THE DREAMQUESTONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story, five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction, nonfiction or creative nonfiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: AUGUST 15, 2017. How to enter, visit: http://www.dreamquestone.com 

June

Use exclamation marks sparingly—as if your entire lifetime allotment is a dozen. We may think these add emphasis to our sentences, but they actually weaken them. Someone once said that an exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.

May

Don’t be embarrassed to close the bedroom or bathroom door and read your piece ALOUD. This should help you SEE and HEAR repetitive words, poorly  constructed sentences, misplaced modifiers and more. Think enough of your writing and your readers to spend time crafting your writing.

February

In good writing, the strongest part of a sentence belongs at the end, not the beginning. For example, don’t end a sentence with “in 2010” or any date. That’s weak and boring, a real letdown. Instead, start the sentence “In 2010” and end with something powerful enough to carry the reader on to the next sentence. The same goes for paragraphs and chapters. End each with a strong sentence with an ending that will make the reader want to read further.

November

In the last issue of Word Song, The Grammar Corner addressed the proper placement of commas, periods and quotation marks. As a reminder, commas and periods ALWAYS go INSIDE quotation marks. No Exceptions! Now, let’s think about two more marks of punctuation: colons (:) and semicolons (;). These two underused but important symbols ALWAYS go OUTSIDE quotation marks.There are absolutely NO exceptions to this rule. Remember: commas and periods always inside, colons and semicolons always outside.

October

In honor of National Punctuation Day (September 24), the following is important information for writers: ALL commas and periods belong INSIDE both single and double quotation marks. There are absolutely NO exceptions to this rule.

GWEN BROWN interview

WORD SONG INTERVIEW: GWEN BROWN

by Gary McLouth, Associate Editor

I met Gwen Brown at Perkins restaurant at the corner of San Carlos and Summerlin to ask the questions about life and writing that might provide some information and inspiration for this Word Song Spotlight interview. I like to ask questions I don’t know the answers to, and Gwen did not disappoint me. In fact, my blank slate began to fill in with surprising, oral sketches of a life on the move.

Gwen Brown says she’s always been driven by the sense “that something must be going on somewhere else.” From her home town, Mishawaka, Indiana to her current home in Fort Myers, Florida, Gwen’s adult journey can be charted along the network of stops in between. In the telling of the story, chronological details dim in the highlights. In no particular order, Chicago for nursing, California for marriage, Arizona with artist husband. Then, New York City.

“I always wanted to act. I knew a full-time job wouldn’t allow much time for major investments of time in other activities, so I decided to put my efforts into teaching, which would (theoretically) give me summers for acting… I remember sitting on my suitcase in New York, and thinking, ‘I’m home’.”

My first follow-up question to fill in the blanks between Arizona and New York, her marriage and her career got re-directed by Gwen’s own follow-up: “If you can’t find it there, you can’t find it anywhere, and it’s true. I worked on my Master’s degree at Columbia, so I could teach medicine and surgery, which I did eventually, at Brooklyn College, New York University and Long Island University.”

Gwen fed her acting ambitions by studying and performing in showcase theatre. Through showcase, she was discovered for Repertory theatre by Director John Lithgow and she got to play an understudy role to Meryl Streep. As if that wasn’t thrilling enough, Gwen played on stage with Lynn Redgrave in St. Joan, and in The Trip Back Down with John Cullum.

“I was so happy, it blew me away. Broadway!”

Gwen played in a number of Off-Broadway plays, too. In the process, she married a singer-song writer who encouraged her to pursue her stage career further, but that story line will have to wait for future development. What Gwen Brown, the writer, wants to do now is write a book about her sister, the only woman buried in the ancient catacombs of Jerusalem. Come again?

“My sister’s life is an incredible story about an incredible woman. She died in 2002, and I intended to get started on my book about her, but I couldn’t get the first sentence out of myself. When Bob McCarthy handed out those yellow pads and said: WRITE! I started my book, and I’ve been writing every day since.” Gwen has gotten very close to her sister by reading the many stories her sister wrote but shared with no one while she was alive. Being able to immerse herself in her sister’s stories has given Gwen new perspectives on her sister and on her own writing.

“It’s amazing to me, how much I’ve learned that I didn’t know happened to her. I never knew anything about her love life, or how she converted to Catholicism and became a nun. Someday, you’ll be amazed, too, when you read my book,” she laughs.

Most writers keep well-ordered memories of their inspirations and practices at the ready for telling. Each one of us can plug into moments of the distant past with the energy and focus of the present. Gwen is no different in that regard, but in the same vein, hers is a whole new story.

“Oh, I used to write poetry to get things out of my system.  I learned a little poem in the 4th grade, and I’ve loved it ever since.” Gwen recites the poem for me and promises to email me a copy. “It’s by anonymous,” she says, “my favorite author.”

The Poem, by Anon

When first I loved,/I gave my very soul/Utterly unreserved/To love’s control//But love deceived me/Wrenched my youth away/And made the gold of life/Forever gray.//Long I lived lonely/Yet I tried, in vain/With any other joy/To stifle pain//There is no other joy/I learned to know/And so returned to love/As long ago//Yet this little while/Ere I go hence/I love very lightly now/In self-defense.

After six years’ research  and multiple rewrites my debut novel is a reality. It is a quest novel grounded in historical facts dealing with 10th century Britain and Ireland. I have an author in the same basic genre, Historical Fiction, whom I have requested to review  Life Song and am awaiting a reply. Lakes Regional Library turned me on to Jane Kirkpatrick. She is a resident of Oregon, and I have been receiving her newsletter every month for the past three years.

Why Oregon? a: I went to school there. b: Her writing is fabulous.

Best regards, Susan Thornburg

One Thing by Geneva Kelly

One Thing…

By: Geneva Kelly

    As a follow up to a previous article, and my usual quest to examine the differences between men and women, I asked around to find the answer to one more question.  I asked at work, and then posted it on social media.  If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be?  Would you want them to talk less?  Laugh more?  Change their hairstyle or clothing choice?  Or possibly have an attitude adjustment.

    Quite a few women said, “I would change his attention span, or his lack of communication.”

    Men joked around by saying, “I would change her nagging, or her decision making.”

    Mostly, men echoed complaints about how women take forever to get ready.

    “When my girlfriend promises to be ready in five minutes, that five minutes shouldn’t really mean 30,” said a handsome 20-something.

    “Guys don’t have a clue what it’s like to walk in 3 to 6 inch heels,” I said, in defense of my stylish mama’s.  “Deciding what to wear just based on your shoes takes time.”

    Another guy told me, “My girl is too passive.  I don’t like to pull things out of her head.”

    I found that interesting to hear from a man.

    Along the lines of being passive, another guy stated clearly, “She should be more assertive in the bedroom.”

    Following was a women that mentioned her man was boring and she felt like tapping the walls while they were having sex.

    I wondered if by simply communicating with one another, those things could change.  Because it’s such a sensitive subject no one wants to be vulnerable enough to bring it up.  All of these complaints could have a remedy if we were honest with one another.   And even if they didn’t change, making someone aware of how you feel could release you from possible resentment.

    A new dad in his 40’s answers the question by saying, “I would change everything!”

    Apparently the lack of sleep is getting to him.

    On-line a male friend on Facebook said he would change his first wife’s problem with infidelity.  For wife number two, he would miraculously alleviate her manipulative skills.  And wife number three?

    “That will never happen!” He said.

    I can’t say I blame him.

    While still on Facebook, several women said they wish their men weren’t so cheap.  Others wished their men didn’t spend so much money.  Women agreed that they would want their men to be more exciting, because sitting at home every day is just not enough to keep the spark going.

    I found it funny that men and women alike would both change things like snoring, belching, cleaning, smoking, and the amount of time they spend with their family.

    After days of asking, it surprised me that both genders agreed they would change the amount of drinking their partner does.  One guy in his 30’s said, “I wish she realized how small she is.  When she drinks, I babysit.  And I don’t mean the kids.”

    The one that stood out the most however was when one lady, also in her 30’s said, “He has been drunk every day for the last 10 years!”

    She clearly did not want to deal with it anymore.

    Only one person, married for 20 years to her high school sweet heart, said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

    After gathering this info I don’t really believe we are that different after all.  Most of us simply want meaningful relationships; partnerships.  We want to be recognized by the person standing next to us.  Though some extra finances and excitement don’t hurt either.

    I’m pretty certain my significant other would say, “I wish she wasn’t so bossy.”

    If only he just did what I asked him to do!  See— I don’t have a problem with the truth.  Do you?

Twitter for Authors

What is a tweat?

We hear a lot about Facebook, but what about the other four recommended platforms. Twitter is one of those, and just like Facebook, you need to understand how to do it correctly.

For instance, Twitter allows a 140 letter character limit, which is something not known to many people. This is just to show you what 140 letter characters look like, which can be a few spaces to compose all your thoughts.

Twitter is also where the # hashtag originated. Using this wonderful character is all you need to help you build an audience and get connected to your audience.

Whenever you make a post, add a few keywords with the # in front of it (no space between), and you will see suggested groups who use the same. Whenever you use one of these hashtag words, your post will be listed whenever someone searches that hashtag. So for instance, #books are great for #reading will get your post listed on those two groups.

On the reverse side, you can search those phrases and find other people who are posting about the same things and then connect with them.

Happy Following!

Jenn FitzGerald

Book Design & Publishing