2016 Cultivating Gratitude: A Poetry Workshop

picture-of-ben    The Oklahoma Arts Council presents Dr. Benjamin Myers Oklahoma Poet Laureate, 2016 – October 1, 2016, 10:00 am at the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, 120 West Maine, Enid, OK 73701. Dr. Myers will be reading and teaching how to write poetry from your memories and there will be time to create some of your own.

The Enid Writers Club and the Enid Public Library will host the event which is free to the public. The workshop will be called “Making Poetry from your Memories” and is suitable for anyone from high school through retirement.

Dr. Myers’s description of the workshop is, “Everybody has a story to tell. This workshop will help you tell that story through poetry. Through a series of guided exercises, including instruction in poetic technique, participants will explore ways to compress their recollections into compelling, sharable poetry. Areas of exploration include the following: imagery, metaphor, diction, rhythm, line, and sound. Participants will have the opportunity to produce a poem during the workshop and to share it with the other participants.”

Benjamin Myers is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and the author of two books of poetry: Lapse Americana (New York Quarterly Books, 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His poems may be read in The Yale Review, The New York Quarterly, 32 Poems, The Christian Century, Nimrod, Measure and other journals, as well as in general readership publications like Oklahoma Today and In Touch. He has been honored with an Oklahoma Book Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book and with a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He reviews poetry and books on poetics for several publications, including World Literature Today and Books and Culture.

Dr. Meyer received his B.A. from the University of the Ozarks, his M.A., from Washington University in St. Louis, and Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis.

Join us in celebrating the art of poetry with Dr. Benjamin Myers at the Enid Public Library on October 1, 10:00 a.m. in The Great Plains Room.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Grateful for “Find” Feature

fountain pen    I recently sent a manuscript to my agent/editor and she wrote back with some eye-opening information.  How many times could I use the word “was” in one story?  And to prove a point, she highlighted all of them throughout a 70,000-word document.   

I’d read and reread the manuscript before sending it to her.  We’d critiqued it in my writing group, my husband (also known as chief proofreader) didn’t mention it.  I’d become blind to my own passive writing. It is easy to fix a sentence that says “He was walking down the street.”  Simply change it to “He walked down the street.”  It shows more action.  However, sometimes it is not as easy.  I had to rewrite entire sentences and then the one above it didn’t work.  Then the one below it didn’t work.  But the final draft moved more smoothly and showed more action. 

 One of my friends writes everything in first person, present tense.  It is beautiful when she is done. The writing is up close and personal – you are in the moment. I cannot do that!  About half-way through I find I’ve switched to past tense and my characters have how no idea where they belong. And I’ve lost count of how many times I used the word “I.” But it is an exercise that makes you pay attention and tighten up your writing. 

You can also check your writing with the “find” feature in Word.  Look up your favorite words (you’ll be surprised how often you use them) and then discard or change them to something else. Look in the thesaurus if you can’t think of something yourself. 

Writing is an art.  It is a baring of the soul, but sometimes your soul is boring.  Give it more action so the reader will want to turn the page finding what comes next. 

Now I look for overused words and passive verbs after the initial draft is finished.  I have grown as an author.  Something that is, has become something that . . . was.

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owfi-meeting     I’m proud to say I’m a member of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI) because WE ARE OWFI! That statement started last year after our conference and caught on.   

I attended the board meeting today as a delegate from the Enid Writers Club.  These meetings happen quarterly and it’s where the magic happens. Reports from each committee, votes on finances, and networking with like minds filled the afternoon. It takes an entire year to put together a conference and can be like a full time job for the executive committee.  

The conference provides editors and agents to help you on your journey to authorship – or just put together that memoir for your family.  I always learn from the teaching sessions, and have fun at the banquets and costume parties.  I enter the writing contest and sometimes I do well, but I always learn something. 

I began attending OWFI conferences about 5 or 6 years ago and I shook like a leaf when I walked in the door – all the amazing talent around me, I felt like I was in pre-school.  But I was welcomed.  Now, years later, I’m still in awe but I know these people on a first name basis. I’m a published author and I and have met people who have taught me to write, to publish, to edit, to market and mostly to enjoy my craft.  They inspire me. 

 Join us on the first weekend in May, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1815 South Meridian, Oklahoma City, OK. As usual I can’t wait for the conference in May because #WEAREOWFI!

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Last Long Weekend of Summer

SecretsofSandhillIsland_w8259    This week while Hermine tries to take out the east coast and earthquakes try to take out the heartland (ever wonder why we don’t name earthquakes?) I say, it’s time for the beach! Labor Day was originally celebrated to pay homage to the working man (aren’t we all?) and then turned into the final long weekend of summer. Head for the water. And with the beach you need a good beach read.

Secrets of Sandhill Island, my romance suspense novel, is set on an island off the coast of Corpus Christi and is just the thing to get you in the spirit of the last long weekend of summer.

“Tide’s in.” Meg looked out to sea. “Let’s go wade a little before we go in.” She pointed to the ocean and led him through the door and out to her front yard. This was why she lived by the ocean, its sights and smells intoxicated her.

The cool foam covered her bare feet as she walked into ankle deep water with Alex by the hand. Moonlight shone through the clouds. It had finally cooled off a little after the sun went down, and the humidity wasn’t as oppressive.

His arm slid around her waist and he nuzzled her neck. They stood looking out at the lightly rolling sea they both loved like a child. A spoiled child sometimes—always getting its way, but still they loved it. What mysteries did its depths hold? What bounty could it give up if it was encouraged? What terrors would it inflict if you didn’t respect it?

A cool current rolled in over their legs and feet and Meg relaxed. She turned to face Alex and kissed him passionately. The moon and the sea had been responsible for passion in so many ways since time began, and they were just another speck in time to them. But, it was their speck in time, and Meg and Alex were engulfed in the feelings brought on by nature.

Meg was suddenly hit from behind, knocking both of them down as the wave rolled over them and dragged them out into deeper water. She floundered and spit for a second and then sat up with water up to her chin. Alex began to laugh reaching for her as the current threatened to pull her further out if she didn’t stand up quickly. She knew better than to turn her back on the sea.

A crab scuttled away making the sand under her feet move. She fell again. This time Alex was on his feet grabbing her hand, but another wave knocked them both down. Before she was pulled out even further, she stood and looked at the incoming waves washing their way.

“Come on!” she shouted. And the wind changed directions blowing her voice away. They ran for the house soaked to the bone.

Once inside the safety of the screened porch, he grabbed her passionately kissing her neck and pulling at her clothes. She led him to the bedroom, and they shed their wet clothing along the way. The salty water leaked out of the fabric and pooled onto the old wooden floor. It could be cleaned up tomorrow.

Forget the hurricanes and earthquakes, check out Secrets of Sandhill Island and get your beach read on! It’s the last long weekend of summer.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: The Blessing of Writing

thumbnail_WF_fullcover_6-17-16    This week I have a guest on the blog, Janet  K. Brown.  Worth Forgiving is the second in her Wharton Rock Series.

Prejudice and mistrust hinders an ex-con, drug addict’s new beginning.

The state of Texas releases from prison Katie Smith. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, but Katie gave away her daughter three years ago. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but the fact that he has no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn’t help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past that he can’t undo. All he needs is an ex-con, drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Isn’t it enough that Lacey Chandler gave her sister’s daughter a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie’s messes forever?

Could it be that Katie is not Worth Forgiving?

Worth Forgiving, an inspirational women’s fiction, is the second in her Wharton Rock series. Her only non-fiction is Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness.

Worth Forgiving marks Brown’s fourth book. Who knew she had a penchant for teens and ghosts? She released her debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, in July, 2012.

Until Sept. 1, the book can be pre-ordered at this link: http://www.pen-l.com/WorthForgiving.html On Sept. 1, it should be on Amazon, Nook, & retail everywhere.

Janet lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles.  Janet

Janet and her husband love to travel with their RV, work in their church, and visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three perfect grandchildren.

Janet teaches workshops on writing, weight loss, and the historical settings of her teen books. The author uses her platform of recovering compulsive overeater to weave stories of hope for addiction, compulsion, or impossible situations.

Find her at http:/ /www.janetkbrown.com, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/janetkbrowntx, on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Janet-K-Brown-Author/143915285641707 E-mail: Janet.hope@att.net

The Blessing of Writing

An attitude of gratitude enriches our life in so many ways. Quite often, especially near Thanksgiving Day, we count our blessings and thank God for the good things in our lives. However, the exercise is wise to do throughout the year.

After I read some posts on Peggy’s blog, I started thinking that one thing I was grateful for was writing. Ever since a junior high school teacher encouraged me, I’ve been writing something. When my girls were young, I wrote and sold a few short stories. In 2006, I retired. My goal was to write and visit grandkids.

I launched into what has become a second career. I studied and submitted until I found some bit of success in writing. Here is my list of the blessings of writing.

1. Satisfaction

I love to write. I get lost in a story of my own making. I live my adventures through the pen or the keyboard. Writing brings me peace.

2. New friends

I could never imagine the friendships forged by the love of writing and reading.

Nowadays, one of my best new friends lives in Oklahoma. I see her two to three times a year. When one of us gets down, we call and encourage each other.

A group of authors from Australia took me in and let me join their anthology. We pray for each other’s needs. We’ll probably never see each other this side of heaven.

A sweet friend that steered my career in an unimaginable way lives in Colorado. One time when I was driving near her home, she met me on the road. What a treasure that was.

Authors at conferences from all over have touched my life and breathed in wisdom.

Writing gives a wealth in friendships, and we speak the same language.

3. My new ministry

I’ve taught Sunday School. I sang in the choir. I’ve visited newcomers to church. Who could’ve known that writing could become a way of touching peoples lives for God. During a class with DiAnn Mills, I wrote my mission statement and for the first time, recognized the career as a ministry. How blessed I am to do something I love that touches people for Christ. E-mails, posts, and even a review have told me my book led them back to Christ.

4. Free or discounted books

No, I don’t have to write to win free books, but I’m more aware of bargains from authors I like. I’m also more likely to meet authors and purchase signed copies.

5. Recognition

Who would’ve realized how nice it is to be recognized for doing something you enjoy doing, like writing.

6. I can do it anywhere.

Who else but writers can work while staring at a mountain top or sitting on a beach?

So, that’s my list of blessings. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to write. If I stopped tomorrow, I would swell with enough gratitude to last a lifetime.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: An Oklahoma Fairytale

new cover    Summer is almost over and fall brings out festivals and fairs.  One of my favorites is the Heavener Runestone Viking and Celtic Fest.  It will be held on October 8 & 9, 2016 at Heavener, OK.  It is a fascinating place full of mystery and fun and I can’t wait to be a part of it again.

I was so enchanted by the area I wrote an Oklahoma fairytale called Glome’s Valley.  It is a young adult novel full of Vikings, ghosts, trolls, fairies and Norse gods set in the Oklahoma forest.

Ethan was bored because he was not home enjoying summer with his friends.  Instead he was stuck in the woods with Dad as he studied the Heavener Runestone.   Then he found new friends.

The silver sword glistened in the sun as Ethan swung it at the nearest troll. He took aim, sliced the air––and missed by a mile.  He had never tried to hit anything with a sword except in his video games back home. This was different.  This was real life.  The troll laughed and charged. 

Bob suddenly appeared at the end of the bridge, head down and running full speed.  His yellow fur glistened in the sunlight, knocking trolls off the bridge as he cut a swath through them until he reached the other end.  Bob turned to do the same with the remaining trolls.

Ethan held the sword in both hands and swung again.  Suddenly the sword started to vibrate and a low sound, almost like the deep tone of a church bell, echoed through the air.   At first Ethan didn’t know where the sound was coming from.  It was getting louder and louder, and then he realized it came from the sword in his own hands.  All the fighting stopped and everyone turned to look at him, even Bob. 

Glome’s Valley is a children’s book set in a real place in Oklahoma.  If you haven’t been to the park you should take the kids and go.  You will love autumn in the forests of southeast Oklahoma.  Heavener is near Poteau and the Talimena Drive.  By October the weather will be exquisite and you’ll be grateful to live in a state with so much diverse geography.

See you at the festival!

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Grateful for the anthology

EWC book cover   THE ANTHOLOGY IS OUT!!!!  The Enid Writers Club has published our first anthology in both e-book and paperback.  It is a compilation of the thoughts and feelings of fifteen of our members.  Titled The Warp and Weft of Things to show the weaving of intricate threads into a cohesive fabric.

In weaving, the weft is the term for the thread or yarn which is drawn through the warp yarns to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread. A single thread of the weft, crossing the warp, is called a pick.

These pieces were picked in 2016 from a multitude of writings the members had on their computers or in drawers secreted away for just such an event. Many have taken honors at Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc., our local contest, or have been previously published and used with permission. This is our anthology of works of every kind, length, and nature.

These stories, poems, and memoirs from the members of the Enid Writers Club, weave a very intricate rug. A magic carpet that will transport you to places you’ve only dreamed about. Sit back and enjoy a little bit of the talent behind the pen of these writers as they weave a story you will not soon forget.

Check it out Amazon.com for The Warp and Weft of Things.


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