Happy May! A recap of my April adventures and what’s next

galluping purple flowersI want to start by saying thank you to all of the organizers of NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge and the poets of dVerse. And the poets that included my poems in their lists, especially David Ellis at Too Full To Write.

I also want to thank everyone who read my poems and left such lovely comments. Everyone was encouraging and made me feel my efforts are worthwhile.

This was a long month for me  with some very high points and some low points.Signed by Anne Lamott

The high points were: my birthday evening seeing Anne Lamott at Benroya Hall; scrolling up some of my poems for Poem in your pocket day and having them on the counter at A Good Book Bookstore; and, of course, completing the challenges while learning so many interesting new words and facts.

The low points all had to do with short story rejections, but I think my very negative feelings had to do with a bout of the flu, so actually, the low points should have been seen as high points, as in, “I have new stories to shop around.”

This month hit some milestones for Experience Writing:

♦ Most views ever: April 30
♦ Most likes ever: April 16

Thank you for the comments, likes and follows!

Now to the recap.

NaPoWriMo

I found all of the different prompts inspiring. I learned so much from the resources and examples, the great interviews and unique ways to approach the page. This was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. To my readers who didn’t participate this year, I recommend giving it a try next year. And you can dive in sooner with OctPoWriMo this fall.

My favorite prompt: I think the haibun prompt was my favorite. First, because I had never heard of haibuns before. Second, it adds another element to haiku that I really enjoy, and third, because it opened up participation in dVerse’s Haibun Monday. I wrote three haibuns during the month:Contemplating the Other

Summer Comes Too Soon

The Lingering, Long Spring Day

Self and Setting

My favorite poems I wrote:

Why Stand By? This poem, inspired by a forensic psychology course I’m taking online, really seemed to resonate with readers and spur discussion.

Contemplating The Other This poem, inspired by the Polish poems from Here by Wislawa Szymborska, is one of my favorites and my sister liked it and wants a copy for my nephew’s baby book which makes me very happy.

Then I think it’s a tie between the poems I did the most factual research for :

An Apple Is An Apple – noosphere

The Next Pasquinade – Pasquino

Flawed Reflection – Pulitzer winner Frank Bidart

The Reliquary for the Miraculous -Saint Sidonius

I really enjoy learning new and interesting things.

A to Z Challenge

I think doing the A to Z Challenge as part of my NaPoWriMo experience was a great idea. As I learned last fall, I like to use multiple prompts to enhance my creative efforts, and the word of the day often lead to more interesting poetry challenges.

My favorite words were: xanthic (xanthodont), wayzgoose, wazzock, and atresia. All of them really.

Flash! cover

Reading

Favorite poetry books: Here by Wislawa Szymborska

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Favorite writing book: FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story by John Dufresne

May Plans

So what comes next? It’s time to turn my attention back to my novel. I have scenes to draft and then another full edit. While I work, I will hopefully find inspiration from:

Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing by Jessica Page Morrell

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing) (Volume 1) by Randy Ingermanson

I also have a great stack of fiction and poetry to inspire me as well.

monster dancer

I’m hoping to continue to blog three posts weekly:

  1. a writing and editing post
  2. a poem
  3. a book review

Site stats tell me that my most popular day and time is Thursday at 1pm. What would you like to read most on a Thursday at 1pm: a poem, some insight on the craft of writing, or a book review?

Or is there something else you would like me to share this May?

I have decided that the photography focus for the next Gator McBumpypants picture book will be using filters. I’ll be studying an old KODAK Workshop Series book called Using Filters, so you may see some odd photos to illustrate my posts.

If you have a poem, a micro-story, a book review, or a guest-post you would like to share on Experience Writing let me know in the comments or head over to MBer Creations and write to me on the Contact page.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Here’s to an abundant and prolific May.

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dVerse Monday Haibun: Take a walk

And as a treat for finishing NaPoWriMo and the A to Z Challenge, I took the advice of the prompt at dVerse Poets Pub and took a walk.

black crust on stump

 

Self and Setting

For this respite, my reward for diligence, I grab my lens, aspiring to share my view. I find myself not walking, but squatting, twisting, turning and reaching for the space and light. Pushing buttons, twirling knobs, zooming in and out to capture contrasting colors in secondary stewardship. Wings flit seconds before the click. I debate if taking a walk had to mean wandering the neighborhood. A pedestrian coming toward me, a man in a red jacket, whom I would have to pass, answers my question for me. I do not have to wander to break a sweat and hear my muscles sing their discordant threnody.

Am I of this place
A loop of known origin
The last or the next?

 

curlinglording over

little white pills

New Gator McBumpypants Picture Book Now Available!

Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is a sweet story about the challenges of making new friends. It also covers themes such as empathy and knowing when to ask for help.

Last year, I designed and made a little box turtle. I had an online contest to name the turtle and the winning name, contributed by Amy Chesler–Thank you again, Amy–was Shelley. Shelley first appears at the very end of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. If you haven’t read it yet, it is a story about Dee Dee the duck flying south for the winter and having to part with her friends.

In this new book, Shelley gets her own story. She is finally convinced to go on an adventure with Gator McBumpypants and Herman, but she gets a sliver and then is stuck in her shell! Shelley was very fun to work with. Her fabric has a little shimmer when the light is just right. I also designed her so that she tucks into her shell.

For those of you who have been following along with my writer’s journey here at Experience Writing (and Maria Berg’s Writing Life before that), you may recall that Gator McBumpypants was inspired by a photography assignment. I needed models and didn’t have anyone readily available. I grabbed a couple of my stuffed animals and took them outside. While I posed them and photographed them, the story of how they met and became friends came to me. That was the birth of Gator McBumpypants Hears A Scary Noise.

Since publishing that first picture book, I have designed and made two new characters, Dee Dee the duck and Shelley the box turtle. Creating the characters and stories is fun and challenging, but I also continue to use these books as photography projects.

Each year I focus on a specific technique. Last year I tried out colored filters, a wide angle/fish-eye lens and a difficult setting. Though the images using the colored filters and fish-eye lens did not make it into last year’s book, the techniques may be incorporated in the future. The setting was too beautiful to distort and the fall colors did not need a bit of enhancement.

This year, I learned bokeh shape photography. The word bokeh comes from Japanese and literally translates as “blur”. Using a hand-cut filter, I am able to create shapes with every point of light in the unfocused area of my photograph. I incorporated some of the bokeh images into the book and I think it brings another dimension of magical fantasy to the already fun mix of photography and play.

As the characters and stories progress and grow through the series, I, as a photographer, grow as well. Each year is a new adventure. I hope you will think about bringing the joy and play of Gator McBumpypants books to your family this year.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

#Writober Day 10: Voyeuristic

writober day ten

by Gregory Crewdson

There is so much story in this image. Why is Dad outside, in a crazy patio garden, looking in on his exhausted family? Is that even Dad?

This image makes me think of the dysfunctional family in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind when Dad is throwing the plants into the kitchen to make his model.

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache. The title of this post might give you an idea for an ism you could use in your description.

#vss: very short story

The veil between the heavenly garden and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror. They never saw him. (edited to fit 140 char. limit)

(Original) The veil between the heavenly garden of the afterlife and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror in an interrogation room. His wife and daughter never saw or heard him.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Power And Control

Today’s prompt recommends using a mind map which is fun for me because last month I created a mind map graphic (feel free to print it and use it) for Geoffrey Calhoun’s guest post Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story. 

I printed out my graphic and used the starting words from OctPoWriMo.com. I set my timer for 10 minutes. Here’s how my brainstorming session turned out:

A mind map around the word "power"

Maria L. Berg’s Mind Map of Power

Ha Ha! I can barely read my own handwriting. I liked using my Mind Map graphic. It’s fun how the mind goes in unexpected directions. I think I’ll print a bunch more of those and do them for the #Writober flash fiction stories, and random words, and . . . I’m going to need more printer ink.

I thought the #Writober image and #OctPoWriMo prompt paired well today. Here’s my poem:

The Voyeur

He held her

Controlling her with his eyes

He saw everything she did

Power soared with his every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

She would recognize

The violation

His eyes held her

Pronouns – power and gender rolls

This theme and my poem made me think about the problems with power and gender-inequality, so I decided to change the pronouns in my poem.

Voyeur

She held him

Controlling him with her eyes

She saw everything he did

Power soared with her every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

He would recognize

The violation

Her eyes held him

Contrast and Compare

What do you think? Does the meaning change? Or is equal representation, equally creepy?

#FlashFicHive

Where do you post your flash stories?

I have been posting my #Writober microstories on twitter at #vss. I hope you’ll join me.

flash fic day 10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This last spring I wrote about the great online magazines I found a good fit with in #LitMag+ and LitMag+ the sequel. They even published some of last year’s flash from #Writober. I’m always looking for more flash fiction magazines. Which ones are your favorites? Please leave links in the comments.

I am finding these prompts very inspiring and I hope you have too. It’s never too late to join in all the fun #Writober challenges.

Any words on the page are words that weren’t there before.

Happy Writing and Reading!

 

 

#Writober Day 7: The Upside-down

People walking in a rocky sky

photograph by Maria L. Berg

What would life be like if gravity worked backwards somehow? Or there was no gravity as we understand it? Or a race of people whose heads pulled downward created an earth in the sky? What story does this image say to you?

#vss

Last night, I had fun writing a very short story (a story in one tweet of 140 characters or less) for each of the #Writober images so far. I hope you’ll go back through the posts to read them or look for them on Twitter.

Here’s today’s: I loved the idea of dancing on the ceiling, but now my anti-gravity ray’s stuck and I can’t get down.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt: Then I went too far.

This prompt brings up the idea of a line that can be crossed. Who defines that line? Do I define it? Is it defined for me?

I tend to toe along those lines, like Douglas Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks making his ballerina catches, pointed toes somehow magically in bounds while the rest of him is flying outside the line.

So at what point is far, too far? And is too far a bad thing as it tends to connote?

The Point Of No Return

Exhaustion overwhelms my limbs

Past the point of no return

As waves of hope, the light dims

Once seen, cannot be unseen

Proof of life in humming hymns

There is no raising dead

Why am I compelled by whims?

Breaking through the barrier

Chance of rescue by minute slims

There is no going back

Balancing poorly on earthly rims

This time I’ve gone too far

 

#Slam Words

Last night I discovered another poetry challenge on Twitter. Here’s I prompt that is up there now:

slam words

Great for #Writober, don’t you think?

I don’t know the rules of the game yet, but last night, I ran across a one word prompt. It was the archaic word gleed, meaning: a glowing coal. Here is the poem it inspired me to write:

A gleed, Swept by the wind,Settled in my cuff,Penetrated my favorite shirtPressed against my skin,Irritated then burned,Sizzled and scarredMy rapt smile In your gazeWas the only pain fel

#FlashFicHive

Share Lines or a Premise

flash fic day 7

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Premise for today’s flash fiction: There is a pocket of civilization near the center of the earth where gravity works backwards. Where people walk with their heads pointed down toward a sea of molten lava.

#JustCreateChallenge

justcreate day 7

Is there a silver lining after your character has gone too far? Can they find the bright side of no longer walking on the ground? I think this could work with today’s prompts.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Another First: McKenzie’s New Boyfriend

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions                                                                                                    photo by Maria L. Berg

McKenzie’s New Boyfriend is my second story published by Fictional Pairings. They paired my story with a song called Recover by Second Still. I’m listening to it while I write this. It feels perfect for my story–spacey road trip–and on Second Still’s site it says the album was released on my birthday this year (coincidence?).

This is another first in my writer’s journey because this is the first time I have published twice in the same magazine.

When building a publication history, why the same magazine?

When I first submitted to Fictional Pairings, I had two stories that I thought might work. I chose the shorter and more obviously sci-fi because I thought it was a best fit. The moment I received my acceptance letter from Fictional Pairings for BAM-AG Home, I shot off an email saying that I thought I had another piece that would be a good fit. I asked if they might be interested and how long I should wait before submitting again.

Why did I do this? Because I love the musical pairings with flash fiction. It is a great fit for me and I think it will grow. It also shows a growing readership that your first piece was so good that the magazine wanted another.

Like I said in New #LitMag+, finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, so once you find a good match, I recommend submitting more than one best fit.

Book Spine Poems: Happy #NationalPoetryMonth

This morning, I came across an article in School Library Journal called

Here’s How You Make a Book Spine Poem with Your Students/Patrons by Travis Jonker

The concept is simple, fun and it inspired me. Here are my poems, created from my bookshelf in celebration of National Poetry Month. I hope you will join me and link to your poems in the comments.

Blind Sided: a short poem made of stacked books

Blind Sided

Beyond good and evil

Back roads inside the criminal mind

Blind side our kind

Mothers Talk: a poem in three books

Mothers Talk

In the company of cheerful ladies

The devil’s teeth serving up the harvest

Paper and Fire Don't Mix: a poem in three books

Paper And Fire Don’t Mix

The people of paper

Civilization and its discontents

The girl who played with fire

The Happy Evening News: a poem in four books

The Happy Evening News

Who’s writing this

furiously happy

evening news?

Bad monkey!

Stained Glass Death Switch: a poem in five books

Stained Glass Death Switch

The book of illusion’s stained glass death switch

Crowns what the dead know

The Unforgettable Photograph: a poem in eight books

The Unforgettable Photograph

The unforgettable photograph:

point zero; nowhere wild.

Chop wood, carry water

where there is no doctor.

When you are engulfed in flames,

teach yourself to dream the dream of Scipio.

A Quick Note of Thanks

pastel reflectionI want to thank Renee at Mother Daughter Book Review  for allowing me to guest post and for making the post look so lovely.  I did  research on photography as illustration in children’s picture books and found an interested study that illuminated a hybrid genre. I hope you’ll take a moment to click on the link and read my post. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And for those of you who have not read the first two Gator McBumpypants books, or you just want a chance to win a signed copy, I have two Goodreads giveaways going on right now.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise Giveaway until Dec. 2, 2015

Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly Giveaway until Dec. 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are surrounded by reasons to be thankful.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Two books for only 99 cents !!! The Anticipation Builds for Dee Dee Makes Three

sticks and canvas in the grass

I mentioned in my last post that my new Gator McBumpypants picture book will have props. What do you think the one in the picture could be?

You can find out soon! As soon as this weekend!! I sent Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three off to Createspace review mere hours ago. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

In the meantime, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is still free to download and as of today, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly is only 99 cents.

You don’t need to read the first two books to enjoy the third adventure of Gator McBumpypants and his friends. But here’s your opportunity to meet a happy alligator and his friend Herman, read how they became friends and learn how Herman learns to fly. All of that, and you will have the inside scoop for Dee Dee Makes Three for only 99 cents!

🙂  But wait, there’s more  (:

You don’t have to have young children to enjoy Gator McBumpypants. Photographers, artists, writers, alligator lovers, stuffed animal aficionados–Here is your chance to inspect progress over time. The first book was inspired by a new DSLR camera and a photography class. The second book was inspired by feedback from readers and some new photography techniques. In my last post I mentioned many of the fun new things to expect in the third book, but I will add: this last year my photography focus was light and I received weekly critique. Have my efforts paid off? You will need all three books to judge. 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you think  is in the picture!

Enjoy the books and happy writing.

My first vocal interview: Chris is a talented interviewer; I want to buy my own books.

ROACHOPERA

The cover of Christian Champagne’s poetry book.

YAT DICTIONARY ine YAT DICTIONARY2Chris Champagne, author of  Roach Opera and The Yat Dictionary who has been voted Best Comedian in New Orleans two years running, interviewed me about my books for his podcast. It’s a great interview. He made me want to read my books.

The first part of the podcast is a comedy quiz show, my interview starts at 24:37. I recommend following his podcast; it’s funny and I learned most of the truth about New Orleans politics through Chris’s comedy. He is a true New Orleanian.