Category Archives: poem

Writing Prompt Wednesday


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Your challenge is to write a poem or short story using this image above. It can be the start or ending of a story, a sense of place or wherever the image inspires your Mse to write.

My Muse decided on a poem.

Roots

 

Revealed by the eroded earth

Spindly, twisting fingers, laid bare

Within their numerous fissures

Tiny creatures take refuge there

 

Moss growing in damp crevices

Bringing colour to the grey

Patterns of light and shadow                                    

Make numerous images play

 

Strands of ivy twisting upward,

Slowly consuming its host

Feeding off wrinkled bark

Crumbling it into compost

 

Growing steadily each year

Nourished by the sun and rain

Weathered by the seasons

Its character all too plain

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


prompt

Use these words dude ranch, matter, scorn in a story or poem.

Cowboy

CowboyLeaningSilhouette

With nonchalant ease he leaned against the fence post, blowing smoke rings into the clear blue sky. His Stetson pushed back to reveal a rugged face bearing the signs of harsh weather and too much sun. She could see callouses on his palm as he held up a hand in welcome. Years of pulling at ropes and holding branding rods left their mark on this man.  In her eyes he was the ‘dude’ of the ranch. The one the other ranch hands looked up to and admired. He sensed bad weather long before the reporters told their tale on TV or the clouds rolled in. With practiced ease he roped calves, rode all day to search out stragglers and confronted danger with a grin on his face.

He mattered to the crew not only as their leader and teacher but also a fierce and loyal friend, once they proved themselves worthy. It was a rite of passage to have his scornful look change to admiration for the young cowboys, learning the ways of cattle ranching. Weather beaten, tired and bruised, many found the daily life too much and left but a few chose the harshness to be part of an unusual existence. A way of life threatened by the modern world. 

Why not try your own story or poem using these words?

Genres of Literature – A Tall Tale


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We all tell the occasional tall tale and know of the old fisherman stories of the ‘big one that got away’ these are mainly verbal tales or stories told around a campfire or to impress our friends and family.

The definition of a tall tale is a story containing unbelievable elements, related as though they are true and factual. These exaggerations of actual events, are mainly told ‘tongue in cheek’ and cause amusement for the listeners. Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, or the Canadian Northwest. The line between legends and tall tales is distinguished primarily by age; legends exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but tall tales exaggerate an event to such an extent it becomes the focus of the story.

American tall tales

Tall tales are a fundamental element of American folk literature. The origins were seen in bragging contests by rough men of the frontier lands when they gathered together. Characters include, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, Old Stormalong and Sally Ann Thunder – Ann Whirlwind.

 

Toastmasters International public speaking clubs do sometimes hold Tall Tales contests. Each speaker is given three to five minutes in which to tell a tall tale and is then judged according to several factors. The winner proceeds to the next level of competition.

Australian tall tales

The Australian frontier (known as the bush or the outback) has similar tales of the characters who lived mainly in isolation. The Australian versions concern a mythical station called  The Speewah and the characters who lived there, such as Big Bill, Crooked Mike and folklore hero, Charlie McKeahnie.

Canadian tall tales

The Canadian frontier has also inspired tall tales, such as Big Joe Mufferaw, Johnny Chinook and Sam McGee.

European tall tales

One enduring tall tale concerns the columnar basalt that makes up the Giant’s Causeway, which is said to have been made by Fionn mac Cumhaill. Other tales include Toell the Great, the Babin Republic, and Baron Munchausen.

 

Have you incorporated a tall tale into a story or novel?

Which tall tale is passed down through your family?

Author Interview – Shawn Bird


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1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Generally, it’s an energizer while I’m writing; however, when plot problems or new ideas keep me up all night when I need to be teaching in my high school class room bright and early, it can lead to exhaustion! When I can write all night, during summer and holidays I’m in a constant state of creative euphoria

2. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I think if I decide to do something with that Romance manuscript in my drawer I would publish under a pseudonym to establish a separate audience for that genre.

3. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

From regular attendance at Surrey International Writing Conference (SiWC), I have developed a wide social network of writers. I probably interact the most with Carol Mason, Eileen Cook, CC Humphreys, Tyner Gillies, Sylvia Taylor, and Diana Gabaldon. From workshops, blue pencils, social time at events, and then continued social media or email contact through the years, I’ve benefitted from the experiences they share and the feedback they give. Diana in particular, has helped with a historical novel I’ve been working on and been very encouraging of other projects, including providing a cover blurb for Murdering Mr Edwards. When someone who’s sold millions of books is willing to put her name behind your project, it’s a profound gift.

I’m presently doing a mentorship with Giller nominated , local author Gail Anderson-Dargatz on a literary novel project.   There is so much to learn, and it’s wonderful to know people who are willing to share their knowledge.

When you become a regular at a conference, you have a built in support network. I love presenting at conferences, too, which is great way to give back. I’ve enjoyed meeting beginning writers and helping then bring their projects to life. At SiWC I also met Leena Niemela who’s an awesome Finnish Canadian poet. I’ve stayed at her place on Vancouver Island to play in poetry together. It’s wonderful to have friends who understand about the voices in your head.

Dreams

4. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I seem to be writing many distinct things at this point. I have published poetry books; Grace Awakening is an urban fantasy YA novel (modern romance and Greek mythology), and the most recent project, Murdering Mr. Edwards, is a series of a short stories that became a ‘noir-vella’. I’ve got drafts of two more books in the Grace Awakening series, but lots of other projects, too. I suppose if something really took off, I’d turn my focus to that genre, but at the moment I just write what I’m in the mood to write at the time. I read a lot of different genres, so it’s not a surprise I write several, too. That said, I love Charles de Lint’s books that are set in Newford, with assorted characters that wander into each other’s stories. That’d be fun to do someday. I could send some of the teachers in Grace Awakening to teach at Canterbury High, perhaps they’ll want to murder Mr. Edwards, too…

Dreams & Power

5. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The money I spend each year to attend writing conferences is an annual expenditure of around $4000, but I think it’s well worth it. I’ve been signed by an agent and two publishers as a result of pitches at conferences. I learned how to pitch at conferences. I network with others at conferences. They are worth the investment. You get the tools, the tips, and the encouragement at conferences. You get out of the slush pile and meet the people you need to impress face to face. I try each year to attend Word on the Lake Writers’ Conference in Salmon Arm, BC; When Word’s Collide in Calgary, AB; and SiWC in Surrey, BC. Usually I manage at least two of the three. Last summer I attended a fantastically inspiring poetry retreat with Patrick Lane on Vancouver Island. There is so much to learn from these masters.

6. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I remember the laughter of the grade 3 class audience when I read stories or put on puppet shows I’d written for Show and Tell. I guess that means I can blame all of this on Mrs. Thompson.

Power

7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’m a chickadee.  

8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Hmm. Half a dozen or so novels done or in progress, three completed novellas, and a dozen or more completed short stories. Hundreds of poems are published on the blog, but there are more in the computer, I don’t know which are which any more.

2011

9. What does literary success look like to you?

People laughing in an audience when I read my work. People writing or stopping me in the street or in the grocery line to tell me they’d read and enjoyed my books. I love it when that happens. I’m so honored that strangers will take the time to comment.

10. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Depends on the project, of course. Usually I just write, and if there’s something I need to check, I look it up later, rather than interrupting the flow. Chris Humphreys and Diana Gabaldon have both cautioned about the research rabbit holes. It’s so easy to get lost in fascinating stuff, and forget there’s a story to be telling. I do some general reading on the topic, perhaps, but then I dive right in. There’s an exception to that. I have a historical piece that is on hiatus. I own translations of 600 year old texts and 300 year old volumes. I am not quite ready to pull it all together. I want to go to France where the events took place and immerse myself. I visited a few years ago, but that was only enough to tell me that exploring the museum and chatting with the curator was not enough…

11. How many hours a day/week do you write?

On various projects (including editing and promotional tasks, educational and curriculum writing, blog, poetry, and whatever novel project has my attention at the time), somewhere around twenty to twenty-five hours a week. More in the summer. When I don’t have to be in my class room at 9 a.m., I write all night and go to bed at 4 or 5 a.m.

12. How do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes baby name books, sometimes I use the name of students (with their permission, of course), sometimes they just introduce themselves with names in place, and I have no idea where they’ve come from.

13. What was your hardest scene to write?

I did a lot of weeping when I was writing a scene on a logging road about Josh and a Sasquatch in Grace Awakening Power. But apparently readers do a lot of weeping there, too, so that was a good emotional investment.

14. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I don’t think about it. I’m writing what I’m writing when I’m writing. I don’t have anyone telling me what to do with my projects, so I just do what speaks to me at any given time. Of course, Coffin Hop has been a priority this fall. If they’ve sent edits or whatever, everything else stopped while I dealt with Murdering Mr. Edwards. That’s been a fun, and completely unexpected project.

For me the harder balance might have been sorting out teaching life and writing life. I’ve decided to blur the boundaries a bit by sharing my work and experiences with my students. Lots of them would like to be writers, all of them need to know how to write something. Lots of advice applies to both situations: “You can’t edit a blank page.” “First drafts don’t have to be good, they just have to be written.” I show them manuscripts covered with editor marks so they know it’s normal to have to re-write, edit, and polish repeatedly! So many scribble something on the page and think it’s perfect. None of us is perfect the first time!

15. How long have you been writing?

I won my first writing prize at age 9, and received my first rejection letter at age 10. Both for poetry. I paid for my husband’s wedding ring with short story prize money. Then I was busy with university and only did non-fiction writing for about twenty years while I raised kids. The month after the kids moved out, Grace awakened.

16. What inspires you?  

Almost everything. There are stories EVERYWHERE.

17. How do you find or make time to write?

I sit in the chair and I write. I write in the evening after dinner. I write while watching TV (if I’m not knitting). At this precise moment, I’m sitting in the tub, typing this on a waterproof keyboard. (I think about a quarter of Grace was written in the bathtub). Like Nike, I just do it.

mr-ed-ebook-d

18. What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m promoting Murdering Mr. Edwards. It’s a noir-vella that’s a collection of 12 tales. The same annoying English teacher is murdered in each story. The literary novel I’m mentoring with Gail Anderson-Dargatz explores the relationship of a couple dealing with his mental illness. I’ve got some short stories brewing for contest season. I am trying to get back to daily poetry on my blog. I’m compiling a curriculum guide for teaching poetry. I compiling a collection of non-sectarian invocations for Rotary Clubs. I keep lots of stuff on the go all the time; that’s one of Diana’s recommendations for avoiding writers’ block. It works for me.

19. What do your plans for future projects include?

Finishing a few unfinished projects, editing a few completed projects, touring around telling people about Murdering Mr Edwards

20. Share a link to your author website.

www.shawnbird.com   Twitter and Instagram @ShawnLBird (I share a lot of shoes on Instagram. My shoe collection is infamous).

Bio:

Shawn Bird is a high school English teacher, an author, and a poet in the beautiful Shuswap region of British Columbia.  After 2 years as a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus Shawn can no longer say she’s a  “jack of all trades master of none” ’cause she’s wielding a certificate that proclaims she’s a Master of Education! 🙂

 

Author Interview – Lorna Schultz Nicholson


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

In all honesty, it does a bit of both.  I get so energized from the thinking, creating and writing.  But the mind is a funny thing and once I/we (my editor and me) are down to the nitty-gritty edits, it starts shifting towards my next project.  Ideas start popping up and I have to hold them down. This is often the time when I also wake up in the night and think…I made a mistake and then I lose sleep over that one mistake.  Often I get up in the night and make the change, then I can’t go back to sleep.  Does this make any sense?

But writing does give me charge.

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?   I want to say my dog because he is always wanting to go for walks but then when I walk I get energized and my mind frees a bit and thoughts come through.  So that isn’t really true and I don’t want to blame him anyway, he’s too good a dog.  Well sometimes.  I know that coffee and chocolate are my reverse Kryptonite’s.  Maybe being with friends?

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I haven’t really thought about that.  Right now there is no need for me to do that.

4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have tons of author friends.  I dog walk with Karen Spafford-Fitz and Debby Waldman and I eat dessert or talk about eating dessert with Natasha Deen.  I get together with Sharon Jennings, Karen Bass and so many others when I’m in Toronto.  They all help me because they write such amazing books and reading their books makes me better.  And talking about plot problems, character problems or even publishing problems is really helpful. 

5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have done both.  I have written series. In fact the 4th book in my One-2-One series has just been released and all the characters are connected through their high school Best Buddies group.  But I have also written stand-alones and have one pitched as I’m writing this.  No confirmation but it is pitched.  I also take on the odd non-fiction project.  I’m currently writing a 40th anniversary Oilers book which has been a huge project as I interviewed so many people.  Just different work. 

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Years ago, I took a trip to the NWT and I paid out of my pocket but it was such a great trip and gave me insight into my characters and their landscape.  I went to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and it has stayed with me.  Years later I went back to the NWT with the TD book tour and loved it all over again.

7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I loved to read as a child and my mother really encouraged us to read.  I remember reading Anne of Green Gables and I loved Anne so much. The scene with Matthew and the puffed sleeves has stayed with me for years.  I also loved Trixie Beldon and wanted to be in the Bob Whites of the Glen.

8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

That is a super hard question because I don’t think any novel is under appreciated but I know what you are asking.  You know, I can’t answer this question if I’m honest.  I’m thinking and thinking and to me all the books I’ve read and loved are appreciated by me.  It’s a hard business and sometimes as a writer you wonder why your book doesn’t get this or that, why you don’t get foreign sales or front spots in Chapters, then you get an email from a reader who tells you how much it meant to them.  That means it was appreciated.

9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Wow, you ask really amazing questions.   But they are hard.  I’ve never thought about this but once I went to a shaman and he said perhaps I was a deer in a past life.  So maybe a deer.  Because sometimes I need to slow my work down, and fill the holes.  I’m a fast worker and I like to get to the end so it would be helpful to slow down every now and again BUT deer can get moving too when they have to and can they jump! 

10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Tons.  I have a few adult mysteries, an early reader, a middle grade reader and a couple of teen novels.  Boo hoo.  No one wanted them.  Oh, and I have a one-act play and a screenplay.

11. What does literary success look like to you?

This is something that keeps changing as I raise the bar for myself.  At first it was to get published. Then it was to get a second book published.  Then it was to try a non-fiction and a teen novel.  Now I want to maybe do a teen thriller, something completely different.  I would also love some foreign sales.  BUT…all that aside, what is important to literary success is the reader telling you they read your book and got something from your story.  I think in the end that will be my definition of literary success. 

12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a lot of research.  How long I spend depends on the book and what I know or don’t know about the subject matter.  I can research for months before starting a novel. 

13. How many hours a day/week do you write?

This really depends on my travel schedule.  I travel a lot, and do a lot of author visits to schools and sometimes this disrupts the writing.  When I’m home, at my desk, I can work 4-5 hours on a new project before I have to answer emails and questions like I’m doing now.  Lol. 

14. How do you select the names of your characters?

Names just come to me.  Although once I wrote an entire novel knowing I didn’t like the one character’s name and when I finished it and was doing my second draft I changed it.  And the name worked. 

15. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote a bullying scene in a novel titled Born With (One-2-One series) and it was hard to write because I know that it was mimicking reality and that made me sad.  My character getting bullied was gay.

16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write in many different genres because I’m always trying to improve my writing and challenge myself.  For instance, I’m writing this Oilers project which is non-fiction and I’m almost nearing the end – woo hoo- and I can’t wait to write a middle grade novel I signed a contract with Orca.  Did I tell you I can’t wait to go back to fiction???  So exciting. 

17. How long have you been writing?

Since I was little.  I took a break in high school to play sports and be a jock and in university to get a science degree.  But I did write a lot when I was young.

18. What inspires you?  

Everything and anything.  My mother wrote poetry and loved books so she is a huge inspiration to me.

19. How do you find or make time to write?

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I call it procrastination.  I just make time to write because I can’t not write.  Even when I wasn’t published and was getting rejected and wanted to quit.  I just couldn’t not write.

20. What projects are you working on at the present?

I have my non-fiction Oilers book which will come out in the fall, and I’m currently doing photo captions for.  I will go back to my work as soon as I finish this questionnaire.  (Nice break.)  And I just had a teen novel A Time To Run: Stuart and Sam be launched, so I should do some media stuff and get my website updated.  I have a middle grade I’m going to write for Orca Currents in the spring and another hockey book in my Amazing Hockey Series.  

21. What do your plans for future projects include?

Not sure.  I’ve pitched a couple of teen novels and I’m playing around with a teen thriller.  Not sure where it will go.  It’s fun sometimes to play around. 

22. Share a link to your author website.

www.lornaschultznicholson.com  

lornasn on Instagram

Lorna Schultz Nicholson on facebook

Lornasn on twitter

Bio:  

 

Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published over thirty-six books, including picture books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, adult non-fiction and YA fiction. (She is currently working on a 40th Anniversary Edmonton Oilers book.)  Many of her books have made the CCBC Best Books list, been Resource Links picks and been nominated for awards.  Her children’s books are about kids and their diversities and friendships and school and family life and emotions and feelings and… the ups and downs in life.  We all have those ups and downs, and we’re all different, which makes us all special.  Lorna lives in Edmonton with her hubbie and two dogs, a whiny Bichon Shih Tzu, and a naughty, hyper puppy she rescued from Mexico.   Well, he’s not a puppy anymore but she treats him like he is.  Over the years she has been a television co-host and reporter, radio host and reporter, theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach.  Now she is full-time writer. She travels to schools all across Canada to inspire children about her love of reading and writing, and she loves talking to adults about writing, and leading writing workshops.  She remembers her before-published days and wants to encourage writers to keep pursuing their dreams.  Being an author is a dream come true.