Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Polk Street Review

For the first time I can hold one of my recent publications in my hand, and not just because I printed it off the internet!  I am a contributing writer in The Polk Street Review "Noblesville's Only Literary Magazine", available at The Wild Bookstore in Noblesville, IN.  It's been a great journey, not just for me but for the creators, Bill Kenley and Kurt Meyer.  When I heard about this project I'd just begun submitting stories and articles for a couple of months, finally ready to do what I'd been putting off for so long, but I'd had no luck yet.  I wrote "The Case of Flowers" specifically for this publication, and when I learned I had been accepted, it really helped my confidence and since then I've had 3 paid publications in Windy City Times. 

I already have an idea for next year's Polk Street Review, and hope it continues in it's success!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kimistry of Adulthood

I've got the subject of bullying on my mind because of a project I just finished, and because of this week's suicide of 14-year old Jamey Rodemeyer.  I have one of my friends on my mind right now, too, he committed suicide in January.  I feel like there is something more I should be doing but I don't know what.

In high school I wrote a column for the school paper called Kimistry.  I guess maybe my blog should be an extention of that:  I discuss whatever I want, in addition to promoting my writing.  The good news is, two publications in two weeks!  "Ex This" and "Next Comes Marriage".   Links here: Next Comes Marriage Ex This

If you want the authentic experience of reading this week's  full issue, go to and download the PDF version.  New issues come out each Wednesday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pointless Rambling

So if the whole point of a writing blog and using other social networks is to find people who read the kind of stuff you write I'm not doing very well.  And I think it would be creepy to go out and try to seek out kids, and how many kids really read blogs?  I used to mess around with xanga and myspace, but Facebook is the new thing. I don't think I would have any type of following with kids until after a Young Adult book of mine is published.  I have no clue how I would reach out to anyone beforehand.  Right now this blog just reaches out to other writers, because those are the only people who read this.  I don't feel like posting writing tips all the time, either.  I still don't know why I keep this blog but apparently you have to have one.  So here is a post from me. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Most Important Writing Lessons

I've learned a lot over the past couple years about writing.  I've almost completed a course through Long Ridge Writer's Group, I go to a couple critique forums, and most importantly I read and write a lot.  I have been writing since I was a kid, but the past two or three years are when I've really gotten into some of the more techinical details, creating stories not just as an art, but a craft.  Here are the things I think are the biggest lessons I've learned.

1.  Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly, and when you do use them, make them count.   This is the biggest one for me, and not always easy!  But I think it can make or break the story.

2.  Most dialogue can be cut.  I just picked this one up a couple weeks ago.  The article I read, on Writer's Digest, says that after you write a first draft you can probably delete half of your dialogue.  As always, I was skeptical about this, but I decided that it's true. Here is an example of how you can cut dialogue:

First Draft:
"Hi, what are you looking at?" asked Jay.
"I'm looking at something," said Timmy.
"That thing does look good today," Jay said, sitting beside Timmy.
"Yes, it does."
"Oh em gee, this thing you are looking at is really important and totally advances the plot."

Edited Version
"Hi, what are you looking at?" Jay asked, sitting beside Timmy.
"I'm looking at something," said Timmy.
"Oh em gee, this is really important and totally advances the plot."


3.   The things you  learn from a critique group may be right, wrong, or subjective.  In all areas if life, not just writing, I believe it's unwise to put all of your beliefs into one group, organization, or person. And I question everything I hear.  This is the best way to receive critique advice.  And sometimes suggestions may be right for the critiquer, but not for you.  This is where doing all the reading and writing you can comes in handy, so you can decide which advice to take and which to pass on.

4.  "How to Write a Book" Books are invaluable.  For some reason I never wanted to read these when I was younger and I don't remember why, although I'm sure I was suspicious of them.  Now I know they are awesome, but I still don't recommend blindly accepting everything you read.  And if you can make it through a whole book of rules, suggestions, exceptions, and contradictions without running screaming into the night, you've found your true calling.

5.  Reading and writing are still the most important ways to learn and practice.   And once you get to a certain point, the other thing you must keep doing is submitting.  Then you will have editors/agents/publishers giving you specific details as to why they will or will not publish your work.  And just like in all the other situations, sometimes what you learn is subjective.  But when specific details are given about your writing style, not just your subject matter, they're probably right.

Did I miss anything?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My First Rewrite

I'm doing my first rewrite of a submitted article.  I am the one who came up with the idea for the rewrite and the editor said he was "intrigued", and I actually feel better about the fact that it was my suggestion to change it then if the editor had told me to himself.  I've been turning my mind inside out trying to figure out exactly how to create a broader discussion on Bullying and GLBT Suicide.  I think I've got it now. I just need to be less lazy in my interview process, which so far consists of me writing down questions and asking people to fill them out!

I'm also completing another article for my writing class, which I will also submit somewhere for publication.  I only have two more assignments to go after this!  My awesome friend Kristin Stewart has provided me information for this one, and yes, I am going to make a Twilight joke about her name.  (The article is humorous--  "Moms and Exercise:  Exploring the Myth.)

While I have had my main focus on paying publications, I think I might submit a couple things to some non-paying places.  Is this a horrible idea?  There is one I just heard of that seems like it would be an honor to submit to called Lesbian Connection, which apparently started sending out pamphlets in the mail decades ago in envelopes that were massively stapled shut for privacy.  Other than that, since I'm trying to rack up legitimate short fiction and non-fiction publication to impress an agent when I send out my book, should I even bother submitting to non-paying markets?

Monday, August 8, 2011


I am in The Long Ridge Writer's Group Newsletter, Applause section, which celebrates the successes of students and graduates.  Click here!  (My blurb is the 9th paragraph down.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forum Stuff

I haven't been able to sign into the new WD Forum yet! I've been trying LOL.  Well, just like any new computer stuff at my job, it usually takes awhile to get the glitches out.  But in the meantime I guess I'll just keep trying once in awhile.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Published in The Windy City Times!

"Alternative Conception" has been printed as a column in Vol 26 No 41 of The Windy City Times.  It's on page 20.  Here's a link!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Building Me Up . . .

Today I got a rejection for a board book I wrote.  And I learned from another source that technically I should refer to it as a picture book and that the publisher will decide whether to turn it into a board book or print it in hardback. I chalked this up as another rejection experience and sent the book somewhere else!

And then tonight . . . I got some very good news!  The editor I queried with my article "Alternative Conception" said they will "try" to work it in with the series they are doing on the same topic I covered!  YES!  (Even though the "try" part is kind of daunting, it's not a rejection!)  Could this be . . . an acceptance?  A paying publication?  I have to send her a 1-2 sentence bio and a picture of myself.  I'll give more details when I have them!

I'm working on an a new article called: "EXERCISING MOMS (The Myth Explored)" and have also been editing Part Two of my novel.  :-)  Novel number Two is percolating in my mind and I've jotted down some scenes from the beginning and towards the end.  I love writing!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I'm still waiting for word on both positive query responses I've received.  (The second is for a position at a magazine/web site.)  I watched fireworks with my family tonight and life is good.  I've finished major edits of Part One of my novel (though I will be going through the whole book at least once more.)  I've been scribbling scenes for my second book, too.  And I'm reading some great stuff and into a new exercise routine.  I've also started on another article, about new moms and exercise (or even for moms who aren't so new but still want to find time to work out!) 

What are your current projects?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Positive Query Response

I was going to wait until I knew what would happen one way or the other, but either way this is a first for me, so I thought I'd go ahead and share it!  A newspaper in Chicago is looking at one of my articles, ALTERNATIVE CONCEPTION.  They are doing a multi-part series on the topic I wrote about and said "perhaps" they could use my piece! This would be my first paying publication. 

To other writers: Don't count out the query check-in e-mail.  I submitted this article in March, but hadn't heard anything.  So I wrote back, asking if they'd received my query, with a brief description of the article.  The editor responded in less than an hour, saying she hadn't received it, and informed me about their upcoming series.  The next morning, after some edits and spending some time on what I viewed as a second-chance query letter, I submitted my work.  The editor this time responded in less than 5 minutes, saying she would read my article and get back with me in a couple weeks!

I'm excited and hope things work out, but even if I get rejected, I'm encouraged.  I know the rejection won't be "we aren't looking for this kind of story", because they are looking for exactly the kind of story I wrote.  So I hope that if she thinks my writing sucks, I'll get some advice on how to make it better.

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Draft Complete

The first draft of my novel is *finally* finished!  I'm almost done with my second read-through, making edits to the version I printed out.  I'm excited!  I've already begun my query letter and have started an agent search.  Haven't started a synopsis yet.  Blegh!  But I have begun work on another book.  This one will also be YA, but it will be historical fiction.  I'm really happy with the progress I'm making right now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Next Step

So this is what it feels like.  In my writing class, I have been told I should try to make my first publication something local, even if its unpaid.  This will help me gain the attention of paying markets.

And now my non-fiction story "A Case of Flowers" has been accepted for publication in the first issue of The Polk Street Review.

It's local, I'm not getting paid, and I am ridiculously happy!  The layout of all my future query letters has changed forever.  :-)

Monday, May 9, 2011


I wish it didn't take so long to hear back from the places I've submitted my work too!  I just sent out submissions for the first time in Jan/Feb and haven't heard back from most of the places.  I have received two rejections, both of the same story-- those were the only quick responses!  And I don't even like that story, I just decided to send out every short I had written recently so I learned my lesson on that.  I just did some edits of what I consider the best short story I've written so far "2014" and resubmitted.   It's my first experiment with futuristic writing, even though it's only a few years in the future, and it was really fun to write.

I wish that even my rejections would come faster, but I guess this is all part of the process!  I have made attempts to contact one or two places, to see if they had even received my queries, and if I hear nothing soon it will be time to resubmit those as well.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Something has happened to me in the past few months.  With the deaths of my Mammaw, Dad, and one of my good friends all in one year, and also with the birth of my son, I have changed.  I am strongly against doing anything that I consider a waste of my time.  I am submitting my writing and looking for freelance opportunities like never before.  I have even started looking into full-time contributor positions.    A feel like a fire within is pushing me forward, and I won't be satisfied until I make progress.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The glorious first draft; the merciless shredding

Well, my next project is under way.  I've written the draft and given copies to my interviewees so they can let me know if I misquoted them, and of course I think the whole article sucks!  

Nah, there's potential, I've got some more tweaking to do and the deadline is still over a week away.  Sometimes when I get critiques I get really mad, but I don't want to be one of those people who can't take criticism.  Sometimes people get all uptight when really what they wrote needs work.  Sometimes I do get mad, then realize I'm just mad at myself because I do need to edit.  Others I get mad because I feel like the advice is contradictory or unnecessary.  But in the end I think I do a good job about finding the difference these days between what I need to consider and what I can ignore.  

I think I may be graduating to the point of having beta readers one day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Break

After working on my last project, which I submitted a couple days before the deadline, I have taken a much-needed break!  I will work on finishing my next project, with a May 10 deadline, next week.  So far I've written the beginning, typed up all my interview questions, and also thrown around the other ideas that I'm going to write about in my head.  :-)

I had a dream about one of my characters last night.  Actually, I dreamed I WAS her.  And the way she interacted with her mother, who is a character that is mostly silent throughout the book, really freaked me out.  I felt like I learned new things about both people, even though I made them up!  I ended up writing more about this in a comment on Suzuhara's blog, but this was one of those dreams where every once in awhile you think about it the next day with a strange feeling.  And in this case a creepy feeling because my character (Dayna) has a really crazy mom!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nervous Wreck

I have a submission deadline of May 1 to a person who used to be my newspaper teacher.  I had planned on submitting my story today, but I'm so worried that I'll screw up what could be the official start of my writing career by stupid mistakes or horrible writing out of nervousness that I'm getting some more opinions/advice/feedback/floggings before taking the submission plunge next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

It has been awhile since I read something different that just fits right into my favorites like this and that I feel needs to be added to my bookshelf and will inspire me in my future writing.  This book was written in 1932 and it's obvious that George Orwell was inspired by this for 1984, published in 1949.  There is one scene in particular that is almost the exact same in both books and I was very angry when I read it because I didn't want to find out that Orwell was ripping off Huxley, but that scene was the only one like it, so I'm glad.  (In both scenes, characters who don't quite fit in to the utopia are participating in a group event and go through the motions while feeling like it's ridiculous.  In 1984, it's the 2 Minutes Hate.  In BNW, it's an orgy.  Yeah.)

BNW, like 1984, deals with a supposed utopian society.  Unlike 1984, this civilization is encouraged to give in to all their sexual urges.  People are not born to parents, they are mass produced in labs and predestined and conditioned to different castes and jobs.  From infancy, they are trained hypnopaedically with phrases like "Every one belongs to every one else.  I'm so glad I'm an Alpha.  I love new clothes."  Like I mentioned before, people have group orgies.  It's kind of like all the community activies that Winston Smith does in 1984, except they chant and have sex instead of repress their urges and make banners for holidays and whichever current war is going on.  In Brave New World, the perfect drug has been created called soma, but it's not like our soma of today, which is a muscle relaxer.  This BNW version of the drug is freely distributed to everyone. Taken in a small dose, it elevates the mood.  I imagine it to be like taking a low milligram pain pill.  In higher doses, the person falls asleep and goes on "soma holiday" and the effects described make me think of being on acid.  At the end of the book there is a biography on Huxley, and I discovered this author did end up trying LSD in later years, and I would have thought he had already tried it when he wrote BNW!

Another difference between BNW and 1984 is that BNW is much more technical and could be classified as science fiction, and 1984 isn't really like that to me.  In BNW, up to 96 identical babies can be born from a single fertilized egg.  At different stages in their development, embryos can be manipulated into becoming a high class Alpha (these are only one person per egg) to a low class Epsilon which will be raised with their identical siblings and conditioned to grow up to be whatever job deemed necessary.   Even the Alphas go through conditioning, but they have the most freedom and are more self-aware of their conditioning.

The main characters are Bernard Marx, an Alpha who is extremely intelligent but due to an unknown anomaly while he was an embryo, isn't as tall as the other Alphas, and so is one of the only people around who has anything to be unsatisfied about.  There is also a woman named Lenina, who is the perfectly conditioned female:  happy with everything, loves soma, sleeps with several men, prattles off learned phrases all the time.  And finally there is a character named John, who was born to a woman who got stranded at the Savage Reservation in America and was raised by Indians, without any conditioning to the utopian life whatsoever, and has a copy of Shakespeare's works as his only book.  In the utopian cultures, all books except reference books are banned.  Bernard and Lenina take a holiday to the Savage Reservation, and there they meet John.

What I think is funny about reading futuristic books are the things that the author doesn't think about making futuristic.  In Brave New World, everyone travels by helicopter, people are mass produced, most of the women are sterile, and the fertile women aren't allowed to get pregnant, but can donate their eggs.  Also there is no war, most diseases have been eradicated, and people look youthful until they are 60 and then basically go senile and die, and yet people still have to look up numbers in the phone book and use landlines LOL. 

My only complaint was Huxley's use of Henry Ford as a revered godlike character in the book.  I don't have a problem with that in itself.  Again, there is a comparison to 1984.  Henry Ford, long dead, is kind of like Big Brother.  Except in BNW, there is no enemy to hate like in 1984.  People in high positions are called "your fordship".  All of that is okay and funny, because he is the creator of the assembly line and the whole world has become an assembly line.  Where I think it goes too far, is people use Ford's name in vain in the place of God, and I think that's just a little much and kind of corny. I don't have a problem with the fact that they don't worship God anymore, but reading someone saying "Oh, Ford!"  all the time is just kind of lame.  Other than that, the book is obviously something that inspires me, as I usually don't ramble on and write long reviews at all!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wonder Woman

I started back to work after a 3 month maternity leave, and I'm overwhelmed.  I feel like there is an impossible standard of superhumanity that I'm supposed to achieve now.  I don't have the option of staying at home with my son.  (It's been discussed, but unless something changes in the next couple months with our circumstances, I'm not going to do it.)   So I'm learning to juggle a full-time job, spend enough time with my son, clean bottles, do laundry, shower, and make time for my dream career--being a writer.  I'm also in mourning of my grandma, dad, and a friend who all passed away in the last year. 

Who wouldn't be overwhelmed?

  I have the incredible need to organize my time so that I don't waste any effort on things that aren't worthwhile.    I want to be with my son as much as possible, but worry that this makes me one of those obsessive, weird moms.  I'm having a really hard time with leaving him to go back to work, and feel like that makes me weak. I work in an office, and American business culture says I should have the desire to be at the company at least 5 days a week and should be fighting for overtime and working my way to the top. If there is a choice between work and family, you'd better choose work.  The common theme of all my reviews is that I haven't been as ambitious as expected. They don't realize I am one of the most ambitious people in that whole freaking place. 

I've decided to stop worrying about contests for now.  All my short stories are going to be submitted to magazines, unless I happen to have something ready by the next deadline for Writer's Digest.  I'm starting my writing class again, and I write non-fiction for that.  I'm also working on my novel.  I have had one dream come true, having a child of my own, which I never thought would happen for me.  And he has inspired me even further to fulfill my other dream of being a writer.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

4 Days

I entered the Writer's Digest Short Short Story Contest.  Winners are supposed to be notified by Feb. 14.  I have a feeling that once again I didn't make the top 25!  But if I didn't I will see if I feel my story needs edits and submit elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Nathan Allen Ball

I feel like I could write a book for you right now.  I remember being 16, a Band Aide for all the drummers in 7th/8th grade.  I can't remember when you turned from one of the "little kids" I had to teach into one of my closest friends, but by your freshman year and my senior year we had some undeniable connection that neither one of us really understood . . . until not much later when we both came out of the closet!

I remember your notes, your quote collection, the songs you sang, the fact that you never stopped liking cartoon movies, the times I went to your house and even your church.  And I'll never forget the time I rode my bike and you walked and we met half-way between our houses out in the middle of nowhere and sat under the trees, surrounded by bright yellow and red autumn leaves, and hung out.    I think playing the drums helped us both transform from insecure, awkward kids into people with more confidence, because we had proof that we were good at something.  I knew you had a rough past, but I always thought things were going to get better for you. 

We were in and out of contact after high school, then lost touch for 5 or 6 years, but I'm glad we found each other again.  I thought last February was the beginning of a new start for us, not the last time I would ever see you.  When you went to the hospital in May, I should have tried to see you immediately.   I will never stop thinking I could have and should have done more to be there for you. 

I keep thinking of you singing "Somewhere Out There".  I wish in your darkest hour you would have pictured me singing that with you, called me, called anyone, done anything except end your life.  I still don't know all the details, and probably never will. I wish you hadn't done it.  Yeah, sometimes I feel mad.  And exhausted.  I lost my Mammaw and Dad last year.  And now you?  It can't be possible.   You have broken my heart.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review, "Servant of the Bones", Anne Rice

It's very rare that I read a book and then want to review it, but Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors, and I would like to write not only about the book I just read, but about her in general. 

I first read Servant of the Bones a few years ago, having borrowed it from the library.  I had since forgotten what it was about, though, and have spent more time focused on Rice's Vampire Chronicles.  But a few months ago I purchased Servant at a used bookstore and just now re-read it.  In the first chapter or so, I was disappointed.  It seemed like the same old theme she had done before:  Supernatural Creature meets up with Human Writer who records his life story on tape.  However, by the next couple of chapters Rice hit her stride, and I became transported.  And, I would like to add, Rice's goal in most if not all of her books is to sort of suck the reader in and take them on a  spiritual journey.   She says it herself on her web site:  "I would like to submit that my vampire novels and other novels I’ve written, such as the Mayfair family trilogy, and the novels, Servant of the Bones, Violin, Cry to Heaven and Feast of all Saints are attempting to be transformative stories . . ."  (  This is an essay Rice wrote after she starting the stories about Jesus, and she attempts to explain to her Christian readers what her prior books were really about.)

The characters in Anne Rice's novels attract me in a way that few other characters ever do, and this book is no different.  In The Vampire Chronicles, the main characters have been transformed, usually unwillingly, into immortal beings who have no choice but to survive off human blood.  The angst in the books is what many readers can relate to, especially those who have also had a religious upbringing that they now doubt.  Many people who read these surely relate to the vampires on some level of their own, and have the same questions:  "Why am I and the world this way?  Is there nothing I can do to change things?  Is there a God?  I feel like it's in my nature to be a certain way, yet the world views this as wrong . . . should I continue to be this way, ignoring those who say I am immoral, or should I destroy myself since there is no way to change it?" 

To a young lesbian who grew up in the church, for me the turmoil of the characters made me relate to them in my own way, and I think the allure to any other group of people who feel like "freaks" or "damned" are attracted to these books for the same reason.  These days, however, I sometimes grow impatient with some of the hand-wringing in the Vampire books.  I'm more accepting of myself, not as worried about my past religion, and if I read a Vampire book now, I find myself skimming through some of the more lengthy questions over good and evil very quickly, when before I would soak up every word, hoping to find an answer to my own despair.

For this reason, Servant of the Bones ended up being a very enjoyable read.  This book was written after the Chronicles, and Rice's views on religion, or at least this main supernatural character, are more logical and in tune with what I feel.  Again, the supernatural creature is a former human who was turned into something he doesn't understand, and he does wonder if he will ever make it to whatever form of Heaven there is, but he decides to let go of his anger and hatred and live a life of love, and that makes all the difference.  The main character is named Azriel, a Jew who was human during the time his people were exiled in Babylon.   As always, Rice's research and presentation of the past is so rich and complete that I could completely believe I was reading about the actual place.  I think this book is great and I highly recommend it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Waiting on Responses

I haven't been writing much lately, but I currently have 5 short stories out in submissions.  In the past year I have focused more on my writing class and told myself that first I should learn new things before seeking publication.  But right now I'm on a leave of absence from Long Ridge Writer's Group, and I am only half-way through the course.  The arrival of my son has convinced me that I shouldn't wait to complete the course before I get serious about making submissions on my own.  I'm making sure that the places I submit to are legit, but I'm not being picky about payment and things like that; the first step is getting my foot further in the door!

As far as my writing class goes, so far I love it.  It's affordable, you have online as well as snail mail interaction, you get several books, and also college credit, along with a one-on-one mentor who takes you step by step through the writing, editing, and submission process.  If anyone is interested, their web site is  

In just a few weeks, the results of the Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition will be revealed!  I entered, as I have for the past three years now, and I'm excited to find out the results!

To writers:  what is your preferred medium for short story submissions:  magazines or anthologies?

To readers:  do you read short stories, or do you prefer novels?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Beginning

Hi!  My previous blog was deleted months ago, and I'm still not sure why!  But I have finally decided to return.  Right now it is a challenge for me to write because I have a newborn baby and have been recovering from a C-section, but I'm finally learning how to make time . . . and I'm no longer so tired that I need to sleep every single time the baby does.

This blog will probably be similar in many ways to my old one: I will highlight upcoming contests or submission opportunities that I find, review books, share writing tips, and comment on news in the book and writing world.  One thing I also plan to do that I never got around to in my last blog is to include some of my writing for others to see.  I write YA fiction the most, but also like to experiment with dystopian and social commentary.  In the past year I have begun writing GLBT literature for the first time.  I'm taking a course through Long Ridge Writer's Group where I surprised myself by making my focus non-fiction.  Today I will share the best piece I have worked on.  It needs more editing, since I was pregnant at the time I wrote it, but this is something I'm working on for submission. 

Alternative Conception