April is National Poetry Month

April has been dedicated as National Poetry Month in the United States since 1996. The Academy of American Poets saw how successful Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March) had been at raising public awareness of those topics, and they felt the need to raise public awareness of poetry, especially in American public schools. According to the Academy of American Poets, the mission of National Poetry Month is to:

We at Writers Forum would like to give you some resources for helping poets in their craft.

First, we have The Complete Rhyming Dictionary.

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This great little book includes a one-hundred page Poet’s Craft Book. This teaches you rhythm, rhyme, stanza patterns, and various forms and techniques of poetry. The meat of the book, however, is a literal ‘rhyming dictionary’, helping you find rhymes to almost any word you would need in your poetry. Need a rhyme for ‘alabaster’, and you have already used ‘plaster’ and ‘master’, but you need more? Well, how about ‘blaster’, ‘disaster’, ‘faster’, ‘forecaster’, or ‘pastor’?

The photo is my beat up copy that I have been carrying around for twenty-five years or so. The Complete Rhyming Dictionary has been an important tool on my writing tool box.

Then we have Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook: a Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry.

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Mary Oliver goes into the nuts and bolts of writing poetry, and she does it in clear language that is easy for the non-poet to follow. She encourages practice, practice, practice in writing, and says, “One learns through thinking about writing, and by talking about writing–but primarily through writing.” Ms. Oliver gives us plenty of examples and suggestions for writing exercises.

Then we have Pulitzer Prize-winner and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual.

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The Poetry Home Repair Manual is especially geared towards beginning poets, but poets at any level can use Ted’s sage advice. He leaves most of the actual ‘how to’s for other books. Ted seems most concerned with the poet’s attitude and expectations, which mean everything to the heart and soul of poetry. He encourages us to write the type of poetry that we would like to read, which means accessible to most people. He writes:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual advocates for poems that can be read and understood without professional interpretation. My teacher and mentor, Karl Shapiro, once pointed out that the poetry of the twentieth century was the first poetry that had to be taught. He might have said that had to be explained. I believe with all my heart that it’s a virtue to show our appreciation for readers by writing with kindness, generosity, and humility toward them. Everything you’ll read here holds to that.

Kooser’s book is a great one for jump stating your motivation to write poetry.

And since we are in the 21st century, there are all sorts of on-line helps for the poet, from Rhyme Zone and Rhymes, to Poem-a-Day delivered directly to your e-mail box, the access we have today to poetry and writing helps is phenomenal. Don’t forget to look for poetry apps for your smart phone. Go to wherever you purchase and download your apps, and search for key words like ‘rhyming dictionary’. You might be surprised at all of the useful tools available for that marvelous little tool in your hand!

What poetry writing tools and helps have you found? What are your favorites? Please share them with us on our Facebook page, or shoot us an e-mail at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . We would love to hear from you!

#NationalPoetryMonth

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This Saturday: Manuscript Ailing? Call the (Book) Doctor!

Important announcement to follow!

On Saturday, January 12, CF member George Winship will speak about the process he uses to help his clients restructure their book manuscripts and polish them for publication. With a wealth of experience as a ghostwriter, editor and researcher, George will explain how he diagnoses manuscripts that are ailing to come up with just the right prescription for success.

George earned his MA in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1980.

He then spent nearly 34 years writing nonfiction articles, features and columns for newspapers in Oregon, Montana and northern California. For seven years, from 2007-2014, he was Editor of the Anderson Valley Post, a weekly newspaper.

In 2005, George launched The Village Wordsmith, a business that specializes in helping writers get published in print or, more recently, on digital platforms such as Kindle, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble’s Book Nook, Smashwords and Apple’s iBooks.

Writers Forum meets from 10:30am – 12:30pm monthly (except for July and August) in the All Saints Episcopal Church located at 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA. Doors open at 10am. The public is welcome to get acquainted with two free visits before joining. Annual membership dues are $25.

This Saturday only, we will not meet in our regular room,  Memorial Hall, due to a church function in Memorial Hall. We will instead meet in  Eaton Hall East, the building behind Memorial Hall. We will be at the same location, and use the same parking lot, but in a different building. Follow the signs when you get there. Thanks.

The Challenge: Write your Novel in a Month

Are you up to the challenge of finishing the first draft of your novel in one month? Would you like some accountability partners to help you get there?

You’re in luck.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as participants call it. The goal is to write down 50,000 words for a first draft of your novel between November 1 and November 30.

Are you curious? Interested? Intimidated? Read the press release from the official NaNoWriMo organization.

 

Unleash Your Creative Superpowers with National Novel Writing Month

 

Berkeley, CA (September 25, 2017)—One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 19th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world.

This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people—including over 70,000 K-12 students and educators on our Young Writers Program website—to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Throughout the month, they’ll be guided by this year’s theme: Superpowered Noveling.

Join the League of Extraordinary Writers

“NaNoWriMo ignites people’s superheroic creative powers every year by empowering them to write their stories. It takes courage, grit, resilience—and wild imaginative leaps—to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Our stories save us from villainous forces that we encounter every day. Our stories determine the future of our world,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo.

Last year, NaNoWriMo welcomed 384,126 participants, in 646 different regions, on six continents. Of these, more than 34,000 met the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month.

This year, participants will be inspired by weekly “pep talks” penned by published authors, including Roxane Gay, Kevin Kwan, Julie Murphy, and Grant Faulkner. NaNoWriMo will also provide participants access to mentorship from authors including Emily X. R. Pan, Mur Lafferty, and Jasmine Guillory.

Our Mission Statement

National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

PressContact

Katharine Gripp, CommunicationsManager

katharine_gripp@nanowrimo.org

WebPresence

Websites: nanowrimo.org and ywp.nanowrimo.org

Facebook:NaNoWriMo

Twitter:@nanowrimo

Instagram:@nanowrimo

For further details about the NaNoWriMo youth program, please see NaNoWriMo Press-Release-2017 .

We will post more stories related to NaNoWriMo throughout the month of November. Let us know if you are participating this year!

Terri Farley Critique Opportunity

Do you have a manuscript ready to go that you would like to have a professional author look over? Now is your chance!

Best-selling author Terri Farley will be speaking at the Writers Forum meeting on November 11. After her presentation, Terri is offering to have one-on-one critiques on  with individual authors on ten pages of their material. There are two things you need to know for this to happen…

  • There is a $40 fee. Some of this fee comes back to Writers Forum as a fund raiser.
  • Terri needs your ten pages in advance of her visit, so she has time to read your work and give you a well thought out critique.

The deadline for submissions is coming up very quickly…October 25. Yes, you read that right…next Wednesday.

You can contact Jennifer Levens directly by phone at (530) 722-0504, or e-mail at theatermaven2@gmail.com ,  or you can speak to her at tomorrow’s Writers Forum meeting.

If you have a manuscript ready to go, this is a great opportunity for a profession opinion on how to improve your chances for publication.

Good luck, and have fun.

See you tomorrow for Anna Elkins’ presentation on poetry!

Advice From The First Five Pages

I recently discovered a wonderful writing podcast. It’s actually a radio program out of UC Irvine. The program is Writers on Writing, and the host, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, chats with writers about their writing, and with people in the publishing industry about writing.

In this particular podcast, Barbara talks with author Kevin Canty about his book The Underworld, and with literary agent Noah Lukeman. Noah wrote the book The First Five Pages, and in this interview, he talks about how agents and editors can tell in the first few pages of a manuscript whether an author ‘has the chops’ to carry the rest of the story. Noah appeals to us to take the craft of writing seriously, and to constantly write to improve our ability with the craft.

Fascinating interviews! Give them a listen!

The Noah Lukeman half of the program starts at about 28 minutes into the podcast.

 

Online Resources

At our March meeting, Jennifer Levens provided Writers Forum with some excellent ideas for researching our books. Jennifer wanted us to prevent those ‘a-HA!’ moments when readers spot errors in history or geography in a book. Here are some of the online resources she provided.

Artcyclopedia is a source for artists or art movements.

BioMedCentral is an archive of over 170 biology, chemistry, and medical journals.

DigitalHistory is a great archive for American history. If you can’t find what you need, you can submit your questions for a professional historian to answer.

FindArticles.com is a database of articles back to 1998 from about 500 print periodicals.

You have probably heard of the Library of Congress. They have used your tax dollars to make much of their collection available to you in the comfort of your own home at no extra cost to you. Money well spent, I’d say.

The Perseus Digital Library is great for researching Ancient History, the English Renaissance, or the American Civil War.

The largest collection of free books on the Internet can be found at Project Gutenberg.

Unfortunately, due to the volatile nature of the Internet, some of the links provided at the meeting no longer work like they used to. For instance, INFOMINE apparently used to be a great resource for ‘mining information’ from all sorts of online academic resources. The current INFOMINE, however, seems to be strictly devoted to inormation ON mining, and a subscription is necessary to access much of that.

The links provided above work as they are intended today: April 1, 2017. (No. This is not an April Fools’ joke. Seriously.)

Enjoy your research!