Announcing Contest: Win a Copy of My New Poem! (fine, and some stuff by other people too)

Soon, something I wrote is going to be published in print. This is the first time ever for me. If we assume I’ve been waiting for this day since I was born, I’ve been waiting forty-two years.

Probably that would be an overly dramatic assumption, but what if I told you the truth, which is: I submitted this poem seven months ago. Some of you writers will want to slap me on the back of my head for this, but that was soooooo long ago! I was, like, a whole different person back then! I was only forty-one!

Anyway, because I want to celebrate, and because no one is sitting here telling me what a dumb idea this is, I am going to have a contest. With a prize! To celebrate my first ever print publication at the age of forty-two!

The prize is easy: a copy of the journal, Beechwood Review (edited by Richard Heby), in which my poem appears. Isn’t that self-aggrandizing of me? (Next month I’ll be giving away an old ratty t-shirt that I used to wear. Or, signed photos of myself. Or cuttings of my hair!)

I didn’t get paid for this; in fact, since each copy cost $11.99, I am losing money on this deal, but I’m excited! So who cares? People pay $12 to have fun all the time, right?

The contest part is harder. I’ve been sitting here thinking for at least five minutes and all I’ve decided is that I can’t believe how many people come to the public library to use free wi-fi to play online first-person shooter games.

But I just had a literal (in the new sense of the word, aka, not literal!) flash of intelligence! An idea!

CONTEST: Whoever adds a comment here or on Facebook with the best idea for the contest I could have had (or, could have next time I feel like having a contest) will win their very own copy of Beechwood Review issue 2!*

Entries will be judged rigorously by a panel of experts: me; winner will be chosen based on: what I like.

Have fun! You have until June 10th! I can’t wait to read what I should have done!


*If, instead of entering, you want to buy your own print copy, just follow this link. For electronic copies, visit here.


photo credit: By Malene Thyssen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Why Smoke Pot When You Can Read about It?

Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s just about time for my very nice, very mid-twenties-ish, very partying-type neighbors to start lighting up in their backyard.

Which, basically, is my front yard.

Pot’s legal in Washington now, and to be honest, I helped vote it in. Why didn’t anyone tell me how bad it was going to make the world smellI guess I thought everyone would be smoking indoors, out of respect for the rest of us, the same way I don’t pile my dog’s poop up along the property line (though, technically, I could).

Don’t trouble yourself. My inner voice has already told me: Girl, you know you’re why they want a test for voters, right?

To celebrate this dubious marker of summer, please check out The Grass is Always Greener by my friend and fellow author Nancy Brier (she’s also on Facebook here) in this month’s Brain, Child. Reading it cheered me up considerably, if only because it helped me remember that always, someone out there has it worse than I do.


Photo credit: H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Feeling Busy? This Poem is for You!

Hey! Looks like I’m having a good week!

Click to read my poem “9 billion hotdogs” about housework and motherhood and feeling overwhelmed, which is up on Literary Mama today.

Then, go find something healthy to eat!


Photo credit: User:Mysid – Own work, Public Domain,

A Surprise for Us all: An Essay on Quitting My Job

I had a great surprise this morning!

An essay of mine, which I believed was slated for publication in May, has been up since April 25th! (Clearly, I need some better calendarizing around here.) The essay, “On Quitting My Job” is up at Mothers Always Write.

It’s spring, just one year since I decided to quit teaching (you can read more about that here), so the timing is perfect. Best wishes to those of you in similar conversations with yourselves!


Photo credit: Hidrafil – Own work, Public Domain,

It’s Always the Best Time to Read This Blog: One Way to Generate More Traffic

Earlier this week I got an interesting email from an author friend of mine. She wrote,

I read somewhere that you get more hits if you post at around 8 p.m.  Have you heard anything like that?

Wow. No, I had not. Until now! And it turns out that, by posting whenever I want, usually on Mondays, I’m doing it wrong! Apparently, Friday at 1 p.m. is kind of a perfect time to tell you that Page & Spine published my new poem “Two Short Weeks” today. It’s about the innocence of young love and I’m so happy to see it up!

After you read that, you may want to check out Is There a Best Time or Day to Post My Blog?, and The Best Times to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Media Sites (who writes these titles?). These are two of the sites I read in my rapid, unstructured research this morning. (Note to serious people who are looking for actual advice: You are in the wrong place. I did not analyze the sites for credibility, reliability, or edibility. So do your own research before trying this at home.)

Anyway, Friday at 1 p.m. is a good time for Facebook users, who (apparently) are starting their weekends a little early by spying on their friends from work. And for blogs, just about anytime is good, really, as long as it’s consistent. Which I have been spotty about.

My new experiment and announcement all rolled into one: I’m going to start posting on…wait for it…Fridays at 1:00. Rocket science, right?

I have no idea if this will work, but I can’t see how it will hurt. That’s almost like winning the lotto for us optimists!

If you’ve read other research, or have your own prized and highly guarded metrics for when you post online, I would love to hear!


Photo credit: Anders Lagerås – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

How to Hate Your Novel in Less Than a Year

Okay, writers, I need some serious help.

I’m working on revisions for my novel, swollen at current count to 288 pages and 58,000 words. If I ever want my book to make it off my computer and into a bookstore (yes, this one in France would be nice), then I need to get crackin’.

I don’t have an MFA. I’ve never attended a “Write Your Novel in a Year” workshop. In other words, I’m making this up as I go.

This is pretty normal for me, given my over-inflated sense of my own capabilities. It’s like when I was a counselor at Malibu Young Life Camp as a college student, and we needed a waterski instructor. I volunteered.

“Ever waterskied?” asked the camp director.

Like that matters, I thought.

Anyway, here’s my current strategy: I’ve got a list of things to add or change during revisions. I’ve already done the easy things, like using the “replace” function to contract “I am” to “I’m” (my characters are teens, after all), and I’ve finally figured out the main character’s class schedule—for a while she had three different classes 5th period. I’m left with a list of comments like, “Make sure this character always chooses to joke around instead of sharing her true feelings.” These are not quick, simple edits—they require major corrective surgery.

Did I mention that this list is six pages long?

Since I can’t hold six pages of anything in my head, I’m re-reading my novel revising for related issues—as many as will fit on two sticky notes. I estimate I will need to read my novel all the way through maybe, oh, fifteen more times.

I am going to hate this book before I’m done with it. How did God do it? He worked on his book for hundreds of years!

So, if you’re out there, in the whole wide world of the Internet, and you get this message, please, I’m begging you with the very few shreds of sanity left me, please leave a comment, and tell me there is a better way.

And, of course, please tell me what it is. Now would be good.


Image credit: By ignis (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons