Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Mainstreet Rag Publishing is going strong

Often I receive news that one of our western NC writers has published a book with Mainstreet Rag Publishing Company.

Today I checked out the website and found recommendations for submitting to contests. I think the judges' comments are excellent and could be of help to all of us who enter our poems or our poetry books in competitions. 

MainStreet Rag Publishing Company has been publishing the print magazine, The Main Street Rag, uninterrupted since 1996. Among its features are poetry, short fiction, photography, essays, interviews, reviews, and commentary. I was honored to have a couple of my poems published in the literary journal some years ago.

If we subscribe to the Mainstreet Rag magazine, our fees for submission to contests are discounted. I feel safe recommending Main Street Rag because they have been around a long time, and M. Scott Douglass, Publisher/Managing Editor is well-known and employs excellent editors and judges for his contests.  Read more at :

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tips for Aspiring Authors

Tips from Kelly Starling Lyons.... poet laureate of the Piedmont - children's book author

Tips for Aspiring Authors

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was: "writers write." Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It's not. Lots of people dream of writing their memoirs or the great American novel. But how many work on it every day, inching their way to that goal word by word?

I'm guilty of procrastinating too. So many things are easier than writing -- cleaning the house, working out, pulling weeds. Here are some ideas to stop deferring your dream and make it happen:

1. Find a time to write each day. Even if you just have 10 minutes to spare, sit down and make it count.

2. Believe you can do it.

3. Break a big assignment into smaller parts. You want to write a novel? Start with page one. Maybe next week, you will write another page or 10. Stay consistent and you'll reach the finish line.

4. Write anything. Sometimes the hardest part is facing that blank page or computer screen. Silence your internal critic and write whatever you're thinking -- even if it doesn't make sense. The goal is to get your creativity flowing.

5. Cut off the phone and turn off the TV. If you have children, ask your spouse, relative or friend to watch them while you work. While you're at it, stay off the web unless you're researching for your piece. Surfing can be fun but it steals time from your dream.

6. Say no. If you're one of those people who gets pulled every which way, start turning down some requests. If you don't care about your goal, no one else will.

7. Keep a dream book. Now, I'm not talking about one of those old-school paperbacks that depending on what you dreamed at night had a list of lottery numbers to play. I mean create a journal where you chop down the limits in your mind and let your imagination soar. What do you want to write? Why? Who do you want to be?

8. Reward yourself. Kids love incentives for completing a task. So do we. Make a pledge that if you meet your writing goal -- writing every day for a month or an hour each week, whatever you decide -- you'll treat yourself to something special.

9. Surround yourself with doers. To be able to dream, think around boundaries, is a gift. But you need a healthy dose of grit to make it come true. Cultivate friends who already have that drive and take a cue from them.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Writers' Night Out on Zoom June 11

Friday evening, June 11,7:00 PM, I will host Writers' Night Out on Zoom from my home.
We are excited to have as our featured guest, P.C. Zick, author of over thirty books. P.C. is a woman writer who lives in Tallahassee, Florida, but during the summer she lives in Murphy, NC, not far from my home in Hayesville, NC.

I look forward to our conversation that night and to P.C. reading from some of her publications.
She writes contemporary fiction, romance novels, and nonfiction books. I found that her book, The Author's Journey, a road map for writers from draft to published book, a necessary part of my library, and I refer to it often as well as use it when teaching my writing students.

If you are a regular reader of this blog and would like to join us Friday evening on Zoom, contact me by email and I can send you the link to the meeting.

P.C. Zick is a woman whose name is Pat, and I look forward to learning why she writes using her initials. 

If you want to know more about this author, check out her website: www.pczick.com  

Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day remembering those who lost their lives serving our country.

During World War II, I had two cousins, born long before I came into this world, who served in the military after President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan, December 8, 1941. The young men had recently graduated high school.

My aunt Doll and Uncle Avon were devastated when their only son, Henry was killed in an airplane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. He was flying a plane and pulling a target for other planes to practice hitting. He plane was shot down by "friendly fire." Henry's body was never found. His unborn son would never see his father. Today, that son still misses the father who never held him, played with him or saw his success in sports when he was in school. That son has become a highly successful scientist in his field and author of two excellent, researched nonfiction books. 

I will never forget going to the home of my aunt and uncle and seeing them cry, broken-hearted, as they told of the horror of losing their beloved son. I was told that my uncle walked the beach day after day while his son's body was searched for in the Gulf, but had to come home without Henry. 


Another cousin who died during that war was the son of Aunt Lottie and Uncle Horace, brother of my father who had four sons.  My brother, Ray, served in the United States Navy, but never saw combat or went overseas. Horace had a daughter, Kathryn, and a son, Clyde Horace Council, Jr.. Clyde, tall and handsome, became an officer in the Air Force. His mother adored him. I have a photograph of the two of them. Clyde was only twenty-two years old when he was killed. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Another veteran I knew who died serving in the military was a neighbor named Sam. He was sent to Viet Nam and was killed the day after he arrived. His parents mourned his death for the rest of their lives. He was too young to go, but his father had signed for him to go early. I know that guilt must have weighed heavy on that man's heart.

These are the men I think about on Memorial Day, and their families who sacrificed so much.

If you need to buy a gift, check out this site.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Last Class for Now

Tuesday will be the last of a series of classes I have been teaching for the Institute of Continuing Learning at Young Harris College, Young Harris, Georgia.

I hope to teach again in the fall and I hope to teach online. This has been a very good experience for me and for my students, some who live long distances from here. It is very satisfying to see my students grow in their writing and enjoy it as well. This group has been the most dedicated class of the three I taught this year. 

I saw a conversation between Dr. Fauci who is 80 years old and Jane Brody, a woman his age who works in public health. They both said they have no plans to retire and enjoy what they do. Dr. Fauci said he takes long walks every day and eats properly to stay in shape. He said at one point last year he was only getting about four hours of sleep at night, but his wife reminded him that this pandemic was like a marathon and will be going on a while, so he had to take care of himself.

Many men and women who are way past retirement age still go to work every day and do a great job. I wish the media would concentrate on their stories. 
We should not write off a person once he is past retirement age because most of the older generation I know are leading active lives. Dr. Fauci said when he does retire, he plans to write a memoir and also articles. I look forward to his memoir where he can tell what really happened during 2020.

So many people are writing their stories now. Memoirs are the top sellers after romance novels. 
I'd better get busy with my own book. And I hope my students will continue to write all summer and join me again in class next fall.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Writers' Night Out featured Karen Paul Holmes

Writers' Night Out was held on Zoom Friday evening. 
Our featured poet was ill and could not participate, so Karen Paul Holmes stepped in and did a fantastic job reading some of her poems and then she gave us a brief program on how writers can learn from song lyrics by famous people like Paul Simon and others whose musical lyrics read like a poem. They use rhyme both internal and end rhyme and alliteration is often a part of song lyrics. I have always been drawn to song lyrics by people like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I am a fan of the late John Denver and the lyrics to his songs are fabulous. 

Our writing reads better when we create rhythm in poetry and in prose. The late Terry Kay, Georgia author, said we can add rhythm to prose by writing both long and short sentences. I find that reading my prose aloud helps me see where I need to break up the words, give the narrative a punch with a short sentence and then a longer sentence. I tell my students to break up paragraphs. Readers like more white space and not long stretches of expositional writing unless you are Pat Conroy and can describe the marshlands of the South Carolina Coast with images that grab anyone who can read.

I am thrilled to have Terry Kay sign a book for me.

We often get so caught up in what we want to say that we forget the best way to say it. Writing is a literary art and we learn the rules and tools we need, but we must also learn the art of how to use language to reach our readers and hold their interests. 

Do you find yourself skipping long parts of a book or story when there is no action, nothing is happening and the language is dull? I know avid readers who say that there must be something happening to hold their interests. Dialogue is one way to attract the reader, but it must be natural to the story and should help move the story along. We find that dialogue is important in writing narrative nonfiction as well as fiction. 

Karen gave us all something to think about last evening. Karen teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. I took a weekend class there a few years ago when she taught this subject and was inspired to write some of poems I am very pleased with.

WNO will meet again next month on the second Friday evening on Zoom at 7:00 PM. Our guest will be the Poet Laureate of the Piedmont. We look forward to meeting her and hearing her poetry.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mountain Wordsmiths

Carroll Taylor will host Mountain Wordsmiths Thursday, April 22,  at 10:30 AM Eastern time.
Bob Grove, the author of over twenty books, will be featured. His short stories are usually humorous and sometimes touching. Everyone enjoys Bob's readings.
Writers are invited to join in with a poem or short prose piece for Open Mic. 

This event, sponsored by NCWN-West, is held on Zoom as are most of our writing events at this time. To join us, email Carroll Taylor
vibiaperpetua@gmail.com for an invitation before 10:00 AM Thursday.