes reminded me of other related topics.

writing-pen

What Will I Do With My Braindrain?

When I look over my list, I see there are things I need to remember for when I get sick. I’ll gather these on an index card and put it on my bulletin board.

There were more healthy eating suggestions on the list than I included on your abbreviated version. I want to make another index card with an “Eat These!” list on one side and a “Limit These!” list on the other to keep in my wallet. I will also make an index card for each and put them on my fridge.

I tend to over-embrace the Puritan work ethic, and I tend to get stressed. I’m going to make another list, on a blank page in my planner, of things I enjoy doing that are restful and relaxing.  Then, I’m going to try to remember to look at it when I feel stressed.

I have also created a new daily item for my planner: Calming Activity.

The Braindrain: Another Great Benefit of a Literate Lifestyle

I am a person who thinks best with a pen in my hand. I love using the braindrain exercise  to capture or quiet what’s on my mind. It feels really good to get everything recorded in one place.

Your Turn

Please use the comment box below to share your own tips for coping with having a lot on your mind. Or share a braindrain of your own. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted by: Debby | February 21, 2017

Whilst I Lie Here Sick–My Life on Pinterest

Asthma! Grrr!

I am now on week 4 of lying about the house in an effort to recover from an “asthma exacerbation” brought about by high humidity and a respiratory virus. Basically I’ve been living at levels 1, 2, and 3 on the “Pain Scale” I adapted from the Samn-Perelli 7pt. Fatigue Scale.

Fatigue-Scale

Too Tired to Read! Don’t Want to Watch T.V.!

While being in the state of “Extremely tired, very difficult to concentrate,” let alone move around and do the simplest of chore,  yet highly susceptible to boredom, what have I been doing? Pinning. It is my favorite “brain-dead” activity. All I have to move are my fingers and my eyes, and as someone who loves visual imagery that is pleasure enough.

debby-zigenis-lowery-pinterest-illustration-row

What Have I Done on My Pinterest Boards!

Follow the links if you would like to check out any examples.

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Why I Love Pinterest:

As I already said, I am a very, visually oriented person, and so I love feasting my eyes on the beautiful images.

Better yet, Pinterest is eliminating my need for additional file cabinet space. No more clipping and filing writing information, historical references, recipes, and teaching, craft, and holiday ideas.

As a fiction writer, it has provided a quick and easy way to save other types of inspiration like art and photos for settings and characters.

And, it’s just a great place to collect things I love, all without having to take up physical space collecting them!

I think it has saved my sanity in these long boring days when even journaling felt like too much. Pop in on any of the links and take a peek. (Oh, and feel free to pin whatever you want; my boards are about sharing.)

Your Turn

Are you a pinner? Leave a link to your pinboards in the comment box. I would love to check them out!

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