Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

What a long, strange trip it's been

On the one hand, time seems to fly ever more quickly these days. On the other, it seems like 2010 started a long, long time ago. With it being the start of a new year, I decided to take stock of my year, which saw some of my best writing successes to date. And I'm posting it here because some of you like these sorts of posts (I know I like reading other people's), and because I'll be able to find it later if and when I need to remind myself what happened in 2010. If you don't like these sorts of summaries, then I encourage you to skip on past this one. Truly, I won't mind.

In March, I got word that my poem, "Inside the New Mall", took third place in the Writer's Digest Poetry Competition. In July, I got to see my name and my poem's title in print within the pages of the magazine. Plus I won fabulous prizes – a check for $100, a copy of The Poet's Market, and a certificate suitable for framing. Sweet!

Some of you know this already, but many of you don't – April was a big month for me. Not because it was National Poetry Month, but because it was the month of the breast biopsy and finding out I didn't have breast cancer. Not a fun stretch of time, but given how lucky I was with the outcome, I cannot complain.

In May, I went on a writing retreat with in New Hampshire, then spoke at the NESCBWI Conference in Massachusetts. I ended up with a full room and some truly lovely feedback for my presentation on "Fixing Up Your Free Verse" (one person actually told me I was the high point of the entire conference, in their opinion - I mean, how sweet is that?). On returning home to New Jersey, I was the featured reader at the Poetry in the Round group in Marlton. It was a wonderful evening - and very busy month!

I interviewed authors Jennifer Hubbard and Lisa Mantchev as part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, then (much later in the year) interviewed authors L.K. Madigan, Sarah MacLean and Marilyn Singer for the Winter BBT.

June found Angela and me quaffing champagne in mid-afternoon to celebrate that this was the year I sold my first book. I've had poems published in anthologies and journals before, but I've never had my own book. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to sell At the Boardwalk to Tiger Tales Books. The book is due out in 2012, and is being illustrated by Mónica Armiño. I've seen the preliminary sketches for the entire book – cover, end papers and every spread in between – and I can assure you that I am one lucky author. The book is going to be gorgeous, the folks at Tiger Tales have been completely lovely to work with and I am excited beyond belief to see what happens next!

At the end of June, I attended the ALA Conference in Washington, D.C., where I got to hang out with my Poetry Princesses and to see lots of writer friends – and network just a wee bit as well. One of the high points was attending the Poetry Blast organized by Marilyn Singer – it was marvelous to hear so many extraordinary poets reading from their work.

This year saw additional publishing news for me: My poem "Margaret Rose" was included in Mountain Magic: Spellbinding Tales of Appalachia out from Woodlands Press. The book is lovely, and includes gentle horror set in the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S. My poem "Troubled Water" was accepted for inclusion in Breaking Waves: An Anthology to Benefit the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. I remain gobsmacked that my piece was chosen to close out the anthology (which was opened by icon Ursula Le Guin (!)). I am still more pleased that it was singled out for favorable mention in this review. Plus, as I announced in this post, I had three poems accepted for publication in Chantarelle's Notebook. and another poem published in Up and Under, the annual journal put out by the Quick & Dirty Poets.

I also was the lucky recipient of a personalized video from the Old Spice guy after I responded to something Lisha Cauthen said over on Twitter. YUM! For the full chain of events, I encourage you to read Lisha's post, complete with screen caps and videos.

In September, I attended the Fall Philly conference held by the Eastern PA SCBWI. In November, I helped facilitate peer critiques at the first annual Eastern PA SCBWI Critiquefest in Lancaster, PA. Also in November, I went on a second writing retreat with Angela, this time to Brigantine, New Jersey. It was lovely and calm and productive. Gosh, I love retreats.

And this was a year of completing things. I finished writing the garden gnomes book. I completed the last poem for the Jane project - its official working title is JANE AUSTEN: A Portrait in Verse, a biography of Jane Austen in verse written entirely in period forms (forms of poetry used during Austen's lifetime). It took just over three years of research and writing, and I am still quite in love with it – and hoping that an agent will be too. Fingers crossed, okay? And then in August, when I intended to be taking the month off, inspiration struck and I wrote an entirely new YA poetry collection that I am referring to here as the Shakespeare poems. (It has a more appropriate title, but I'm keeping it close to the vest for the time being.) And I finished writing and revising the middle-grade collection I refer to as the Body poems. Then I went ahead and started my YA novel, which is almost at the midway point (and I am loving it!).

The year started with some bad health issues for M, which fortunately resolved without surgical intervention, and then we embarked on a year of horrible health for my pets - sick dogs in the winter, sick cat in the spring, then Wally's "spinal stroke" in the fall - but so far they're all hanging in there. Those of you curious about Wally's recovery will be glad to know that he's walking again - and running, too - and he is starting to be able to go up the stairs. (Down is a bit trickier, but we are hopeful he will get there.) Unfortunately, the poor kitty is now sick again, which has be terribly worried because she is an old girl (14-1/2 years old) and she is my favorite animal in the world. Just goes to show that it's always, always something.

And now, to see what 2011 has in store . . .


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