Chicken Soup for the Soul’s “The Queen of Parking Spaces” Now Available on Podcast

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Queen of Parking Spaces by Debby Zigenis-LoweryChicken Soup for the Soul is a great market for writer’s wanting to break in. Want to know how I know? Well, when my only publication credits so far were with Cricket magazine (for which I will be eternally grateful; I don’t mean to put them down at all–it’s just I felt I needed to branch out a bit) Chicken Soup for the Soul bought my very first submission to them–“The Queen of Parking Spaces,” inspired by my relationship with my Aunt Judy. (Sorry, I know that’s a capitalization error, but I just can’t make myself type a lower case “A.” For me, “Aunt” is part of her name.)

What Chicken Soup for the Soul Wants

Here, in their own words, is what Chicken Soup for the Soul looks for:

…an inspirational, true story about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences. It is a story that opens the heart and rekindles the spirit. It is a simple piece that touches our readers and helps them discover basic principles they can use in their own lives….

Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are written in the first person and have a beginning, middle and an end. The stories often close with a punch, creating emotion, rather than simply talking about it. Chicken Soup for the Soul stories have heart, but also something extra—an element that makes us all feel more hopeful, more connected, more thankful, more passionate and better about life in general….

Keep your story to 1200 words or less. Tighten, tighten, tighten!

You can learn more about their criteria for submissions at their “Guidelines for Submissions,” and you can sign up for their free newsletter, here.

“The Queen of Parking Spaces” Podcast Goes Live Monday

To my delight, I have learned my “Queen of Parking Spaces” will have a new life. On Monday, it will become part of Chicken Soup for the Soul‘s podcasting program.

New podcasts will appear each weekday, featuring stories from their many books. Each day is themed:

  • Motivational Monday
  • Tip Tuesday
  • Wow Wednesday
  • Thoughtful Thursday
  • Friend Friday (Which will feature an interview with one of their writers.)

So if you need a little pick-me-up, you can tune in and listen to your heart’s content

What About You?

Have you had your short story, personal essay, or creative nonfiction accepted in Chicken Soup for the Soul or any other anthology? If so, please use the comment space to let us all know. Give us your name, the title of the anthology, and the title of your piece so we can support each other.

Do you enjoy reading Chicken Soup for the Soul or any other anthology? Use the comment space to share the title. Everyone can always use another recommendation of a good book.

Best Books of June 2017

Whew! I got a lot of reading done in June. (And it’s about time!) I did so much reading, that I can’t narrow this post down to just one book. But, because I’m mentioning two does not let you off the hook for helping make the word “Books”, referred to in the title, plural. So, with no further ado, here’s my best books read in June:

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal and The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt. Both are historical fiction, as were almost all the other books I read, besides the Harry Potter. Hmm, do you sense a theme here? The difference is, among many things, Valour and Vanity is historical fantasy set in Georgian era Europe (think Regency England and the Napoleonic wars of early 19th century), while The Golden Cross is straightforward historical fiction set in the 17th Century, on the Dutch colony on Java, Indonesia

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette KowalValour and Vanity: I love this series, The Glamourist Histories. In this novel, Jane and Vincent, official glamourists of the Prince Regent, head to Venice. On the way, their ship is waylaid by pirates. Although they reach Venice safely, they arrive penniless and are taken under the wing of wealthy gentleman who had been on board ship with them. But not all is as it seems… I could hardly put this book down as the plots twists and turns swiftly carried the tale in one direction and then abruptly in another. The cast of characters is fun and intriguing, as Jane and Vincent are befriended by the nuns of a local convent, a street entertainer, and Lord Byron! I can’t hardly wait to read the next book in the series. Expect to find it on my reading log soon.

The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell HuntThis second book in “The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor” series is, I think, my favorite of the series so far (although the first book, The Silver Sword was pretty awesome as well). The main character, Aidan, is a young woman gifted with great artistic ability who, through misfortune, finds herself a barmaid in a notorious harbor tavern. Feeling terrible shame at what she and her mother have become, she longs for a more respectable life. Finally she is given the chance to remake herself when a great artist takes her on as his student. However, many people want nothing more than to see her restored to the gutters from which she has escaped. This is a story of discovering ones gifts and value as a child of God. The threats to Aidan’s dreams and life get very intense, and I was glad to have had the time to gobble this book up in two days!

What about you? What book or books did you enjoy in June? Please, please, please use the comments section below to share. I’m always on the lookout for an great read.

Gleanings from the Writer’s Digest Poet’s Market: 2017

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!

 

Best Books of February

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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.

 

A Book Lover’s Valentine–International Book Giving Day

Purple WritingHappy Valentine’s Day!

Greetings my book-loving friends! While most of the world is busy celebrating (or mourning) Valentine’s Day, here is an international holiday that I think should get a lot more promotion. Today is International Book Giving Day!

While I like sweet cards from my hubby, chocolate, and roses, if you really want to give me something I’ll love, give me a book. Don’t you agree?

International Book Giving Day

I love that the emphasis on this holiday is not on getting, but giving. (I know, Valentine’s involve giving, too. However, so many people get so fixated on the receiving).

So who do you know that would be delighted by the gift of a book?

My List

  • my four adorable grandchildren who I love to encourage to read, write, and draw
  • a sci-fi writing friend (I reread Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book over Christmas and thought over and over as I read that I needed to pass it on to her. However, I felt conflicted, and as I didn’t see her, loved the book, and didn’t want to part with it, I did nothing. The solution: give her a copy of her own!)
  • my hubby: it is my great joy that he looks to me to be his personal librarian!
  • the teen parents who attend my school–I and several other staff members use Scholastic Reading Clubs‘ $1 and $2 deals to keep a box stocked with picture books that our students can take home for their kids. I frequently remind them that one of the best things they can do to help their children succeed is read to them.

Your Turn

Using the comment box below, tell us who you would give a book to. Even better, tell what book and why. After all, as book lovers ourselves, aren’t we all looking for the next great read?

Best Books of January

What was Your Favorite Read During the Month of January?

Here we go, it’s the end of another month. So, what is the best book you read in January (either for yourself or with your child)? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you really enjoy? Or, which one made a major impact on you?

Please use the comment space to share the title and author and to tell just a snippet about your book to whet our readers’ appetites. Is your child old enough to write? Invite him or her to write a recommendation for the blog.

The Kiss of DeceptionMy Reading Recommendation 

The book I would recommend from my January reading is The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I would recommend this novel for several reasons. First, like my own The Swallow’s Spring, its protagonist is a princess who does not want to marry as her parents have arranged for her to. Second, two of the secondary characters start out identified simply as “the prince” or “the assassin.” When these terms are used, you don’t know which male lead it is referring to. When these terms are not used, all you know are the male leads’ names. Therefore Pearson kept me wondering and hypothesizing about who is who. Third, it is one of only two books I finished reading this month. (The other was Thornspell by Helen Lowe–also a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy.)

Your Turn

What was the best book you read this month?

Books and Hobbies

National Hobby Month

January is National Hobby Month. What a great idea–taking the time to celebrate all the things that help keep us creative. While I am a writer and many may say that is enough of an exercise in creativity, I would beg to differ.

Hobbies and Me

I have always had hobbies, activities that nourished and stretched me, before taking up writing professionally and after. My hobbies not only feed my spirit, but more important still, nourish my imagination.

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Hobbies Pre-Writing Life

These hobbies stretch all the way back to my early childhood. My mom has always been an artist. She loves to draw, and so our home was well stocked with paper, crayons, watercolors, glue, glitter… She even took art classes when I was a child, which helped me internalize the idea that creative activity is something to value.

The most awesome things she drew for me were paper dolls. I had a Little House on the Prairie doll. Mom drew two. Mine was Laura and my friend’s was Mary. (And no, she did not just favor me by giving me Laura. She put both drawings behind her back and we had to pick a hand. In my eyes, I lucked out and got Laura.) I had a Sleeping Beauty paper doll. And my best friend and I had paper dolls that were girls like us. I’d like to say we made up adventures and stories for our dolls which fed my love for writing. But the honest truth is, we spent more time making clothes for these dolls than actually playing with them. Each one had a “Guenevere going to the stake” gown, a Star Trek uniforms, and dresses copied from illustrations in books. Needless to say, the clothes we colored, colored our play. (And that, I suppose, is what nourished my storytelling.)

Mom also taught me to hand sew (and machine sew, but it is the hand sewing I love to this day). This took the form, mostly, of embroidery, which along with school art classes were my favored creative outlet through my teen years. I added in poetry writing from high school on.

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Hobbies + Writing Life

I’ve never lost my love for sewing handwork and drawing, and have pursued each with varying degrees of vigor alongside my writing life.

Hand sewing, be it hemming or embroidery, brings me such a sense of peace. I really ought to let myself do it more often, but, silly me, feeling peaceful doesn’t feel like I’m working. With my recovering-perfectionist, workaholic nature, I do not allow myself to indulge in it nearly as much as I would like. (Working nearly full-time and writing professionally do not leave a lot of time for other endeavors.)

Drawing, I neglected for very long time, unless I was drawing something to embroider–I seldom use purchased designs. However, for a short time when I was teaching middle school, I got to teach a couple of art classes. I used Jude Welton’s Tate Gallery Drawing: A Young Artist’s Guide as the core of my curriculum. Then, a few years ago, I read Sybil Macbeth‘s Praying in Color which opened my eyes to the many opportunities to squeeze in a little drawing time. I love taking blank index cards to church and doodling the sermon. I also enjoy doodling prayers for others. But my doodling and drawing have expanded way beyond sermon notes and prayers.

I find great joy playing with line and form, symmetry and asymmetry. And great joy in creating drawings, even though most are about the size of an index card. It’s a great way to celebrate, capture a moment, image, or mood, and–best of all–to play with my Grands. I justify these indulgences by telling myself I can use these drawings to make cards and therefore save some money. (Greeting cards are so expensive!) But the truth is, I haven’t made a card yet, and my file is full of many drawings.

402700Books and Hobbies

If you check out a book store, craft store, art store, library, or online you will find there are books for just about any hobby. I know people who like to tie flies, make jewelry, scrapbook, quilt, and sculpt. And there are oodles of books for each of them.

My Favorite Hobby Books

I have salivated and dreamed over many hobby books. However, my all-time favorites remain the ones I discovered when my children were young–the Ed Emberley drawing books (Be sure to follow the link. His website is really cool!). Emberley breaks drawing down into distinct add-a-shape steps. You can draw pirates, firetrucks, castles, fish, dragons, and knights. My favorite thing I drew from an Ed Emberley book is a deer. I still harbor dreams of turning it into a Christmas card one day.

What About You?

  • How does pursuing a hobby enrich your life?
  • Do you have hobbies you love or hobby books to recommend?
  • I’d so appreciate it if you’d leave a comment below. And take some time to celebrate your creativity this month!

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