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Touching Base

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been several days since my last appearance here. I’ve had a friend and colleague visiting for the past several days. Meena Rose graced us with her loveliness and brilliance.

Today has been one of cleansing websites, blogs, and general upkeep on the net. It’s amazing how much crud accumulates on a daily basis and then has to be swept out of the corners during housekeeping. During the process of this upkeep, we’ve been moving our personal blogs over to Two Voices, One Song.

This is an attempt to reduce our continued workload.  Each of us have other projects we’d really like to get back to. Having everything in one place will make that easier for us.

My blog Claudsy’s Calliope is being moved and reorganized as I write this. Claudsy’s Blog will be the next in line for the transfer.

Tomorrow I will post a new URL for this blog so that all of  its followers can decide whether they want to remain loyal and move with it or to cut ties and run. I’m hoping that everyone stays with Claudsy’s Blog and Calliope. I have plenty more to say and things I’d like to work on within the blogs.

There you have it, folks. I’ve so enjoyed having everyone coming here, and I admit a sense of guilt this past month or so for having been absent so much. I should be able to write more frequently on the blogs once all is together. That’s my current plan.

Remember–it will be one-stop-shopping at Two Voices, One Song at http://www.2voices1one.com/

Hope to see you there soon. A bientot,

Claudsy

 

New Project For Fall

July 31, 2012 2 comments

 

I need opinions from readers. I’m contemplating putting together a new chapbook of Poetry Pages like this one, where the photo provides the inspiration for the poem.

I’d like to know if you, the reader 1.) think this is a viable project, 2.) have suggestions for changes to poem placement, or 3) think that a different poem should be used for this photo.

See, not so hard. Just leave a comment to let me know what you think and why. I take all suggestions seriously. And thank you in advance, for taking the time to at least look at this.

Until later,

Claudsy

 

E.C.’s and Finite Walls

June 5, 2012 2 comments
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently learned that a controversy brewed about the real use of the editorial calendar. I’m new to this tool of the writing business, but I never realized that such a tool could have so many sides. Who knew that which deadline date one uses was controversial?

Here you have spreadsheet with columns and rows of items. Columns, for me, relate to the days of the week. The rows house the activities required for those days. Some people use the opposite approach. Call me traditional with calendars. Days belong across the top of the sheet.

Those activities plugged into the spreadsheet range from book chapters that must go to a critique partner/group to poem revisions necessary before submitting a packet to a magazine. Everything goes on the calendar; at least in my work world. I also need to allot for time spent on said activity. I know. I’m a bit anal due to having so many projects on the board.

The one thing that I don’t understand about this calendar debate is why it exists. Yes, some writers use a submission deadline date supplied by the magazine, publisher, agent, etc. Others like me, like lots of cushion to account for unforeseen circumstances, and plug a project into a day prior to the actual deadline date.

Isn’t it a matter of needs?

Everyone has a specific way of thinking about work and deadlines. I see deadlines as finite walls. There are no doors in those walls. If I can’t make a deadline, it’s my fault. I knew it was there. I knew what I needed to do. If I don’t make it, it’s because I didn’t prepare adequately to get the job done. It’s really that simple.

In order to make the deadline, I place a date a few days prior to that of the finite wall. In the back of my mind, I know that cushion is built in. In the day-to-day work, though, that realization tends to disappear. My calendar tells me that I need to have something done on a specific day. And that’s what I do.

Others may not need that cushion. They work better under pressure to make deadline. That’s how their creativity erupts; but a sense of immediate need.

I work on a monthly calendar and a weekly one. One gives a longer overview, especially because of coursework I need to keep in mind. The short week calendar gives me detail on upcoming work and deadlines. They operate in tandem to give me all I need to keep my activity level constant.

I haven’t been doing a calendar prior to May. I don’t enjoy the time spent creating them. For me, it’s tedious, but the hour or two I spend on those spreadsheets saves me tons in frustration, panic, and unnecessary backtracking. It’s time so well spent that I doubt I would ever go without one again.

Tell me about your experience with editorial calendars. Has your E.C. friend saved you from disgrace, time lost, lack of production? Drop it in a comment. Sharing is always good. If you have different take on this subject, let us see that, too.

Later, all. A bientot,

Claudsy

Rampant Insanity vs. Purpose

May 24, 2012 6 comments
English: The seconds pendulum, a pendulum with...

English: The seconds pendulum, a pendulum with a period of two seconds so each swing takes one second http://weelookang.blogspot.com/2010/06/physical-quantities-and-units.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most readers here know that I write on occasion in reaction to things in the news. I troll news feeds looking for subject matter for all sorts of things, including poetry. This morning I took my inspiration from my Facebook home page.

A couple of my writer friends had posted links to two stories that left my reactions in a chaotic state of pendulum swing.

The first story reported about a group of 64 high school seniors who were suspended for riding bicycles to school on the same day. You did read that correctly. This Michigan student group merely rode to school on bikes, escorted by police, sanctioned and lauded by the mayor, and then punished for the act.

Can someone point out to me the sanity peeking out of this story? The one official who should have applauded the students’ behavior was the one having conniptions at the other end of it. The principal’s reason for her hysterical reaction? They could have gotten hurt, hit by a car or worse! This with a police escort and the mayor’s approval?

Now you can see the reason for my immediate response. Insanity holds the reins of the school.

Okay, so that’s a bit strong, I admit. The principal’s reaction, however, was far more out of connection with reality than mine. I have my own suspicions as to the real trigger for her reaction.

The point is that just the day before it was reported on Yahoo that a four-year-old girl was kept from inclusion in her class photo because she had her hair up in a bow. Her very neat and tidy hair kept her out of a photo.

Am I the only one who thinks perhaps those presently in charge of schools need a check-up? It seems to me that the irrational responses by school leadership in the past few years are spreading rapidly. But hey, retired teachers can have opinions, too.

When I got to the second story, I could do little but smile. It was about a photographer, Bob Carey, who for the last nine years has traveled around the country taking self-portraits wearing little other than a Pink Tutu. You may have seen the Today Show segment on this man and his inspiration, his wife, Linda.

Bob’s Pink Tutu Project is his response to Linda’s constant battle with cancer, which began nine years ago with breast cancer. He talked with Matt Lauer about getting his courage and inspiration to do the tutu photos by watching Linda journey through her disease. The two now work diligently to make the Project mean something for everyone, everywhere.

Linda talked about knowing that her battle will never go away, that ultimately she will lose. For anyone who’s gone through the battle, either in their own body or watched a loved one take up arms against the disease, this story could bring a smile that means more than a silly pink tutu.

I’ve been there more times than I care to think about with loved ones. As I watched the replay of this broadcast, I wondered how many other spouses do silly, smile-inducing acts to bring relief for a little while to their loved-one. Laughter is medicine. It does help during the battle. And Bob has made his stand for Linda and all the others who sit in chemo chairs each day or have radiation to burn out the invader.

When I look at these two stories, side by side, I wonder at the diversity of response to activities around us. An over-the-top reaction to something wholesome and normal for kids, and an over-the-top response for the good of others who can’t do it for themselves; which would you choose for yourself?

Drop in a comment. Tell me how you see these two events and their impact. I’d be interested to see what you have to say.

Until then, a bientot,

Claudsy

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Liebster Award–Surprising Turn from Rejection

May 13, 2012 27 comments

Coming home from any trip, short or long, requires a person to reacquaint herself with location, premises, and obligations therein. Ask anyone who travels semi-regularly.

When I returned today from Central Washington, fatigue schlepped my belongings upstairs, unlocked the door and returned to the car for another load. Sister did the same. Once ensconced inside, again occupying our apartment, the next order of business was computer, email, and whatever had darkened our cyber thresholds during our absence.

Embedded within the hundred plus emails of my main inbox were two from editors. I didn’t need to read them. I knew they contained rejections. They’d arrived too quickly from new venues I’d submitted to the previous week.

Rejection

Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They sat there, staring at me, daring me to protest. I couldn’t. Rejections are a fact of life for every writer. The first time I saw Jane Yolen post about receiving a rejection for a story, I almost cheered; not because she’d received bad news, but because she’d received bad news was willing to flaunt that rejection on Facebook for all the world to see.

I gathered strength from that act of personal/professional bravery on Jane’s part. She was the first well-known working writer whom I’d seen admit to receiving that palest of pink slips from an editor. Hope sprang to my heart. Perhaps I wasn’t a terrible writer after all.

Now, all this time later, I’ve begun racking in my own pile of pale pink slips. I’ve an area of wall beside my desk which will soon be decorated with them as a constant reminder that if I stop receiving them, it’s because I’m not sending out any work for judgment. The reminder to keep writing will be lurking, available for loud recriminations should I forget.

After I’d dealt with mail, uploaded work to go out for guest blog this coming week and another small bit of brainstorming I’d done yesterday, As soon as I got up from a short nap, I returned to my secondary email inbox and found another rejection. The personal note was nice. Still, it will go on my Wall of Encouragement.

All of this rejection could have turned maudlin, but I was saved by Randy Bell. Randy is a super-duper poet with an engaging personality and talent. I found his comment on Claudsy’s Blog about dropping in to collect my Award. I was confused. Award?

I did as instructed and slipped over to his second abode, “Coudfactor5.” He’d posted a lovely piece about poetry and encouragement and how Jlynn Sheridan had honored him with a Liebster Award for creating and operating a killer blog. This award of appreciation goes around the blog-o-sphere on a regular basis, and personally, I’m so happy that someone felt I deserved one.

Thank you so much, Randy, for this show of your recognition of my work.

The rejections received over the weekend and the anticipated future rejections melted into a puddle of inconsequential trivia. This one small mark of appreciation was worth so much more than all the rest. Suddenly, I was vindicated. The sunshine returned to my day.

There are obligations tacked onto this Liebster Award. They are:

  1. link back to who nominated you (see my “Thank you” below)
  2. nominate five blogs with fewer than 200 follows (see my “blog noms” below!)
  3. let nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites; and
  4. add the award image to your site

I thought long and hard about nominations. I’ve been surfing for weeks, looking into others’ writing, blogging, and aspirations. This was a concrete way to keep the appreciation moving along. I’ve read so many marvelous sites, learned so much about writers, known and unknown, that whittling down to five nominees was ridiculously difficult. I did choose my short list, finally, with regret that I couldn’t send out one to everybody.

I chose those who’ve worked hard and long to bring a blog into fruition and who have given the reader thoughtful content and peeks at talents yet to emerge. I’ve awarded the Liebster Award to:

Cindy Brown for all of the humor rolling down the aisle of her blog “Everyday Underwear”

Lori Tian Sailiata (aka Lara Britt) for her honest and exploring blog “Writing Space”

Jeannine Bergers Everett for her “tell it like it is” parenting blog  that’s funny, real, and masquerades as the reason she writes great poetry.

Linda G. Hatton for her blog which doubles as a collector of loyal customers for her poetry challenges, discussions, and encouragement.

Kirra Antrobus and her quietly provoking blog “Thoughtful”  where the reader is required to pause, ponder, and prepare for answers unexpected.

Thank you again, Randy, for finding me worthy of both your attention and you nomination for this Liebster Award.

Discouraged and Disjointed

May 9, 2012 15 comments
maths

maths (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

While I was on Facebook this morning, I read a short conversation that took place yesterday between two of my closer friends; one from years past and close to my heart, the other newly formed and also close enough to hear my heartbeat.

What struck me as interesting was the subject of their discussion. They talked about poetry. Not just any poetry, but about well-known Sufi poets, both those of many decades or more past, as well as those of more contemporary times.

That subject isn’t one you can find lying around the average library when seeking good reading material. It struck me as relevant, too, that my older friend hasn’t been reading from these poets for very long. He’d discovered them after taking a recommendation from a newer acquaintance. An early morning discussion of Sufi philosophy isn’t usual FB fare, but it happens sometimes between educated people.

I realize that this doesn’t seem significant to the average reader. What makes it significant is that it came on the heels of a report I read this past week on the Illiteracy Reality that was released recently. The numbers on that report would make anyone stand up and protest or sit down in total discouragement.

According to the latest and greatest research, the current number of American adults, classified as functionally illiterate increases by 2.25 million each year.

Stop and think about that for just one second. It equates to having an equivalent population to the city of St. Louis joining the ranks of those who’re reading below a 5th grade level. The number of people who are able to do routine math is even more dismal.

Here’s another factoid for you. When I worked corporate, albeit many years ago for one of the Fortune 500, I was asked to simplify my internal memos. Why? Because, my informant replied, the language structure accepted by upper echelon never exceeds 8th grade reading level. Everyone else, used 5th grade level to communicate.

I was stunned, to say the least. I suppose it comes from jargon needs. Jargon? Oh yeah. Every industry as its own jargon/language. Even fast food joints. This verbal shorthand makes communicating between employees faster, easier, and less likely to confuse the employees.

My question is this: if top level executives at some of the largest corporations in the world need to have internal memos at such a low level of reading competency, can we expect our school children to perform any better?

For long years now, a controversy has been slowly gaining momentum regarding the dumbing down of our school children and our overall population. Here are some numbers that were in this recent report. Once you’ve read them, think about the impact of those numbers on the future. Then go back to the top of this post and think about that conversation between my two friends.

The report cited these numbers:

  • 42 million Americans can’t read at all
  • 50 million read below the 5th grade level
  • 20% of graduating HS seniors are classified as illiterate
  • Only 42% of Americans can order two items on a menu, add them up, and calculate the tip
  • Only 1 in 5 can calculate mortgage interest
  • 1 in 5 can’t calculate weekly salary when given an hourly pay rate
  • Only 13% are “proficient” in math: 1 in 10 women, 1 in 25 Hispanics, 1 in 15 African Americans made the grade
  • 20 million Americans pay someone else to fill out a 1040EZ tax form w/10 blanks to fill in
  • US is ranked 25th in the world of industrialized nations in Math, while US students believe their scores are the highest in the world.
  • One half of all 17 yr. olds don’t have the math skills to work in an auto plant

If these numbers are a mere 50% accurate, we’re worse off than anticipated, dreamt, or feared. I suppose that’s why I had such a strong reaction to reading the FB discussion yesterday. Below, you’ll find the links to find the raw numbers that produced the report I found. Try them on for yourself.

If you come to different conclusions, please bring them here and air them out. I’d like to think that this isn’t true.

Resources:

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/illiteracy-in-america-infographic_b51032

http://www.nrrf.org/research.htm

http://nces.ed.gov/naal

 

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Guest Blogging with Food

May 8, 2012 3 comments
Chris Smith The Diabetic Chef® Autographing hi...

Chris Smith The Diabetic Chef® Autographing his first cookbook: Cooking with The Diabetic Chef® (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a quick heads-up for whomever drops in today. I have a guest blog up this morning on Pat McDermott’s all things cooking website.

I disclose my experience with writing a cookbook for the first time. It hasn’t been the hardest project I’ve taken up, but it has been the tastiest. When you develop new recipes that hold restrictions like cakes with no sugar or low sodium meat entrees, cooking becomes a double challenge.

That’s what my cookbook partners and I are dealing with. At the end of the process, and before the last “T” is crossed or “I” dotted, we’re having a Taste-Testing party with our appetizers and desserts, invitation only. That’s a lot of work for senior women with a passion for food, but it’s work that satisfies in more than one way.

If you get the chance today, stop by Pat’s kitchen to see what’s cooking. If nothing else, you’ll find sumptuous recipes with full photos. Food lovers beware. You may be there a while once you walk in the door.

Enjoy yourselves and your little detour today.

A bientot,

Claudsy