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April is National Poetry Month (Guest Blog by @NLGuy81)

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By soulwindow · April 20, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

In honor of National Poetry Month (aka NaPoMo), a good number of poets are doing 30 in 30. That’s right, amateurs and professionals alike are writing a poem a day for the NaPoMo. I’m personally using this month to dive into poetry styles that I haven’t previously used, or even heard of for that matter.

I chose to start off with one that seemed extremely intimidating, the Sestina! It uses some sort of algorithm to assign a specific order to the last word of your lines. At completion, you have 6 six-line stanzas and a final tercet. All of your lines end with the same six revolving words. It sounds complicated, looks even harder, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be writing sestinas in your sleep. Ok, maybe not, but you can conquer it! I promise!

Next up for me was the cinquain. I had no idea that there were SO many types! My personal favorite was the Crapsey Cinquain; a 5 line poem with a specific number of syllables per line (2, 4, 6, 8, 2). I also took didactic, mirror and reverse cinquains for a whirl. I already love haiku and senryu, other syllabic guided poems, so it was no surprise that I loved the cinquain as well! I spent 5 days of the first week of NaPoMo writing cinquains and I’m tempted to return!

Alas, to finish off the first NaPoMo week I tried out the Quatrain. As you may have guessed, it’s just a 4 line poem with various rhyme schemes. This style is not driven by counting syllables, but by rhyming certain lines of the 4 line stanza. Examples of the rhyming patterns include: abab, aabb, abba (aka Envelope Quatrain), and aaba-bbcb-ccdc-dddd (Chain Quatrain). After one day of writing quatrains, I am more than ready to move onto something else.

What’s up next for me? I’m trying to decide between a Palindrome, a poem which reads the same whether you read it from the top or bottom, and a Pantoum, a poem of quatrains in which each stanza takes its first and third line from the previous stanza’s second and fourth line (abab, bcbc, cdcd …).

 

Natasha Guy is a Poet, Editor, and Author. Her most recent work, Beautiful Fixation, is available on Lulu.  She lives in California.

 

#NaNoWriMo (is) For DUMMIES! (kidding. really.)

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By soulwindow · November 3, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

I have the writer blues. You know. Neon. Navy. Sky. Baby.

I have written myself into an emotional blah. I feel what my MC feels, and have even experienced some of her bodily pain as I wrote over the past 3 days. Strange.

This is all to be blamed on Nanowrimo.org and the people over at the Office of Letters and Light. Yes, #nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month has begun and I am trudging along in it. Not as ahead as I would like to be. On average, one must complete at least 1667 words per day to "win" NaNoWriMo. I would prefer to be ahead, but as a good friend likes to say, "Cs earn degrees!"

Hopefully the MC will come out of her rut soon with the characters I introduce in the next section. I have lost this blog post a record two times. I think onsugar hates me today BUT I will leave you with the customary excerpt. It's from a daydream sequence and it made me smile when I reread it. Enjoy!

 

“Momma.”

Lydia is chunky, like me at that age, and she has these ponytails that are hell to comb. She has thick hair that’s twisted down into plaits and slight sideburns because she is her Daddy’s child. She’s purposing all of her three-years of formula, fruit snacks, and milk on me. She is as cool as a breeze. “I want cereal.”

She is also a demanding miniature diva. Could not imagine where she gets it.

The television is blasting Saturday morning cartoons because someone in TV land realized that the lack of saturday morning cartoons are the reasons for war, crime and disease. Saturday morning cartoons were restored the same year she was born. Old school ones, like Darkwing Duck and 101 Dalmatians. Anyway, the TV--the Daddysitter if you were to ask Bump--is screaming and Perry’s already up. He’s shaving or brushing his teeth and Bump’s question annoys him because he’s been up for an hour. She has been asking him when I was going to get up for an hour and a half and I'm sure she never mentioned breakfast once.

“Daddy can fix your cereal,” I tell her. “Let mommy sleep.” I whine in a fashion that is similar to hers after she has gotten her way one too many times.<op></op>

She takes both of her perfectly chubby hands and forces sunlight into my irises. “He don’t do it right.”<op></op>

I play dumb while she peeks underneath my head scarf like she’s never seen my hair before. “Oh, yeah? What’s he doing wrong?”<op></op>

“He don’t use enough milks.”<op></op>

Perry snatches her off me and turns her onto her head in the bed. The toothpaste-scented tickling begins. “Oh, Daddy don’t do it right? You don’t like my cereal cooking skills?”<op></op>

Bump giggles and it comes out sounding like Glenda’s laugh. Throaty and long.<op></op>

My own mother’s voice, streaming through over static-laced cell phone reception pulls me down to earth. Away from my daydream. Away from my future. “I will be there soon, baby. We’ll see you tonight. Okay?”<op></op>

 

Typecasting: The Preacher's Kid

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By soulwindow · September 3, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

The preacher's kid is such a typecast character. Poor girl. Or boy. Or...in between. You know, I grew up in the church, I'm still in the church and I LOVE to write the Preacher's kid. Really I think the rules apply to any child who is the offspring of one in a position of power. We'll call her she since my first attempted novel features a she-cher's kid.

Can't you just spot them from a mile off? There's the powerful politician, nodding and pointing to his voters from a podium and behind him, the ginger smile of a tween, in pearls and short-heels, and a skirt she argued with her mother for 30 minutes over. And there's that blankness when she turns her head to the piercing claps of the audience. She'd rather be anywhere. She'd rather be texting but they took her phone. Six years later she's in the news for having a head full of liquor and smashing her new birthday gift into a ditch.

I know why the preacher's kids are typecast.

-They are easily identified. The Missionary. The Reverend. The Shaman. Parents with spiritual power seem to understand--wait. Rewind. Parents who understand any spiritual realm (actual or imagined) and who want to empower their children with the same powers and passions that they have found are likely to encounter rebellion in the form of mini-me's.

-While they don't want to hurt their parents, they like to think they have the world figured out from their young, angsty, tight-lipped perspective and they want to prove it by their displeasure.

- They're outnumbered and spotlighted with no paycheck to show for it. You have one minister. One hundred parishoners, and three kids. Sasha and Malia v. the rest of us.

-They won't be accepted for who they are. They'll be rejected for who their parents are and then labeled for trying to find their identities.

-Some of it's true. Yes, we do find that every now and then a PK gets caught with her panties in the choir stand or the Governor's daughter gets souped up out of wedlock. It is real life.

All of that said, it's really easy to typecast the poor Preacher's Kid and difficult to make them seem unique. When I saw the movie the Preacher's Kid, I rolled my eyes through half of it. As the children of a minister my siblings and I didn't grow up completely sheltered, and we weren't total Hellians either. Unfortunately, the PK is written this way more often than not, even my very own.

Here are a few ways I'm trying to make her unique

  • I let her display her love – and not just through sex because that's a part of the typecasting. I let it be known that she has affection and is not afraid of it and she knows how to appropriate it (inappropriately, of course. What do you think this is, Mass?).
  • I made her parents smart. They are not ignorant to her tricks and schemes either.
  • I gave her a general facet of humanity. Respect of decision. She's not ashamed of her parent's position, and she does not take it personally. Their position = their choice.
  • I gave her a craft. She's an artist. By giving her a craft, a hobby, I'm giving dimension my character. Allowing her her own experiences. She’s more than just her parents’ puppet.


Coming into her story, we know what the preacher's kids issues are. Your audience doesn't need to know that at the front unless you're going to use the typecasting as a means to bring to light specific issues, and possible solutions for your plot. I'm just saying.

Give a PK a chance.

Random NEW excerpt from OLD work.

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By soulwindow · December 28, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

 

I felt my chest tighten in the frozen foods section. It had been years since my last asthma attack but the recent cold snaps after rain had me pulling out the humidifier nights. I found my mother grumbling over the 7-cent difference between store brand versus name brand. Did she have to make this a battle? Pick up the Green Giant, you small witch. Two church members were approaching. Jeez, did they do anything apart from one another? And I could have sworn they lived far enough on the other side of town where we didn’t have to shop, pay bills, or sit in traffic with these people.

“Well, Sister Glenda, we see you’re in the valley of decision.”

Mama straightened her back from digging in the veggie trough that was breathing white air. For a minute, I fantasized it coming alive, biting her in half. Eating the half with her mouth and leaving the other end whole. Her Cole Haans were hot and my size. “Sister Monroe. Sister Lambert. How are you ladies?”

Mom laughed. We didn’t witness that much. It was a red-faced laugh. A Caught with my cursed backside in the air kind of laugh and the preceding smile went fast. She punched me in the breasts with the bag of peas. “I need three more of these.” I went to the task in slow-mo. I picked up whatever had a picture of spheres on the front. All Green Giant. Yo ho ho.

“Service was awesome Sunday. The Lord know He moved.” Church speak for we’re not firing your husband this month. That one was Lambert. She could pray for an aneurysm all I cared. She slithered to one side of mama. “Hey, Miriam. How you, baby?”

I bricked the bags into the basket with word gravity. “Perfect. And. Your. Self?”

“Blessed of the Lord.”

There was a signal at True Light for me where the older women would measure their skirt length to indicate that mine was too short. Tug on their lapels to indicate that I needed to. Little things they thought I didn’t notice. But I was in a big, expensive, private high school and signal was the name of the game.

“Glad to see you covered up.”

Drill. Shove your hands into your pockets. Don’t say a word. Restraint. Respect.

Too bad. Restraint and respect was aisle 4 and we were on like aisle 590. Retribution. “Covered what up?”

“Covered yourself,” she blinked and put her hand between two fat rolls to indicate a waist. Keep wishing, thickness.

“Well, if you don’t like it, don’t look.”

“Miriam. Sister Lambert, that is inappropriate and if you have a problem with my child, you need to come to me, not snip at her.”

The other one spoke up. “We apologize, First Lady. Really. No harm intended.” Her eyelids lifted at Lambert. Lambert’s lids lifted at me. Was she challenging me? And I was the kid here?

What had it been, elementary school since I’d had a fight? Unless squabbles with Adler counted.

Mama talked into her shoulder. “Crisco, spaghetti, tea, Miriam. Go. Now. GO. So I can get home and cook.” I started past the women. Mama said something else to them and Unsister Lambert persisted.

My cell phone buzzed. 1. What did he want?

“Sunday, she was overboard. My husband don’t see that much of me.”

Mama promised to look into my wardrobe and left the women.

As she carted past me, she gave me that look. I texted One.

With mom. Call later.

 

Hack unt sneeze unt cough unt ouch

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By soulwindow · December 4, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Writing when you're sick is almost like going to Disney World with a sprained ankle. It COULD be fun...but when it comes right down to it, you're too gone off that Lortab to enjoy pictures with the mouse. Since #NaNoWriMo '09 finished, I haven't done a lot on the project even though I totally enjoyed writing the 53k words it took to win and the subsequent 2k aren't looking half bad either. I am kind of stuck or at least I have been for the past few days, not getting many words down on paper and not doing much to move plot forward. I ran out of actual plot at around 30K during nano. I do have plot holes to fill and plot bunnies to shoo away. Plenty to do. I also got quite a gallon of creative juice going here. plenty of ideas on the rise. I need the fuel to finish. That's my prayer. I just want to get the story DONE. But it won't happen this weekend. Women's conference at church. Practice tonight (unt hack unt sneeze) and services Sunday. Eep. Pray for me.

NaNoWriMo Results...

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By soulwindow · November 27, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Lookie what I got.

BAM!!

 

That's right boys and twirls (which is ALSO an alternate name for the novel I'm writing but nah I don't wanna give too much away), I have done it. I have done it. I have won Nano. I Nano'ed on my wrimo, babay.

I don't even know what that means.

I hit the 50k mark. But now I have to clean up this war zone. The story isn't even finished. I was like 4 pages out of the climax when I hit 50,055. I could probably delete 20,000 of those BS words, and how many times do you have to say: "Never, I will NEVER forgive you!" or "I have told you time and time and time again..." it gets old. YES, I did it a few times. So what?!

That's not the point. I came, I saw, I earned a quite stiff carpal tunnel.

I finished on November 26th, about 5 in the morning. It made me happy. I pasted my little manuscripto into the word verification what have you thingy and my bar went from green to purple.

It said Winner. Italicized. Bammies.

I don't know, one-reader. It has been a while since I accomplished something. At least something that was tangible, and that gave me nifty web bages and .pdfs to throw around until like December 3rd because really, who's going to care after that? I will. December is Get Your Thickness Into Editing Mode Month. Unleash the beast.

I took a break for Thanksgiving to let my wrist rest. I couldn't even help open jars! Now I'd like to round out the story and then get some "community editors" which, I'm sorry, I always go to first to boost my ego before I let someone with more of an industry perspective read for me and let me down.

I love the sound of children playing. Until they say "Yo Mama!"

Today, I go to my friend Margaret's house! She just finished law school and has been working as a lawyer for one full month! That makes me happy. She inspires me to do more. She really does. I don't know if she knows how much I appreciate her persistence in life.

I'm afraid that my "Mercy and Mascara" blog for makeup musings and semi-almost-maybe-a-little-bit devotionals is turning into a blog about writing. What do you think?

You wanna kick me in my excerpt? Well, here because I'd love to see you try!

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By soulwindow · November 23, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Cadence

“God, I really need new friends!” I prayed under my breath but I didn't mean it. My heart objected. Who else could I call fat and weak and still have them show up in all black everything to help me stakeout my husband? With the exception of Rachel’s neon pink wig, we were doing alright for amateurs.

I watched from the window. There Amadi stood over his printer, pulling off what seemed to be his daily attendance report. I had seen plenty of them at my house, in his car, and in his suitcase.  “Why the hell would you be working late, boy? What’s really real? What are you doing in the day? I don’t get it.”<op></op>

He was dressed in what he left the house in. He still had on his wedding band. I watched him as he organized, and put the reports in some type of order, and punched holes in them. He filed them away in a 3 ring binder that was thicker than my wrist, shelved it, and then went back to the printer where more papers were being pulled off. So diligent. <op></op>

I made my way back to the car, and hopped in, greeted with silence from my accomplices.

“He’s working. I feel this big." I held my thumb and index finger half an inch apart.<op></op>

“I started to leave you, trick.” Sam put the key into the ignition.<op></op>

“What for?” Sam’s face read that I was unbelievable and likely about to get the cursing of my life. “What? What I do?”

“I think I’m getting a cold,” Rachel mumbled. While she was here in body, her mind was at the nearest plate of chicken strips. Unfed, she was useless. “Should have stayed my butt home.”<op></op>

Sam shrugged. “You really don’t get yourself. There is no processing time between what happens at your brain and what comes out of your mouth.”<op></op>

“Ooh.” Rachel sat up and nodded between the front seats. “That’s a good way to put it. She ain’t even lying.”<op></op>

“And you supposed to be ‘Miss Christian.’ Miss ‘I Love the Lord He Heard My Cry.’ I can’t tell!”<op></op>

The expletive use of air quotes to describe my relationship with God was starting to get real old. Fast. <op></op>

“Are you calling me out? Are you calling me a hypocrite?”<op></op>

“I’m saying you got much talk and not so much walk. If that’s a hypocrite then, hey…”<op></op>

“Because I was telling you the truth about your weight? You do need to watch the things that you eat!” <op></op>

Rachel gasped. “Cadence No Middle Name Cunningham, you called the girl fat?”<op></op>

“Yes, she did!”<op></op>

“I did not call her fat. She was heaving across that grass, sounding like a linebacker recovering from a play!”<op></op>

Rachel pointed toward the grass. “That’s a long way to walk, and a lot of muscle to engage, Cay-cay. Y’all looked like Militia at training camp.”<op></op>

“I’m concerned about her—I’m concerned about your health Samantha. I need my girls. I need y’all around for a long time.” <op></op>

“Yeah, but it’s how you say stuff. I know people in the streets who don’t know nothing about your God who treat me better sometimes, man. You the one supposed to be different. If you wasn't my supervisor, I woulda been took you to the parking lot at Providiem.”<op></op>

Rach snickered in the back seat. Sam concealed her own laughter.

I didn't laugh because I knew the looks that Sam had given me.

Fine. General apology mode activated. “Well, I’m sorry.”<op></op>

“Sorry for what?” Rachel prompted. <op></op>

I sighed and looked at the ceiling of Sam’s Nissan Altima. “I’m sorry for calling you fat. You just superfine.”<op></op>

“Aaaand?” Rachel pushed. <op></op>

“And I'm sorry for being so critical.”<op></op>

“Aaaaand?”<op></op>

I looked between the two of them. “And for not being a good example of God’s love and light? I don’t know. I’m just sorry!”<op></op>

“Aaaaand?”<op></op>

“And if you say aaaaaand one more time, I’m going to knock the Nekot cookies out of you.” <op></op>

We all laughed and then that quiet strangeness that followed certain apologies came in. I guess they were wondering if I was going to stay true to my word. Shoot, I was wondering if I was going to stay true to my word. Sam and I hugged it out.<op></op>

“Can we go home now?” <op></op>

I was satisfied that Amadi’s tricking wasn’t happening at the school. He seemed behind in his work in fact, but I was not convinced that his hands were clean. I would have to think of another way to corner him.

A cloud. Wif thundurzz unt Lightneens.

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By soulwindow · November 19, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Pay no attention to the luggage under my eyes! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Pay--no...Oh nuts.

I had me one of "those" sleepless nights last night. Mom had a horrible dream. I was up praying because my godbrother was sending those suicidal texts. Ugh.You know the ones: "I just want 2 say I <3 u and I am sry. I feel so useless. I tryd. *send*

No, don't send. WHAT?! Like that's not something you freakin text! And why text me while I'm at work?! I didn't get it til 4 in the morning! I called him at 4 a.m. because, hey, I wasn't sleeping. Got no answer. I hope he's ok. If he is, he is going to get WORDS today, alright? How YOU dewin'?

Last Nizzle (this mizzle) I also did a Wordle for my Nanomess. I call it a Nanomess but I have actually come to enjoy my story after going back and reading it through and having a few ell oh ellz. Wordles are just kind of big jumbly clouds that let you know the words that you use a great deal. Great editing tool.

Dear self: You shole look good in them jeans. Oh, also, self, please fix the following hot messes during National-Okay-You-Wrote-50-Thousand-Words-Now-Edit-My-Pretty-Edit Month (For my slow joes, that's NaOkYoWrFiThWoNoEdMyPrEdMo Dec 1-31) Nurse? The red pen plz. 1. Use of the word "just" this one just sticks out to me for some reason. I just can't figure out what it is. 2. Like, like has like also like made the list as well. 3. I Know. My father says I'm a smarty pants. SO BE IT, POPS!! 4.Back. Call me back. I'll be back. Turned her back. I know. It's working for nanowrimo, so it stays.

Oh, two points to whoever can guess at least one of my subplots from my Wordle.

Shoutouts to my internal editor who is locked up for the month of November. When you get out, we're going to have a real big block party with loud mursit (music), missing backstory BBQ, misspelled word potato salad, stinky prose baked beans, and a Trampoline.

The Trampoline is for me.

Why do these blog posts only happen on nights that I don't sleep? I'm seeing a pattern.

Heavy Rotation. Heavvvy rotation.

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By soulwindow · September 26, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Don't eat this without pouring the random on first, 'kay?

So if you're anything like me it annoys you when typists--and I say typists to represent anyone who can force their eyes to double dutch between the keyboard and screen (You better learn those home row keys!)--use the wrong letter extension to express lengthening of vowels.Or am I the only one? Do ya even know what I'm talking about?

Anyway, today is my "heavy" rotation day for church work, meaning I'm going to be passed around like a  fifth of liquor at a bonfire in November. Since the puppy Prince is all wormy-nasty, I will have to take him to the vet first thing. First thing is in like 5 hours. (Why aren't you sleeping, self???) I have rehearsals then from 10-12. From 12-1 or 2 I have my writing group hearts ablaze. I am in the midst of about 4 writing ventures, three of which are fiction novels with Christian ideals undergirding them. I say in the midst for two reasons: they surround me--plot schemes haunt me. Conversations float up when I'm at work or grocery shopping or driving or trying to balance my weekly budget. In the midst also means that I'm half done with most of these projects, they require a focus that I am praying for to carry them through. My writings exhaust me in a way that I simply love. I often say that writing is the most fun difficult work I've ever done. To push my mind to those places is sometimes daunting, but I do love it when I can go there. I recently purchased the cheapest (and worst--shoulda known!) novels I've read in a long time. They restored my faith in myself. It's sad to say, but sometimes I sit here for hours reading only 2-star and 3-star reviews on amazon.com. Because I need to know what you don't like. Why were you polite enough to give nearly half the stars? What pulled you in? Association? General niceness? (With the anonymity of the internet? Please.) The fact that you need a reason to not kick yourself for purchasing the tripe in the first place? I'm not out there interviewing potential readers, so I let amazon be my hearing board.

Do you see it? Passion. I was supposed to be talking about not having room to breathe this weekend. I hope that the deworming will help him SOON and CHEAPLY because between you and me, I hate digging in the bank of Cleveland for anything these days. I don't have a choice though. That's the last I want to see of tapeworms outside of a biology lab EVER.