Saturday, September 13, 2014

UMSL's Write Stuff Program: Chancellor's Certificate in Writing, Focused Seminars, Business Writing and More

UMSL's Write Stuff Program offers St. Louis area writers the opportunity to "learn from experts and enhance your skills." 

Writers interested in earning a Chancellor's Certificate in Writing:

* Complete a total of 50 contact hours 

* Contact hours include:

 ** Two core courses (one fiction and one nonfiction) taught by top students in UMSL's distinguished Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program 

 ** And focused seminars on a wide variety of topics (including business writing) 

Writers wanting to improve their writing skills but not interested in earning a certificate:

** Can pick and choose from a variety of classes or seminars that interest them

All seminars are taught by published authors

For more information on The Write Stuff Certificate Program or to register, please call (314) 516-7454.

This month, multi-published, award-winning author and writing teacher Dianna Graveman will give a seminar on: 

Writing for Dollars: Earn Income as a Freelancer

The seminar will be Saturday September 20 from 1-4

Here's a description of the seminar: "You've written a short story or have a great idea for a magazine article or personal essay. Now what? Where and how can you get it published and earn money for your work? Find places to publish, choose a market for your story, pitch an article, and more. Come away from this class with a wealth of information about how to start writing for dollars."

Two Business Writing Seminars will also be presented this month: 

Business Writing Seminars will count toward the contact hours needed for the Write Stuff Certificate. 

Business writing seminars are $65 each, or you may register for both on the same day for $100 each. Onsite training is available for a group of 10 or more participants. Please call for special pricing and scheduling options.

* Grammar and Punctuation for the Business Professional

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 • 9 AM–Noon  
Creativity and industry knowledge are building blocks for effective business writing, but common errors in grammar and punctuation can undermine the best efforts. Join this collaborative workshop to refresh your knowledge or to continue to build stronger skills.

* Telling the Story: Narrative Writing for Business Professionals

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 • 1–4 PM  
Storytelling skills aren’t just for novelists; business professionals use narrative writing, too – to weave scenarios, present case studies, develop compelling training modules, craft great blog posts, compose winning press releases, and more. Learn how to craft a piece that will hook your audience, engage them, and send them off with a memorable message.

For more information, visit the Write Stuff Program website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

The last two weeks have been stormy, with strong winds, rain, hail, thunder, and lightning piercing the days and nights.

And. over those weekends, when my hubby, grandson, and I made trips to our house in Osage County, we could tell the storms that passed through had left their marks.

Driving the half-mile from the county road to our house, we found several branches down. Dark green palm-like cedar branches littered the road, while yellowish-orange globs of persimmons lined the sides of the road. Persimmons must be good eating because flocks of turkeys gather near the base of the persimmon trees.

When we made the curve to where the woods part into an open field, I spotted the old oak tree (on the left) in the cemetery had lost two large limbs.

I spent most of one day trimming small branches from the large limbs and putting them into the area where the guys collect firewood. My hubby and grandson (mostly) use the small branches for bonfires during deer season. And once the large limbs are cut down, the larger hunks of wood will warm our home on cold winter nights.

As I cut down and hauled off the detritus, I wondered how old the tree is. My hubby's guess is more than a century. I wish that oak tree could talk; what amazing stories it could tell.

Of the hundreds of trees on our property, the old oak took the biggest hit, but it wasn't the only one that took a good shaking during the late summer storms.

Several walnut and pecan trees lost limbs --  and countless nuts. Pear trees also lost some branches--and mostly unripe pears littered the ground. I gathered bags full of nuts from the trees nearest our house and a few of the palatable pears and laid them out on a towel on top of a table.

Squirrels were especially busy under the pecan tree near the porch, gathering their bounty then dashing across the gravel driveway to the nearest outbuilding, where they must be storing the nuts for the winter.

If the large amount of nuts, acorns, and fruit weighing down the trees on our property is any indication of what's to come, we're in for a cold winter.

On Labor Day weekend, we went to a neighbor's farm for an end-of-summer party, which our host described as a  "Hillbilly Hootenanny," complete with a shared pot luck dinner, swimming, line dancing on the backyard deck, and Karaoke performances. Some folks, from as far away as Linn and Jefferson City, remarked about how they'd also lost trees during the stormy weather.

By the time we returned home, I was sore from all the bending, stretching, and hauling, but I also felt peace after being out in the country, communing with nature and spending time with our neighbors.

While there was a whole lot of shaking going on, and the storms knocked down tree branches and limbs, the storms also left behind easy pickings for wildlife.

I believe from time-to-time it's necessary to shake things up and change. And so, the cycle of life continues. Storms pass and leave their marks, but goodness and bounty prevail.

Friday, August 29, 2014

CCMWG's Write Direction Conference 2014

The Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild will hold its annual  "Write Direction" conference on Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 8:30-4:00 at the Unity Center, 1600 W. Broadway in Columbia, MO. 

Early-bird registration (by Sep 26) is only $35 for CCMWG members and $40 for non-members. 

Registration includes:
* Choice of break-out sessions,
* Sales/exhibition space in author’s hall,

* Breakfast snacks, lunch, afternoon tea

Keynote speaker Terry Allen will talk about "Writing Dialogue" and "Writing in Shadows and Fog." Dr. Allen is Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire who taught courses in playwriting, directing, acting, stage movement, theatre history, theatre of the Holocaust, and American cinema for thirty-four years. 

Alan Proctor: "Submitting your Poetry: What Poetry Editors Want." Alan Proctor is a poetry editor for Kansas City Voices, a former humor columnist, tree surgeon, Vice President of a public university and classical guitarist. 

Mary Horner: "Write like a pro to sell your nonfiction writing." Mary is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, a guide to help you write like a professional. She teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. 

Linda Rodriguez: "Riding the Tiger: Writing and Publishing Novels with a Big Five Publisher in a Chaotic Time of Transition."  Linda Rodriguez’s third Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear (St. Martin’s/Minotaur), will be published May 5, 2014. 

Mary-Lane Kamberg: “What’s So Funny?” Put your sense of humor on paper. Her workshop includes practical advice for using humor in poetry and following the narrative form for humorous essays. Mary is a professional writer with more than twenty years’ experience. She is the author of 27 books. Her articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Marriage and Family Living, Christian Science Monitor, Healthy Kids and many others.

Gerado Mena:  "Unleashing your Inner Voice." His workshop includes generating material, sifting, and creating poems using modern structural techniques. War Poetry: (Closing Session) Iraq.  In this workshop he will read from his poetry book The Shape of Our Faces No Longer Matters and will share his journey from a head full of bad memories to a book of war poems. Gerardo Mena is a decorated Iraqi Freedom veteran. He spent six years in Spec Ops with the Reconnaissance Marines and was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal with a V for Valor for multiple acts of bravery.  His poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Ploughshares, Best New Poets 2011, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere.

For complete details, visit the CCMWG site.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beautiful Missouri: Saints and Sinners in Stained Glass

When I started this blog, my purpose was to post about writing, books, publishing, and life’s sweet mysteries – and to avoid politics and divisive or controversial topics.

But the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri – just twenty miles away from my home – are impossible to ignore.

However, rather than commenting on the heartbreaking situation and disturbing images coming out of Ferguson, I’ve decided to post some beautiful images that can be found in my beloved home state of Missouri.

Earlier this summer, my sister Kathleen and I took a day trip through Osage County. Our tour was called “Gospels in Glass,” which included traveling to several churches in Osage County -- and one across the county line in Maries County.

Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain
Our on-the-bus tour guides were Ken Luebbering and Robyn Burnett, whose guide book, “Gospels in Glass: Stained Glass Windows in Missouri Churches,” published by Pebbles Publishing, was included in our tour price. Pebbles Publishing, a small press located in Rocheport, specializes in books about Missouri heritage, travel and adventure.

The 144-page Gospels in Glass depicts stained glass windows in churches and synagogues throughout Missouri—from Cape Girardeau to St. Joseph; St. Louis to Kansas City; and St. Patrick to Carthage.

During our trip, we got a sampling of the many artistic displays in the book, as well others not found in the book. We also learned about the rich history of German settlements in Missouri; Ken and Robyn also wrote German Settlement in Missouri: New Land, Old Ways (University of Missouri Press).

St. Gertrude
We learned about iconography and symbolism, techniques for creating stained glass, snippets of information about the artists, and some history of the Emil Frei Company in St. Louis, which is known nationally and internationally for its stained glass craftsmanship.

Churches included in our tour were:

* Sacred Heart Church in Rich Fountain, founded in 1838. The parish’s German and farming heritage was evident by windows of German saints, such as St. Gertrude, the patron saint invoked against rodents. 

Standing at the front of the high altar, Ken explained the significance of the Sacrifice of Melchizedek and “Abraham’s Sacrifice” on opposite sides of the altar. 
St. Joseph, Westphalia

Draped over the wooden pews were the hand-made quilts that were to be auctioned off at the parish picnic.

* St. Joseph in Westphalia, with stained glass windows of many saints, including: St. Hubert, St. Conrad with the spider on his chalice, and St. Herman holding the Christ Child. 

We learned about the legend of the pelican and significance of sacrifice in church iconography, not just Catholic, but also Protestant.

* Holy Family in Freeburg, called the “The Cathedral of the Ozarks,” which, we were told by the pastor, is the last church in Missouri with Twin Spires. 

Holy Family
The abstract representations of grapes and wheat allowed vibrant light to flow through the windows.

* Visitation Church in Vienna in Maries County, with its less-traditional windows that are technically different from those earlier in the day.Although several of the windows were out for repairs, the ones we saw were lovely.

This is just a small sample of the beautiful images throughout Missouri, although I’m certain if you look, you can find beauty everywhere – not only in churches, stained glass windows, or handmade quilts, but also in nature – and in residents of the Show Me State.
Visitation, Maries County

How about you? Where can you find some beautiful images in Missouri?










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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Call for Submissions: Harness Anthologies from Rocking Horse Publishing

Rocking Horse Publishing is seeking submissions for four new anthologies for its new imprint, Harness Anthologies.

The St. Louis-area small publishing company will release four anthologies each year beginning in January 2015.

The proposed anthology titles are:

Solstice: A Winter Anthology  
Empty Nests: Parents, Old and New  
The American Dream: Then and Now
Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories Volume II  

Visit the RHP website for complete submission information, including word counts, submission dates, and expected publication dates.

According to the Harness Anthologies page of RHP website, payment is two contributor copies.

Monday, August 11, 2014

High Hill Press Wins a Spur Award from Western Writers of America

My friend Lou Turner, publisher of High Hill Press, is a huge fan of Westerns -- books and movies. 

She tells the story of when she was young she once wrote a fan letter to John Wayne -- and she got an answer. Somehow the letter got lost in one of her moves from Central Illinois to Missouri, but she still has a life-size cutout of "The Duke" in her house.

So, it's no surprise that after she and her husband Bryan started HHP several years ago they decided to publish western novels and anthologies. 

Their hard work, dedication, and commitment to the Western genre recently paid off when High Hill Press won a Spur Award from Western Writers of America for the best Western short story, "Cabin Fever," by Brett Cogburn, which appears in Cactus Country III. 

HHP was also a finalist for another short story, "Chouteau's Crossing," by McKendrie Long, which appears in the Rough Country anthology.

I took the photo of Lou (above) during one of our weekly critique group sessions. She's holding her spur and a copy of Cactus Country III.

If you are a fan of the western genre, check out the High Hill Press website, where you can find western novels and anthologies published by HHP. 

And, if you write about the West, visit HHP for information about submission guidelines.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Book Editor (Part II)

During her visit to Saturday Writers, Jane Henderson answered questions from the audience. She was engaging and thorough when she explained the review selection process and candid and encouraging when she gave tips for local writers and publishers on how and when to submit their books for review.

Here's a summary of what I learned:

* All books, including children’s books, should be sent directly to Jane Henderson at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

* You do not need permission to submit a book for review.

* About six weeks ahead of the event/release date, send her a heads up e-mail that you will be submitting a book (galley or ARC) for review consideration.

* No later than four weeks before the release date or event, submit the book (galley or ARC).

* She has to have a physical copy. (I took this to mean no e-books or PDF files.) 
           
* Succinctly summarize (in a couple lines) why Post-Dispatch readers would be interested in the book.

* Describe the local connection, if any.

* Mention if there's a local event planned—date, time, location, etc.

* Include the date of publication, price of the book, and name of the publisher.

* It’s okay to send one additional follow-up e-mail to make sure the book was received.

* But, sending more than two or three reminders can be counterproductive.

* Jane mentioned that the newspaper uses metrics of online readership to determine which reviews, features, and types of books readers are most interested in reading about. These metrics are used when selecting books for future reviews. 

* Here is a selection of newsworthy items that have appeared recently in the PD book section/book blog.

            A review of Gravity Box written by local author Mark Tiedemann and published by WalrusPublishing, a local press.

            A feature about esteemed local writer William Gass on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

            A feature about the October literary festival, Lit in the Lou.   

           Weekly listings of best-selling books.
  
Final note:  Jane's talk confirmed my belief that writers can generate interest and get more visibility for books and book reviews by visiting the Post-Dispatch online book section and book blog site regularly. I visit them several times a week to make sure I don’t miss any news about books, publishing, local authors, or special book-related events.