The April Countryside and Narrative Magazine’s Sixth Annual Poetry Contest

Thought I’d share a poem for a Sunday morning. I don’t write poetry much but occasionally my mind turns to it, like it did one April day this Spring while driving along. If you write poetry or know someone who does, you might want to be aware of the Narrative Magazine Sixth Annual Poetry Contest. Check it out for yourself or share it with someone you know.  Thanks for reading!

The April Countryside

Gray April skies shower an inconsistent drip.

Follow a winding ribbon of gray

up the hill then down as it drops away.

Matted yellow grass, freed from blankets of snow

fills the pasture, greening at water’s edge.

Last year’s corn stubble dots the muddy field,

bare limbs move restlessly as

clinging dried orange leaves shudder-shake.

Old out buildings stand slant-sided,

unable to resist the ravages of winter

while, older still, a barn that could

squats solidly in the middle of a field.

Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award & a New Story

Cayuga_Lake by Stilfehler

We had a GREAT time on Cayuga Lake last weekend, very relaxing, but now it’s back to work.

I’m working on applying for the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award.  They typically give out 5 awards of $6,000.00 and 5 “Promise” awards of $1,000.00.

You must have a child under the age of 18 (which I do) but there’s no application fee and it’s all done online.  The application is due by 5 pm (Pacific Time) on August 31st, which is Saturday.

I’ve applied for other grants before, so I already had half the work done.  They just want 4 samples of  work so I’m submitting two short stories, an essay and a memoir piece.

I made the mistake of not paying enough attention to what they were requesting otherwise so learn from my mistake.  I had combined my biography and letter of intent into one thing for another grant application and didn’t realize I need to write them separately for this one.

They want a biography, an artist statement that gives a “concise description of your work and goals as an artist,” a Curriculum Vitae (in other words, an artist’s resume that tells them where your work has been seen and what workshops you’ve attended) and a letter of intent that tells how you would use this award if you win one.

The thing that’s giving me the most trouble is the biography.  A lot of what I write is biographical in nature so it’s hard to know where to stop.  How much or how little should I say about myself, my life, my writing and my family?  The only direction they give is to include how your family life inspires or challenges your writing, if it’s relevant.  Well, yes, it is relevant, but what else do I include?  My mind went one way, focusing on my writing throughout my life, but I’m trying to keep it concise.  I mean, they didn’t even give me a word count maximum –  I could ramble on for ages!

So I went through and edited the writing pieces I’m submitting, yet again, then edited the resume, artist statement and letter of intent.  Then I realized I need to pull out a separate biography.  I’m almost there.

(Just went and looked at last Spring’s winners. I’m glad I didn’t look before.  It’s a little discouraging.  Everybody who won seems to be very accomplished.  Oh well, it’s worth a try.)

I’ve also been editing my entry for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Contest.  Then I started getting this idea for a story about two angels and a demon that would be GREAT for the longer genre contest.  Unfortunately, that’s only two weeks away so I don’t know if I can have it ready in time.  It’s a good story so I’m pursuing it and if it’s not done, I’ll hold onto it.  I’m a little loath to send something I just finished writing into a contest anyway.  I prefer to let things set for a bit and edit again.

We had an unexpected day off on Wednesday because our power went out so I took myself down to the local coffee shop to write for a bit.  It was incredibly loud and I was getting a little annoyed but I decided to just listen and found that I was sitting next to a group of people talking about their Catholic religion.  My, how inspiring for my story since one of the characters is a priest!

So, I flagrantly eavesdropped and made a few notes.  They were telling religious jokes and laughing uproariously but they also hit on a few more serious topics.  Not sure if it has any relevance for what I’m writing but it did inspire me to think about my story and make some progress.  I’ve got a good idea of who my characters are and why they are there.  I also have the central question of the story, the theme and where it’s going, to guide the plot.  Now I just have to make sure all my scenes reflect and build on that.

It just seems like there has been a lot of great creative energy in the air lately, for my whole writing group at least.  Hopefully that is true for everyone out there.

A Couple Grants and Contests for Writers

WilliamAdolpheBouguereau

Well, I’ve actually been getting a fair bit of writing done and I’m planning to enter a grant competition at the end of the month.

I’m working on a short story for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Contest, 1,500 words maximum, getting one bit each night.  I’m really pleased at how it’s coming along.  It may be utter garbage but just the fact that I’m producing and having ideas is the best feeling.  (The British term “chuffed to bits” comes to mind.  I wonder if that would be a proper application of it?)  Anyway, the deadline for that is in November so I’ve got some time.

As I said, I’m working on a grant application at the same time.  It’s for the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award.  You must have a child under the age of 18 and they do give preference to people who live in the San Francisco area but there’s no entry fee so I’m going for it!

Besides the application, they want 4 writing samples and they prefer you’ve written them since you had your child.  Well, I’ve got quite a few things on my Yahoo! Contributor Network board so I’m trying to choose four from that.  I’d LOVE to have anyone’s input who cares to take a look and comment.

I am thinking to choose between –

Memories and Choices  http://voices.yahoo.com/memories-choices-12079419.html

Devolution: The Beginning  http://voices.yahoo.com/devolution-beginning-11335874.html?cat=44

Regrets: A Confessional Villanelle  http://voices.yahoo.com/regrets-confessional-villanelle-11335696.html?cat=47

27 Minutes  http://voices.yahoo.com/27-minutes-11439900.html?cat=43

Faith Hope and Love  http://voices.yahoo.com/faith-hope-love-10777773.html?cat=43

Biomalware  http://voices.yahoo.com/biomalware-11149566.html?cat=44

I’d like to include the two that were featured on Yahoo!, Regrets and Devolution, because they got really good feedback.  However, Memories and Choices, Faith Hope and Love, 27 Minutes and Biomalware all have more to do with being a parent than those two.

To further complicate manners, novelization of Biomalware is my current project and novelization of Devolution is my next project so those might be good choices to show them where I’m headed.

Writer’s group and application preparation

I spent a good part of today preparing for the writer’s group I facilitate this Thursday night.  I had decided to focus on online resources but my latest Writer’s Digest arrived recently so I had a look through that and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of useful info on websites.  One that really caught my attention was http://www.authonomy.com.  It looks like a great resource for self promotion, sort of like an online writer’s group that agents and editors can eavesdrop on to find new talent.  You can post material there then read other’s work and give feedback.  I’ve bookmarked and intend to give it some more attention.

I also spent a bit of time gathering together my materials for the workshop Friday that will help me prepare my application to NYFA for a fellowship.  I created a folder and put in my artistic statement and artist’s resume from the last grant I applied for.  I’m wondering if it would be better to do the resume format or a biographical format?  I don’t have a lot that is truly about writing for the resume.  I think I’ll write the biography and see which looks better.  I could be more persuasive in a biography than the resume.

I also gathered what I’ve written in the past five years into the folder so I could review it and try to pick out only the best.  I still have to grab some items I posted online then I can start the selection process.  It seems a little daunting right now.  Is anything I’ve written good enough to even really have a chance at a fellowship?  I hope so.

“Like grains of sand through an hourglass…”

Where does the time go?  My hourglass must have a hole in the bottom.  I can’t believe it’s been at least a month since I heard about this great opportunity for writers in New York State and I haven’t done a thing to get ready!  New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) awards Artists’ Fellowships every year in the amount of… drumroll please… $7,000.00.  *gasp*  You read that right… $7,000.00!

I calculated it out and that amount of money would let me take off one day a week, every week, for a year to write.  I can’t even imagine having that amount of time!  (Okay, maybe I can since I had extra time while I was substitute teaching, and again when I was only working half time because I couldn’t find a full time job for nine months after being downsized.  Anyway, it’s a heck of an opportunity for someone lacking time to write.  (Not sure if that would work with my job, but it sure sounds wonderful.)

This year NYFA is including fiction writers in the artists eligible.  (As I understand it, they don’t do that every year.)  Next week I’ll be going to a workshop to help me prepare to submit the grant, so I have to focus on putting together a portfolio of my work.  What to include?  I have one middle grade mystery novel finished, but I’ve recently decided the beginning needs re-working.  I have the first three chapters of a novel I really like, but my writer’s group last year said it seemed like I couldn’t decide what type of novel it was.  I have the start of a couple other novels, but not something I love as much.  I guess I’ll put it all together, re-read and then make a decision.

I’m not sure what else they will require for the grant application yet.  I’ve only applied for one other writer’s grant and they were only awarding a handful in that competition, though the pool of candidates is much bigger for this one.  At least I have an artist’s resume already made up because of that grant application.  I’ll do my best and hope.  That amout of money would afford me real time to write and submit my work.  Of course, now I just have to find the time to sort my work and put together an awesome application.    Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you’re interested, the web site for NYFA and the fellowships is http://www.nyfa.org.