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Essay Reading, Begin! 02/17/2010

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Hope everyone got their essay contest entries in! Submissions closed on February 15. Let the reading begin!

Until I get back on track, check out my latest lit mag obessesion, The Normal School:(http://thenormalschool.com/)

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Literary Mama! 01/13/2010

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Tiny Lights and Literary Mama share a wonderful group of readers/writers, so I was very excited to hear back from Caroline Grant  in an email when I asked about featuring the site here. First of all, check out the slick new website design. Second, read their latest piece of creative non-fiction, “Call Me Ishmael” by Irena Smith: it is a concise, painful, and inspiring story about dealing with a child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and the heart-wrenching decisions that she must face as a mother. I related to this so much, (my little brother a similar condition, ODD and ADHD), and have not read a story that spoke to this issue in such a way. As their heading suggests, Literary Mama is for the maternally inclined, but also for those who write about the joys, frustrations, and epiphanies of family life and relationships.

Regarding the success of the online publication, Grant says: “I believe we’re successful because of the commitment and high standards of our editorial staff, who volunteer their time to read hundreds of submissions each year, and edit and copyedit the dozens that we publish. We also publish a terrific group of columnists, who write for us monthly.” These columns include family friendly movie reviews, one titled “Doing it Differently,” that focuses on adapting to new religious and family customs, “How Does your Bookshelf Grow?” about the connections between reading, family, and the sharing of books; and many other engaging columns.

“I don’t have a favorite writer or writing style — probably my favorite work on LM at any given time is what we’ve most recently published, like our new essay by Victoria Patterson (“Writer Duck”) and the new poems by Rachel Levy, Margaret Young, and Wendy Levine DeVito,” wrote Grant.

Well, I think there’s plenty of evidence here and in the plethora of archives on the LM site to encourage you to write and submit! Thank you to the TL readers who suggested Literary Mama!

Pen to Paper 12/25/2009

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I am constantly battling between writing by hand and typing on my laptop. I love writing by hand; I’ve had an insane collection of notebooks since my preteen years. But the convenience of the computer usually wins. It’s unfortunate, because I think the process of writing is interesting, and I extensively edit while I’m writing. It’s just such a slow process by hand, and lately I’ve been lackign in discipline. When I’m feeling low about hand-writing, I look at this letter Lynda Barry wrote for the NaNoWriMo writers, and I feel a bit more determined.

How do you get those words down?

Word Riot 12/23/2009

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Word Riot is a haven for writers with an edge who like to push boundaries with their creative non-fiction (and fiction and poetry).  Their site can be a bit messy with the added feature of user profiles and advertisements, but if you overlook that, you can find some exciting writing. The focus of Word Riot is experiemental as well as literary stories, so if you like to blur borders, this is a place for you.  According to Duotrope, they respond quickly to submissions and have about a 10% acceptance rate. Word Riot is worth the ride, so challenge yourself and submit!

WSPE: Orion Magazine 12/19/2009

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Orion Magazine always seems to restore my faith that people are thinking about what’s going on the world, and what we can do to better it. I just finished reading “‘Spectral Light” by Amy Irvine, which I think is a brilliant example of the kind of stories/ memoir that Orion publishes. This magazine, like The Sun, is one with a conscience, a quality I always respect. They have a cool online set up as well; an archive of stories and articles in the left sidebar links, and space to post comments. Be sure to read the submission page thoroughly and make sure you fall within one of their reading periods.

As the holidays come and pass, I plan to use this winter break from school to catch up on writing. I am not as disappointed as I should be that SSU spring semester doesn’t begin until the first of February, and instead am in great need of the breathing space. Maybe I will get the chance to write about how Christmas day my family usually eats dinner around two pm since my mother gets antsy and starts cooking very early. Or how quiet my house gets that afternoon, despite all the children, as we settle in and gossip about all the things happening around us. I hope you will find some inspiration too.

WSPE: 5×5 12/17/2009

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My next Write Some Personal Essay journal is 5×5, a new literary magazine that is only as big as its name suggests. I received their Fall 2009 issue in the mail and really enjoyed it! Check out their site and submission guidelines. The deadline for the Spring issue just passed, but check out the themes for the next issue and get to writing!

A reminder: check out the light quotes on our Facebook page and send your creative responses to jlulamae@yahoo.com to be featured on the blog (on the readers’ words tab)

Write Some Personal Essay 12/06/2009

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I’m on a quest to create a list of personal essay markets. My first stop is a long time favorite of mine, and I’m sure a lot of Tiny Lights readers: The Sun. They pay for pieces, starting around $300, especially those that are culturally, politically, and/or philosophically thought-provoking. The Sun has a long history of publishing engaging personal essay and interviews- so if you haven’t lately, check them out!

And when you’re done writing a piece for The Sun, get started on your submission to the Tiny Lights Annual Essay Contest!

No Back-up Plan 11/20/2009

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Continuing my MFA research and beginning the application process, I have found many blogs and other helpful, information-stuffed sites that have not done much more than overwhelm me. Reading comments on this popular MFA blog (http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/), I feel so unprepared; almost under-qualified to be be applying since I am not as immersed in the process as it seems everyone else is. It comes back to the idea of balance: finding the space and time in my life to write- now not only fiction, but personal statements and requests for recommendation letters.

These sites also made me realize how many people love doing the same thing I do. It’s intimidating to think about how many talented writers I will be going up against for a spot in a program. And if I happen to not get into one, I have no back-up plan.

I am passionate about writing, literature, and literary publications. I know this is what I want to do. But now, I have to prove it to committees of people who don’t have the opportunity to see the desire behind my eyes, or hear me speak about young writers.

Everyone wants to feel their own relevance in relation to the rest of the world. Now it’s my turn to take that path into the dark and hope for the best.

Projects, Classes and a Writing-Palooza 11/14/2009

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Lately, I have been working on a proposal for my independent project in Spring.  One thing I hope to do is establish a writing group of SSU students; a way to expand our writing community beyond the classroom. I also want to put together some literary events, similar to those that the Redwood Writers group sponsor, but with a greater focus on local, young writers– maybe readings from the students themselves. It would be awesome to build a bridge between Tiny Lights, Redwood Writers Club, Sonoma State and SRJC.  Any ideas for me?

So far I have spread the word about TL in two writing classes: Greg Sarris’s “Memoir and Place” (of which I am a proud student), and Sherril Jaffe’s “Intro to Creative Writing.” Both sets of students seemed very responsive, so I hope to hear from Susan about increased student submissions to the journal. Hopefully, I will pop into some SRJC writing classes soon. 

In my daily writing adventures, I attended a “Writing-Palooza” put on by SSU’s writing center. They hoped to promote a day of fun, descriptive writing versus the academic essay structure that the tutors are familiar with. They took over a group of tables in the first floor of the Schultz library, each led by a WC tutor that had a specific creative writing activity. I had fun at the “Coffee and Food” themed table where I wrote a vignette about my grandpa’s ‘famous’ gumbo that I might submit to the Writing Center’s publication, Ink Tank (links to the SSU newspaper’s article about Ink Tank).

I hope everyone is gearing up for TL’s annual Essay Contest! Entries are not due until February, but with all the holiday madness, it will come along sooner than we all think!

Redwood Writers Conference 11/06/2009

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Susan on the right

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Tiny Lights Booth at the Conference

The powers of a camera phone! I had a great at the Redwood Writers Conference on Oct 24th. I attended one of the business and technology seminars where Gil Mansergh, Seth Harmond, Patricia Volonakis-Davis, and Kemble Scott discussed new ways to market writing online. This included introduction to the site Scribd, recording mp3s, and creating YouTube videos. Check out those authors online for great examples of these techniques.