Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Novel Idea

A good friend of Lyrical Pens is Linda Busby-Parker, the noted author of Seven Laurels, an insightful novel about the human condition. Linda is also the owner and editor of Excalibur Press which is still actively selling Christmas is a Season! 2008, a testimony to the excellence of the personal essays and fictional stories contained in it. The deadline for submissions to Christmas is a Season! 2009 is upon us -August 1 -as mentioned by CJ a few posts ago. If the submissions are anything akin to the first ones, this will be another excellent book, so be sure and watch for it. I am the assistant editor for the book and anxious to get started reading the manuscripts we've been receiving. What a rewarding job. Last year's submissions were from across the country, and they were all so different from a child's story of seeking Santa Claus to a personal view of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

A supporter of new writers, Linda has a new addition on her blog called the novel gallery and will consider your submissions, including works in progress. This is an excellent opportunity for you to get your work out to the masses and get feedback on it. Check out her blog at

Thanks to CJ for announcing my wins in the Alabama Conclave contest. I was really stoked! This was an important contest for me since both items I entered are chapters from my new book. My book is set in a small Southern town in the late 1950s when a lot of change is on the horizon from the post WWII environment in America to civil rights and the autonomy of women. And, of course, it is filled with plenty of humorous stories.

Are you old enough to remember those wonderful Burma Shave signs on little boards by the road or girdles? If not enjoy this anyway. Substitutes Are like a girdle They find some jobs
They just Can't hurdle.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

keeping on

Sorry to have been out of the loop for a while. Family illness, a drive from Mobile to Michigan, and then an unexpected death in another part of the family have taken their toll on my creativity. My energy has been re-directed to getting through the crises. It's always darkest before the dawn according to some famous someone, so I'm looking forward to those first few golden rays that streak across the blue velvet sky.

I have taken refuge recently in attacking the last few scenes I need to complete my short story for Linda Busby Parker's Christmas anthology. The story has a maximum word limit of 5,000 words, and I'm hopeful I can pull it together before the August 1 deadline.

To me, a short story is like a haiku--a formula plus semantics equals paucity of words. Major hurdle for a long-winded novelist. Even if I can't finish, I plan to enjoy the challenge.

On a brighter note, I want to throw out an atta-girl for fellow Lyrical Pen Mahala who had some success recently. Check out At the Alabama Conclave she was one of four winners for the Humor section with Peas and More Peas, and she earned an honorable mention for the 1st chapter of her novel A Few Degrees Off Center. Way to go, Mahala!

Keep On Keeping On, folks. I will.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good News Bad News

These are the words that greeted me in an e-mail Monday from the Tom Howard contest. My story had made it through the long list to the short list to the shorter list and then got commendable status. As writers we should be used to these types of contest responses, but it's never easy is it? We reveal ourselves on paper and then send it out for the world to see, knowing in our hearts that it's one of the best things ever written. Then the rejection letter comes. Making it to commendable status in the huge Tom Howard contest should be enough to make me dance in a field of daisies, but it was still a let-down.

For the past two days, I've been dredging my brain after reading and re-reading the story. What should I have done differently-a different word, less adjectives {my nemesis,} a typo? Was the reviewer having a bad day when (s)he shifted my ms to the commendable pile instead of the "still under review" pile? Does (s)he dislike peas? {My story is a humorous look at a pea sheller in the fifties.} Why oh why oh why? I am amazingly good at pity-parties.

Now I'm back on an even keel and planning to submit a new story to the contest in the fall. I'll show them. I'll write the best short story ever penned. I'll win a Pulitzer. I'll climb a mountain. You get the idea.

Check out the contest rules and send in an entry. The first prize is $3,000 - no small potatoes! And best of luck, but then if you win, I won't. Maybe I need to rethink this.

Remember: A blind hog can find an acorn once in a while. Mahala

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hurry Up and Relax

The calendar hanging by my desk tells me to "hurry up and relax" as the snow white beach goer in the picture checks her watch once again. Why do we do that to ourselves? We pack the beach books, the cold drinks, the grapes and cheese or sandwiches or whatever we always take to the beach, towels, suntan lotion, etc. and head off to relax with the sounds of waves lapping or breaking depending on where you live, and then so many of us don't allow ourselves to settle down and rest. We should leave the cell phone in the car or better yet take it with us in case of an emergency. Put it in a plastic bag to keep out the sand but turn it off! We need to give ourselves a chance. By the way, don't forget the chocolate - yes, that's right - chocolate. Nothing better than a cold Milky Way at the beach to regenerate your energy. {I'm shameless.} It will help you to meditate for at least as long as the mini-bite lasts.

I had the privilege of living on the island of Kaua`i in Hawai`i for 12 years before I moved to Mobile, and tourists {I was a kama`aina (local) you see} never failed to amaze me when I planted myself on the beach for Saturday afternoons. Rental cars would come speeding up, two or more lily-white tourists would pour out, make a mad dash for the water, tossing flip-flops {or slippers as they are known in Hawai`i} on the beach with their towels, and fight the waves, which on a normal day are three-four feet, to get wet, splash each other a few times, then grab their towels, hurry to their car, and dash off to enjoy the next Hawai`ian attraction. Obviously they had missed the whole Hawai`ian experience. They had cheated themselves of the sights and sounds of those mystical Hawai`ian waters full of magnificent fish, whales, turtles. They had missed the sound of the lulling waters crashing against the sand. They had missed the overwhelmingly gorgeous reds and yellows of the sunrises and sunsets, the whales and dolphins and monk seals. I wanted to run to their cars and tell them to slow down, forget seeing every little or big thing on every island, savor the moment, inhale deeply and absorb the true experience, but they would have probably called 911 to lock up the crazy lady.

The whole point of this story, while it looks obvious, probably isn't. To experience the writing life at its best, we have to sit a while, dream a while, drift and actually think a while - pick your spot, the beach, the backyard, the library - stare off in the distance, listen to the sounds, smell the sea, the flowers, the leather. I personally love that wonderful inner peace when I'm lying at the warm beach or reclining in the backyard, the stillness as my mind drifts, children's voices in the distance, birds chatting, the smell of fresh cut grass or the salty sea. Some of my best insights come in those times - that character analysis I've been trying to capture, that plot point I've been struggling to find. The answers often bubble from an inner spring of creativity and always surprise me with their simplicity.

It helps to remember that sometimes life is jaded by the glare of the yellow brick road. Mahala

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Reading

Summer is a great time to catch up on some of the reading we've been "meaning to do." You know, that book on the how-to's of writing, editing, publishing, whatever your interest is. It's also a great time to sit down at the computer with a huge glass of iced tea spiked with lemon or mint or a blend with mango or blackberry or peach, shut your door (if you're lucky enough to have one between your and the rest of the world,) and track down ideas for writing magazine articles or entering contests. There are a slew of them. Check out Hope Clark's web site, which is loaded with wonderful ideas for the new and experienced writer.

I've decided to try writing for magazines again with the encouragement of her recent post with an informative and short article by Janet Hartman. I've had a few pieces published in magazines before, but I would like to amp up my participation (read that as increase my income) and add a few more lines to my bio. She gave me a whole new twist on the market and what I could sell. I tend to write regional Southern, historical, and humorous pieces in addition to health articles, so I'm going to put a new spin on a few things and get them back out there. Like the note on my desks says: "I believe there are three answers to prayer: yes, no, and do this instead."

Hope you had a wonderful/exciting 4th. It's my birthday and although I try to ignore it, my family steadfastly refuses to honor that idea. My daughter gave me a mint chocolate ice-cream cake which was worth every calorie!