Monday Notes: Update #3

I’m one of two sponsors for a POETRY CONTEST! That means that if you enter and win, then you will receive a copy of The Unhappy Wife and Daddy, among other prizes, like money.

poetry-contest-flyerI agreed to sponsor this poetry contest because the theme is self-care/self-love, which is something that I’ve been promoting for a few years now, either on the blog, through my books, or in personal action. I place high value on self-love and self-care, and if you’re a poet who does too, then please consider entering.

Also, I agreed to participate because I trust and follow the poetry contest’s host,  Yecheilyah Ysrayl and one of the judges, Lisa Tetting. They’re both fabulous bloggers and self-published authors whom I admire.

So, if you’re interested in submitting, then please follow the directions on the flyer, or click on it, which will direct you to the PBS blog for more information. But don’t wait too long. Entry submissions close July 31st.

Most of all, GOOD LUCK to all of you poets!

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I haven’t done a challenge in a few months. Instead, I have my Other People’s Quotes category where I feature, well, other people’s quotes and their blogs. Check it out and leave me a quote.

Back to the topic at hand, blogging challenges and awards are beneficial. You get to know other bloggers and other bloggers get to know you. However, they’re also time consuming, thus my reason for not doing any in months. But this one is different. Thanks to my blogger buddy, Johanna of afthead.com for including me.

Here are the rules:

Go to the 7th page of my work in progress. Find the 7th sentence on that page, and then paste the following 7 sentences into my blog post. Finally, select 7 other writers for the challenge.  It does not have to be fiction. I am interested in reading anything you’ve got!

I’m so happy that I even have a work in progress to share:

By the time Kain had been with the wrong woman, I was ready. Plus, I was nearing 30. I deserved to be publicly dated, not basement and back of the bus shamed. That’s exactly what Kain did. He brought me into the light.

Okay, so it’s only five sentences. I’m just breaking all the rules on this. I do wish I could tell you all the name of this work in progress, but alas, it’s a secret. Please stay tuned though. It’s going to be salacious!

Now for seven bloggers. This is the part I haaate cause I have to narrow all the hardworking writers I know down to just SEVEN.

Can’t do it.

Instead, I’ll suggest one blogger who recently nominated me for an award. Her site is very motivational. It’s called Be the Best You. Here’s her latest.

Requesting Presents but Requiring Presence

flash_fiction
Blue Satin Sashes

WillowRaven asked me to write a short based on her artwork, “Blue Satin Sashes.” Although fiction/flash fiction is not my genre, I took her up on the offer and wrote the following 171 words. Hope you enjoy! And go check out the other artwork on her blog.

Presents. That’s all they ever cared about. Where are the presents? What did you get me? They never asked how she was doing. They never even pretended to care. Maybe it was her sister Mattie’s fault. She rarely prompted the children to ask questions dictated by social etiquette. How are you Aunt Lillian? How was your ride this time? Why didn’t Uncle Andrew come with? No. There would be no personal questions. Like stair steps, Mary, Margaret, Mildred, Minnie, and Milton would line up with their grins spread wide across their faces to receive the lavishly wrapped gifts that she brought. Even Mattie seemed to eagerly await Lillian’s boxes, but not her presence. Maybe it was Lillian’s own fault. She felt it important to visit at least once a year on Christmas, especially since Mattie’s husband had fallen ill to smallpox several years prior. Lillian figured this was the least that she could do. And because her sister didn’t have much money, she thought presents might lighten the mood. But she wasn’t sure how much longer she would keep it up, especially when everyone seemed so ungrateful.

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-awardThanks so much to Lisa W. Tetting for this nomination! As a successful author and a fellow blogger, she is quite inspirational as she represents where I hope to some day be. Go check out her blog (and buy her book)! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Here are the five rules: (1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to her site; (2) Put the award logo on your blog; (3) Answer the ten questions sent to you; (4) Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer; and (5) Nominate ten blogs.

Here are the ten questions that I must answer as part of this nomination:

My questions from Lisa:

  1. Name your favorite character from a book? Janie from Their Eyes were Watching God is one of my favorite characters. I identify with her non-conformist attitude and her life story, which is also quite similar to Zora Neale Hurston’s.
  2. Do you prefer cds or vinyl? Eek! I prefer streaming and downloading now. This just happened around 2012…and now I’m all in.
  3. Coffee or tea? Coffee – only one cup per day, right in the morning after I’ve worked out and while I’m doing work.
  4. Where is your favorite place to write? I really don’t have a preference. In fact, I’ve recently written a draft while riding the Japanese rail system. I’ve found that words kinda come to me and usually I have to stop what I’m doing (if I can) and get it down.
  5. Name 5 places you want to visit, but haven’t had the chance?
  6. When did you fall in love for the first time? My senior year of high school I met the first person that I actually felt as if I really loved. His name was Jeffrey and we spent a lot of time together. Our relationship was a great lesson in what the actual cycle of love can be.
  7. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains? Beach! I love the beach and the water. In fact, I have a few beach pics on my blog.
  8. Who is your favorite member of the Jackson 5? MJ – circa 1983
  9. What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving because it’s not about gifts or anything. It’s about being grateful and eating, two things I love to do lol. Christmas is a close second but mostly because of the movies. I love Christmas movies.
  10. What place on earth brings you the most joy? The beach brings me the most joy because I think it represents life. Water can be calming, but it can also be dangerous. It can fade away. It can grow. It’s required to live.

My nominees (with no pressure to actually participate):

Life as Mrs A

Finkelstein & Sons

Whit C.

Academy of Gratitude

Afthead

Living those Dreams

Nerdy and I Know it

Simply Marquessa

Sandra’s Place

Work in Progress

My questions:

  1. Do you have children, and if so, how have you managed to balance motherhood and other life activities?
  2. Do you have any pets, and if so, how did your pet come to be a part of your life?
  3. Do you have any other passions than writing?
  4. How did you become a blogger?
  5. What genre do you prefer to read?
  6. In what genre do you generally write?
  7. Do you have a spouse or significant other, and if so, how does this person complement you?
  8. What is your writing process?
  9. Are you a morning or night person?
  10. Have you ever won any writing awards?

*Honing One’s Craft

Hone (v). refine or perfect something over a period of time

My editor and writing consultant suggested that I start a blog to “hone my craft.” I figured she meant that I needed to sharpen my skills. You know learn creative ways to introduce content, like how to begin posts with definitions. Cause you know those definition introductions can be cute and engaging, but beginning a story this way could also be rather trite. I assumed this was the type of thing she wanted me to refine. Don’t judge. It’s the English teacher in me.

Similarly, a couple of writer friends suggested blogging as a way to sell my book. As it turns out, this is a lot more challenging than one can imagine. Especially because I’m not sure if I should do a hard sell, kwotedor an implicit sell. In a way, this too, includes honing one’s craft, as you have to cleverly use words to self-promote. And I’ve decided I don’t wanna necessarily be that blogger. Well, not all the time.

So I joined a couple of Blogging U classes.

Writing 201: Poetry helped me to hone my innovation. It lasted 14 days and I’d promised myself that I would participate each night and finish each challenge. Haikus, sonnets and acrostics got my left brain flowing. Do you know I even wrote a concrete poem shaped like a house that professed love for my toy poodle? Now, that’s some honing. These challenges helped though. I’ve even considered interspersing poetry throughout another book I’m writing. Equally important, Writing 201 introduced me to the blogging community at large and helped me to gain a bit of blogging confidence.

I figured that if I could do Writing 201, then surely Writing 101 would be just as breezy. I was wrong and I misread the directions. Instead of 14 days, this one lasted 21 days and occurred right at the end of my university’s semester. Still, I honed my niche: creative nonfiction. I practiced telling authentic stories without offending the other people who are involved. This is no easy feat. And I’m not entirely sure I’ve done well with this self-imposed task. But it’s something that I have to do well because I’ve only tipped the iceberg describing the people who have impacted my life, both negatively and positively. Again, all of this helped me wiggle a little farther into the blogging community.

Ultimately, I’m grateful that my editor suggested a blog to hone my craft. I’ve not only learned how to improve my writing, but I’ve also become a part of a group of supportive bloggers who seem to genuinely have one another’s best interests at heart.

*This was written as a part of the Creative Blogger nomination from Marquessa.

Guest Post by KE Garland: “30 Days of Gratitude”

Check out my quest post on http://theacademyofgratitude.com/2015/05/08/guest-post-by-ke-garland-30-days-of-gratitude/ and also check out her blog, in general! It’s full of positive living through gratitude.

The Academy of Gratitude

I’m so excited to have my first guest blogger today! So fun to share my platform with other super cool, like-minded people who have uncovered the magic behind gratitude. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.17.22 PMK E Garland is a native to Chicago, IL, but has lived in Jacksonville, Florida for the past 20 years. Her e-book, Kwoted, includes over 100 original, motivational quotes that can be purchased through Amazon. Follow her on Twitter @kwotedkegarland and on her blog at kwoted.wordpress.com.

30 DAYS OF

Don’t leave it to chance that someone knows you’re grateful.
Kwote #50

Last year for my husband’s birthday, I decided to celebrate him in a different way.

I was determined to do some thing that he would remember for years to come. I mentally noted all of the positive things I liked about him. Because his birthday was seven days away, it was the perfect time to begin what I named The Seven Days of DG…

View original post 485 more words

Creative Blogger Award

creativity-awardThanks so much for nominating me Marquessa! If you haven’t already, then please, please check out her blog: http://marquessamatthews.com/. She has a fully-developed character named Alejandro that you’ll dream about later.

As part of this award, I’m expected to provide seven random facts. Here goes:

  1. I am a Kanye West fan. And now I’m convinced I’ve known something the world just figured out because he was recently hooded, Dr. Kanye West.
  2. My new favorite album is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. The title, cover and lyrics are the most creative I’ve experienced in a long time.
  3. I wholeheartedly believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to. This has gotten me into some precarious situations.
  4. No matter what is going on in my life, I make time to work out at least four times per week.
  5. I eat some type of cooked egg every single day.
  6. Sometimes I think I should’ve been a social worker.
  7. I’ve never watched Scandal or The Walking Dead.

Here is my one nomination:

http://allthatchatter.com/

Now, here are the rules for you to pay it forward:

  1. Thank the person who has nominated you and add a link their blog
  2. Share a list of 7 things that says something about you
  3. Nominate any number of fellow bloggers, adding a link to their blog
  4. Share these rules with them.

Spread the love people!

The Liebster Award: (drum roll please)

I would like to thank Marquessa from http://marquessamatthews.com/ for my nomination.

This was totally unexpected! But I’m excited to participate.

Here are my 11 nominees from the blogs that I am enjoying now due to the Writing 101 Challenge.
If by chance you have been recently nominated for this award, please pass along the kudos to other deserving bloggers. Some of my nominations might echo yours, but that’s cause they’re so awesome! I’ve chosen people who have been both supportive and who have also pushed me to become better writer (explicitly and implicitly).

My answers from Marquessa’s questions immediately follow and my new questions are last.

http://finkelsteinandsons.com/
https://kmcmcurtis7.wordpress.com/
http://allthatchatter.com/author/tolive4u/

http://prayyior.com/

http://pricelessjoy.co/

http://ishmusing.com/

http://mikestacey.com.au/

http://smileyyearwood.com/

http://idonthavethemap.com/

http://afthead.com/

http://dadojodest.com/

Answers to Marquessa’s questions:

Why did you start your blog? Initially, I started this blog because I wrote a book of quotes and my editor suggested that I blog, “not to sell your book, but to hone your craft.” At first, I thought I don’t have time to “hone my craft,” but I did Writing 201 and then 101 and now I understand exactly what she meant.

Besides your children and/or significant other, what has been your greatest accomplishment in life, big or small? Attaining my PhD is by far the greatest accomplishment in life. And it’s not for the reasons that people might think.I learned so much about life, energy, the law of attraction, patience, control, discipline that I don’t think I would have otherwise. It brought many unexpected lessons.
What is the most exotic destination you have been to or plan on going to?
Puerto Vallarta was pretty exotic. My husband and I went for our honeymoon 19 years ago. A few years back, we took a cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It wasn’t the same as flying to a destination and hanging out there, but it was pretty exotic, still.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Hmmm…I believe in energy at first feel. I think that you can feel as if you’ve known the person your whole life and that you’re supposed to be together and through that feeling, you fall in love…at first sight.

What is the greatest tip you have learned from another blogger? I have learned…from Marquessa – to take your time to tell a story, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.

If you could be the main character of a book or movie, who would you be? I would be Nina in the movie Love Jones.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? Be yourself chick! 100% of the time, be yourself. Those who like you, will do so because they actually know you and those who don’t, well, it’ll be okay.
What is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for you?
My goddaughter expresses her gratitude for me all of the time. There are many times when I’ve returned home from work to find a mailed, thank-you card. It is usually completely filled with all of her thank-yous past and present. Every time I receive one, it warms my heart.
What piece of advice did you receive when you were younger, did not believe and now believe to be 100%e true?
“It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” I do believe that people will listen to anyone if their disposition is inviting and they have a bright, sunny smile. I don’t think it’s right, but I do believe that it’s true.

Take-out or home-cooked meal? Depends on the time of year. Holidays…home-cooked meal. Any other day (lol) take-out.

What’s your favorite television show right now? Super Soul Sunday – I’m not particularly religious and it gives me the freedom to believe what I believe without the doctrine associate with it.

OMGosh Marquessa! Thanks again for extending my experience even farther than I would have imagined.

KG’s Questions (first answer that pops into your head and then explain):

  1. Plastic or paper?
  2. Book before movie or movie before book?
  3. Oprah or Ellen?
  4. Writing in public or writing in your home?
  5. Married or single?
  6. Dog or cat?
  7. Healthy lifestyle or who cares?
  8. City or Suburbs?
  9. Limited choice or complete freedom?
  10. Rainy day or snowy day?
  11. Writing on a device or writing by hand?

The Red Sweater (fiction)

Ever since I’ve retired, I’ve taken up several hobbies. Crocheting kept me busy in my early 60s. By the time Christmas 1995 rolled around, I was able to crochet everyone in my family a nice scarf. I made a small cute one for the baby. Well, she’s not a baby anymore. Her name is Tina. She’s 20 and in her second year at community college. I made a purple one for Tanya, Tina’s older sister. She’s going on 25. The best one I made, I like to call it “my masterpiece,” was a bright red, two-strand, chunky cowl for my only daughter, Therese. Sixteen rows, a few slip-stitches and half-double crochets later, and there it was, “my masterpiece.” Therese doesn’t know this, but she almost didn’t get it. I was so proud of that thang that I thought long and hard about keeping it for myself.

After I mastered crochet, I settled on learning how to needle point. You know the library gives what they call continuing education classes to anybody in the community. All these years, and I had to wait until I was retired and nearly 70 before I found out. Every Wednesday, Elder Helpers would pick me up at 10 A.M. sharp and take me five miles to the library. I spent two hours a week with the group learning how to work the pattern. All I needed was my different color yarn, a pattern and a needle. By the end of the few weeks, I had made me a nice pink and yellow butterfly. Gave that one to Tanya, so she could hang it up in Tayler’s room; that’s her baby.

Now that I’m almost 80, I decided to take up knitting. The library didn’t have the class, so I signed up at Michael’s. It wasn’t too far. The classes last ‘bout two and a half hours. I guess I took to needle point and crochet so good that knitting didn’t seem to be too hard for me. Learned just in time too cause Tina called the other day and said she’s expecting a little boy. I got so excited I called up Elder Helpers to ride me to the park every Saturday so I can work on this little, red sweater for him. Oh dear, I dropped one of my knitting needles.

“Here, ma’am,” a middle-aged man picked up the fallen knitting needle.
“Thank you, baby,” she replied. “You okay?”
“I’m fine,” he said.
*******************
I wiped away the tear that nestled in the corner of my right eye. I knew if Pam saw it, then it would start a fight. She never understood why certain triggers made me well up with emotion. The sight of the small, red sweater reminded me of the stillborn baby my first wife and I had to bury. His name was Reginald, Reginald Junior. We were going to call him RJ. She had miscarried twice before, but this time there was hope. The doctors promised that if she relaxed and stayed off of her feet, then everything should go well. We were so hopeful.

Shelley made it all the way past 24 weeks. We figured it was safe to start buying things. We painted RJ’s room red and navy blue. Shelley’s dad came over and helped me put together a cherry-wood, four-in-one crib. It was supposed to be one of those beds that stays with him and converts into a toddler bed and then a full-size bed with a headboard. RJ would have it for a long time.

Towards the end of November, Shelley’s best friend gave her a baby shower. The Thomas the Train theme helped to finish the rest of the room’s decorations. RJ had sheets, a blanket, curtains, a nightlight, lamp, and even a carpet. The mini-train set that Shelley’s dad put together was set up on a circular table off to the side. Shelley’s mom had tucked a special gift that she’d been working on deep into her emergency hospital bag. RJ had everything a little boy might want.

Shelley was 30 weeks. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was December 1, 2000. We just knew that we would be bringing RJ home that day. Shelley said she felt different. But I didn’t know what she meant. Her face was so swollen that she was unrecognizable. She couldn’t hold any food down. I grabbed the emergency bag and drove us to the hospital. What happened next is a blur. It began with the doctor admitting her for an emergency C-section and ended with RJ being born, but not breathing.

We more than cried. We held each other close. We held RJ’s lifeless body. We wailed that day. And when Shelley was finally able to rest, I reached into the emergency hospital bag and found the special gift from her mom: a small, knitted, red button-downed sweater, just big enough for RJ. We buried him in it.

“Are you crying?” Pam asked.
“No. It’s my allergies. You know it’s pollen season,” Reginald answered.
***************
I know he’s lying. Every time we pass by a baby stroller, baby, baby store, or anything baby related, he breaks down in tears. If we’re watching a movie and there’s a baby in it, then he sobs. I told him a dozen times that if he cries one…more…time…I’m out. He told me all about losing the baby, but that was fifteen years ago! Even his wife, what was her name? Sherry or something, even Sherry left him because he couldn’t get over losing their child. That’s what he told me anyway. All I know is as soon as we get back to his condo, I’m packing up all of my stuff and leaving. Six months of his out of control emotions is enough.