Young Writers Contest Call for Submissions

Writers Forum and Enjoy Magazine are pleased to partner together to publish young writers, artists and graphic designers.

Writers Forum and Enjoy Magazine announce a Call for Submissions for students in grades k-12. The theme is “A Lesson Learned.” Students are encouraged to submit an essay (150-300 words) or one piece of artwork based on this theme. One essay and one piece of artwork will be featured in the September issue of Enjoy Magazine. The winner and runners-up will be featured on the Writers Forum website/newsletter, and the Enjoy Magazine website. One high school student with an interest in graphic design will be chosen to work with the editor of Enjoy Magazine to design the layout of the page. Winners and runners-up will be notified via email.

Submission Guidelines:

1. The student must submit an application, a photograph of the student and one original essay (150-300 words) or original piece of artwork (painting, drawing or photograph) that exemplifies the theme “A Lesson Learned.”

2. Kindergarten-3rd grade students may submit handwritten or typed essays. 4th-12th grade students must submit typed essays.

3. Essay submissions and applications must be attached to an email and sent to Writers Forum at reddingwritersforum@gmail.com.

4. Art submissions and applications must be attached to an email and sent to Enjoy Magazine at ronda@enjoymagazine.net.

5. High school students interested in designing the featured page must submit an application and a photograph of the student to Enjoy Magazine at ronda@enjoymagazine.net.

6. All applications and submissions must be received by June 1, 2013.

7. Students under the age of 18 must include a parent/guardian signature on the application.

Writers Forum members, please pass this along to educators and children in your life. We simply can’t wait to help children celebrate their love of the written word by publishing their original pieces!

Writers Forum members interested in helping read and select the winning piece should contact Writers Forum Director at Large, Alicia McCauley at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.

Member Monday: Sometimes It’s Better to be Feral by Jennifer Phelps

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we continue our series on mothers as member Jennifer Phelps, host of Friday Freewrite, shares a candid piece about her mother.

Sometimes It’s Better to be Feral

by Jennifer Phelps

Morphine made Mom psychotic.  We didn’t know that, but she did.  She refused to take an adequate therapeutic dose, a decision which left her screaming and writhing in pain for a good part of the last 6 months of her life.  It was frustrating (to say the least), but it was her choice.  Mom would take control any way she could.  Control was always of paramount importance to her.

I shrugged off her complaints about the morphine.  She said it made her “feel crazy,” but she always had a litany of complaints about medications.  Her list of “allergies” was long and earned her frowns of skepticism from most healthcare providers. I would roll my eyes right along with them.  “They’re not ‘allergies,’ Mom.  They’re sensitivities.  Side effects.  Whatever.  Not allergies.”

When she was admitted for inpatient chemotherapy last February, it seemed the perfect opportunity to get her pain under control for once and for all.  She was given intravenous morphine.  She said she felt better.  I didn’t say, “I told you so,” but I thought it.  I hoped this would help her see that she should follow the recommendations of her oncologists, who are quite adept at managing cancer pain for most patients.

Then she went berserk. You see, Mom wasn’t like “most patients.”  She was more like a wild animal, the kind that would chew its foot off to escape a trap.  The narcotic-induced psychosis caused her to do all kinds of strange and unadvisable things.  She got out of bed against orders in the middle of the night and fell in the bathroom, where the nurses found her.  She yanked out her PICC line (which delivers chemotherapy into the superior vena cava, its tip residing very near the heart).  Eventually, her psychotic state deepened and she became restless, nonverbal, eyes rolling back in her head, unable to focus.  Still, she relentlessly tried to remove her clothing and groped for the IV poles.

“Don’t touch those, Mama,” I admonished.  “There’s medicine in there that can hurt people if it spills.”  At these words, she would draw back momentarily, then begin again.  She had to be relocated to the room across from the nursing station.  A “sitter” was assigned to stay at her bedside at all times.

Of course this dismayed me, but since I work in the medical community, for some of the very same doctors who were caring for Mom, I was also a little embarrassed.  I wondered,Why can’t Mom behave herself?  Why can’t she be a “normal” patient?  I knew she couldn’t help it, but still.  She was causing everyone so much trouble.

With reversal of the narcotics, my mother returned to lucidity and could be informed of what we, the family, already knew: the one scan she’d held still enough to complete showed her cancer had literally “exploded,” now occupying the vast majority of her left thorax.  There was disease in the contralateral lung and both adrenals, not to mention her ribs and spine.  Chemo was pointless.  The orange drip was disconnected.  Without the whirr and beep of the pumps, the hospital room was quiet.  She would be discharged on hospice.

“They’re sending me home to die,” mom said tearfully in one of the few instances when she gave in to despair.  She was right.  They were.  It was the prudent thing to do.

I try to be gentle with myself.  After all, it wasn’t my fault I didn’t fully appreciate the gravity of her situation.  Even seasoned oncologists were shocked that her tumor had regrown to the staggering size of 18 cm in the three short months following her extensive surgery, during which time interval she was actively undergoing therapy with radiation.  Neither was I to blame for my failure, after a lifetime of hearing her gripe about medications, to appreciate just how severe her reaction to the morphine had been for all the months she refused to take enough of it to control her pain.  As it turned out, it really did make her “feel crazy.”  Go figure.

Five weeks after her homecoming, Mom was gone.  When I think of her behavior now, I smile.  Embarassment has given way to a kind of pride.  In the bigger context of her illness and where she was headed, I’m glad Mom fought like a wild animal.  I’m glad she refused to negotiate with her illness, the drugs, all of it.

She didn’t want to be a cancer patient, a cancer survivor, a cancer anything.  She just wanted to be.

Good for you, Mom, I think. Give ’em hell.  Whatever else I’m glad or sorry about, I’m glad she wasn’t well behaved at the end.  I’m glad she was feral.  Because that was the real her.  Narcotic-induced psychosis or not, that was Mom.  She wasn’t the lie-down-and-accept-it type.  She wasn’t the be-nice-and-don’t-make-waves type.

They say people die the way they live.  She died fighting.  For her, it was the honest thing – the only thing – to do.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Mother’s Day by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Thank you to all of the members who submitted pieces about mothers in response to the May Call for Submissions.  To kick off our series on mothers, it’s a pleasure to feature a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.

Mother’s Day

by Linda Boyden

toys
tiny dolls
tiny trains
Legos
My Little Ponies
tiny tables and chairs
plush bears, Barbies
giggles and sighs
screams and cries
Cherrios
Flaming Hot Cheetos
crumbs on carpets
on floors and tabletops
footsteps
doorslams
more giggles
two shouts end in
“MINE!”

These memories shine
in the early morning silence
of Mother’s Day.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!